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  1. #1
    CC resident nutcase Trent Parker's Avatar
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    Buying a new Laptop

    Further to the discussion DanielBell and I had last night about laptops:

    tell me what you think of this for $799

    HP Presario F555AU AMD Turion 64 Mobile Tech 2.0GHz
    512 Meg DDR2
    80Gig Hard Drive
    15.4 TFT Screen Widescreen
    3 USB
    NVidia GEForce 6150
    DVD/CD-RW combo
    56K Modem
    Wireless 802.11B/G
    Windows Vista Home Basic.
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  2. #2
    CC Candidate Master DanielBell's Avatar
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    All Blacks for the Rugby World Cup 2011!

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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by TCN
    Further to the discussion DanielBell and I had last night about laptops:

    tell me what you think of this for $799

    HP Presario F555AU AMD Turion 64 Mobile Tech 2.0GHz
    512 Meg DDR2
    80Gig Hard Drive
    15.4 TFT Screen Widescreen
    3 USB
    NVidia GEForce 6150
    DVD/CD-RW combo
    56K Modem
    Wireless 802.11B/G
    Windows Vista Home Basic.
    Looks pretty standard for the price.

    The low end Dell Inspiron is similar. Sempron 3500+, 1GB, 120GB, ATI Xpress 1150. Inferior processor, but more memory. Up to you..
    http://www1.ap.dell.com/content/prod...hs1&l=en&s=dhs

  4. #4
    CC Grandmaster Desmond's Avatar
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    I would really, really, really, really recommend against these cheap-end notebooks.

  5. #5
    CC resident nutcase Trent Parker's Avatar
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    GO THE DRAGONS!
    GO Western Sydney Wanderers!
    Quote Originally Posted by Adamski's signature
    God exists. Short and to the point.
    This is the reason I do not wade into religion threads.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boris
    I would really, really, really, really recommend against these cheap-end notebooks.
    Yeah, why? Most people have absolutely no need for top-end processors and graphics cards, 2+GB RAM etc. If you buy into that game, you play into the manufacturer's hands. One caveat is that if you can salary sacrifice, you get laptops very cheap, so the extra cost of top-end gear is not so much.

    I'm looking forward to the release of the Asus Eee, retailing between US$200 and $400 .

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by pax
    Yeah, why? Most people have absolutely no need for top-end processors and graphics cards, 2+GB RAM etc.
    Pax, what do you reckon is sufficient for what most chess players would use a laptop for, such as databases and chess-playing programs, assuming they are not also into high-resource activities in their spare time?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Rout
    Pax, what do you reckon is sufficient for what most chess players would use a laptop for, such as databases and chess-playing programs, assuming they are not also into high-resource activities in their spare time?
    Any of the above would handle chess databases and programs, along with web browsing, word processing etc with absolutely no problems.

    Only if you wanted to do very in-depth chess analysis would you find it to be insufficient.

  9. #9
    Reader in Slood Dynamics Rincewind's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boris
    I would really, really, really, really recommend against these cheap-end notebooks.
    I'm speculating to what Boris meant here but one possible rationale is that most new laptops are coming with Vista these days which has a memory requirement over and above what is running at the application layer. So if you are running Vista, make sure you have enough memory. The other issue is generally laptops are not so easy to upgrade compared to desktops so it is a little more necessary to plan for future use as well.

    That being said there are other options.

    If your laptop comes with Vista Business or Ultimate you should be able to take advantage of Miscrosoft's downgrade to XP option which is less memory intensive than Vista. Check out this option with your supplier but if you are looking to install XP then paying $20 to upgrade from Vista Home -> Business and then downgrade to XP at install time is much cheaper than buying XP off the shelf.

    Secondly, there are plenty of users for whom a low-end notebook will always be sufficient. Therefore, assess your situation and expected usage realistically and purchase accordingly.
    So einfach wie möglich, aber nicht einfacher - Albert Einstein

  10. #10
    CC Grandmaster Desmond's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pax
    Yeah, why? Most people have absolutely no need for top-end processors and graphics cards, 2+GB RAM etc. If you buy into that game, you play into the manufacturer's hands.
    No, that's not what I had in mind.

    You get what you pay for. HP is a major vendor that offers notebooks in every price point from the sub-$1000 up to (and I'm guessing here) $5000+. So, why do they do that? Is it just because some people are suckers and will pay 5 grand for something that they can get for less than a fifth of the price and walk away with just as good a product? No, the reason is that when you buy a notebook you aren't just buying a stack of components shoved into a little box that you can carry around with you.

    Have a look at the specs TCN gave in the opening post. The purpose of this is not to look at the speeds and feeds, but to examine what part of that notebook is actually specific to HP.

    HP Presario - HP owns the name Presario.
    AMD Turion 64 Mobile Tech 2.0GHz - In case anyone doesn't realize, AMD is the manufacturer of this processor.
    512 Meg DDR2 - there are 3 memory manufacturers in the world. HP is not one of them.
    80Gig Hard Drive - There are 3 (or 4?) hard drive manufacturers in the world. HP is not one of them.
    3 USB - HP would buy this from the cheapest yum-cha vendor on the day.
    NVidia GEForce 6150 - nVidia make the chipsets. HP would re-badge them; actually, since it's internal to a notebook, it might not even have a HP badge on it at all.
    DVD/CD-RW combo - HP would buy this from the cheapest yum-cha vendor on the day.
    56K Modem - HP would buy this from the cheapest yum-cha vendor on the day.
    Wireless 802.11B/G - HP would buy this from the cheapest yum-cha vendor on the day.
    Windows Vista Home Basic. - Microsoft excretes this at an alarming rate.

    So how did we go? The only thing in that description that is unique to HP is the name of the notebook. Oh, and you might get a HP logo on the machine somewhere. Forget the 'might'. You'll get half a dozen of the things.

    So why is any of this relevant? Simple. Vendors (HP, Lenovo, Asus, Acer etc etc) all have access to the same junk. They all make notebooks out of the same junk. They need a way to differentiate themselves.

    Different vendors have different ways to differentiate themselves from each other. For example, Lenovo have a titanium skeleton in the notebook frame on their T-series machines. They house the hard drive in a special casing that is resistant to shock damage (eg dropping the notebook), they have designed a the keyboard into the chassis in such a way that you can spill a decent amount of liquid right onto the keyboard, and it just drains away rather than going up in a puff of smoke.

    I addition to the hardware nuances, the vendors use their R&D teams to develop software for the notebook. Some of it might be a bit nancy-fancy for the average home user, but much of it is geared towards things that reallt do matter - like saving energy and prolonging the battery life on your machine.

    So by now, if your still reading, you must be saying, "wow, the vendors give me all this for $799!" Guess again. These types of features are available on the higher end notebooks, typically a sliding scale down to the cheap-end notebooks where you get, basically, just a heap of junk in an portable box. Make sure you don't drop it, leave it in the sun, spill a drop of coffee on it, or look at in the wrong way. Because your warranty won't cover it.

    Any of the above would handle chess databases and programs, along with web browsing, word processing etc with absolutely no problems.

    Only if you wanted to do very in-depth chess analysis would you find it to be insufficient.
    You're kidding yourself. Vista on 512MB - your OS will consume all the system resources and then still want more. 1GB would be the absolute minimum recommended for Vista. I hope your battery doesn't run out while the thing is booting.

    Quote Originally Posted by rincewind
    If your laptop comes with Vista Business or Ultimate you should be able to take advantage of Miscrosoft's downgrade to XP option which is less memory intensive than Vista. Check out this option with your supplier but if you are looking to install XP then paying $20 to upgrade from Vista Home -> Business and then downgrade to XP at install time is much cheaper than buying XP off the shelf.
    That is true that you can do it. Before you do so however, be very sure that the vendor is offering all the applicable drivers for the machine. You can get stuck in a situation where, say, your webcam doesn't work now that your running XP on a Vista machine. Do you think HP will care about you for $799?

    XP machine are still available - in fact Microsoft recently announced that they will be shipping XP to OEM's for an additional 6 months. If you really want an XP machine, buy one that way.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boris
    You're kidding yourself. Vista on 512MB - your OS will consume all the system resources and then still want more. 1GB would be the absolute minimum recommended for Vista. I hope your battery doesn't run out while the thing is booting.
    I never said anything about Vista. Vista is not necessary to any of the above. Quite the opposite. I am not aware as yet of *any* hardware that works in Vista but not XP (or even works better in Vista).

  12. #12
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    As for the rest of it, it's true enough. However to get a laptop with the features you are describing, you have to pay at least three times as much. The problem is that the majority of this extra cost is *not* for the box at all, but for all the top end components that you don't actually need.

    So if you're really on a budget, I don't see any problem with getting a cheap laptop. Get a good case for it, look after it, and maybe even pay the extra $150 or whatever to get 3-5 years warranty.

    You might be able to drop your Thinkpad from 2m and pour your coffee on it, but most people try to avoid doing that in the first place!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by pax
    You might be able to drop your Thinkpad from 2m and pour your coffee on it, but most people try to avoid doing that in the first place!
    Do they?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mangafranga
    Do they?
    Hmm.. Comprehensive accidental cover due to expire... Whoops!

  15. #15
    CC Grandmaster Desmond's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pax
    As for the rest of it, it's true enough. However to get a laptop with the features you are describing, you have to pay at least three times as much. The problem is that the majority of this extra cost is *not* for the box at all, but for all the top end components that you don't actually need.

    So if you're really on a budget, I don't see any problem with getting a cheap laptop. Get a good case for it, look after it, and maybe even pay the extra $150 or whatever to get 3-5 years warranty.
    Sure, if you have that budget and need a notebook, not much choice is there. Just be aware that it will perform like a dog.

    You might be able to drop your Thinkpad from 2m and pour your coffee on it, but most people try to avoid doing that in the first place!
    Even the safest of drivers would not purchase a car that had no seatbelts.

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