Thursday, May 31, 2007

7930 miles and one left turn.....

Traveling light is the only option.

As it happens, I have a little bit of extra money this month and it looks like it's time to buy a laptop. Eventually when I make a certain big move, there is no way I can imagine moving this desktop, monitor and all the rest of it.

There's actually very little I'll be taking with me. A laptop, some clothes. A few boxes of favorite books and things that will be forwarded on the slow boat.

So why am I bringing this up here?

Well, simply... I am a Luddite.

What things should I look for while perusing eBay for a laptop? I know it needs to have built-in WiFi. And someone offhandedly mentioned that buying an older one would be sufficient for me since I don't do anything that needs the latest stuff. I can't afford all the whizbang anyway.

Anyone have any suggestions, warnings, referrals? What do you like most about your laptop? What do you like least? What do you consider an important consideration in choosing one?




jen said...

I know very little, but my IT dude at work knows a lot. He says Dell has the best laptops and we use them at work (I have one for work and I love it)

I know there will be lots of opinions, so just know this is my .02.

slouching mom said...

We're a Dell laptop family, too.

KC said...

Dell. Yep.

I like having lots of memory since I keep so many photos on mine.

Christine said...

I am SO no help here, sorry! Good luck and let us know what you get for future reference.

meno said...

I can't help you either as the Mister, who works in technology, does all that stuff for me. But i do know that you will LOVE having a laptop, as i love mine.

flutter said...

You know what? If you can hold off for a little bit, I might be getting a new one and you can buy mine way cheap.

Laurie said...

We have 6 Dell's in the family, including 2 laptops. We've had no problems whatsoever. My work laptop is an HP, which I am pretty sure stands for Horrible Pieceocrap.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Two of my kids have Dell laptops and are very pleased with them.

I don't have a laptop, but would love one. I'd be more likely to get a Mac like our two computers, which I love.

I'm going to lurk and see what more knowledgeable folks suggest.

Snoskred said...

I think the most important thing is, don't buy it from Ebay. You may not have a lot of money to be buying this but you'd certainly prefer to get something that works - or just to get something. There's so many scams on Ebay and the people who run Ebay don't care about it, they don't do anything to stop it, they don't try to protect the buyers and sellers, and therefore they don't deserve to see a dime of anyones money. Keep off ooo.

My advice would be to try local computer stores, explain what you need and it's possible they may have something at a price you can afford. If not that, if there is a company that does rentals of such equipment, you may be able to get an ex-rental like the excellent Toshiba I now have on my desk, which was a third of the price it would have been to buy it originally. :) It's the most solid laptop I've ever seen and it's gorgeous, I love it.

Anvilcloud said...

Within reason, I always advise buying the best you can afford. If you get something that barely suffices now, you may be unhappy with it sooner than you think. Sometimes, it's hard to predict future needs, so don't skimp too much. I'd be pretty reluctant to buy anything used unless it's a deal you can't pass up.

I think that all major brands work well and should stand up. I've enjoyed Toshiba laptops, and my daughter's HP has done quite well too. Apparently Dell has one or two fans too. ;)

Melissa said...

Here's my two cents:
Do you want something that is ultra portable and lightweight? Or are you not concerned with weight and would be happy with a larger screen and keyboard? Once you make that decision you can begin to narrow down a bit...

Remember if you are thinking of using this in Thailand, and you are living upcountry, you are going to be encountering a lot of dust. You should look for something that will be durable in this regard.

Also, you should look for a brand that has authorized repair centers located in Thailand. I think most of the major brands do.

I like to load up on RAM...your computer will run more efficiently.

And yes, wifi is great, but make sure it also has an internal modem so you can use dial up, which is probably what you'll have in Thailand at your house.

For me, I am a total Mac user, I love them love them. My latest Mac I have had for 4 years and have not had a single issue with it, not a virus, not a frozen screen, nothing. They are more expensive and software is more expensive, but I think they are worth it. And yes there is an authorized servicer in Bangkok.

Anyway, my two cents!

Anonymous said...

If you're using your PC primarily as a typewriter (like I do), then the most important thing is the brightness of the monitor.

Laptop keyboards are cramped and uncomfortable, so you'll probably want to get a full-size keyboard to plug into it. (They're pretty cheap.)

Unless you plan to use graphic applications (like Photoshop, drafting software, or 3D games) don't even worry about processor speed, memory, or drive space. Even the cheapest computers are likely to be far more powerful than you'll ever need.

Bob said...

I have to offer a cautionary note to the preference for Dell above. My son has one and has had nothing but trouble with it. (maybe he got the only lemon based on comments above). I have had to keep the warranty up-to-date on it because invariably it will need to be sent in for repairs. (It has been back to Dell 7 times in the past 3 years.) Also, Dell's tech support is TERRIBLE. Plan to spend 1 - 2 hours on the phone to troubleshoot whatever problem you call about. I (see above) have ample experience with it.

I too would caution against buying on ebay. Most laptops there are sold by aggregators/resellers and will not come with an OS (operating system) so you will have to buy that separately (which isn't such a bad idea, you'll get one that is undeniably yours that you can legally install and upgrade later. microsoft especially checks the serial number when upgrading)

I too am a Mac addict. My daughter has had a mac laptop for two years now and has had no trouble with it.

If you prefer windows, I would look into the lenovo laptops. (Lenovo is the chinese company that bought out IBM's laptop production). IBM's have had a reputation for being bulletproof. They are well made and sturdy.

I too say that the lower models will do you fine, but I would advise you to purchase as much memory (RAM) as you can afford.

Lucia said...

I know nothin', but can say that you'll probably love a laptop. I do just because they're so portable.

Cecilieaux said...

A few things:

1) Snoskred is right, don't buy sight unseen. Find a place like, that specializes in refurbishing and selling cheap stuff that is good. I'm sure there's a local store in your area.

2) The first thing to go on laptops is the mouse-like thingy ... besides, it's a pain getting used to a new way of pointing. Buy a mouse for the thing (after you get the laptop, so you know plugs into the right kind of port: USB, serial); go to Radio Shack and get them to plug it in and show you it works.

3) Don't even dream of replacing your desktop with the thing. Laptops are very expensive to repair, they break in a zillion ways. Yes, htey're fine for a trip, then put it away and transfer your data back.

4) Software -- get freeware equivalents (OpenOffice, Firefox, Pegasus e-mail or Thunderbird, etc.). There is no reason to spend a penny on anything. You could -- this is not yet for the fainthearted, unfortunately -- install Linux and save yourself the Microsoft tax. But if you get something with an old Windows on it, go for it.

Have fun, where are you going? The Right Coast? I'm in DC, remember? Lunch? (Let's try Dutch.)

Anonymous said...

Cecilieaux, who will pay for the lunch?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
QT said...

My 2 cents Chani is to try and find an Apple Notebook. WAY less problems with viruses, security problems, etc. Check out

I know two people who have purchased from this site and are happy. You can contact them and tell them you want the minimum notebook that will accept the Mac Airport card and they will install it.

Mary said...

Hi Chani,

Yes, you will be packing light. I really can't make suggestions on where the best deal would be - we bought ours directly from a Dell rep - it was on sale.

We bought it last December but I have a remote keyboard and mouse. When the keyboard died a few months ago, I had a very difficult time mastering a laptop keyboard. Within a few weeks, though, I became quite proficient with it. Laptop keyboards don't have numeric keypads and I'd miss that. Otherwise, it's the way to go - especially if you purchase the wireless one.

Good luck!