I start a new job that requires time away from home and I'm really just looking for something that'll keep me in touch with family and friends while sitting in a hotel. Nothing too fancy but something reliable and maybe with a web cam.
Any suggestions on what make and models are good? I was thinking a base model Dell Inspiron. Maybe something pre-built from future shop, such as a Compaq or HP. I don’t know?
Moving up I am partial to HP got about 150+ at my current company seem to be pretty reliable based on how well they are treated. We also run 3 Macs which have been flawless but OSX is not everyone's bag. I would stay away from a refurb because laptops tend to take more abuse and there is nothing to say the HDD is not going to crap out 91 days later and no warranty :S
I agree with 200hr about laptops being mistreated but at the same time if all you're planning to do is keep in touch etc (no mission critical company data) why pay for new? I wouldn't trust a hard drive regardless of how new it is... I make it a point to backup to a flash drive/DVD ever so often regardless.
I can break down a couple things for you:
RAM: If you buy windows vista you should look for a laptop with 2 Gigabytes of ram. Any other version of windows you're good with 1
Hard Drive: If you're going to watch moves off the hard drive (download from internet not DVD's) look for one that is 5400 RPM.. otherwise the slower drives are fine
Processor: If you need a laptop that will last longer on a single charge (not plugged into wall) look at the centrino family...otherwise you'll be fine with any of them
Everything else comes pretty standard these days in regards to new laptops... of course weight and screen size are a personal preference more than anything.
One thing I would note... as you said you're not very computer literate... you'll always have people tell you to go with a Mac... and they are fine machines BUT you can probably go to your next door neighbor to help you out with a PC while Mac is still quite a limited market.
Disclaimer: The above post was not meant to offend anyone.
There's been good advice given so far, here's a bit of my small change...
I would go for a built-in webcam, less hassle, one less little component to crush, lose or break.
15" is a nice size if you want decent portability with a full feature machine. 13" make more compromises or get pretty expensive.
17" are larger and heavier, so unless you absolutely want a full keyboard (with numeric keypad), I'd say they're too big.
Bluetooth capability + headset goes nicely with the webcam, this way you're able to have a conversation without your hotel room neighbors having to hear all of it because of speakers. (If you have one with a cellphone, you should be able to use it with your PC as well.)
While you might not be in a rush to get a laptop with a BlueRay drive, some laptops have so-called "modular" optical drive bays, which are somewhat standardized and upgradeable. I've since become a fan of replacing the optical drive with a hard drive in a caddy and using an external USB optical drive when necessary.
Get an external USB3 (or eSATA if you happen to have that port) backup hard drive you can leave at home, and keep it up to date with FreeFileSync. Its a neat little free, open-source program. But in any case, KEEP BACKUPS!!!! While hard drives themselves sometimes fail, your computer could get damaged in many other ways, or just plain old stolen. (Mine was October 2009, but I lost no significant data because I followed the previous piece of advice.) For maximum data integrity, you can rotate a pair of hard drives, or make periodic backups on DVD-R and store them at another (preferably distant) location.
Most laptops today come with some sort of way to restore them to factory settings. There are a couple of things I'd like to say regarding these:
-They're often put on your hard drive as a hidden partition of some sort, with DVDs not provided. You *need* these DVDs. They're your main ticket out of paying some computer tech to reinstall OS, applications, drivers and all, should your hard drive physically fail.
-They're often loaded with stuff you don't need.
-They often lack stuff you need.
Which brings me to my next suggestion:
When you get your laptop, install the main applications you use: office suite, browser and e-mail clients (if you use Firefox and Thunderbird) and so on. Update the OS, applications and drivers. Set every option and setting to your liking. Then make (or get made) an image of this customized partition. So that the next time you want to start with a clean slate, you can use that instead. Better yet, make an updated version of that image while you're at it.
Many laptop brands don't actually design the laptops they sell. I've seen laptops from one brand that were clearly made by different ODMs (original design manufacturers) one being of decent quality, the other having a lousy touchpad and other assorted flaws.
For more information, I'll forward you to http://forum.notebookreview.com/ instead.
SAFELY IN A PRETTY AND WELL PRESERVED BODY, BUT RATHER TO SKID IN BROADSIDE, THOROUGHLY USED UP, TOTALLY WORN OUT, AND LOUDLY PROCLAIMING"
WOW... WHAT A RIDE
Any bumping and jaring of a laptop is hard on optical and hard drives. The lasers get knocked out of alignment on the optical drives and the heads crash on hard drives. So try not to move a running machine.
Never ever put a running (even standing by) machine in the bag, it gets too hot.
Do not use it on your lap as it can not breath. If you must take not of where the vents are and make sure they are not blocked. Thermal is a killer of laptops
Under no circumstances jar the laptop. Absolute killer even when it is off for the above mentioned drives
The LCD screens can take very little pressure to there face so never place anything on top of the laptop and if it is in a bag that has two sides always laptop up!
You can get some nifty little padded pouches that should just fit your laptop and then they are good to go into just about any bag highly recommended.
Now I almost have it narrowed down and I'm kinda leaning towards a macbook. But like most people, I'm still rather picky and want to find the best deal.
So I noticed Apple has deals on "refurbished" macbooks. Has anyone ever purchased a refurbished apple product? And what did you think?
Thanks again guys, you've all been a huge help!
btw X-plane the OSX flight sim is amazing.