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Richard Clegg

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Laptop recommends [Jun. 16th, 2010|12:24 pm]
Richard Clegg
Caron is looking to buy a laptop. It's an age since I looked into such things so I don't have a clue these days. She wants something for basic WP and web browsing and watching DVDs occasionally (but it does not need huge screen). She also wants to be able to plug in her regular keyboard, mouse and monitor. I know you can do that anyway but I thought a docking station was a good way to make this easy but now I'm not at all sure they're necessary. The laptop itself does not need to be particularly powerful nor particularly light nor have particularly good battery life -- I do want Windows 7 on it though.

So, opinions from the jury on the usefulness or otherwise of docking stations and a good bottom end laptop. I've always had good luck with Dell kit myself. Indeed my current laptop from work has taken quite a beating, travelled round the world and is still ticking four years on.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: burkesworks
2010-06-16 11:34 am (UTC)
How big does the laptop need to be? If she doesn't need a particularly big screen, then look no further than the MSI Wind netbooks; I bought one a fortnight ago in order to hackintosh it and it's a hell of a bargain for what it is. You get a lot of computer for the money, it'll run Win 7 with ease, and there are three USB ports and one VGA port so plugging in external monitors and input devices won't pose a problem.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2010-06-16 01:09 pm (UTC)
I love netbooks myself but I think that here she needs a standard notebook size as it will be instead of rather than complementary to desktop. I would not want my eee pc to be my main machine. It is a nice idea though so I'll give it further though.

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[User Picture]From: d_floorlandmine
2010-06-16 01:11 pm (UTC)
To watch DVDs with a netbook she'll need an external drive, though. That said, Maplins have had some nifty slimline 2xUSB powered ones recently ...
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[User Picture]From: steer
2010-06-16 01:26 pm (UTC)
Also the screen is usually a little too small. I think the netbook idea is no go.
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[User Picture]From: d_floorlandmine
2010-06-16 01:39 pm (UTC)
Aye, I suspected it wasn't what was actually required as a solution. Although, having done some perspective experiments, my 9" netbook on my lap does give roughly the same screen size as my 32" TV on the other side of the room ... [grin]

But given the lack of battery life or light weight requirements, a decent laptop sounds more like the kind of thing that would do the job.
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[User Picture]From: a_crow
2010-06-16 12:18 pm (UTC)
Staples is a good place for a look, staff there are not pushy.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2010-06-16 01:27 pm (UTC)
Staples the office supply people? I didn't even know they sold computers or am I confusing them with Rymans. I suspect whatever is bought will be bought online.
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[User Picture]From: a_crow
2010-06-16 03:04 pm (UTC)
Staples who supply office stuff.

I got my HP laptop there, on the strength of it having the
keyboard I most wanted to actually use, so many laptops have
terrible keyboards.

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[User Picture]From: rich_r
2010-06-16 12:19 pm (UTC)
These days with most peripherals being USB, docking stations are becoming less common. The latest laptops we have from HP don't have a docking station connector on the base like all HP ones have had until now - the docking station attaches by USB. Even the monitor connection is over that same USB interface (there's enough bandwidth on USB 2.0).

So unless you go for a lightweight laptop with no DVD drive and there's a docking station with a DVD drive available (Dell call these 'Media Bases' which makes me think of a fortified TV studio) there's no real need to consider them as it's not really any easier than plugging in a USB lead.

My preferences are Dell and HP, particularly the ones aimed at business rather than the home models, which tend to have gimmicky shiny screens and cases, and come loaded with software you don't want.

For reference, my laptop is a 5 year old Dell Latitude D410 running Ubuntu 10.04. Does everything I need, and is barely bigger than an Eee netbook (it's got a 1024x768 screen, so is proportionally taller, but it's thinner).
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[User Picture]From: steer
2010-06-16 01:21 pm (UTC)
Ah... the point you make about docking stations seems to tally with waht I was thinking. There does not seem much point in a docking station any more these days.

I have a dell Latitude D620 running Ubuntu 9:10 (keep meaning to upgrade to 10.04). Solid and great to work with.
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[User Picture]From: kantti
2010-06-16 01:57 pm (UTC)
It saves unplugging and replugging four cables when I get to my desk in the morning - but then I don't pay for my docking station - if I did I might think differently about how essential it was.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2010-06-16 02:31 pm (UTC)
I plug in my ethernet cable and external mouse every morning but never got round to external monitor or keyboard on this laptop. Actually the downstairs is that the continual unplugging and replugging of the ethernet cable has worn it to a frazzled stump.
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[User Picture]From: randomstring
2010-06-16 08:47 pm (UTC)

She's a city girl - MacBook Air :)
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[User Picture]From: steer
2010-06-16 08:54 pm (UTC)
Heh... nice try but I am not giving money to Apple. Besides I'm the poor swine who will have to provide tech support and "don't ask me, I think they're bloody impossible to work" won't cut it really.
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[User Picture]From: thepaintedone
2010-06-19 02:10 pm (UTC)
For domestic stuff I'd always go to Dell. Decent machines at reasonable prices, especially if you can find one of their regular discount vouchers online.

With regards docking stations, they are convenient and save wear and tear on plugs. I have about 8 or 9 cables plugged into mine at work, so it would be a real pain without it. It depends how often you are going to use it as a desktop though.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2010-06-19 02:48 pm (UTC)
I agree with you on Dell.

This would be keyboard, monitor, ethernet cable and mouse plugging in. Not too bad really but worth getting the docking station if it is cheap.
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[User Picture]From: thepaintedone
2010-06-19 03:28 pm (UTC)
Don't forget power, although that assumes you have a power adaptor dedicated to the dock, which I do. To that I add two or three USB devices.
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