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Laptop recommendations with $1500-1700 to spend, max

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November 18, 2007 5:36:46 AM

I need a new computer (my home computer is around 9 years old, which keeps me at work using that computer until way too late in the day!). I'm pretty sure I want to get a laptop - I didn't until I saw that Dell has a 17 inch with a ten-key build in (which is essential for me, as I don't want to deal with a plug-in 10 key). It'd be nice to have the portability, even if at home this may just mean being able to sit in bed or on the couch and do my work rather than at a desk. Also, when I travel or go over to friend's houses or coffee shops, it'd be nice to have my laptop with me. However, some people have told me that since I will be using the computer for 5+ hours at a time each day, getting a laptop rather than a desktop is a bad choice because a laptop will simply become too hot and overheat, that laptops "slow down" a lot faster than desktops, with major change in operating speed occuring in the first year... and that a laptop's LCD will probably burn out in 2-3 years. I'm not sure if these are valid bits of guidance though. Other people have told me that this info about laptops is ridiculous, and does not apply to newer laptops being build at this time. If you have an opinion about a laptop vs. desktop, let me know. I have a max spending amount of $1700 including tax, although ideally I'd like to stay around $1500. I was looking at Dell's systems with Core 2 Duo T7250 and T7500 processors as well as the T5500 (which was what was offered in the "buid yours" area -- I'm sure I could call and specify directly what I want though) and some that were a bit lower than those... honestly, I really don't know what I should be looking for though. I know that I tend not to buy/upgrade my computer often, and want to get something that will serve me well for a long time and not have trouble with in terms of speed, functioning with upcoming programs, etc. Much of the time, I will be using the computer for word processing, creating interactive powerpoints for use in class and my webpage, putting video clips into slides, adding in voice overlay, photo and video editting, and using web-based grading programs -- at least that's what I do now on a regular basis. I'd like to be able to have many creations open at the same time, to flip back and forth between these. I'd also like to watch movies on my laptop, and have music playing, but I think that is fairly basic for today's computers. There is a lot more I'd like to learn how to do and hope to be able to do, but I've been limited due to slow computers that lack the memory needed (even at work, in a high school, our "new" computers lack the capacity needed to handle some tasks or allow for much multi-tasking without major slow-downs).
With this in mind, and in keeping in mind that this will be a computer that should last me for a while, and also keeping in mind that on a lap-top that I'd want a 17 inch and a keyboard that includes a 10 key (like the Dell Inspiron 1720), what whould you recommend, in terms of building the system, to stay in my price range (max cost, including tax = $1700.). Also, what is most important to look at/for, etc.? Thanks for your thoughts and advice.
November 18, 2007 5:40:28 AM

I forgot to include that my max. cost amount must include the $149 for Office 2007...
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November 18, 2007 6:24:43 AM

I used to think that having a larger screen on a laptop is a good thing. Having used several laptops now over the past few years, I can tell you that bigger is NOT better. Larger 17" laptops weigh a ton and they draw so much energy that you pretty much have to use it plugged in at all times. Battery life is about a half-hour. If I were you, I would get something that weighs around 3-4 lbs with a 12-15" screen. Definitely go with the Core2 processor. Save the $150 bucks and download OpenOffice.

my 2 cents
November 19, 2007 2:28:48 AM

Thanks for the recommendations... unfortunately, I have to use Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Excel -- I need to use the same programs used at work so that I do not have issues (as some of my students have - with compatibility and getting the documents to open and work well when transfered to the needed format. It is more of a stress reducer than anything - well worth the 150 to me. As far as a Core 2 Duo processor, I intend to get one of these, but I'm just not sure WICH one -- T5450, T7200, T7500, etc. Also, I'm debating on getting 3gb memory vs. 2gb memory - is 3gb overkill? - and whether I should upgrade on the video card, etc.
November 19, 2007 2:32:11 AM

used with a good graphics card!
November 19, 2007 2:41:17 AM

"Used with good memory card?" Graphics Media Excellerator X3100 or 128 NVIDIA GeForce 8400M? Are either "good enough? How will a better video card impact my usage/the computer's performance? And is there a significant difference?
November 19, 2007 3:15:56 AM

7800 or 7900

if you game at all - but thats only for gaming

i got a $2000 lap top VM it was a "gaming laptop" what a dog

i gave it to my daugter


get a shuttle
November 19, 2007 5:03:05 AM

I have a Dell 17" and love it. It's not the best carry laptop due to size but it's excellent for a desktop replacement. It actually weighs less than my old laptop by about a pound. I prefer the 17" not only for the bigger screen but I love having a full size keyboard. I hate typing on the normal laptop keyboard. I bought it with the T7500 and it's very fast. It runs quiet and only gets a little warm if I have it on my lap for an extended period of time. This laptop replaced my old laptop which was a Dell that I purchased back in 2000, it's still going strong as well. I don't know who said that the LCD only last 2-3 years but that is very very old specs. A newer LCD will last probably longer than your willing to use that laptop. I have not noticed my laptops "slowing down" over time other than the need to re-install windows like every computer. The only thing I had to do to my old laptop was about once a year I would have to take a can of compressed air and blow out the heatsink (not a big deal very easy). My old laptop had a desktop chip in it (P4 2.4ghz) so it ran very hot. The new laptop is not only significantly faster, it runs considerably cooler. I think I paid about $1250.00 or so shipped a few months ago. Unfortunately Dell has an office here so I had to pay sales tax.
Here is a rundown of my laptop upgrades:
Inspiron 1720
T7500 Intel
965 Chipset
2gigs 667ddr
160gig 5400rpm HD
802.11 N wireless card
large 9 cell battery (nice with the larger screen)
DVD-RW

Not real major upgrades over the basic but I am very satisfied with the performance. I use mine for school so it gets used about 3-4 hours a day with no problems.
November 19, 2007 5:05:29 AM

Before someone points out the obvious my old laptop was purchased in 2003 not 2000.
If your going to play the occasional game, I would get the 8400M. I am not a fan of using laptops to game but if you want to play one now and then you'll need to upgrade the video card unless you're playing solitaire. It will help performance some to have a video card given that Windows Aero is probably better with a card. I just went with the built in card video chip on the 965 mobo. It works just fine with no real performance hit. I have a desktop with the Intel Q6600 quad core, eVGA 680i mobo, 2gigs Corsair ram, 3 raptor drives, XFX 8800 GTS 640mb, and soundblaster sound card, so I won't be playing games anytime soon on my laptop.
November 19, 2007 3:02:37 PM

Thanks Cisco. I don't game... I use it for word processing, Powerpoint, creating some interactive web based activities for my kids at school (I teach), and photo stuff. I want to be able to do some video editing, etc. as well, and watch movies on it without issues. Who knows what else I'll decide to do on it -- I haven't been able to do a lot other than general internet surfing and basic word processing/etc. with my old Pentium 2 that I have been "making" last me for nearly the past decade... I got the Pentium 2 towards the end of my college years, and have had a lot of other financial priorities.... but it's time I spoiled myself a bit and got something really nice (within reason).
ONE OTHER QUESTION: Is it worthwhile to get the 7200speed rather than the 5400? I've read mixed messages in other forums... and one downside seemed to be it running much hotter... although I've heard from others that there isn't significant difference in heat or energy cumsumption. ??????????? (FYI: I will be running Vista, not XP) Something else, with the larger battery, about how long will I be able to use the computer (with the 9cell battery) on one battery? Someone said 30 minutes -- I would hope it'd be longer than that! I will mainly be using it at home, so plugging it in isn't that big of a deal, but there will be times I will want to take it with me on trips, I'm sure.
!