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First Laptop......Need Help........?

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
January 16, 2010 9:11:37 PM

1_Budget: $600-$800

2_Size: 12"-15"

3_Resolution: At least 720p

4_Portable/Living Room. Already have a desktop workstation.

5_Battery: Not crucial as will mostly be used in home near outlets.

6_No gaming really, aside from maybe internet flash games and the like. Maybe some old-school emulation from time to time.

7_The main purpose would be connecting to my 42" 720p HDTV preferrably via HDMI; Streaming videos/music from my home network; internet browsing; some web design and photo editing possibly.

8_Storage: Not crucial as I have several larger drives on the network for media files.

9_I have shopped at and extensively in the past. Also looking at for if I end up going with a refurbished MacBook.

10_Lifespan: 3-5 years, hopefully.

11_Optical Drive: Not crucial, but would prefer some kind of DVD combo drive. No need for Blu-Ray as I have a stand-alone player.

12_Brands: I've never had a laptop and always pieced together desktops, so I'm unfamiliar with the reputation/reliability of any brand. I am really interested in an Apple and have a iPhone 3gs, but am not sure if the extra price is worth it for my purposes.

13_Country: United States

14_This is my first time shopping for a laptop. I've always only had desktops so I really don't know what I'm looking for. I don't want to spend too much for the meager tasks, but would like a few premium features such as HDMI. I will mostly be using this laptop in my living room for web-browsing and general multi-media through my HDTV. Just another component to the entertainment center, really.

More about : laptop

January 16, 2010 9:46:50 PM

Apple does make really great laptops--but not in the $600-800 range, and I wouldn't want to buy a used laptop. There are just too many things that could have damaged them...

My advice is to try to get one with a discrete graphics card--not a GMA4500 integrated option. This will give you a lot video power when connecting to the TV.

Search for sale codes:

Some ideas:

In terms of laptop quality ive only seen one article published recently (on Toms if you search for it) which concluded this:

January 16, 2010 10:06:54 PM

THanks for the tip, and especially that failure rate chart! What exactly does "discrete" graphics card mean? Is that just the laptop term for an aftermarket card?
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January 16, 2010 10:49:53 PM

Most laptops today come with integrated intel graphics-- meaning that the graphics are part of the motherboard and share your computers ram. Higher performing laptops come with a graphics card made by ATI or Nvidia that has its own separate graphics ram--any of these options would offer better video and graphic performance.
January 17, 2010 10:34:47 AM

Ok. I'm familiar with graphics cards for desktops, just had never heard them referred to as "discrete" before. Aren't refurbished Macs supposed to be returned to factory spec?
January 18, 2010 2:52:08 AM

VelcroBP said:
Ok. I'm familiar with graphics cards for desktops, just had never heard them referred to as "discrete" before. Aren't refurbished Macs supposed to be returned to factory spec?

As far as factory spec goes, that can vary.. They return the computer to factory default settings, but minor things could be wrong that they missed, that could shorten the laptops lifespan, or make it fail. Such as, a slight drop/fall, a spill, a short circuit, etc. Things that the previous owner didn't mention so they could get their money back.

Any sort of electronics aren't really something you want to buy used, but epically computers.
January 18, 2010 3:29:12 AM

I agree. A used desktop i might consider--but a laptop that has been carried around in purses or bags.... too many things could have happened.
January 27, 2010 12:30:59 PM

Ok, I'm seriously looking at this HP DV6-2150us, $729 after
rebate from NewEgg. Any thougts on the new i3 line from HP?
I've heard mixxed reviews on HP quality.

Best solution

January 27, 2010 1:05:58 PM

If I were looking at that model I would have a hard time resisting pushing up to the i5 430 model at $800.

I know its more, but the i5 has the clock changing turbo-boost technology that the i3 doesn't.

The new i3/i5 dell inspirons are very competitive in this price range.
January 27, 2010 1:50:40 PM

What kind of applications would I run into hat I might
actually need the extra CPU power in the i5/turbo mode?

I'm a bit leary od Dells.
January 27, 2010 3:15:15 PM

Probably just the photo-editing, and probably not right away-- only if you keep it for a few years.
January 27, 2010 3:52:01 PM

I'll probably stick with the i3 for now. Are CPUs upgradeable in laptops?
January 27, 2010 6:03:25 PM

No laptops arent really upgradeable-- thats one of the negatives of them. They dont really last more than 2-3 years either though--so it shouldnt be a problem.
January 27, 2010 7:00:05 PM

That seems good for the price as long as looks aren't too important. I would suggest you go look at it in the store before purchasing online if you can though.

Be aware that the 12-cell battery might result in a lump in the back/bottom of it.
January 27, 2010 7:24:19 PM

Those prices seem good too. However, my employer has a
account with OfficeMax and I think we can use it to make
personal purchases. I have to talk to the rep tomorrow
for the details.
January 27, 2010 7:37:35 PM

I agree-- thats a good reason.
January 27, 2010 7:40:32 PM

Read a couple reviews on the battery. It appearently adds
about 11oz. to the weight and lifts the back 3/4". Never
having owned a laptop, I don't know if that would be
unbearable or not. Also, it will be spending at least 70%
of it's time in an entertainment center.
January 27, 2010 8:37:39 PM

Yea I think the only way you can shop for laptops is to look at them in person. then you at least have an idea what you are looking at online. It might not stick out, but if it does I would be pretty pissed off that it didnt show it in the picture.
January 27, 2010 8:57:17 PM

I have seen some at my local Staples. I plan on taking a trip to the closest Best Buy over the weekend to finalize my decision with some hands on. Really though, I've read some reviews in HP owners forums and think I'd be ok with the battery bulge. Also, and maybe this is pure rationalization on my part, but I like the idea of extra airflow underneath considering it's prime placement inside my entertainment center.

I truly appreciate your input! Without this thread I would have given up by now and probably bought the cheapest one with HDMI that some salesperson at an electronics store told me to.
February 2, 2010 11:02:10 PM

Best answer selected by velcroBP.