New laptop purchase, general use ~$600

Thanks in advance for all the help and ideas.

1_What is your budget?
Looking to spend around $600, possibly up to $800 or so, but need to save some cash for Office Suite software.

2_What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
15" seems pretty standard on laptops. I'd have no problem going up to a 17" screen, but I probably couldn't do smaller than 13"

3_What screen resolution do you want?
Not sure, probably not as important since the laptop won't be used for gaming

4_Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?
Not sure I understand this question. Laptop would mostly stay around the house but be mobile from room to room.

5_How much battery life do you need?
The longer the better, 3 hours at minimum seems reasonable

6_Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)?
No gaming

7_What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo / Video editing,watching movies, Etc.)
Laptop will be for web browsing, word processing, music listening, movie watching and that's probably about it

8_How much storage (H.D.D Capacity) do you need?
Could probably get away with a 160GB drive. Anybody have thoughts on SSD HD for laptops? Do they consume less power and get less hot than normal HD? I'm under the impression HD are usually the first part to wear out and cause laptop operation to become slower.

9_If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
No specific sites.

10_How long do you want to keep your laptop?
As long as possible.

11_What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?

12_Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons.
I've been a little wary of Dell long-term reliability, though I don't have any personal experience to back it up. I can get a 10-15% discount purchasing directly from Dell.

13_What country do you live in?

14_Please tell us any additional information if needed.
I've never had a laptop before so I'm not sure what companies make quality products or who to look at for laptops.

Off the top of my head I'm thinking a Core i3 system with 2-3GB of ram would probably last awhile.
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  1. In a lot of ways SSDs are ideal for laptops. Lighter, use less power, and the faster performance of better SSDs seem to make laptops more 'responsive'. They're a lot more tolerant of vibration and shock. And most SSDs already come in the 2.5" laptop storage form factor.
    But they're expensive. Adamo XPS has a SSD as its standard storage device and they're optional on Alienware.

    A 'desktop replacement laptop' tends to be more powerful, larger and heavier. They're not meant to be hauled around on a daily basis.
    For someone who needs something closer to the power of a desktop PC, but still has some portability. A top end gaming laptop might be an example.
    Someone who already owns a desktop PC might be more interested in something lighter and smaller.
  2. Thanks you Maziar.

    I've been messing around with configurations on Dell for some time now and I'm frustrated that it's nearly impossible to configure a machine exactly how I would like (eg why pay for a 500GB HD when a 320GB or smaller would work, but once you are at the Studio 15 level you can't go smaller than 500GB?). Maybe I've been spoiled by having that flexibility with DIY desktop systems.

    Gateway makes a few laptops that I've been looking at as well, particularly the NV series that sit in the $600 range and they seem to be appealing, though they have no customization. I might take a look at HP and Acer tonight. Any other brands I should check out that are really solid?

    WR2, SSD's do sound perfect for a laptop, but they are very pricey like you said. The Adamo XPS already has a high price tag for being slim, and the Alienware machine SSD upgrade was over $500 added onto the somewhat reasonable base price (how you have a laptop gaming machine without a DVD drive is beyond me).
  3. Upgrading a laptop with a SSD is one job it could make sense to do yourself.
    You won't pay the premium add-on like the Dell Alienware wanted and you can choose the make, model and capacity of the SSD you install.
    And the laptop HDD doesn't need to go to waste either. Just get a $15 2.5" HDD external case and you have a USB powered backup HDD and portable storage device.

    Back on the issue of cost. It would be a 'no-brainer' upgrade, despite the cost, if it helped CPU or GPU intensive applications get work done fast. And there in lies the rub.
    You might want to read this interesting article over at Anandtech. They upgraded an Asus U30Jc and measured the performance differences.
  4. You might want to also check out the HP G62t series laptops.
    There you can chose between HDD capacities, and also HDD speeds 5400 or 7200 rpm.
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