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Laptop for Law School

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July 16, 2010 8:38:51 AM

1_What is your budget?

Up to $1000, however I'd prefer to find something in the $600-800 range.

2_What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?

Bigger is better, size-wise at least 15" but I would prefer bigger if its within the budget. I need a full keyboard and I'd prefer a number pad as well. Other than that everything else is negotiable.

Edit: After looking at a lot of things, I'm starting to think that bigger may not be better. I'm willing to look at smaller systems (around the 13" range) as well.

3_What screen resolution do you want?

I'd prefer a Widescreen if available, and the higher the resolution the better. I'd like HD as the only thing other than note-taking this computer may be used for is watching movies or TV when there is downtime. However these are not requirements.

4_Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?

Portable.

5_How much battery life do you need?

Lots. This is the most important part for me. Around 4 hours minimum, and a battery that won't lose its ability to charge in 6 months.

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)?

Absolutely not. I have a desktop that can play any game I need, this will be for school.

7_What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo / Video editing,watching movies, Etc.)

This laptop will be primarily used for note taking and other school related functions. This will be its primary function and if it accomplishes that it will be plenty. The only other thing I can see using it for is watching movies or TV shows during downtime. Obviously, wireless internet is important as well (built-in 802.11n).

8_How much storage (H.D.D Capacity) do you need?

I suppose around 200gb would be plenty. More is nice, but may not be needed.

9_If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.

Any reliable site.

10_How long do you want to keep your laptop?

About 3 years, longer would be nice, but I'd prefer to not have to replace it during school.

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

Don't need any. I wouldn't mind DVD or BluRay though if it is within the budget.

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 heard MSI and Asus are good, but I have no preference. I have an i5 processor on my desktop and really like the Intel Core lineup, but I'd take an AMD chip or another Intel chip if its the best value for the price. Think of this as a tie-breaker if two laptops are similar enough and one has an Intel Core chip, I'd prefer the Intel one.

13_What country do you live in?

USA

14_Please tell us any additional information if needed.

I'll need to purchase the computer between now and the middle of August. I have an iPhone and Desktop and also would like to make the laptop able to sync with both. I figure I'll use programs to do this, but I'm unsure which ones I'll be using save OneNote and Outlook.

Thanks for all the help you can provide :) .

More about : laptop law school

a b D Laptop
July 16, 2010 4:19:03 PM

Kinetic42 said:
1_What is your budget?

Up to $1000, however I'd prefer to find something in the $600-800 range.

2_What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?

Bigger is better, size-wise at least 15" but I would prefer bigger if its within the budget. I need a full keyboard and I'd prefer a number pad as well. Other than that everything else is negotiable.

Edit: After looking at a lot of things, I'm starting to think that bigger may not be better. I'm willing to look at smaller systems (around the 13" range) as well.

3_What screen resolution do you want?

I'd prefer a Widescreen if available, and the higher the resolution the better. I'd like HD as the only thing other than note-taking this computer may be used for is watching movies or TV when there is downtime. However these are not requirements.

4_Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?

Portable.

5_How much battery life do you need?

Lots. This is the most important part for me. Around 4 hours minimum, and a battery that won't lose its ability to charge in 6 months.

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)?

Absolutely not. I have a desktop that can play any game I need, this will be for school.

7_What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo / Video editing,watching movies, Etc.)

This laptop will be primarily used for note taking and other school related functions. This will be its primary function and if it accomplishes that it will be plenty. The only other thing I can see using it for is watching movies or TV shows during downtime. Obviously, wireless internet is important as well (built-in 802.11n).

8_How much storage (H.D.D Capacity) do you need?

I suppose around 200gb would be plenty. More is nice, but may not be needed.

9_If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.

Any reliable site.

10_How long do you want to keep your laptop?

About 3 years, longer would be nice, but I'd prefer to not have to replace it during school.

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

Don't need any. I wouldn't mind DVD or BluRay though if it is within the budget.

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 heard MSI and Asus are good, but I have no preference. I have an i5 processor on my desktop and really like the Intel Core lineup, but I'd take an AMD chip or another Intel chip if its the best value for the price. Think of this as a tie-breaker if two laptops are similar enough and one has an Intel Core chip, I'd prefer the Intel one.

13_What country do you live in?

USA

14_Please tell us any additional information if needed.

I'll need to purchase the computer between now and the middle of August. I have an iPhone and Desktop and also would like to make the laptop able to sync with both. I figure I'll use programs to do this, but I'm unsure which ones I'll be using save OneNote and Outlook.

Thanks for all the help you can provide :) .


Hi there,

The Sony Vaio EB series meets most of your specs. It has a 15.5" screen, 2.13 GHz Intel Core i3-330M processor, and 500 GB of hard drive space. It also has a numeric key-pad.

What do you think?

Cheers,
Isabella
MSFT Windows Outreach Team
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July 16, 2010 11:22:37 PM

I've looked at the EB series, and they're pretty nice, I'm just a bit concerned about the battery life. There could be long periods of time that I'm away from an outlet and I'm afraid only a 3.5 hour max battery might not be enough and could leave me running low or out of power.

I'm willing to give on other points (even the numeric keypad), but I feel the battery life is too important. Do you know of anything that could give me the play time without sacrificing too much elsewhere?
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July 17, 2010 8:26:08 AM

So I have kept looking around websites, and while I have heard a lot of things about Dell (both good and bad), I finally went to their site and worked out a couple notebooks.

http://ecomm.dell.com/dellstore/basket.aspx?itemtype=CF...

In the link are three notebooks that look like they'll fit my needs pretty well, but I'm unsure both if Dell is really a good company to buy these from, or if someone knows a similar computer within my price range that could give me a better value.

Also, if I missed anything that might be deemed really important that could be added to the list. (For instance, I thought about upping the resolution to 1080, but wasn't sure if it was worth it without upgrading the video card too which I'm not very interested in doing unless you really believe the performance difference will be noticeable outside of gaming.)

Right now I'm leaning toward the Studio 15, since despite being the cheapest it also has the largest screen and the weight difference is negligible (5.2 for the 14s, and 5.5 for the 15). The 14R has the "best" video card, but I'm unsure if a 5470 is even needed. Truth be told I'm not even completely sure why the Studio 14 is the most expensive.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, even if its just telling me these are good, sturdy, reliable laptops that will last me a couple of years.
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July 17, 2010 9:38:16 AM

Scratch that, HP dm4t looks incredible for the price. Anything I should know about that or the dv5t, otherwise I'm buying the dm4t Monday at the latest.
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July 17, 2010 10:25:45 AM

Macbook?

I do a lot of travelling and the 13" MBP is a perfect size i find. The screen is big enough to see easily, but small enough to carry and most importantly, small enough to fit under the tray latch on a plane, meaning i can push it back as far as i need without the screen being at a stupid angle. Hey, small things like that are important if you use something that much.

Battery life is quoted as "up to 10 hours wireless productivity". I've put a bigger faster power hungry hdd in, but with the screen turned down i can easily get 10 hours. If im not working on the plane i have watched 2x F1 races on one charge (4+ hours at decent brightness)

We have a Toshiba something or other 15" at work, and i recently bought my wife a Compaq 14". Both of them were about the same price as my mbp. Both have faster specs, but don't feel any faster. Build of both is terrible. If you really are spending a lot of time on something, build quality is vital. I cannot recommend either of these, and i cannot recommend something i haven't used a lot.
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July 17, 2010 10:32:38 AM

The MBP looks nice, and I've heard nothing but good things about them, I'm just afraid I can't afford the premium on them right now. The lowest price MBP is 1200, and that's 200$ over what I'd really like to spend, and that's before taxes or any other extras. :( 

I'm also unsure how the programs I'm likely to use the most of, Microsoft OneNote in particular, although there are others as well, are going to work in a Mac environment. I don't have a lot of experience with macs and I don't want to have to learn a new OS while I'm also trying to learn vastly important material.

Maybe when I'm more financially secure this will be a better option, but at this time I can't see myself being able to afford it.
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Anonymous
a b D Laptop
July 17, 2010 3:05:00 PM

Kinetic42 said:
Scratch that, HP dm4t looks incredible for the price. Anything I should know about that or the dv5t, otherwise I'm buying the dm4t Monday at the latest.


Kinetic, you and I seem to be looking for the exact same things in a law school laptop. HP seems to offer a great deal, but I should warn you that HP seems to have one of the the highest 3-year hardware failure rates of the major laptop manufacturers (http://www.squaretrade.com/htm/pdf/SquareTrade_laptop_r...), and in my experience this seems to hold true. I've had two, and both of mine failed in some way (screen, optical drive, etc.) at around the 2.5-3-year mark. HPs also tend to run pretty hot which can exacerbate the hardware failure issue.

Sony offers 10% and a basic 3-year warranty for students (definitely check to see there if there are student discounts before buying anything from anyone, HP, Dell definitely have educational discounts as well) -- I'm considering their Vaio Y line, which seems to have a good combination of features, but I don't know if you'd consider the 13.3" screen as being too small. I've comfortably taken notes with a 11.6" screen, and I just got used to it (for serious paper-writing and outlining I'd connect it to an external monitor). You can get their basic setup (i3UM, 6hrs BL, 3.9lbs) for under $800 with the discount.

The other systems I'm seriously considering are (prices are with various educational/other discounts currently available):
Asus UL30jc-1A (~$850, i3, 7hrs BL, 13.3", 4.8lbs)
Lenovo IdeaPad U460 (~$900, i5, 6hrs BL, 14", 3.9lbs)
Dell Studio 14 (~$850, i5, 14", 5hrs BL, 5.3lbs)
Toshiba Portege R705 (~$800, i3, 5-7hrs BL*, 13.3", 3.2lbs)
*Apparently, the battery doesn't last as long as advertised

I'm probably going to watch out for specials and deals (there's always 1-day, 1-week-type discounts that tend to be pretty generous) for a couple weeks since I'm not in a huge rush, and to see there's a particularly good deal for one of the systems I'm looking at. Otherwise, I'll probably get the Sony. Good luck!
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July 17, 2010 4:31:19 PM

This is some seriously good information. The HP is out, going to compare the Dells and take another look at Sony with the possibility of a student discount, didn't even think about that. Thanks!!
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July 17, 2010 4:35:07 PM

Just found a pretty solid Asus at best buy, UL80J-BBK5 for $700. Runs an i3 330, g310m nvidia card, 14" display, 4.41 lbs, only thing keeping memfrom moving is there isn't an option for an 8 or 9 cell battery and the 6 cell holds around 5.5 hours. Anyone know a site where I could get that upgrade with the purchase and a student discount?
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July 17, 2010 5:47:51 PM

Aaand pass on that asus. 1.2 ghz processor. That's a bit lower than I was expecting.
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July 17, 2010 5:49:37 PM

People always overlook this. Design and build quality.

Unless you are trying to squeeze every inch of performance out of it, forget about specs. Go into a shop and sit down for 10 or 15 minutes. Do you like the way the keys feel or how your palms rest on it? Is the trackpad big and slippery and easy to use? Is the screen big enough to use all day every day?

For example: The Toshiba's trackpad is WAY too small, even on ultra sensitive im going back and forth. After using calibrated monitors all day, the screen is dull and far to cool. However the keys are big and the front bezel is rounded making it comfortable to type on.

The Compaq: Bigger trackpad (still too small) but no physical boundaries. So you have no physical way of feeling when your finger has ran off the trackpad as the entire surface feels the same. I have to keep looking down. Screen has better colours thanks in part to led back lighting, but the view angle is terrible. Its also too noisy.

MBP: Massive smooth trackpad, brilliant led screen, tidy keypad with backlighting, quiet, but the front bezel is NOT rounded so i have to get it at the right angle or it cuts into my wrists.
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July 17, 2010 6:01:19 PM

mrmez said:
People always overlook this. Design and build quality.

Unless you are trying to squeeze every inch of performance out of it, forget about specs. Go into a shop and sit down for 10 or 15 minutes. Do you like the way the keys feel or how your palms rest on it? Is the trackpad big and slippery and easy to use? Is the screen big enough to use all day every day?

For example: The Toshiba's trackpad is WAY too small, even on ultra sensitive im going back and forth. After using calibrated monitors all day, the screen is dull and far to cool. However the keys are big and the front bezel is rounded making it comfortable to type on.

The Compaq: Bigger trackpad (still too small) but no physical boundaries. So you have no physical way of feeling when your finger has ran off the trackpad as the entire surface feels the same. I have to keep looking down. Screen has better colours thanks in part to led back lighting, but the view angle is terrible. Its also too noisy.

MBP: Massive smooth trackpad, brilliant led screen, tidy keypad with backlighting, quiet, but the front bezel is NOT rounded so i have to get it at the right angle or it cuts into my wrists.


All great points, but unless you can give me the extra $200+ that it would cost me it is out of my maximum budget and I can't afford it. I checked out the MPB while in Best Buy and while I absolutely agree that its a great laptop, it just isn't for me. :( 

Apples are great computers, I'm not disagreeing with you, but frankly the premium on it is outside of my student budget right now and if I can't afford something I try not to buy it. I'm pretty sure that is what got this country into the "credit crisis" was (still is?) in, buying things we can't afford and using credit to try and make up the difference.
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July 17, 2010 6:22:43 PM

Wow. Dell Student site has a great deal on Studio 15.

Everything I want, + basically the best processor and VC all for around $850. Its better than any deal I can find so far.

Specs:

COLORS Black Chainlink edit
PROCESSORS NEW 2010 Intel® Core™ i5-520M 2.40GHz (2.93Ghz Turbo Mode, 3M cache) edit
OPERATING SYSTEM Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium, 64bit, English edit
MEMORY 4GB Shared Dual Channel DDR3 at 1066MHz edit
HARD DRIVE 320GB SATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) edit
WARRANTY AND SERVICE 1 Year Basic Service Plan edit
VIDEO CARD ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 5470, 1GB edit
HD DISPLAY 15.6” High Definition (720p) LED Display with TrueLife™ and Camera edit
WIRELESS CARDS Intel© Centrino© Advanced-N 6200 edit
KEYBOARD Back-lit Keyboard edit
BATTERY OPTIONS 85 Whr Lithium Ion Battery (9 cell) edit
OPTICAL DRIVE 8X Slot Load CD/DVD Burner (Dual Layer DVD+/-R Drive) edit
SOUND OPTIONS Soundblaster X-Fi Hi Def Audio - Software Enabled edit
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July 18, 2010 5:51:27 AM

Don't get me wrong, im not trying to shove an apple down your throat (bad pun?).

Just don't buy off specs alone. If you find a model online you think is good, find a shop where you can actually sit down and use one for awhile, even if you do the cheeky thing and buy online.

That one above looks good. 720p resolution is kinda low for a 15", so double check that. At 15" you should not be looking at any less than 1440x900. Tv's are fine at 720 but only because they aren't half a meter from your face.
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July 19, 2010 1:24:02 AM

Best answer selected by Kinetic42.
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July 19, 2010 1:27:59 AM

In the end went with the Dell Studio 15. The deal on it was amazing, and I did see one in Best buy when I went and while it wasn't the most stylish, it was fine for my needs. Thanks to monsterjenn for putting me on the student discount track (gave best answer to), and mrmez for trying to impress the importance of build and style. Hopefully his comments won't come back to bite me in the ass later, :p , but if they do, I will certainly give him his due on the next laptop :) .
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