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Need Advice on first laptop for a college bound student

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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June 14, 2011 7:40:43 PM

1. What is your budget? 
500 - 700$

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering? 

Mostly 15.6 inch laptops but possibly 14 inch inch laptops.

3. What screen resolution do you want? 

The standard 1366 x 768

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop? 

I need a semi-portable laptop since I might need to carry it around to classes with me. Since I have never owned a laptop I have no idea if a 15.6 inch might be to heavy or large to carry around campus on an occasional basis but for the duration of the whole day.

5. How much battery life do you need? 

I would like close to 5 actual hours of use.

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)? 

I don't need dedicated graphics and as long as the HD 3000 from intel can play Half Life 2: ep 2 on medium / high settings, I would be more than happy.

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

I will be doing casual web surfing, watching tv shows online, using office software, programming with python (as a hobby and just by teaching myself, not formal classes or school projects), and basic photo and video editing (again as a hobby and only dealing with small projects ).

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need? 

500 GB and preferably a 7,200 RPM drive.

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

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop? 

I don't know how long laptops usually last but I would like it to last about 5 or more years.

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

Any optical drive is ok.

12. Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons. 

I really have no experience with brands other than dell. Both of the home desktops have been dell and my brother's 4 year old laptop is dell. Since I have never encountered a faulty or defective computer (yet...) I am considering all brands.
Right now I am considering both the Dell Inspiron 15R and the HP DV6t. I have also heard good things about Asus, Acer and Toshiba but since their websites were hard to navigate to find their laptops and they just give a huge list of laptops with varying model numbers, I just gave up.

http://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/shopping/computer_can_series.do?storeName=computer_store&category=notebooks&a1=Category&v1=High+performance&series_name=dv6t_series&jumpid=in_R329_prodexp/hhoslp/psg/notebooks/High_performance/dv6t_series
http://www.dell.com/us/p/inspiron-r/pd

13. What country do you live in? 
United States

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed. 
The laptop that I want is not going to need the performance of a laptop that a Computer Science major would do heavy tasks on, however I do expect to do heavier processes than the average person just doing email and office tasks. So I don't know where to go for a Sandy Bridge i3 or i5.

Ultimately, I just wanted to know if anyone could offer up alternatives. Thank you.

edit: 1. saw a post a few ahead of mine that linked to a review of the dv6 and it was very good so I am leaning towards that. http://www.pcmag.com/slideshow_viewer/0,3253,l%253D262420%2526a%253D262325%2526po%253D8,00.asp?p=n The one i would get from the hp site would be very close to this and would actually be a bit better since it has usb 3.
2. Also I saw that amd is releasing their llano processors which seem to be very competitive to SB but I'm guessing its going to be a few months before they are actually in laptops.
a c 571 D Laptop
June 15, 2011 1:56:56 AM

Hello Synosis;

How soon do you need your new laptop?
Some of the new Llano systems will be out shortly. AMD has been shipping the chips to the Manufacturer's and OEM's for a few months now.

If the price and feature set is right it could be a good option in your price range and for the tasks you want to do. We should know shortly.
An early look suggests you'd get a bit less CPU and quite a bit more GPU that what you'd get with a Sandy Bridge and it's IGP HD 3000 graphics.
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June 15, 2011 7:00:18 PM

WR2 said:
Hello Synosis;

How soon do you need your new laptop?
Some of the new Llano systems will be out shortly. AMD has been shipping the chips to the Manufacturer's and OEM's for a few months now.

If the price and feature set is right it could be a good option in your price range and for the tasks you want to do. We should know shortly.
An early look suggests you'd get a bit less CPU and quite a bit more GPU that what you'd get with a Sandy Bridge and it's IGP HD 3000 graphics.


Edit: Firstly off, thank you for your reply.
I would like to, at the very least, order my laptop within one month from now - so about until mid July. I know Sandy Bridge had the whole cougar point flaw but they said the same thing about SB, that it should be out shortly and that it had already been shipped to manufacturers. I just don't want to be stuck waiting for something new to come out again... because there is an endless supply of new features and products, I could be waiting for eternity.

That said, if llano does come out soon (by the way do you know when?) the improved graphics doesn't mean too much to me. I don't expect to do much gaming and that is basically the only thing improved graphics is good for. The only thing that caught my interest on Tom's review is that it could provide a massive decrease in energy usage. But as i read further, it seemed to suggest a major benefit while doing something graphics heavy but during normal tasks (the RLUMark test) it is almost the same as SB. Battery life for 6+ hours would be awesome and maybe worth waiting for. Lastly, my inference from the review showed about 25-50% less cpu performance in exchange for about 50-75% more gpu performance. Which I think is an equal trade off of cpu loss for gpu gain.
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a c 571 D Laptop
June 15, 2011 8:41:53 PM

Synosis said:
Lastly, my inference from the review showed about 25-50% less cpu performance in exchange for about 50-75% more gpu performance. Which I think is an equal trade off of cpu loss for gpu gain.
That's about the right analysis as far as I tell right now. For many the CPU/GPU balance will make it attractive for those with 'casual, light gaming' goals. Enough CPU for class/office work and enough GPU for some entertainment/relaxation.

As far as when - I'd be totally surprised if you're not seeing models roll out by the end of the month. Annual Toshiba Refresh Brings Llano...and Some Style which mentions 'end of the month'.
And if it's too late for your mid-July date? The imminent Llano arrival might be putting some extra downdraft into the SB prices.
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June 26, 2011 9:10:22 PM

The last thing I needed to finally make my decision is here. So I finally saw the new A-series APU being sold on HP.com, and the laptop they were selling it in (DV6z) was exactly the same as i was considering (the DV6t). The only difference is that the DV6z (the AMD one) is about .3 pounds heavier and has an estimated battery life of 5.5 hours (about 1 hour shorter than the 6.47 hours of the DV6t) . If you go to this url http://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/shopping/series_can.do?storeName=computer_store&landing=notebooks&a1=Category&v1=High+performance&jumpid=in_R329_prodexp/hhoslp/psg/notebooks/High_performance and check the boxes to compare the first two and scroll down to battery life, you can see the difference. I can only think that they used previous form data from another entry as the A-series could not really use more battery life, could it? So essentially my choice is down to these two and if battery life info is accurate I am definitely jumping for the intel one.. Ohh and one other thing, I saw that the AMD variant has bluetooth included for free... do you know what bluetooth is useful for?
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