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Ditching Cable - buying a new laptop to connect via HDMI to my 42" 1080 TV

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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March 9, 2013 5:19:38 PM

I am looking for info/advise on what I should be looking for in a new laptop. I am ditching cable TV but keeping my high speed internet. I will be connecting my new laptop via HDMI and will be watching most of my shows via Hulu.com. I already have a Roku HD, Netflix and Amazon Prime, but plan on using Hulu.com to watch the daily or weekly shows I usually DVR. Other than that, the laptop will be used for email, social media, browsing/surfing, shopping ... General use. No gaming (not even Facebook games).

What should I be looking for in a processor? (Intel i3-i5-i7??) Graphics/video? Memory? Windows 7 or 8? Etc...

Money is a factor. I know I have to spend more than $400 but don't really want to spend $1000 if I don't have to!

I think 14" is too small, so probably 15.6" screen size would be best for me.

Help!

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a b D Laptop
March 9, 2013 5:34:25 PM

I will start off by saying that you should make sure that when you cancel your cable tv and keep the internet that the cable company will give you a lower price. I used to do work as an installer for Comcast and found it odd that when people ordered just internet and no tv they actually paid more then if they ordered internet and basic tv service. Make sure you check that out before you make the change so that it doesn't cost you more for nothing.

In getting a laptop a good cpu would be the i5 and while the laptops will come with intergrated graphics it's always good to have the discrete video card for better performance maybe a gt630m and Windows 7 would be a good choice until Win 8 improves to the point where it's as good or better then Win 7. A 15.6 screen and 4 gb of ram would round it out. If the laptop is mostly a stay at home type of use then this could be a good choice although the screen is 17.3 the price is not that much over the $400 and almost in between that and the $1000.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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a b D Laptop
March 9, 2013 5:40:31 PM

There is also this one if you want to go with an i3 and intergrated graphics and a 15.6 screen and 4gb ram with windows 7. Except for the intergrated graphics this could be a perfect fit and it's only $500. That is if you live in the U.S. and can order from Newegg. But it does show what you can get.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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March 9, 2013 8:07:34 PM

VvLadyvV said:
I will be connecting my new laptop via HDMI and will be watching most of my shows via Hulu.com. I already have a Roku HD, Netflix and Amazon Prime, but plan on using Hulu.com to watch the daily or weekly shows I usually DVR.

Don't Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime already work with the Roku HD? I did something similar for a client last year, and the only reason I went with a laptop was to be able to receive over-the-air live TV broadcasts with an HDHomeRun. If all he needed were the online services, I probably woud've gone with something like the Roku HD.

Other than that, the laptop will be used for email, social media, browsing/surfing, shopping ... General use. No gaming (not even Facebook games).

What should I be looking for in a processor? (Intel i3-i5-i7??) Graphics/video? Memory? Windows 7 or 8? Etc... said:
Other than that, the laptop will be used for email, social media, browsing/surfing, shopping ... General use. No gaming (not even Facebook games).

What should I be looking for in a processor? (Intel i3-i5-i7??) Graphics/video? Memory? Windows 7 or 8? Etc...

An i3 laptop and its integrated HD3000 or HD4000 graphics should be more than sufficient for these tasks. Unless you're getting something with a low power CPU (Intel CPU model that ends in 'u' or 'y'), skip the i5. It costs $50-$100 more and the only thing it gets you on a laptop is Turbo Boost (dynamic overclocking which speeds things up 10%-25% over an i3 rated at the same speed). Not worth the money IMHO.

Nothing on your list benefits from discrete graphics. All a discrete graphics card will do for you is consume more power, reducing battery life. A few years ago Intel's integrated graphics occasionally had problems keeping up with 1080p, but that's no longer the case. Also, Netflix streamed to a PC uses Silverlight, which currently does not support hardware acceleration on AMD discrete graphics chipsets. So with either an AMD video card or Intel's integrated graphics, Netflix will be decoded the same way - entirely using the CPU (which the i3 is more than capable of handling).

If this were going to be acting as a HTPC for your TV and nothing else, then I'd also suggest looking at some of the netbooks. But since you're planning to use it as a laptop as well, the i3 is probably your safest choice. Intel has done a really good job at reducing idle power draw with the last two generations of i3/i5/i7 CPUs, and so it won't use much more power than a netbook most of the time.

Money is a factor. I know I have to spend more than $400 but don't really want to spend $1000 if I don't have to!

I think 14" is too small, so probably 15.6" screen size would be best for me. said:
Money is a factor. I know I have to spend more than $400 but don't really want to spend $1000 if I don't have to!

I think 14" is too small, so probably 15.6" screen size would be best for me.

Paradoxically, 15.6" models tend to be the lowest priced. 14" or smaller tends to get into the "portable" category which costs more.

The low end i3 models are frequently on sale for $300-$400. Staples currently has a $75 laptop coupon (exp 3/11) which last week dropped some i3 models down to about $275. Dunno if there are similar deals this week.
http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/hot-deals/1260882/

Based on that thread, it looks like the following 15.6" with HDMI out can be gotten for $325 after coupon and rebate. If it's available in your local store (sold out online.)
http://www.staples.com/Toshiba-Satellite-C855-S5194-156...

If that's not to your liking, I'd suggest monitoring the hot deals sections of slickdeals.net and fatwallet.com for any laptops which pop up in your price range. Just make sure it has the following:

- HDMI out (duh)
- i3 or better
- new or refurb (your choice, though I've had good luck with refurbs for "occasional use" laptops)
- bonus points if it has a SSD or combination SSD/HDD. The slowest part of these cheap laptops is the hard drive.
- decent screen. If it's sold by a local retailer like Staples or Best Buy, check it out in store before you buy. Some of the low-end screens are pathetic.
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March 9, 2013 8:23:24 PM

Thanks for responding, this is very helpful!
Yes, I do live in the U.S. and can order from Newegg. I like the looks of the first one you suggested with the dedicated graphics and i5 and it is in my price range but I noticed it comes with Windows 8 which does concern me a little. Either size screen is fine I just think 14" would be a bit small for me. Do you have any other suggestions that would include Windows 7 vs Windows 8?
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a c 433 D Laptop
a b x TV
March 9, 2013 8:40:18 PM

Generally speaking, any laptop will do.

I recently dropped cable TV as well. Been w/o it since Nov 2012. Basically the only thing I really miss is watching CNBC live. I have not really supplemented cable TV with anything else (like Hulu, Netflix, etc) since I am more or less using a lot of my "free time" studying.

Right now is a good time to buy a laptop since prices have declined a bit as a result of Intel's upcoming Haswell CPU coming in June/July which means a new generation of laptops will be hitting the market somewhat soon. That means e-tailers/retailers are trying to sell off existing stock. Larger discounts might appear as June looms closer.

If you want something really inexpensive, but still very capable of doing what you want to do then consider the Lenovo G580 for $400. The only downside is the weight; at 5.7lbs it is actually considered average for a 15.6" laptop, but if you plan on carrying it around, then it can feel quite heavy after a period of time.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The following Acer laptop is slightly lighter (5.5lbs) but slightly more expensive at $410. But I prefer the Lenovo due to perceived build quality; Acer quality is generally a little lower than Lenovo in my opinion.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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a c 433 D Laptop
a b x TV
March 9, 2013 8:42:29 PM

If you prefer not to have Windows 8, then ignore my above suggestions.
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a b D Laptop
March 9, 2013 9:22:10 PM

Have you considered getting a laptop with a 1080p screen? It will cost more, but the display is much nicer.
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March 9, 2013 9:43:24 PM

mbreslin1954 said:
Have you considered getting a laptop with a 1080p screen? It will cost more, but the display is much nicer.


When I am using the laptop for watching TV I would prefer to watch it on my 42" 1080 HD TV rather than a 15" screen, which is easily achievable by connecting it via HDMI cable.
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March 9, 2013 9:45:36 PM

jaguarskx said:
If you prefer not to have Windows 8, then ignore my above suggestions.


Thanks! I am not sure I prefer not to have Windows 8. Just going by most of what I've "heard" Windows 7 might be better/easier.
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March 9, 2013 9:47:21 PM

inzone said:
There is also this one if you want to go with an i3 and intergrated graphics and a 15.6 screen and 4gb ram with windows 7. Except for the intergrated graphics this could be a perfect fit and it's only $500. That is if you live in the U.S. and can order from Newegg. But it does show what you can get.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Thanks for responding, this is very helpful!
Yes, I do live in the U.S. and can order from Newegg. I like the looks of the first one you suggested with the dedicated graphics and i5 and it is in my price range but I noticed it comes with Windows 8 which does concern me a little. Either size screen is fine I just think 14" would be a bit small for me. Do you have any other suggestions that would include Windows 7 vs Windows 8?
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a b D Laptop
March 10, 2013 4:47:43 AM

The second laptop I suggested does come with Windows 7 and looks to be a good fit for what you want and the price is friendly too.
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