OT: Laptop suggestions?

Cidu Bill on Mar 13th 2017

Look like 3 1/2 years was about as long as this guy was meant to serve me.

Any thoughts? I’m looking for something reliable but basic, suitable for writing and not gaming, nothing named after the fruit of a deciduous tree.

Any guidance would be appreciated.

Filed in Bill Bickel | 55 responses so far

55 Responses to “OT: Laptop suggestions?”

  1. Chip Mar 13th 2017 at 06:45 am 1

    I don’t know if they make one in your price range but I’m really liking the Dell XPS.

  2. BERBER Mar 13th 2017 at 07:17 am 2

    At this point, you can go with the “hard to go wrong at $500″ rule :^). I like the Acer laptops from Newegg a lot, and then gravitate to the <$500 on-sale kit. As you mentioned for yourself, I’m doing writing, some Excel, and run a YouTube honey badger video once in a while.

  3. Powers Mar 13th 2017 at 08:18 am 3

    If you don’t need it for gaming virtually any laptop will suffice as long as it’s not dirt cheap. Most of your big brands have reliable quality. It’s hard to go wrong.

  4. Andréa Mar 13th 2017 at 08:35 am 4

    “nothing named after the fruit of a deciduous tree” - well, that pretty much rules out the best ‘-)

  5. Catelli_NQU Mar 13th 2017 at 09:45 am 5

    I endorse BERBER’s comment. I like Acers for personal use. They’re fairly rugged and good reliable performers.

    That being said, at the sub $500 you don’t go much wrong with an HP or Dell either.

    Can save some dough looking for the end-of-life models, they’ll have clearance sale prices on them, and the replacements aren’t worth the extra $100 or so in performance.

    If you have any extra cash, pay to have the drive replaced with a solid state drive. That’s your biggest bang for buck upgrade in any laptop, the hard drive is always the biggest impact on performance, even in the more expensive models.

  6. James Pollock Mar 13th 2017 at 12:08 pm 6

    The thing that’s most likely to affect you is that the newest ultra-portables have started dispensing with optical drives and making other changes to get super-thin. That means that the keyboards are no-longer full-travel keys, but “low-profile”… the keys are more uniform, packed more tightly together, and only a couple of millimeters tall.

    The truth is, as you’ve already determined, that the actual quality and performance differences between brands is not very significant. The feel of the keyboards, however, DOES vary… and is very important to someone who uses their computer to write.

    The biggest challenge for me with laptops of several generations now, is that the touchpad is now “multi-touch” and so sensitive you don’t actually have to touch it to activate it. This means I get random cursor movements from my hands being too near the touchpad when I type, unless I disable the touchpad and use a mouse. I’ve run into this problem with devices branded as Dell, HP, and Acer, which coincidentally is the list of brands of laptops I’ve had occasion to use in the last decade.

  7. Mr. Grumpy Mar 13th 2017 at 12:27 pm 7

    I like my Surface for its boot-up speed.

  8. James Pollock Mar 13th 2017 at 01:44 pm 8

    “I like my Surface for its boot-up speed.”

    Is that something specific to the Surface hardware, or would any device running Windows 10 have the same? Or is it that the Surface never really turns off, but rather hibernates?

    I wouldn’t put it past Microsoft to build in a feature to Windows 10 that only Microsoft hardware can take advantage of, but I don’t think that’s what’s happening. I think the Surface goes from “off” to “ready for use” quickly by not really being “off” in the first place.

  9. Greybeard Mar 13th 2017 at 02:24 pm 9

    I’ve been a stalwart ThinkPad user for 20 years, when I’ve had a choice (I even got a new one since the HP acquisition–my boss understands and bought it out of other funds; I use the HP once every 90 days now, to change my password). Even ThinkPads have gone downhill, but if you’re hooked on the TrackPoint (as I am) they’re the only good option. There are other brands with TrackPoint-like things, but they aren’t as good.

    As someone who got acquired by HP and “granted” an HP laptop, I’d run far away from those. We’ve seen horrible reliability (like, some of my folks have had theirs replaced at least three times in two years), and they’re dog-slow. Pre-HP, I did some work on a friend’s HP machine, and it wasn’t impressive either. I do have two Compaq desktops (circa 2005) that were decent, but that’s an eon ago!

    Mind you, everyone has horror stories. Back when I was at companies that used Dell, I never had a Dell that didn’t start to misbehave (refuse to sleep, for example) after about six months. But that was a decade ago, so also likely not relevant, and lots of folks love their Dells. And my current ThinkPad had two system board replacements: a BIOS update bricked one, then the replacement went a week later. At least their service is reasonably decent (though still degraaded from the old days).

    As others have noted, optical drives are mostly gone. Get SSD — you’ll never go back (Surface has SSD, which is at least one reason it comes up fast). But (again, as others have noted), if it’s at all possible, try the sucker first. The physical keyboard may make the difference between a “Yes” and a “No”.

    Apparently there are actually only a handful of laptop manufacturers in China, so it’s not like a ThinkPad is inherently somehow that different from an HP: it’s all a matter of what the brand requests/requires.

    Also consider a Chromebook if all you need is web and other basic stuff.

  10. Onnie Mar 13th 2017 at 02:38 pm 10

    What’s your current computer? Did you buy it new? What’s the OS/version? Got a budget? What stuff do you *need* to do on your computer, vs. stuff you’d maybe *like* to do if you had time/money/larger screen? Is lightness important, i.e. do you plan carrying it around a lot? Is screen/display size important? Do you use it where you can plug it in or do you really need a long-life battery?

    Does this seem like too many questions? Because this is part of my actual work job: We buy/build/install/configure/support laptops and desktop PCs across a large domain, and while we can (and do) come up with “standard configurations” for various departments, we really need to know your needs and budget to come up with any really good suggestions!

  11. Mona Mar 13th 2017 at 02:50 pm 11

    I’m not a tech expert (although, sadly, I was always the tech expert every place I worked). From my experience, I will only buy Dell. I would not use an HP if you gave it to me for free. At my last place of employment I had a Toshiba. It was okay, but sometimes a bit quirky. (The finger-print reader for log-in only lasted a couple of months.)
    Costco will usually have Dell laptops in their coupon book, or online specials. Last year (or the year before?) I had to get a new laptop to replace my very, very old one. Of course the new one has Windows 10, which I do not like because I’m used to doing things the way I’ve always done them.
    Good Luck!

  12. James Pollock Mar 13th 2017 at 03:12 pm 12

    “we really need to know your needs and budget to come up with any really good suggestions!”
    Everything before this sentence is completely accurate, I’m not quoting it all to avoid “wall o’ text”.

    I’m a step further down the support chain; decisions have already been made about what device a user’s getting when it comes to me, and I manage the switchover from old to new. This means that I get the observations (and sometimes complaints) from people who’re getting new corporate equipment. Sometimes I get to see it go horribly, horribly wrong (such as a department of people who receive data on CD getting their systems replaced with the “corporate standard” system which has no optical drives, or the people who have special-purpose add-in cards for their computers getting replacement PC’s with no add-in card slots.)

  13. Ron Mar 13th 2017 at 03:37 pm 13

    James Pollock wrote:
    >the touchpad is now “multi-touch” and so sensitive you don’t
    >actually have to touch it to activate it

    Yes, this is a big part of why I go with Lenovo. The first
    thing I do is disable the touchpad and just use the clit mouse
    on the keyboard.

    In terms of Lenovo model, the X-1 Carbon has the best specs and
    reputation. However, back when I bought, it lacked an RJ-45
    Ethernet port, which was a deal breaker for me. I went with the
    T series.

    Both of these may well be overkill for you. Onnie’s questions were
    spot-on and necessary to suggest a machine that fits your needs.

  14. James Pollock Mar 13th 2017 at 05:06 pm 14

    Oh, I forgot Lenovo! I don’t have one, and I haven’t supported any more money since before Lenovo bought the Thinkpad line from IBM, but my mom has one. And she uses a wireless mouse with it.

  15. MacroscopePilot Mar 13th 2017 at 06:01 pm 15

  16. Mona Mar 13th 2017 at 06:28 pm 16

    I have a wireless full-size keyboard and full-size mouse that I use with my laptop. When I travel I take my mouse with me because I’m a geezer and that’s what I’m used to, but I don’t take the keyboard.
    Also, my laptop has the numeric keys on the side (like a real keyboard) because I’m a bookkeeper/accountant. Some laptops have that, others do not. Consider if you want it or not.
    Consider if you want wireless/bluetooth capability, if you want to be able to play and/or burn CDs/DVDs (again, the geezer aspect), will you have a wireless printer or are there USB ports to plug things into, how many USB ports (so you don’t have to unplug the printer in order to plug in a drive to back up onto), etc.

  17. Cidu Bill Mar 13th 2017 at 08:03 pm 17

    Andréa (4), my wife just got an iPhone, and the problems I’m having getting that set up for her guaranteed I will never even consider an Apple computer.

  18. Mona Mar 13th 2017 at 08:15 pm 18

    A few years ago Hubby got a classic iPod. It is so counterintuitive for me, I don’t like it. I spent a few weeks loading music from CDs onto it for him back then, but haven’t added anything to it for years. The last time I plugged it into my laptop to add music to it, it synced and all of our pictures ended up on it, too. I would not want an iAnything. I’m not saying they are bad, just that they are not for me.

  19. Mr. Grumpy Mar 13th 2017 at 08:35 pm 19

    @James Pollock #8. Good question. I’ve always assumed that it’s the solid start hard drive — i.e., none of those whirring sounds — but that would mean that a lot of other computers ought to do the same. Those tend to be rather high-priced, however, and the Surface can be had relatively cheap.

    Re Bill’s inquiryI just bought my very elderly mother a 15″ Dell Inspiron for $460. Could have gone even cheaper, but I’m thinking/hoping that the touch screen will be helpful rather than having to use the mouse to navigate as her motor skills fall by the wayside.

  20. Andréa Mar 13th 2017 at 08:42 pm 20

    Unfortunately, iPods, iPhones, iPads are NOTHING like Apple computers. Which is unfortunate.

  21. Mona Mar 13th 2017 at 08:54 pm 21

    That reminds me….my laptop happens to have a touchscreen. I agree it is a good option. I use it so rarely that I forgot about it until I read Mr. Grumpy’s remark. Except for CIDU and a few other fun things, I use it mostly for work which is mostly Excel.

  22. Stan Mar 13th 2017 at 10:46 pm 22

    Santa’s laptop always helped me out when I needed something specific as a kid.

    (Sorry. Someone was bound to say it eventually.)

  23. Arthur Mar 13th 2017 at 11:10 pm 23

    Before deciding on a Lenovo, do a search with terms
    lenovo spyware

    It’s possible they’ve learned….

  24. Mark in Boston Mar 13th 2017 at 11:48 pm 24

    Almost any laptop you buy will come loaded with crapware. I hate that, so I bought a Microsoft Signature Edition laptop through the Microsoft Store. Mine is an HP but several brands are available. No bloatware / crapware.
    You pay a little extra because you don’t get the bloatware subsidy but it’s well worth the difference.

  25. Meryl A Mar 14th 2017 at 02:24 am 25

    Acer. Asus. Sony no longer makes laptops I believe or I would highly recommend same. (This laptop, a Sony, is OLD - the most recent copyright on the stickers on the computer is 2004 - that means I probably have it around 13 years. It is used just about nightly as my kitchen computer.

    AVOID TOSHIBA. I had one. Actually I had two - I liked the first one so I bought the second (in 2000 or 2001 - so it was replaced in about 3 years with this Sony). I had to replace it as the screen stopped coming on and it could only be used with an expensive repair or with a separate monitor - and when I researched the problem, Toshiba knew about it at least 2 years before my computer was made - and they did not fix it for new computers they were making and selling.

    I would not buy HP or Dell. Husband has been unhappy with both. (When he ran a non-profit agency he also did the IT for the agency so he bought a lot of computers over the years.)

    I have not had a Lenovo, but I would try one if it matched what I needed.

  26. Proginoskes Mar 14th 2017 at 03:22 am 26

    (1) Don’t go to Best Buy and use the Geek Squad. A bunch of their employees were caught putting spyware on computers which were brought in for repair.

    (2) MacBook. I got one about five years ago, and I’ve never looked back. Even if you get a used one that’s a few years old, you’re still getting a great computer.

  27. Ted from Ft. Laud Mar 14th 2017 at 03:54 am 27

    I personally dislike laptops (I have no need to cart a computer around, like a good full sized keyboard, want a large screen, hate touchpads, etc.) and haven’t had to use one on a full time basis for more than 15 years.

    That said - I’m not sure how different the various brands are at moderate prices. I’ve gotten my kids an assortment over their college careers - HP, Dell, Acer, possibly something else? - and from reports, all were as good or bad as the others (with the exception of a “gaming” level 17″ HP - so not really moderately priced - that suffered overheating problems due to trying to pack too much CPU and graphics power into a little box with inadequate cooling - a failing that I think all “high powered” laptops are prone to - another reason for my preference for towers with lots of cooling).

    My only significant current exposure is to my wife’s school supplied Thinkpad (Lenovo - I’m sure there’s nothing IBM left in their designs anymore) Ultrabook - a crappy little computer that is likely crappy more because the school system went really cheap than anything inherent in Lenovo. However, it suffers from a very eager and hard to control touchpad (did I mention I hate touchpads) and has a touchscreen that is similarly hard to control. I am not opposed to touchscreens in general - I use an iPhone and iPad - but whether it is this particular machine or Windows’ usage (in “standard” mode, not Metro), I find the touchscreen way more trouble than it is worth.

    So for me, I’d go with a wired or wireless mouse, forgo the touchscreen and disable the touchpad, and pick one with a good display and good keyboard - the CPU and graphics power of basically anything should be fine for what you want to do. If you don’t need to carry a lot of data (basically, audio/video files) around with you, I would go for a SSD - they’re faster and boot more quickly, and generate less heat and are more rugged, though the latter 2 are unlikely to be factors. Per megabyte, SSDs are significantly more expensive - if you can get by with a 250GB one, fine, but if you need larger, you will quickly blow your budget. (I got my older one a new machine earlier this year, and it has a SSD around that size. For carrying around media files, he got a 2TB(?) USB3 portable - a little bigger than a deck of cards - for about $80. A lot cheaper/easier to replace if it fails, and he still has all the benefits of the SSD.

  28. Carl Mar 14th 2017 at 08:25 am 28

    I have a ThinkPad I like very much, and which does not have the Lenovo spyware (which was several years ago, like the Geek Squad spyware). It was very expensive, though.

    There’s no right answer, of course. What works for you is what works for you.

    You use it to write. With what software? If it isn’t “Bloatware Writer” you can buy any used laptop for $100 and it will work, meaning it all boils down to a matter of taste.

  29. Andréa Mar 14th 2017 at 08:29 am 29

    Yes, MacBook . . . the one I’m using has wireless mouse and keyboard. Had it for years; hubby had it before I did so I’ve no idea how old it is. But certainly they should last more than 3.5 years, no?

  30. Ben Collins Mar 14th 2017 at 09:18 am 30

    From recent personal experience: 32GB of storage is not as much as it sounds. It’s almost all taken up by pre-installed programs. So if you intend to store anything at all, including adding your own programs, go for a lot more storage.

  31. James Pollock Mar 14th 2017 at 12:24 pm 31

    If ALL you wanted to do was write, then pretty much any functional laptop would work. You can get FreeDOS for, (surprise!) free, and Microsoft will graciously allow you to download and use a copy of Word for DOS 5.5 for free. You may have some difficulty it RETRIEVING your writing, however, as an old-enough laptop won’t have a USB port, and printers don’t have parallel ports any more… and a similar problem exists in attempting to move files… floppy disk drives are no longer available on new hardware, and (really) old hardware doesn’t have a USB port to plug a flash drive into.

    I take old laptops, install FreeDOS, and then install a bunch of old DOS games. Zork 1, 2, and 3 are available for free, the original Doom is free, there’s no shortage of free time-wasters. If the old system I’m saving has a DVD drive, I’ll install a DOS media-player app, and the things a portable DVD player. I install an MP3 player, and it’s a big iPod. If more people gave me their old laptops instead of throwing them away, I’d set up a class to teach people how to do this.

  32. BBBB Mar 14th 2017 at 12:51 pm 32

    I have a Dell desktop and Acer and Asus laptops. I don’t do gaming, just mostly word processing and reading and watching stuff on the web.

    The Asus works fine. I wouldn’t buy an Acer again, and you really do not want to hear about the problems.

    Buying the Dell from Dell about five years ago was a horrible experience. None of their people knew anything about either the product or what options were available for which customers. I will never deal with them again.

    I recently discovered a great local small business that does computer work for individuals and small businesses. They replaced my wife’s computer with a new HP, and they replaced the hard drive on my Dell when it died. Both replacements were solid state and both work just fine. This may be your least expensive alternative, plus a place like this can replace your hard drive and transfer all your files and software and save you a bunch of time and effort. Every time we have dealt with them, they have price compared what they’re offering with the lowest comparable price on Amazon.com. Plus, they fix any problems.

    I agree wholeheartedly with two comments made above. Catelli_NQU @ #5 is right on the money on solid state hard drives. I cannot believe how much faster and more responsive our computers are. Upgrade to solid state even if you have to give up beer for a month.

    I agree with Proginoskes @ #26 on avoiding Best Buy’s Geek Squad. I don’t know if they tried to spy on me, but they never fixed things and often made them worse.

  33. turquoisecow Mar 14th 2017 at 03:36 pm 33

    I’m with Andrea. I’m a diehard macbook fan. I’ve had this one for several years, which replaced an earlier one, and I haven’t had half the problems my parents and in-laws have had with their various non-apple laptops in far less time. Yet they still refuse to switch over, preferring to complain that their buggy windows machines are “easier.”

  34. Ted from Ft. Laud Mar 14th 2017 at 06:07 pm 34

    turquoisecow - in general, whatever you are used to (and have learned the quirks and technique of) is “easier”. Microsoft is where they are in large part because individuals’ and companies’ investments (time and dollars) in training/learning a new system to replace legacy Windows/Office/whatever generally can’t be justified - unless there is a need for something the new system can do that the old one can’t, the benefits of switching are almost always less than the cost. Obviously, this is less true for individuals, as the “cost” is less likely quantifiable, but still true for most people.

  35. Dennis Ewing Mar 14th 2017 at 10:49 pm 35

    The best part of closing my printing company was that I never had to own another Mac again. I have been buying HP laptops for at least 20 years. I tend to stay in the 900 to 1000 dollar range and they seem to last about 5 years. I owned a couple of Toshibas for short periods time. As in just about long enough to return them. Would not get a Thinkpad since Lenovo bought them. If you spend over a grand on a Dell it should be fine, I just never liked Dell for some reason. They just didn’t feel right to me. I got my wife a sub 500 dollar HP about 3 years ago and it started throwing blue screens this week. Often a sign of impending doom. My current laptop is about 5 years old and still going strong. The last one is still running, I just wanted a new one. The on;y thing holding me back from buying a new one now is Windows 10. While it is still better than Mac OS I will keep windows 7 until this laptop croaks. I think if MS had left the GUI alone and had made the changes under the hood only they would have had a world beater, but the same folks who brought you the ribbon in office had to screw with the GUI starting in Win 8. As others have said, budget dictates a lot, but if you are in the 900 and up range what feels good to you when you type would be what I bought.

  36. James Pollock Mar 14th 2017 at 11:43 pm 36

    “I got my wife a sub 500 dollar HP about 3 years ago and it started throwing blue screens this week. Often a sign of impending doom.”

    Stop Errors (the formal name for the blue-screen-of-death) generally arise from one of three sources: Corrupt files in the operating system (usually malware, sometimes just buggy software installers or drivers), failing memory, or overheating. In a five yearold system, I’d consider doing a fresh OS install on general principle, and investigate whether or not the fan is working reliably.

    “I think if MS had left the GUI alone and had made the changes under the hood only they would have had a world beater”
    MS has the dominant desktop operating system, but they’re a distant also-ran in the phone and tablet OS markets. Additionally, they might be a bit jealous of the way Apple gets a cut of all the non-Apple software sold in the Apple Store, and the way Google gets a cut of all the non-Google software sold in the Google Store.
    They tried to leverage their control of the desktop market by building “one-OS-to-rule-them-all”, assuming that people want the same OS to run their phone, their tablet, and their desktop computer. This meant that they built in a bunch of features relevant to tablets into a desktop computer operating system, completely ignoring the fact that most desktop computers lacked the hardware support to make use of them. This caused nearly the entire world to ignore Windows 8. Windows 8 was a tablet OS applied to desktop computers, and most people said, “uh, no.”
    There are a substantial number of non-UI improvements built into Windows 10 that make it a better OS than Windows 7 is. But if you’re trying to run stuff that was built for Windows 7, or XP, or (God help you) for DOS, then Windows 10 offers backwards compatability but few compelling new features.

    Mac fans will recall that Mac software has had to go through TWO DIFFERENT total and complete changes of processor architecture (From 680×0 to PPC to x64.) Microsoft has also had two changes of architecture (from the 16-bit 8086 family to the 32-bit 80386 family to the 64-bit processors of today. The difference is, Microsoft’s speed bumps were gentler, and Microsoft’s customers still want to be able to run software from the whole range. I’m pretty sure that there are few, if any, Mac customers who still want to be able to run 68000 software originally written for the Mac Plus. However, I know for a fact that there are still MS customers running software originally written for DOS. Much of the challenge in maintaining Windows is the fact that Windows has SO MUCH BACKWARDS COMPATIBILITY. 20 years ago, Windows NT could still run applications written for DOS, for 16-bit Windows 3.x, for OS/2, for POSIX, and, of course, native applications written for Win32. Today, Win32 is “legacy”, but Windows is STILL supporting running software for DOS or 16-bit Windows, because MS has customers telling it “we still have mission-critical software that was written for DOS, for Win 3.x, or for XP. We have to be able to run that software if you want us to upgrade to your new OS. And even then, businesses are still mostly deploying Windows 7, with pilots of Windows 10. So much of my work is in Windows 7, I don’t even have a Windows 10 device at home yet, because I haven’t needed to learn it. I think this will be the year.

  37. Michael Ryan Mar 15th 2017 at 12:25 am 37

    Toshiba Satellite has been my only computer brand/model for 20+ years.

  38. Dennis Ewing Mar 15th 2017 at 12:07 pm 38

    I have already reloaded from my known good disc image. that is why I think it is on the way out. Tossing a blue screen with a known good image is hardware and the hardware is cheap enough on this system to toss. Remember that the same design team that brought you the ribbon brought you the current UI, Doesn’t matter what MS hoped to do, the UI still exists and is still not as friendly as the Win 7 UI. I did IT for several small companies when I owned my printing company. They saw that my systems worked and asked me to help them. This resulted in several networks being designed and run by me. A few of them I manage to this day. I know all the history, just didn’t think sharing it here made it relevant, was just putting in my 2 cents for finding a system that feels good fr you. I like the feel of the keyboard I’m using. Every Toshiba I ever tried wound up going back to the store because it didn’t feel right. They all have roughly the same chipsets and CPUs as well as the same OS. It comes down to the cheaper systems use cheaper parts to get to the price point and the better systems don’t. The main difference is features and feel. Find what you want feature wise and get one that feels good to work on., BTW I already tried new memory DIMMs in it too. I think the CPU is overheating. It is not cost effective to replace the fan in that model so when it croaks I’ll pull the stuff she doesn’t have backed up off the data partition and trash it.

  39. Regulator Machine Mar 15th 2017 at 03:50 pm 39

    The IBM refurbished are only around $500 and don’t come loaded with any trial software or ’spyware’ as you call it

    a way better deal than anything new, as laptops are a disposable item with and short life span, living such a dangerous life as our traveling companion…

  40. Andyh Mar 16th 2017 at 10:14 pm 40

    I hate chicklet keyboards, and mousepads that will not turn off, so I have a wireless keyboard/mouse for my new $500 HP from Costco. I would have bought almost anything with a good keyboard, but all laptops have chicklets. I hate win10, just for the record. My 2007 Dell inspiron had a good keyboard, but after years of running hot resting on two triangular engineers scales the fan got unbearably noisy and I copied all to an external drive and replaced it with the hp. My wife went through a Toshiba,Acer and Asus over that period, and now has another almost identical HP. We’ll see how they last.

  41. Librarian Mar 17th 2017 at 06:24 am 41

    I have a Samsung (and have had a Toshiba, Dell and HP in the past) and I like everything about it. My husband has all Apple, and I am sick of his complaining about it all, don’t get me started on the genius store.

  42. Meryl A Mar 20th 2017 at 02:11 am 42

    Michael Ryan (37) - I take it you have been lucky enough to avoid having one where the monitor screen stops turning on? There fix for it - and it always occurs after the warranty is over - is to have the starter and other parts of the monitor replaced and that might fix it - starter alone was $75 to fix a $250 laptop. It became a “use only with a spare monitor” machine - which meant that it was no longer usable to take to clients - it’s intended purpose.

    This was my second Toshiba - first stayed okay for the time I used it (Win 3.1) this second one came with Window ME with a later free upgrade to XP.

  43. Meryl A Mar 20th 2017 at 02:12 am 43

    Bill - We have been happy buying at Costco and and at Micro Center - although at the latter they have pushy sales people who are on commission and especially push the add ons - such as virus protection and “Office” subscription.

  44. James Pollock Mar 20th 2017 at 03:28 am 44

    There isn’t much margin in a computer. This means that it’s really necessary to upsell to make any money selling computers (or, alternatively, to offer no assistance at all.) This, of course, doesn’t mean that some stores won’t offer no assistance AND try to upsell you, too.

    I used to offer a service… for $50 I’d interview someone wanting to buy a computer, and make a recommendation (like a fee-only financial planner, you pay me for my advice. I’m not selling you anything BUT my advice. The price of systems kept coming down, and nobody wants to pay for advice any more. So people buy the wrong device, and it ain’t my fault.)

  45. Cidu Bill Mar 20th 2017 at 04:20 am 45

    For a while, when a Best Buy customer declined interest in warrantees or other add-ons, the unit he or she asked for would, oops, be out of stock.

    They also tried to scam my son with “the model you came for is only available with Office and other programs already installed, at extra cost.”

    For the record, none of us has paid for Word since we discovered the free Open Office suite.

  46. Meryl A Mar 29th 2017 at 02:53 am 46

    Bill - I was in MicroCenter one day, wandering the laptop department as I do, and a salesman was pushing the fact that the computer came with Office 365 for a year included and some virus software (not Norton) included for a year also - “While I get the paperwork started you can think about if you want to extend the programs now for additional time.” The salesman walked away. The fellow buying the computer looked like a nice, intelligent guy and I casually mentioned to him about Open Office and free virusware - he replied, politely, that he was not about to fall for them having him pay for the additional software.

    I have a freeware program Robert found for me called Foxit. It scans and lets one manage pdfs.
    I have other software that also does this, but this one lets one type on the pdfs - instant fill in forms - free.

  47. James Pollock Mar 29th 2017 at 05:00 am 47

    “Norton” Antivirus was rebranded some time ago.

    Similarly, “Openoffice.org” was forked and the current versions are now “Libre Office”.

  48. Winter Wallaby Mar 29th 2017 at 12:56 pm 48

    Anyone have thoughts on a laptop that might reasonably be expected to last more than 3 years? e.g. 5+ years.

    My guess is that (1) this is hard to review and (2) there’s not much reason for the market to support this. But thought I’d see people’s thoughts.

  49. James Pollock Mar 29th 2017 at 02:46 pm 49

    “Anyone have thoughts on a laptop that might reasonably be expected to last more than 3 years?”

    I have an IBM PC Portable that works as well now as it did when it came off the line in the mid 80’s.

    OK, seriously, I would, as a path of investigation, look into the products that are created and marketed primarily for the business lease market, as opposed to consumer products. When HP, Dell, or whoever builds systems for this market, reliability is a prime consideration.

    PC’s, including laptops, are mostly quite durable (by which I mean they don’t wear out from use, as opposed to failing from abuse. If you twist your laptop lid, the screen is going to fail. The specific term for computers that are meant to stand up to harsh treatment is “ruggedized”)

  50. Winter Wallaby Mar 30th 2017 at 11:40 am 50

    Thanks, James.

  51. Meryl A Apr 6th 2017 at 02:52 am 51

    I am using this Sony (out of the laptop business now), as I probably said before, which has 2004 as the most recent copyright date on the labels on it. I have an Acer that I bought in 2009 which is my main laptop. My Toshiba from 2000 has one problem - the monitor screen - it no longer works.

    I have Libreoffice as well as Foxit for scanning and pdf management. Also older paid for programs which husband keeps telling me to stop using as they are “too old”. They work for me.

  52. Dennis Ewing Apr 6th 2017 at 11:56 am 52

    My wife refuses to give up PageMaker. She has all her lesson plans and webs set up in it. I have managed to move it from the XP it was written for to Vista, then to 7 and now have it running on 10. It takes some finagling with settings, but it does what she wants. I have InDesign and keep telling her her files will open with it and she can tweak them and be on a more modern program. I keep her happy by keeping her program running. If momma is happy I can be happy.

  53. Meryl A Apr 14th 2017 at 01:30 am 53

    My desktop is 7. My two laptops are still XP - including the one I use for work. Husband made an XP virtual machine on my desktop for the programs which will not run past same. He currently has me resaving all of my Wordperfect files (from decades) as rtf files so if WP stops existing - which he always thinks has already happened - and we can’t load the program in a later computer, I will be able to otherwise open the files. New documents are being saved as rtf files now.

  54. James Pollock Apr 14th 2017 at 01:54 am 54

    Even if WP stops existing, other programs exist which can open WP files. And Word for DOS is now available free (I know it can open WordPerfect for DOS files, not sure about WordPerfect for Windows.)

  55. Meryl A Apr 19th 2017 at 02:35 am 55

    Robert insists that I have to be prepared for nothing to work with WP anymore, so I just save the files as rtf - no big deal. “some day” I will go back and resave the old files as same.

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