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August 15, 2005

Laptop Envy

We want/need a laptop computer. Mostly for Hubby's grad school, but also 'cause I really want one.

This will be our first foray away from desktop computers.

Any recommendations about what to look for and what to avoid? Any great deals you've heard of lately?


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If you can get a Mac laptop- an iBook G-4 for example-- you will be living la vida joyful. Macs are fabulous.

Part of what I do requires that I have a PC so I'm using a Dell Inspiron 600m to type this. Inexpensive, fast, tons of memory and light. Carrying it around is no big deal.

But go with the iBook if you can.

Posted by: Glenn at August 15, 2005 12:25 AM

I have the 12" Powerbook G4, which is somewhat pricier than the iBook but when you compare what you're getting for the money, I thought it was a better deal. The nice thing about Apple is that they give a student discount on their computers, and as long as you have a student ID, you're eligible for the discount. If you want to test drive a Mac, there's an Apple store at International Mall in Tampa (I went up there just to check out the laptops to make sure that was what I wanted and ended up coming home with one).

Posted by: kathryn at August 15, 2005 03:02 AM

We've had different laptops at various times and liked them all. Definitely avoid drinking liquids around it and especially don't let any of the boys throw up on it though. We lost our last laptop to a stomach virus.

Posted by: Jordana at August 15, 2005 09:36 AM

Between Mike and I, we've never had a laptop that was really great for the long haul. They are far more fickle than desktops. And, of course, if one of the boys knocks a drink over on the laptop keyboard, sayonara laptop. So, that's a risk. But anyway, back to the fickleness. I think cramming all the components in that small amound of space makes them break much quicker. Get whatever is a good deal at Best Buy and get a 2 or 3 year warranty. We got a brand new laptop last week that way when our 18 month old laptop couldn't be ressurected and paid for another 3 year warranty. If nothing goes wrong, we plan to sell the laptop in 2 years (they have a pretty good resale value) and buy another one new. Repairing them is AWFUL (a new keyboard is about $250, etc.) and the $$ you lose from selling it is probably recouped in one or two repairs.

Posted by: kristen at August 15, 2005 12:27 PM

I would also go for a MAC. I too have the 12" Powerbook G4, switched over from PCs and I absolutely love it. They do sometimes have some good deals, but in general they are pricier than Dells.

If service is your number one concern, I would go with a Dell. My husband had someone come over to the house to fix his laptop. For my MAC, I had to go to the store or wait on the phone and potentially I would have had to mail it in if my husband hadn't fixed it.

Another thing to consider, is that Apple is going to switch over to using Intel, so you will be able to run MAC OSX on your PC when that happens.

Posted by: gwen at August 15, 2005 01:21 PM

Ask about computers and the mac fans come out no? On top of simple education discounts, Apple has pricing available for homeschoolers as well - between 10 & 15% off their retail prices. Just go to store.apple.com, and in the right sidebar you'll see "Other Stores", and "Education" look on the page that takes you to for Homeschool pricing.

I would highly recommend Apple computers, for stability, ease of use, lack of viruses, and the fact that they look good ;)

It's been awhile since I've looked on the PC side of things though, so I can't help there.

Posted by: Winston at August 15, 2005 06:24 PM

if you get the mac, you will love it so much, you will want to give it a name. seriously.

Posted by: amy at August 15, 2005 06:30 PM

I'm a Mac guy too -- but primarily because of past interest & work in publishing/graphics. I have a three & a half year old, no-frills iBook that I bought only to cover necessities while I was living in borrowed spaces for a while. I've been very happy with it. I don't watch movies or play games on it, but I've made it do a bit of bona fide work (mostly with OS9 versions of Adobe & Macromedia apps and Quickbooks, all borrowed from my still older desktop G4 -- which it should be mentioned is going strong on its own count). I went minimal on memory with the iBook and have experienced slowdowns as a result, but the machine has never just choked on me. Battery life has not impressed me -- but I don't do much that requires battery and have not compared performance with other machines on this point.

Keeping track of stuff according to one's own sensibilities on a Mac is fairly straightforward -- that's the 1st point of attraction I think. I've worked in both Mac & PC environments, and the Macs while not without their quirks never, unlike the PCs, seem to want to press subliminally the suggestion that if I wished to use a computer, I really should have become an engineer.

Posted by: paul bowman at August 15, 2005 10:52 PM

I'm a bit shocked to see the support for Macs above, and I agree. I'd suggest a 12" iBook with you choosing which drive (Super Drive, etc.) you want based on the possibility of whether or not you'll make home movies.

Concerning the dependability of laptops, I've owned about twelve Apple laptops over the years and, contrary to the post above, I've found them MORE dependable than my desktops.

The decision between the iBook and Powerbook is not easy. There are sites that will compare and contrast the two for you, but generally I'd say that the difference between the two is so narrow right now that you might best save money and buy an iBook--and this despite the fact that I own a 15" Powerbook and my two children with Powerbooks, Joseph and Michal, both have the 12" model, as does my son-in-law, Ben.

One other option I'd mention. Right now, Apple's online sale store is selling the G-5 iMac, last model, for about $900. Check it out--it's an absolute steal if you can live with a desktop. I bought one for my son-in-law and daughter, Doug and Heather, and they love it. It's simplicity itself. The monitor is a flat LCD and the computer is all in the monitor (it's about three inches thick). You can't go wrong with this one.

As for the Mac operating system working on PCs when Apple switches to Intel processors, I'd not hold my breath. Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs, will make that decision and I think it unlikely.

Posted by: Tim Bayly at August 16, 2005 11:37 AM

I should also say about the Dell with water - if you pay extra, you can get coverage for water spilled all over the laptop. We haven't had to use it, yet, but we were close once. I'm not sure, but they might be the only company to cover water or coffee (or vomit) on the laptop.

Posted by: gwen at August 16, 2005 03:55 PM

I bought my laptop refurbished on ebay a few years ago. It has worked great. I knew what I wanted when I purchased it. Some laptops on ebay don't come with the OS, so that was a factor. I knew I wanted one with the OS included, a floppy drive, modem, USB ports, printer ports, and CD Rom. I didn't need a CD burner on the laptop as I had an external burner and now have an internal one on my new desktop. The laptop I bought now has a wireless connection card installed and it's been easy to include it with my network. It wasn't very expensive and I'm happy with the purchase.

Posted by: Christina at August 16, 2005 04:00 PM

I'm also partial to Mac ibooks. I grew up on PCs but was required to get an ibook for my major--and I don't think I'll ever go back. They don't have as many problems, they're not as virus-prone, they're very user-friendly, and I have experienced great customer service. Just FYI...a technician at the Apple store told me the Powerbooks (which look a lot cooler than the ibooks) are not really that much better than the ibooks. He said the ibooks are more durable if they're dropped or hit.

off subject, but since you were in Kiev for a while, I thought you might be interested to know that I am hoping to teach there for a year after I graduate college this May. I've spent a a little bit of time there and love it, and I started following your blog because I was trying to keep up with the Orange Revolution.

Posted by: Sarah Fulcher at August 16, 2005 05:30 PM

Checking your blog tonight live from my iBook G4 which I've had since January now (I think) and have had ZERO problems with. Zilcho. We love our Macs!!

We bought them from www.macmall.com and there were a bunch of random rebate things we were able to get - like free shipping, printer, carrying case, wireless router, and other assundries.

They ain't cheap, though. But sometimes... you get what you pay for. :)

Posted by: Megan at August 16, 2005 06:52 PM

Heya Tulip,

Depends on what you need. If you're looking for sleekness and performance you should look into Apple or Toshiba (although if you already own PC software, you might want to steer away from the Mac so you don't have to reinvest in applications).

If you're looking with an eye on your budget (Mac's are ridiculously overpriced) head on over to newegg.com and check out the ACER brand laptop. Decent speed with a good amount of features for an easy price.

If you want more info, let me know what you want to do with it and I'll give you some research info.


God bless.

Posted by: Rey at August 16, 2005 10:19 PM

Oh, I just remembered, if you want a used laptop, my brother is selling his Dell, it's about a year old, but the insides are less than 4 months old (unfortunate incident led to all of the guts being replaced), and it still has 3 years left on the At Home warranty, which is transferrable to another owner. He's asking $800 for it (the warranty itself is worth $300-400), there's nothing wrong with it, he just bought a new laptop that's lighter and has a high end graphics card for gaming is all.

Posted by: kathryn at August 16, 2005 10:46 PM

I have a 12" ibook and my husband has a PC laptop. He learned the hard way to buy a brand name like Dell and get the warranty, so I know that would be his advice to you.

After I got my ibook, we put a wireless network in the house and I must tell you, it is wonderful.

I still use my desktop the most though.

Posted by: Kathy at August 18, 2005 12:56 PM

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