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Purchase Template: Cheap laptop mainly for writing / Internet


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#1 Amedeus

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Posted 24 September 2016 - 10:44 AM

Laptop or Desktop?
Laptop.

My budget for the new computer is: 
$100-$200, lower is better

What are the primary uses for this computer (IE: mail, web browsing, programming, games, etc)? 
Writing projects (Open Office, Inform 7, etc.) and Internet (as long as it can run YouTube and things like TrueAchievements/Wikia smoothly, we're doing good)

What software do you intend on using on the computer? 
In addition to the above, probably Steam, GOG, Daemon Tools if it doesn't have a DVD drive, Spotify, VLC, Chrome, Kindle, CDisplay. That sort of thing.

Do you play games? If so, what type of games? 
On this one I'll probably keep it simple. If I can run old Sierra games (Space Quest, Phantasmagoria, that type of thing) and some low resource indie games/emulators, I'll probably be happy. I have an old laptop I can use for more intensive games. I don't know how low tech computers in this price range get, but it does need to be able to run OpenGL - I take a lot of screenshots for Steam.

Do you tend to have a lot of programs running at the same time, or do you close every program when you are done using it? 
I don't usually have a bunch of big programs open at once. Several explorer windows/Notepad files/Open Office files alongside Chrome, certainly. Spotify too if I can swing it, but it slows things down more and more these days. The real problem is that I have a tendency to leave tons of tabs open at once in Chrome.

Do you store a lot of pictures or music on the computer?
I run out of space faster than makes physical sense, no matter the size of the drive or what it's connected to.

Will you be overclocking?
Could you even overclock something like this? I assume I won't.

Location for online shopping/shipment/prices?
A good/easy/free return/repair policy is good in case I get something defective. After that, looking at price.

How many monitors are you planning to use?
One.

Do you need peripherals? OS?
USB ports are handy. At least one for the mouse, and another to hook an external drive. More is always better, but 2 is the minimum. As for OS, Windows. I'd prefer 7. I could probably give 10 a try if I have to.

Any particular reason why you are upgrading?
I have a laptop that mostly works, but it's physically falling apart in a way that makes it not so portable. For major gaming it's fine enough, but for writing I really want to be able change rooms on the fly and take it on trips with me. Can't afford to get a full replacement yet, so I'm doing what I can.


A good keyboard is possibly the most important thing. I dislike these kinds of boards, as all the ones I've tried have felt very cheap:
http://i.imgur.com/Eel2fJX.jpg
My "gaming" computer is an old Acer Aspire 5741Z:
http://i.imgur.com/5fwqgN1.jpg
And I was using my grandparents' old HP DV6815nr for the same purpose as the new laptop I'm looking for until the motherboard went:
http://i.imgur.com/P79Ycto.jpg
And other than a noisy space bar on the HP, I liked the keyboards on those two.

I also preferred the taller screen of the HP for writing, so if it's possible to get a 16:10 screen on this, that would be amazing.

Not really concerned about weight at all, and battery life isn't a big deciding factor for me. Quieter is always better. I don't necessarily expect to be able to get everything I've written here, but I'd like to see how close I can get. If I can get everything, that would be excellent. But I am aware of how specific I'm being for the price. Like, I mean, I would LOVE to be able to get a numpad on this thing, but I'm definitely not holding my breath since we're looking at a netbook range here. Do what you can, and I'll appreciate it.

Edited by Amedeus, 24 September 2016 - 10:52 AM.


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#2 RolandJS

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Posted 24 September 2016 - 11:06 AM

You're a high-power user!  Consider spending more for a high-end, high-quality laptop [one which includes a high-end video display].  And, be sure to add: Macrium Reflect or anything similar along with available trusted external media for backup/restore purposes.


"Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee."  -- Ben Franklin revisited.

http://collegecafe.fr.yuku.com/forums/45/Computer-Technologies/

Backup, backup, backup! -- Lady Fitzgerald (w7forums)

Clone or Image often! Backup... -- RockE (WSL)


#3 JohnC_21

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Posted 24 September 2016 - 11:28 AM

For what you want you will not get a new computer in that price range. You might get a new laptop for about $250. In your price range you are looking at something refurbished.

 

If you have a Staples near you check out the weekly deals.

 

http://www.staples.com/Laptops/cat_CL167289/0079201fyz?fids=&sr=true&sby=1&min=&max=



#4 Amedeus

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Posted 25 September 2016 - 12:41 AM

I know I'm not going to get everything I mentioned. I'm looking to see how much of it I can get in that range. Main things are the keyboard, USB ports, and preferably screen ratio.

I'll take your advice in the meantime, though, and check out some refurbished deals. Anything I should probably know / watch out for when shopping refurbs?

And would either of you have any opinions on Woot or Rakuten? Just a couple stores with intriguing offers I saw in a (very) quick search.

Edited by Amedeus, 25 September 2016 - 01:49 AM.


#5 JohnC_21

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Posted 25 September 2016 - 07:47 AM

I don't have any experience with those stores. If buying refurbished I would make sure what warranty is offered and if it's returnable within a period of time.



#6 RolandJS

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Posted 25 September 2016 - 10:58 AM

I forgot to mention:  get a usb-powered external cooling fan assembly -- that is important for any laptop even "thinking" about gaming.


"Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee."  -- Ben Franklin revisited.

http://collegecafe.fr.yuku.com/forums/45/Computer-Technologies/

Backup, backup, backup! -- Lady Fitzgerald (w7forums)

Clone or Image often! Backup... -- RockE (WSL)


#7 Amedeus

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Posted 27 September 2016 - 07:07 PM

I've seen those cooling platforms in the past. Are the fans generally a little noisy, or do they tend to run quiet in your experience?

#8 RolandJS

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Posted 27 September 2016 - 10:05 PM

I just now saw your question -- most of them run quiet; I haven't had a noisy one yet.


"Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee."  -- Ben Franklin revisited.

http://collegecafe.fr.yuku.com/forums/45/Computer-Technologies/

Backup, backup, backup! -- Lady Fitzgerald (w7forums)

Clone or Image often! Backup... -- RockE (WSL)


#9 ranchhand_

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Posted 28 September 2016 - 05:13 PM

Refurbs: bear in mind that the majority of these come with no safety net or a very bad one-30 days if you are lucky, and possibly a limited warranty at that.  If it fails 1 day over the limie you are on your own, these stores "don't know you". If you are going that route I would suggest Ebay and I really don't like Ebay. But if you do go that route get a seller with a 100% satisfaction rating.

Here's the best that I could find online although I didn't spend much time looking. I wouldn't count on gaming with it, unless you like those little flash games you can download.

Sometimes it is best to wait and save your money for a while before wasting what you have on something that doesn't work. Just one man's opinion.


Help Requests: If there is no reply after 3 days I remove the thread from my answer list. For further help PM me.


#10 RolandJS

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Posted 28 September 2016 - 09:19 PM

+1 on ranchhand's comments; I purchased new not because I'm rich rather because I wanted upfront quality.  I think my oldest Acer is 5-6 years old, with the newer one probably 3-4 years old.


"Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee."  -- Ben Franklin revisited.

http://collegecafe.fr.yuku.com/forums/45/Computer-Technologies/

Backup, backup, backup! -- Lady Fitzgerald (w7forums)

Clone or Image often! Backup... -- RockE (WSL)


#11 Amedeus

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Posted 30 September 2016 - 05:29 PM

In that case, we're back to the template. I guess my template was kind of a mess. I was pretty tired when I wrote it. But as I said, I'm primarily looking for a writing computer, and the most important things for that are a nice keyboard, at least 2 USB ports, and preferably a 16:10 monitor because the height is nicer for writing. After that, it's just a question of how much more I can get for the price range.

I never meant to give the impression that I was looking for a gaming laptop - the games I mentioned (old Sierra games like Phantasmagoria / Space Quest series) were released like '86-'95. OpenGL would still be useful to be able to run if possible, though, as Steam requires it to screenshot games, even old ones like that.

Ability to watch YouTube and local videos smoothly /would/ also be nice if I can swing it, and I will likely use a lot of Wikia in a few of my projects. I don't know if it's just the ads or what, but that site tends to chug. If absolutely necessary, I can try to browse those on tablet while doing my work on the laptop. I can try to keep my tabs in check or install more memory down the line if I need it. On that note, more hard drive space is nice, but if it's got a 2.5", I have a couple SSDs I could swap around to give it a bit of an upgrade if necessary.

And as I said in my final paragraph originally, I don't care much about weight or battery life. I'd be more interested in how noisy it is.

So yeah, I'm not asking for the perfect computer, just as much as I can get for how much I'm looking to spend. I would like to replace my other laptop eventually, but for now I have less hardware intensive things to do which could use more portability, and hopefully I can work my way up from there.

Edited by Amedeus, 30 September 2016 - 05:33 PM.





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