View Full Version : Recommendation for laptop for school

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08-07-2011, 03:29 PM
So I'm starting school in a couple of weeks and I intend on getting a new laptop (I probably needed a new one for a while now and school gives me an excuse :P). I'm doing an MLIS program and they've given some general hardware specs (at least 2GB memory, 2GHz processor, and 80 GB storage). The current computer I'm using has 1GB memory. I don't even know what the processor is and it has 250 GB storage. It was a cheap computer we got from Walmart three years ago. It's really slow, which often frustrates husband and I, and I've actually used up most of the space on it.

Of course, the primary reason I'll be using the laptop is for school. I'll be doing some non-related school stuff like using Skype to keep in touch with family, downloading videos, streaming figure skating competitions, etc. Nothing too heavy.

So I turn to FSU for some recommendations. :) Oh, before I end, I ask that no one recommend a Mac. I'm looking to spend at most $1,000 (and would love it if I could spend even less since I still have to pay for my textbooks). Thanks in advance for the advice!

08-07-2011, 03:38 PM
Why don't you try this?http://store.apple.com/us_edu_11758/product/FC516LL/A?mco=MTg0NzA2MTY
I know that it's a Mac but it is $850, under your budget.:)

08-07-2011, 03:48 PM
Carrot, I hope that you were being facetious.
Modern Muslimah, I got an HP Pavilion dv6 at christmas (after a memorable thread of people trying to bully me into buying MACs that I couldn't afford), and I'm really satisfied. The only down-side is the short battery time.

08-07-2011, 03:53 PM
For non Mac, I recommend Asus. They're sold at BestBuy and you can get the extended warranty and GeekSquad support and still stay under budget. For something that fits in a backpack easily, try a 15" like the K53E which has good reviews at CNET. It has 4gb memory standard and comes in two disk flavors - 320 and 640. The 320 is under $400.

eta, battery life is decent as long as you don't watch movies or game. I get about 4 hours of internet on mine.

One other thing, make sure they keyboard and trackpad controls suit you. I have large hands and find the Asus spacing really good.

08-07-2011, 06:28 PM
Asus, HP -- we've used both in our school division with success...check BestBuy. I just ordered an HP from Amazon after reading reviews on CNet and Consumer Reports. I got a dm4 model for under $800 that has 4MB memory, Intel i5 processor and 650GB harddrive. You'd likely get it cheaper in the US. Some of the Asus models are being shipped without DVD drives, so if you want/need a DVD drive, make sure what you order has that. Asus tends to be more expensive, and some people report that their customer service isn't that great. However, if you do buy at a place like BestBuy, you can get their extended warranty which may save you some grief!

Good luck!

08-07-2011, 08:08 PM
One thing to think about is whether or not you want the laptop to incorporate a numerical keypad or not. I can't stand punching numbers without a keypad, so that was important to me. But someone getting a MLIS wont have as much need for that I suppose, but it's worth thinking about.

This is the one I got and I like it a lot. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834152253

Plus, it meets the price and specs that you seem to indicate you need.

08-07-2011, 08:29 PM
I've had both a Toshiba and a Fujitsu Siemens, both worked very well for me. Regardless of the brand, when you set your eyes on a particular model I recommend checking the reviews for it around the web, all brands have faulty models that overheat or under perform, so it's never wise to trust the brand per se.

08-07-2011, 08:54 PM
Congratulations from one MLIS in progress to another!

My expertise is in Mac only, so I will not trouble you with my opinion :), but I will ask the program manager of my scholarship what they bought for the PC users in our program.

Is there a technology person in your program you can talk to?

08-07-2011, 09:02 PM
I have an ASUS, and it's been generally very reliable :) It's 3 years old now and the dvd player had to be replaced just before the end of the (two year) warranty, but since then it's been fine. It came with vista but I upgraded it to Win 7 without issue.

Totally recommend :)

08-07-2011, 09:19 PM
I've had a Sony Vaio for 3.5 years, and I love it. Reliable and haven't had a problem with it--even though I bang it around and carry it in my backpack to lab every day.

Plus, on a purely superficial note, it's so pretty!

08-07-2011, 10:30 PM
Are you planning to get a laptop and carry it back and forth, or will you be leaving your laptop at home and using it there?

That makes a big difference, IMO. I leave my laptop at home, so I got one with a big screen, because I rarely haul it around and I wanted that feature; I really hate small screens. If you are going to haul it around, you would probably want something smaller and lighter.

If speed is an issue, look for a gaming laptop. I never play games but I have a gamer's laptop because they are built for speed. They tend to be more expensive, but the one I have sells for less than $1000 now. Gamer systems also tend to get really hot, so again--I use mine mostly at home and have a cooling pad that works just fine, but if I hauled it around all the time, I wouldn't like that.

You should also see if your school has some sort of computer purchase program. Ours does; everyone gets a discount at HP. We bought a niece a laptop for Christmas and with my discount and the sale price, we got her a laptop that normally sells for $1500 or so for about $800. Most places are having back-to-school sales right now, so you might be able to get a really good deal if your school has a program like that. Also, some schools will loan you money to buy a computer; I believe you can get up to $1500 here. It's treated like a student loan; you have to pay it back after you graduate. As always, be cautious with loans, but might be an option if buying a computer will be a financial hardship.

I would also advise against buying by brand name; ITA with joeperryfan there. I'd look for reviews on http://www.cnet.com/, which has reviews for almost everything technical.

Good luck with your MLIS. I am very tempted to do the KSU program myself. :).

08-07-2011, 10:35 PM
Do not get a Sony; mine is 6 months old and needs a new motherboard and the customer service has been absolutely horrid (I'm in NY).

08-08-2011, 02:05 AM
I'm doing an MLIS program and they've given some general hardware specs (at least 2GB memory, 2GHz processor, and 80 GB storage).

There are still MLIS programs around? I thought many of them now call themselves info. science instead. ;)

08-08-2011, 02:32 AM
Another Asus owner here, but only since January of this year, so I can't speak for longevity.

Just be careful of buying Asus from Best Buy, as they seem to carry slightly dumbed down models, which do not carry the same manufacturer warranty/guarantee/service (http://promos.asus.com/US/ASUS_NB_Warranty/NB_ANSP/index.html) versus buying from other retailers. Why, I don't know.

It's something I didn't discover until after my return window had closed. Just something to be aware of. From the above link:

Unfortunately, ASUS notebooks sold at BestBuy are not currently elgible for service by ASUS Notebook Authorized Service Providers, so these customers should contact ASUS directly through the ASUS notebook technical support line (1-888-678-3688, 24/7 except holidays) to arrange service.

If you're going to be toting it around campus a lot, maybe consider the 11-13 inch screen range for portability.

08-08-2011, 04:13 AM
Do not get an HP. My HP laptop (can't remember the name of it, Pavilion?) was a lemon. I was annoyed, but it happens with computers. So as things went wrong continuously over the first year I had it, I called the company.

HP the company was a nightmare to deal with. They lied to me, took my money and did not end up fixing my computer. And when I talked to costumer service.... well, first off, they did not speak English well enough to do their job. They couldn't understand what I was trying to say when I described my computer problems (these were common problems, nothing head scratching).

In the end, I cut my loses, junked my computer and bought a new one. A Sony, because my sister loved hers. I've had my Vaio for over a year without a single issue. My sister has had hers for three years without issue. My next computer will probably be a Sony or a Toshiba. And I'm never getting another extended warranty from the computer company. If you get a warranty, go for the store warranty.

Run away fast from anything HP company related. They are just awful. I could go on about how HP has screwed me over, but that would be a really long post.