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Choosing a new computer...any advice?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Nickel, Apr 24, 2010.

  1. Nickel

    Nickel New Member

    I haven't bought a new computer in about 8 years. Even though computers are a big part of my life, I still feel pretty clueless about them. But, I am at a point where I really, really need a new one and so I am starting to look at both laptops and desktops. Since FSU is the place where one can find all kinds of information and advice, I thought I'd see what I could learn from you all.

    I use my computer mostly for facebook, email, and, of course, FSU. I also download music from time to time and like to burn cd's as well as put books and music on my mp3 player. Based on this little bit of info, do you have any suggestions as to what I should be looking for in terms of memory, operating systems, etc.?

    I can get employer discounts from Dell and HP so I am looking at their websites but I may just go to a store and purchase a computer. It all depends on what I find in terms of price and such.
    PeterG and (deleted member) like this.
  2. *Jen*

    *Jen* Well-Known Member

    My brother is an IT tech who swears by HP. I have an ASUS (the 2 year international warranty was important to me) and LOVE it. I got it because it was the best deal at the time, but I really wanted an HP too.

    Based on the info of what you want, anything will do :) If you wanted it for more creative purposes I'd suggest mac, but as you want it for normal things that's not imperative.

    But I can guarantee that the majority of people here will advise you to buy a Mac ;) I hate them, I prefer to have more control over my computer than macs allow, but most people seem to love them.

    It's like a cult :sekret: :p
  3. pollyanna

    pollyanna In denial

    My IT department swears by Dell. And the best of our IT guys says to watch for good deals here:


    Good luck on your choice. :)
  4. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    Here's why I like the Mac: It works, no geek genes required. When I update software, the rest of my software still works. I can download music or play videos and everything still works. When I get a new peripheral, I plug it in, and, whee! it works.

    Getting my daughter a Mac was a great stress relief, because I no longer needed to play sys admin every time her music or videos crashed or froze the system. I never was confronted with challenges like THIS software requiring version 4.3 of some necessary software, but THAT software only working with version 5.1 of the software. Finally, Apple has real English speaking computer support folks who are adept at handling phone calls and who can usually get you going again, and the Apple Store retail store in the town we live in.

    I don't particularly want to like Apple -- it is a little trendy for the likes of me -- but I can't argue with how easy it has been to make work. Or how many hours I spent trying to get the Dell/Windows XP system configured as new versions of software were released, or the frustration of talking to Dell reps in India when I had a problem, or the way Comcast pointed the finger at Dell, and vice-versa when I had an internet connectivity problem.

    Our school district has a contract with HP, and the HP computers over the past three years have been pretty reliable hardware wise. Software wise we still have some of the same old issues, but our district has not yet switched to Vista (that will happen this summer, I understand).
  5. Meredith

    Meredith what a glorious day!

    Eight years of service is pretty awesome, Nickel!

    I have a Dell at work that is speedy, pretty reliable, and can perform a number of functions at the same time. I can find what I want to find, either on the computer or on our network with no problem. Our company replaces our computers every 4 years or so, and when there is an issue, I contact IT Support, who either remotely fixes what ever problem I have or pops into the office and takes care of it. That said, I haven't had to diagnose and fix my own computer problems for quite awhile and wouldn't know how to go about doing so. I probably killed my last personal computer and wanted its replacement to be something I could not murder.

    So I bought a Mac. It has not crashed, locked up or done all the various things PCs do - or at least, my PCs. :) Cult or not, I'd buy another Mac in a heartbeat.
  6. AYS

    AYS I'd rather have a pug for my president

    I just impulse bought a tiny Toshiba Satellite laptop (11.6 in monitor, 3lbs, really long battery life) because I have a lot of on-site client meetings coming up, and it was so incredibly painless to set up, it basically set itself up for everything I've wanted so far, includinng getting access to client's remote desktop and installing client-based add-ins to Word (that took hours of tech support to install on my Vista desktop 2.5 years ago) - it's running Windows 7 - it's really speedy too, all for <$500.

    I'm actually considering getting a larger Mac laptop at some point (my main desktop is a PC), for more entertainment purposes, but this little Toshiba is definitely a keeper.
  7. MikiAndoFan#1

    MikiAndoFan#1 Well-Known Member

  8. silverstars

    silverstars New Member

    I highly recommend a Toshiba. They were among the highest rated PCs for reliability this past year, and they make a bunch of good, basic laptops.
  9. mila19

    mila19 New Member

    Don't know whether it's just me but I have 2 HP Pavilion, bought on 2006 and 2007 and they both ended with the same problem. The right side of the speaker ceased to work. I :wuzrobbed of listening music at the highest level. Otherwise I'm ok with HP
  10. Rukia

    Rukia Currently in the 7th circle of Feelin Good

    I second the Asus. My husband and I both have an Asus, and we both love it! My husband is a software engineer, so he's pretty picky about his computers...
  11. Ajax

    Ajax Well-Known Member

    I've had a Toshiba and an HP and had very negative experiences with both. The Toshiba's screen stopped working twice and the motherboard had to be replaced twice as well. Luckily I had purchased an extended warranty so I never had to pay but the second time the motherboard was replaced the tech guy told me that this was a known defect in these models which Toshiba had done nothing about. If you don't have the warranty the motherboard costs $500 to replace! A decent company would have done a recall or offered free repairs for that particular problem I think.

    The HP computer I had was also very bad. HP installs a whole bunch of their own programs on top of the already crowded Windows Visa which slows the whole thing down even more.

    After struggling with Windows Vista for 3 years I swore that I would never give another cent to Microsoft and just this week I made the switch to Mac. Obviously I haven't had it for very long yet but so far it's been a pleasure to use and the switch has been super easy :)
  12. Nickel

    Nickel New Member

    Thanks for all the input! My research so far shows that Mac's are expensive, but worth it and the Asus (which I had never heard of before today) and Toshiba both had high marks. The Dell Inspiron was also spoken of well. We have Dells at work and I notice my library uses Dell as well. I've only had HPs so far and they have been ok, both desktop and laptop, but I've never been all that excited or impressed with them and actually have had many days of frustration with them, so I'm kind of doubting I'll get another HP.

    Meredith, I wish I could say I've had 8 years of service with my computers but actually they only lasted about 5 years. What I have at home right now came with my husband about four years ago. ;) But this one has been giving us fits for about a year and I'm ready to get something new. (plus this way I can have my own and he can have his own, lol)
    *Jen* and (deleted member) like this.
  13. AxelAnnie

    AxelAnnie Well-Known Member

    Well - I have Dells....for the most part. I have a small business and a FAB IT guy....and he either makes the computer to our specs, or he phones Dell and negotiates. The first time I heard him ask (after given the price) - and what will you do for us......I almost fell off my chair. But they will throw in goodies.

    If you get a laptop........know that internal broadband cards (which you can get from Dell), cannot be purchased in the store.

    Good luck, and have fun.
  14. slicekw

    slicekw #ICanFixYourComputerButICan'tFixIceNetworkFreezes

    PC girl since the original x86 bought a mac last year and I don't regret it one bit. I love it!
  15. tarotx

    tarotx Well-Known Member

    If I could afford a Mac I would so have one! IMO they are the best. I had a G4 iMAC in 1999-2005 (Bad move on my part giving it up to my neice-It still works but my windows pc I upgraded for is long gone :( )The thing with Mac is everything is expensive but worth it. I have a Toshiba Satellite and at first I hated it because my screen kept fading like I had an electrical short. Now that I've had that fixed no other issues except for Typical windows OS issues. I would recommend it except I'll say make sure it's new and not refurbished. I didn't have to pay to have it fixed but I was out a computer for 10 days :( My boyfriend bought my computer at MicroCenter not realizing it wasn't new.

    My sister has a Dell she bought from Qvc and she got a great deal with a lot of extra's. Her service is supposedly great.

  16. temujin

    temujin Member

    If portability is not important, then I would suggest a desk top. You did not mention a budget, but you will get more computer for your money with a desk top.

    For a desktop, I would not recommend less than 22" monitor; You can get a nice 23" Samsung for $150.
    I would recommend 4 GB of memory.
    Hard drive: ~500 GB drive is common, but if you have lots videos, etc... then go for a bigger drive if available as an option. If not, it is easy to add to most desk tops.
    I recommend at least a dual core processor, but if it is within your budget then go for a quad core processor.

    Operating system: If Windows, I recommend Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. I can't say about Mac OS as I have never owned a Mac. I don't believe in paying the price premium of a Mac. Mind you I build my own computers.
  17. *Jen*

    *Jen* Well-Known Member

    I had never heard of Asus when I got mine, either. Basically, I needed to replace my toshiba for a smaller, lighter, faster machine. I had a list of things I needed, and so I forced my IT tech brother to come shopping with me to narrow down the list.

    It came down to an Asus or an HP, and he told me that he'd get the HP for himself because he'd use the graphics card or something, but for what I needed, the Asus was better.

    It was smaller and lighter, had a faster processor and more importantly for me, a 2 year international warranty, free bag and mouse and a bunch of other free stuff.

    I bought it and have NEVER regretted it. I think it'll last me another 2 years easily, but even if it doesn't, I wouldn't hesitate to get another Asus because I haven't had any problems with this one at all.

    I upgraded to windows 7 at the start of the year and the transition was smooth. I've never had any problems updating software or with things crashing.

    Incidently, my old laptop, a toshiba, is now being used by my mother (who doesn't need to carry it anywhere - it weighs a ton!). It's 5 years old and a bit slow, but it works fine.

    In those 5 years, my sister and brother-in-law have gone through 5 macs between then, and no, I am not exagerating. My flatmate recently had $800 of repairs done to hers (covered by warranty, but still). No computer, mac or otherwise, is infallible.
  18. sk8pics

    sk8pics Well-Known Member

    True, no computer is infallible. I have a lot of experience with both Macs and HP and Dell PC's, but I won't tell all the stories here. My take on it is that, if you really similarly configure a PC and a Mac, the price difference is not that big. But it is true that Apple does not make cheap PC's.

    My suggestion is to go to a store and try out the computers you are thinking about buying, and if you decide to switch to a Mac take advantage of any courses or help the Apple store near you (presuming there is one) offers.
  19. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

    I'm one of those Mac people. But I'll set that aside.

    If you're choosing between HP and Dell, get an HP. The Dells we have at work are pitiful. The one I currently have is 17 months old. It does not hibernate properly--when you close the lid, it doesn't hibernate, it waits until you open the lid to do so. Then you have to manually shut it down and restart it to get it turned on. The disc drive will not open automatically, I have to pry it open with my fingernail. The battery will only last about 75 minutes when fully charged.

    And before anyone accuses me of abusing the thing--I only use it at work. It has never been taken out of the school building, never bumped, dropped etc...it's just a piece of crap. When they got laptops, they intended to cycle them out every three years. But none of them will last even close to three years. This one started the hibernating problem within six months. Why they don't start replacing them with HP or Toshiba is beyond me.
  20. Prancer

    Prancer Slave to none, master to all Staff Member

    My husband says that you need only a basic computer for that sort of use and should get something like this in a Dell or HP:

    Windows 7
    4 GB of memory
    standard on board video
    CD/DVD burner
    300-500 GB hard drive
    single or dual core CPU

    He is not a fan of people having more computer than what they need, so while a lot of people (and salesmen) would recommend more than all of that, he thinks you would be better off saving your money for something you'll actually use.

    Dell and HP are very similar in quality; both sell mostly good computers with some lemons in the mix.

    I have an ASUS laptop; it's okay, but I wouldn't give it a rave review. My last laptop was a Dell and it was fine, too, for what it's worth, but I wouldn't pay a whole lot of attention to individual stories and would stick to overall reviews and ratings.

    Macs are great, but I'm not a big fan for a variety of reasons. However, if you are a non-tech type and don't have a tame programmer around to keep the trains on the track, Macs can be worth it. I am always :eek: at descriptions of problems people have with Microsoft products, because I never have any problems at all. I always forget that everything is done for me without me ever seeing it done, so I don't have to deal with any of it :lol:.
  21. temujin

    temujin Member

    I agree with going to a store to see and try the computer you are thinking about buying.

    Regarding price difference, it depends what you consider significant.
    On Apple's site, the base Macbook is listed at $999 with 2 GB RAM; that might be enough for Mac OS.
    On Dell and you can find a laptop with similar or better specs for ~$800. Example 4 GB RAM (recommended for Win 7), bigger hard drive. And that is list price. There are lots of sales and you could get it for ~$600 without much searching. If you are patient, you can get a lenovo laptop of similar spec for $400 on sale now. Competition is good for the consumer.

    I would really recommend avoiding a single core computer especially if you intend to keep it for a long time. Older dual cores are not that much more than single core, and even if you don't multitask the second core can run service apps behind the scene and your computer will be noticeably more responsive. In the future more programs will be multi-threaded and the advantages of more cores will become greater. Any single core machine will be a very low end machine that you will probably be disappointed in. That is one reason you hear more people complain about Windows computer than Mac. Some people expect a $400 Windows laptop (not on sale) to be as fast as a $1000 Macbook.

    Regarding Asus, they are the premium motherboard manufacturer and their other products are generally quite good.
  22. Really

    Really I need a new title

    I have an Asus mini and it's great. I installed an extra gig of RAM and put Windows 7 on it, and it runs just fine.

    My Dell laptop is currently set up with another monitor because the one on the laptop doesn't work. This machine is about 3 1/2 years old, and it has had a ton of use in that time.

    We have HP's at work (both desktops and laptops) and they've been mostly okay too -- the desktops better than the laptops.

    I just splurged and ordered an HP Touchsmart -- it should be here early this next week. It had pretty good reviews in a variety of places I looked.

    Good luck with your decision!
  23. Simone411

    Simone411 FSU Uber fan

    Really, sorry you had the trouble with your monitor. My Dell laptop was 4 year old this month and it's still working fine. I use it a lot to work on videos, photos, browse the web, etc. I've had two operating systems on my Dell. It came with an upgrade to Vista which I took in 2007. When I had Vista, I increased the memory to 2 GB. After 2 years of Vista, I had to reformat because the UAC became corrupted (no more user permissions). I went back to XP SP3. With the 2GB of RAM, it's very fast as far as performance goes and Vista was the only problem I had with my Dell.

    Dells now come with Windows 7 Home Premium. I would preferably use Windows 7 Professional with the XP mode, and that's the OS I will choose when I purchase my next Dell. That will probably be in a couple more years when the lifetime warranty runs out on my laptop.
  24. Nickel

    Nickel New Member

    Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences and knowledge! A lot of what you've shared reinforces what I've read in articles and reviews. I've learned a lot in just a couple days! I've decided to get a laptop since our current desktop is still working fine. We'll probably get a new desktop in a year or so.

    I am leaning towards getting a Dell but still need to get out to the stores and do some 'hands on' and query the store folks before I make my final decision.

    My next learning event is going to be routers and wifi. I assume we will need a router so we can have internet on both computers at home. While travelling I presume the thing for internet any more these days is wifi but I have no experience with it at all.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2010
  25. tarotx

    tarotx Well-Known Member

    Talk to you internet provider-ours has routers. Routers can be as cheap as $19 though you usually get what you pay for. I think because you have an older desktop it may limit your choices security wise though. The one thing to make sure is that your laptop has built in wi fi capabilities(I think all or near all of them do now but make sure) and then you can hard wire your desktop to your router if it doesn't have a wireless card/antenna installed.
  26. Ajax

    Ajax Well-Known Member

    My laptop has the same problem... and it's an HP :) Also the Mute button on mine doesn't work. Basically it has a whole bunch of tiny little problems, none of which are too annoying, but when you combine all of them... :mad:
  27. Nickel

    Nickel New Member

    Just wanted to send out a big THANK YOU to all of you for the information you passed along. I am enjoying my new laptop immensely. I was leaning towards getting a Dell but in the end got an HP as the price was better with more memory, etc. We also got a new desktop a few days later as, after we saw how much faster a new computer ran, we decided we were done with all the problems we had been dealing with with our old Compaq desktop. We got an Asus for the desktop. It has way more memory than we'll probably ever use but again, it was a good price for what we got. Setting up the router was a breeze and I am amazed at having Wifi capability now and that I can take the laptop anywhere in the house and still get on the internet.
  28. manhn

    manhn Well-Known Member

    I am loathe to buy a new laptop, but my laptop is soooo slow nowadays. But depending on where Canadian Nationals will be held, I think I can find the $ in my budget for a new laptop. I am thinking of making the switch and buying a Mac but it costs $1250! In the US, the same Mac costs $1000. Have any Canadians bought computers across the border, particularly Apple-related? Does their customer service still work even if you bought the machine in another country?

    DORISPULASKI Watching submarine races

    I'm sort of late to the party but a few things to think about when purchasing a computer:

    1. At some point, you are likely to become farsighted and a bigger monitor than you need now will be really, really nice.

    2. The cheapest Dell 2 years ago used part of the RAM to provide memory for the video card. As a result, later software updates caused IRQ problems and the blue screen of death. (My neighbor had this problem. Very annoying. She bought some more RAM, which solved the problem.). The cheapest of any line is often asking for trouble in the 2nd or 3rd year you own a computer. Make sure you have the max RAM offered with the computer you buy. If necessary, upgrade it yourself. It's generally quite easy to do. RAM is cheap these days.

    3. My son has a 3 yr old Lenovo laptop. I have a 5 year old Lenovo laptop (Lenovo owns the old IBM Thinkpad franchise). They upgrade easily and the maintenance manuals are on line. Son hates his wife's MAC because he is always having to pay for operating system upgrades. The last straw was when he got a fancy Ipod and found out that it was not compatible with wife's 1 yr old MAC, but worked with his 5 year old Lenovo. He had to buy the new MAC operating system upgrade to make the fancy Ipod work, which is why he replaced the 5 year old Lenovo with another Lenovo.

    4. When you buy a laptop, be sure the hinges and latches are built solidly. One thing that keeps the Thinkpads going is that the hinges are extremely solidly built metal hinges. (Other son had a Dell laptop before buying a used Lenovo-the hinges failed twice. He does not purchase Dell at this time.)
  30. Really

    Really I need a new title

    I saw some guy from Bellingham, WA on the news a couple weeks ago talking about the iPad and how Canadians were trying to get them down there. He advised against buying down there because he said the warranties were null and void in Canada. I'm guessing that probably also applies to customer service.