Monday, August 09, 2010

Laptop hunting

My laptop has been dying a long, slow death. My monitor's been acting up for a while now, freezing the lower part of the screen until I tapped it. A couple days ago, it acquired wavy black lines that won't go away. So I figure it's time to either repair my laptop or get a new one, and I'm leaning in the "get a new one" direction. The reason is that the laptop is out of warranty, and repairing it will require replacing the monitor. I can't imagine it costing less than a few hundred dollars, and I can buy a new netbook for that much.

Therefore I've been looking at netbooks. They generally run in the $300-350 range, and are small. They don't have great screen resolution or speed, but they make up for it in low weight and long battery life. Since I primarily want it for writing (and web browsing), that should be fine. I particularly like the Dell Inspiron 11z. I've looked at the reviews, and they almost universally say not to buy it, because the touchpad is unusable. Fortunately, Dell got the message and replaced the touchpad a couple of months ago, but I haven't seen many reviews done on it since then (customer reviews on the new touchpad are generally positive, though).

At $350 the cost is reasonable. Unfortunately, $350 is for the very basic model, and it'll probably end up costing more than that.

I've been trying to figure out what I really need and what I can do without.

First, there's the non-negotiables:
  • Windows 7 ($30 for upgrade) - The default is Windows Vista, and I'm unwilling to inflict that on myself. All the reviews say that Windows 7 is better in every way, so I'll shell out extra for it.
  • External DVD drive ($65 separate) - As it doesn't come with an internal drive, this is necessary if I want to install any of my old software on it.
So it's already $100 extra. Still reasonable, however.

Then there's the definitely want:
  • Processor upgrade ($75 for upgrade) - According to all the reviews, this makes a definite difference. It certainly sounds worthwhile, and it's the sort of thing that's not easily changed later.
  • 6-cell battery ($35 for upgrade) - This I'm a bit more hesitant on. I want the battery life, but this apparently sticks out a bit and makes it heavier. However, longer battery life helps it to fulfill my main objective--a portable computer for writing.
And finally the cheap nice-to-haves:
  • WiFi n card ($25 for upgrade) - Not that I have an 802.11n network, but it'd be nice to be able to use them.
  • Internal bluetooth ($20) - This one would be nice to have, but I can do without.
So if you add that all together, it comes to closer to $600 than $350. I'm still trying to convince myself that that I don't need the processor and/or the battery.

UPDATE: And... I've changed my mind. This review convinced me that the M101z is a better choice. It has a more expensive base price, but many of the features I was willing to pay extra for, so the total price is lower.

1 comment:

  1. Laptop hunting is a hard work these days as there are so many brands and products available in the market. It expands the number of options and also creates a layer of confusion too.

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