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Help me focus my search for a new laptop.

(16 Posts)
HauntedLittleLunatic Thu 11-Aug-11 22:15:26

How would you rank the following brands..in general...looking on teh Tesco website and there are what seem to be some FAB deals - eg. direct.tesco.com/q/R.211-8727.aspx for £250!...and it seems like a reasonable spec to me.

I am just looking for something which will be the workhorse for my PGCE next year...so writing documents, more documents and more documents with a bit of surfing. No fancy high powered gaming or anything. Just looking for value for money and longevity. So how would you rate the following brands?

Dell
Compaq/HP
Samsung
Acer
Toshiba
eMachines

I need somewhere to focus my search on what are otherwise similar spec machines? If you could choose one which brand would stand out for you?

lazydog Fri 12-Aug-11 01:46:48

I repair PCs for a living and I buy Dells for myself, as a compromise between reliability (ok) and cost for decent spec (excellent) but out of the list you've given, if they really are all similar price/specs, Toshiba is actually tthe most reliable. That's not just my opinion - it's backed up by whatever company it is (sorry, memory is fried after a long day, LOL!) that provides most of the extended warranties on laptops, and they state that Toshiba customers actually need to claim less often than other laptop brands' purchasers, if you see what I mean?

lazydog Fri 12-Aug-11 01:49:13

Of the ones you listed, that is... If I recall correctly, the Mac laptops rated higher for reliabilty, as did Lenovo, but Toshiba were best of the more mainstream brands.

MindyMacready Fri 12-Aug-11 02:07:07

Add Lenovo (ex IBM) to your list & take off eMachines & at top end Sony.

Dell - usually good value, watch delivery costs.
HP - Business
Samsung - Meh!
Acer - Value for money
Toshiba - Once highly reputable, not so much now - mid table

HauntedLittleLunatic Fri 12-Aug-11 09:08:47

Hmmm...the dell inspirons from Tesco don't actually seem value for money...they are much lower spec in Tesco for same money than the Compaq particularly.

The dell vostro I have just spec'd up is £100 mote expensive than the Compaq I linked. I think it has a significantly better processor but half the memory and hard drive.

I am thinking the one I linked is a bargain

RustyBear Fri 12-Aug-11 09:26:31

I'm ICT support manager for a school & have looked after about 50 teachers laptops over the last few years - originally they were all acers because that's what the laptops for teachers scheme provided. I've found acers to be like the little girl with the curl - either very very good or horrid - but I stopped buying them partly because of a horrendous service experience when I had to return a laptop 5 times in three months - twice because it was returned with the wrong operating system, and partly because of several of the same model which had appalling overheating problems.

We then got a few HPs, which have all had battery and DVD player problems, but for the last couple of years have settled on Toshibas, all of which have proved much more reliable.

We also have a set of 32 Lenovo laptops which the children use - they are incredibly robust, even surviving being dropped occasionally, though on the downside they are very heavy -2.8kg.

At home we've had HP, Sony, Dell and Toshibas - worst for reliability was the Sony and one of the Toshibas, best the other Toshiba and the Dells, though one of the Dells is only 6 months old.

HauntedLittleLunatic Fri 12-Aug-11 09:43:42

Right, I will look properly at the Toshiba's then and have another look at the dell's...although compared to the similar price machines (on Tesco) they seem to have much inferior processors - based on those processor comparison bar charts...although I admit that I am not exactly sure what difference differeence of say 100 makes.

I am right in thinking good processor is important cos that is one of the main functional bits of any pc?

Snorbs Fri 12-Aug-11 11:39:46

Most of the time these days the processor doesn't make a huge amount of difference for word-processing and web browsing. A dual-core is worth going for in favour of a single-core processor as that is noticeable. If it was my money I'd also go for something in the Intel Core i3 or i5 line rather than the much older Pentium or Celeron lines as the newer ones are a bit more efficient. But then you're likely talking of £400+ laptops rather than £250 ones and if you're tight on cash I'm not sure the difference would be justifiable.

If you're choosing between a 2.2GHz dual-core Pentium or a 2.3GHz dual-core Pentium then you'd need quite precise performance monitoring software to spot the difference so I'd not worry too much about clock speed.

What does make a difference is the amount of memory that is installed. I'd go for 4GB as a minimum although you'll need Windows 7 64bit to take full advantage of that.

In terms of build quality, to be honest many of the low-end laptops are built in the same far-east factories and the only differences are cosmetic.

The Compaq laptop you linked to seems a pretty good deal for the money - it's an older processor line but it is dual-core and comes with a reasonable amount of memory. It'll do web-browsing and document creation with no problem. How reliable it will be is harder to say. In my experience, the majority of laptop problems are linked to how they're used. Treat it gently, particularly when it's turned on, as the hard disk is very fragile when it's running. And be careful not to block the vents underneath otherwise it'll overheat.

Incidentally, if you're going to be buying Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc) then have a look at Software 4 Students. If you're a UK student then you can - entirely legitimately - get big discounts, eg, Microsoft Office for £38 rather than the retail price of over £300. Or you can get entirely free alternatives to Microsoft Office (such as Libre Office) which do 90% of what Microsoft Office does. Some courses are quite particular about what software you use though.

HauntedLittleLunatic Fri 12-Aug-11 13:41:33

Ty. I have spec'd a dell vostro with the i3 but that 2gb memory and 250gb hard drive. That is £360

Not sure whether the i3 is worth the extra £100 given the lower memory and hard drive?

I have the money to spend but want something that suits my needs and is value for money rather than the best I can possibly get and beyond my needs.

Snorbs Fri 12-Aug-11 14:38:24

For what you want to do, I agree - the extra £100 for an i3 processor isn't worth it, particularly given the smaller amount of RAM and smaller disk. An extra 2GB of memory will have more effect on performance in Windows 7 for web browsing and document creation than the fact that the i3 is a more efficient processor than the Pentium.

For instance, the laptop I'm writing this on is a (business-class) Compaq with a 2.4GHz dual-core Intel Core2 processor. It's running Windows 7 and I've got a few Firefox windows open plus a short Word document, a small Excel spreadsheet and a couple of PDFs. It's currently using 1.7GB of memory out of 4GB total and it's more than fast enough for even a sad old geek like me. But it wouldn't take many more applications to be running for it to exceed 2GB and if that was all the memory it had then it would really start slowing down.

HauntedLittleLunatic Fri 12-Aug-11 18:08:25

Went instore to fondle the machines. Spoke to a rather enthusiastic (initially) salesman.

He was shocked at spec for price and admitted that he couldn't sell me anything better at anything close to the price so have come home and ordered online the original link.

I mentioned Toshiba and he seemed to have a mini-convulsion that anyone would recommend toshiba as a machine...so dunno what that was all about (buut the Toshiba's turned out to be similar price to Dell anyway for similar spec).

Just have to wait until Monday to pick it up now.

Thanks for input.

lazydog Fri 12-Aug-11 22:02:06

"have a mini-convulsion that anyone would recommend toshiba as a machine...so dunno what that was all about"

That was "about" you talking to a sales assistant rather than anyone with any technical nouse! grin

HauntedLittleLunatic Fri 12-Aug-11 22:11:22

Fair point! Tbh he acknowledged reliability pretty good but performance poor...'apparently'

LittlePushka Fri 12-Aug-11 22:16:52

REading this with interest asn my Acer craptop laptop is about is doing an oscar winning performance of an agonising slow death....

Just been checking your link hauntedlittlelunatic. Did you pay £299 for it or £250?

HauntedLittleLunatic Fri 12-Aug-11 22:41:06

£249. If you look on all the laptop pages under the offers there is a discount code to enter at the checkout giving extra £50 discount. TD-G4AL is what I have scribbled on piece of paper.

LittlePushka Fri 12-Aug-11 23:06:51

Bless you loony!! Thanks

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