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Could you please help me choose a cheap laptop?

(12 Posts)
silver28 Fri 28-Feb-14 14:59:17

I'd like to buy a cheap laptop (up to £300, pref under £250) that has windows software, that I can use Excel and Word on and also use for photo storage/editing and emailing.

We have an Apple computer, ipad/phones at home but i need to use Word and Excel for some work i'm going to be doing at home. And i get so frustrated with the Apple computer as nothing works the same as the Windows PC I'm used to using at work!

But there's so much choice out there when looking at laptops, and i have no idea what I need (re memory or speed etc) or where to start. I don't think I need a really big memory as we'll continue to use other devices for some stuff, but I guess a decent speed would be good as I'm used to ipad being quite quick. But the numbers are meaningless to me!

So I'd be v grateful if anyone could either recommend a laptop, or tell me what spec I should be looking for. Also, I assume that any laptop would come with the Windows software that I require, so I wouldn't have to spend more to get it (I only need basic stuff).

Many thanks

wyrdyBird Fri 28-Feb-14 16:24:56

In this price range, you might want to look at a second hand or refurbished laptop. I wouldn't want to recommend any particular model, but this kind of thing might suit your needs:

It has an intel core i3 processor, 4gb RAM, 500GB hard drive (storage). All very respectable specifications for everyday use. But to be fair, most modern laptops are suitable for everyday Office use, internet use, photo editing: it's gaming and video editing that needs higher specifications.

Note that you might want a larger hard drive (HDD) if you have a lot of photos to store.

The only worry is the Office suite. A new business licence for MS Office is around £160. Will your workplace provide you with a licence, or are you freelance?

Or might a free suite such as OpenOffice be ok for your needs?

silver28 Fri 28-Feb-14 16:46:36

Thanks for the advice. I only need basic office package i think, as it's not for my real work, it's just for doing our PTA accounts and some basic reports and letters for a charity i'm involved in. Just need to be able to use basic excel (the accounts are all done on spreadsheets) and Word for writing letters and basic documents. Do you think OpenOffice covers that? (if it doesn't' then goodness knows what it does cover!)

And while I am planning to use it for photos the volume will be moderate compared to some. I;m sure any basic laptop would do really. It's just there's so many to choose from! I thought they were a little more expensive (thought i'd be spending 4-500) but i had a quick look an amazon (prob not the best place to buy from i suppose) and the first ones that came up were c£230 and had good reviews, but it's all meaningless to me really.

thanks again for your advice. my requirements aren't too high so i suppose i can't go far wrong.

Bloodyteenagers Fri 28-Feb-14 17:01:17

for the software, if you have children in the house, or have someone that is in uni in the hpuse you can save a fortune and get it from software4students. office is around £90

silver28 Fri 28-Feb-14 17:10:25

thanks for the tip. Children are only 5 and 2 but i assume i could still qualify. will look into it, tho openoffice may be sufficient.

mummy1973 Fri 28-Feb-14 17:22:03

dh got a netbook from Tesco, an Acer. He has open office on it which is fine for equivalent to word, excel and PowerPoint. He has photos on there and browses internet. Seems very good.grin

wyrdyBird Fri 28-Feb-14 17:23:33

You're v welcome. Amazon is fine, I've bought laptops there in the past.

Some of the traps with cheaper, but new, under £250 laptops is that 1) you can end up with a chromebook by mistake! Which I don't think would suit your needs, and 2) some have tiny screens, no help if you're using Excel. But you might yet find something which suits.

I wouldn't rule out asking if anyone's got a spare laptop they don't want anymore, it's surprising how many people have.

OpenOffice is compatible with Word and Excel documents. I've heard good things about Kingsoft too. I hope others will have helpful advice on this.

silver28 Fri 28-Feb-14 21:43:15

I have seen some with chrome book, didn't know what that was but I assume it's an alternative to Microsoft package? The whole point of getting a laptop is to use for word and excel (so I don't have to squeeze all my extra curricular work into my lunch hours!) so I need to ma make sure whatever I but has them (or a compatible equivalent! I do want a reasonable sized screen.

Thanks again.

wyrdyBird Sat 01-Mar-14 13:09:55

Yes, you're right: chromebook is an alternative. It's effectively a google web browser with a computer wrapped around it - you do everything via the web and google apps. Great if that's what you want, but no use if you need to use Windows programs..!
I hope you find something which suits.

NetworkGuy Mon 03-Mar-14 18:56:03

The early Chromebooks were criticised for being close to 'useless' if you had no internet connection - storage of data would typically be in Google Documents (now called Google Drive), and unfortunately while the Google facilities include web-based creation, viewing and altering of text documents and spreadsheets among other things, it has no guarantee of being compatible with anything else, particularly if there are any more complex features being used, which would be included in standalone software from earlier times (Lotus 1-2-3, Quattro Pro, as spreadsheets, for example) or Office suites.

OpenOffice and LibreOffice (originally from OpenOffice) are certainly recommended alternatives for use on OS X, Linux and Windows systems.

NetworkGuy Mon 03-Mar-14 19:12:15

Incidentally, last year I bought an older iMac which had Microsoft Office installed (2009 version). I bought a number of iMac and spent at most £180 so it might be worth a look on Ebay (though for some peculiar reason, it seems many Apple owners refuse to send items and require buyer collect {which may mean you get a bargain if it is someone near you, or pay through the nose if you're in London, as some of the higher prices seemed to be expected by sellers there).

In my case I wasn't after a laptop, and if you are definitely wanting something for portability, then my suggestion would be of little use (sorry). I have OpenOffice on this and another of my iMacs.

silver28 Tue 04-Mar-14 17:32:33

Thanks for the advice. It does need to be portable and does need to be a windows machine (love my ipad and iPhone but have had mini mac for 5 years and still not for used to it, prefer to use windows). Will avoid google chrome!

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