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October 05, 2015


Lenovo, which was my fave, has trashed their reputation in the last few years, so avoid.

If you want good battery life, go with solid-state disk, but that = $$$ (or small disk). Fast, cheap, big: pick 2.
Maybe 1.

My laptop is showing its age, which means battery life is about 30 minutes. So it gets kept plugged in, except when moving between rooms.

My wife tried getting me a new one (she managed to find a Windows 7 one, new). It has a number pad, but the cost is that the keyboard (and the individual keys) is narrower than standard. Which might not bother others, but I learned to touch type back in 7th grade, and the muscle memory is proving beyond reprogramming.

Can you even get Windows 10 without the touch-screen nonsense? (Not to mention that it probably needs a couple more years of (unacknowledged) Beta testing before it's ready for general use.) And you certainly don't want to go near Windows 8. Maybe there are still some Windows 7 boxes out there...?

Personally, my current irritation is that the power supply (for the flat screen monitor) has died. Turns out it's impossible to tell, online, whether the plug is what you need for a particular device. Looks like we're off to look at hardware in person.

My work laptop has been a Lenovo Thinkpad for the last couple of rounds of replacements. Last time I bought a personal laptop (two years ago), I tried to duplicate my work machine fairly closely so I could use the one as a backup for the other at need. I got a 15" screen and a fair amount of memory, speed, and hard drive space, plus a better than standard graphics option (don't remember the details and I'm not at home right now so I can't check) for around $1300. (With 3-year warranty, IIRC.)

I use my laptops pretty hard, and these Lenovos seem to take the abuse well, although I may not be as hard on them as a student would be. My daughter (older than a college kid, but she carries her Mac around to coffee shops all the time to write her young adult novels) has had repeated and annoying problems with ... guess what ... the power cords. She loves the Mac but gets frustrated with the unreliability of the cords. They're not cheap to replace.

My son and I have both bought Dells and then later Lenovos over the years by going onto the websites and choosing our own components. I'm not even all that knowledgeable, but I would feel really weird at this point buying a laptop off the shelf. Doing your own build means you can see what tradeoffs you might make to keep the price where you want it: more speed, a little less memory, better graphics, whatever.

Two years ago I was looking at Dell and Lenovo. I read a lot of reviews, looked at prices, service, etc., and went with Lenovo. Two years is a long time, so a lot may have changed. Also, I can't comment on warranty service because I haven't had any problems (knock on wood!).

P.S. My battery life is good, much better than I've had on any prior laptop, but I haven't pushed it to the limit so I don't know how far it would really go. 4 of 5 hours at least.

About Windows versions -- I was absolutely determined, two years ago, not to have Windows 8. No actual store had anything but 8, and they looked at me like I was a lunatic when I said I wanted 7. That was in fact another reason why I went online to build my own.

Having a valid Windows 7, I am eligible for the free upgrade to 10, and I don't have a touchscreen. In fact, I am so eligible that Microsoft nags me every time I log on. My admin guru at work says go ahead, but I'm procrastinating.... Anyhow, I think if you buy a laptop with Windows 8, you will be able to upgrade to 10 for free. And if my configuration is any indication, you can have 10 without using a touchscreen.

PPS I've heard that they did make Windows 8 better after the earliest crappy versions. I've never used it, but my son uses it and he's fine with it.

That's funny, because my computer customer service is actually called "Knock on Wood", except that they say it in Marathi, or maybe Hindi, when they answer the phone, which itself, need I mention, when it, the phone, needs work, requires me to turn up the volume so I can understand what is happening.

My iPad iOS operating system crashed recently and it gave me an official looking message with a number to call, which I did, and a vaguely mid-Asian speaker came on board and said, now John, you must first send $40 and then we will fix this, his head undoubtedly waggling side to side, meaning "yes" in Hindi but, but looking to me in my mind's eye English like "No", but he definitely meant yeas about the $40 dollars, so I demured, as is my way, and went to the Apple store, and a guy, another vaguely mid asian dude, one of those immigrants, listens to my story and giggles and says do this and just clear the system, and so I did.

Lucky we didn't build the walls last month, else I'd gone with the long distance con.

What's Trump and company going to do about this, O ask you.

"Here's whad I tink, no more foreign phone calls ta fix your devices. From now on, we have a call center in Jersey, or maybe Hoboken, or maybe Rancho de Dada, which I own, and we have a red-blooded, low-paid American answer the phone and help you with your problem. You say, hey I bought dis heah ting from yous guys, now fix it. And our rep says "maybe you did, maybe you didn't. Prove we sold you dis heah piece of crap."

And then the next thing you know, Trump declared bankruptcy and you wish it WAS a foreigner f*cking you, instead of one of your fellow Americans.

But then Trump adlibs and says I'll cut your taxes.

Well then, by all means, F8ck away!

I'd ask the Geeks at Best Buy. They are honest, as in, when they don't know, then neither do I.

Heh. The Geeks at Best Buy (or their sales floor counterpart) were the ones who looked at me like I was screwy when I said I wanted Windows 7 and not 8 two years ago. They were like, oh, here's an old lady who isn't hip enough to keep up with modern times, let's patronizingly lecture to her about what she really wants. They said I could buy 8 and pay an extra $50 to downgrade to 7. I said never mind. I might in fact have paid a little extra on my build to have 7 instead of 8. And don't get me started on the difference between Office 1010 and that ugly dog Office 2013, which showed me three bugs in the first five minutes I tried to use it.

Welp, they ARE geeks.

What we need is our forefathers's Jeffersonian technology, which you independently yeomanly tended yourself, or beat a slave or a mule to tend to, and if THAT didn't work, you headed West where gunpowder solved all technological discrepancies and no man was an island, except for the occasional isthmus, and the woman who declared herself a peninsula without an egress.

My only computer technological coup in life was about ten years ago when know nothing me called up Dell because my computer has gone black no matter what, and at the time, they had local service to come to the house and here they come and this nice guy spends about half an hour replacing everything but the metal CPU case, one thing after another, and about 20 minutes into this I suddenly recalled I has dusted the desk and computer the day before and could it be ... but hey, I was in the company of expertise so who am I, and in short order, the guy stood back and stared at the black inert screen, bereft of items to replace, for a good long moment with his brow furrowed and then, made a quick phone call to headquarters, put the phone down and with his index finger, leaned in and pushed the "ON" button on the monitor and we were back in business.

He rather abruptly rolled up his tool kit, thanked me, and said goodnight, and I thanked him and walked him to the door, and told him he was a genius for figuring that out, and I was pretty much $600 to the good with a new computer and a more careful dusting routine.

rule #1 in troubleshooting computers (or anything):

go for the easiest, cheapest possible solution, first.

low-hanging fruit is sweet.

Always the standard Help Desk script, when the customer calls:
1) Is it plugged in?
2) Is it turned on?

And those are the first two questions exactly because they are by far the most common cause of problems that are called in.

I upgraded my tiny ASUS laptop to windows 10 and it's not too bad. Haven't had any problems with it, and it's fairly similar to windows 7. I did the free beta version.

Always the standard Help Desk script, when the customer calls:
1) Is it plugged in?
2) Is it turned on?

Never mind help desk, those are my first two questions for myself whenever I have an issue! :)

#3 is "is the machine connected to a network?"

1st class postage stamp: 49 cents. Best backup plan ever.

i skipped Win 8, but am liking Win 10 just fine. there's enough new stuff to be interesting, but most of the basic stuff is exactly where Win 7 left it.

I do all my important work on "Windows? Nein!", but the question was about hardware.

The hardest part of the spec is the battery life. Both Lenovo and Dell can provides the rest but 4 hours is really the top end. I did not investigate if you can get a bigger battery but that would drive the cost over the 1k. The touch screen isn't bad to have and it becomes more integrated into your pc use than you might expect.

I had Windows 8 from the beta until the Windows 10 beta. It really worked well pretty quickly after general release, but it was a massive change that mad e using it awkward for a pretty long time. I often defaulted to desktop.

Windows 10 is pretty nice. Stable even in beta, almost no problems for the casual user and I run all of the things listed, although I think the only video editing I have is the windows product.


We're finding that "gaming" systems often have both HDD and SSD (the latter for graphics), and the low end of that segment may be the way to go.

I remember a sentence from a puzzle or something that read:

James, while Susie had had "had," had had "had had." "Had had" had had a better effect on the teacher.

my mid-range Dell desktop came with both SSD and HDD. the SSD isn't available as a standard drive. instead, it is used as a cache (aka Intel SSD caching) to greatly speeds up booting and launching of frequently-used apps.

i definitely recommend getting a PC with that, if one is available.

Whoever cleaned up my dangling italics, grazie mille!

Windows 7 vs Windows 8 vs Windows 10:

For the last 10 years or so, I've worked pretty much exclusively on one Windows stack or another.

At home, I am a Mac guy.

Probably the biggest reason for that is that I just got sick of being horsed around by MS every time they came up with a new strategic plan for total world domination.

Plus, after a while you just get sick of paying to be their beta tester.

At work, they pay me to put up with it. On my own time, I don't have the patience for it.

I've had a Mac Book Pro for probably 8 years or so now. I have had zero hardware issues, zero software issues, zero issues period. It is a flawless, bulletproof computing appliance. I'm sure it will blow up eventually, because sooner or later things do. At that point, I'll replace it with something just like it.

I've upgraded the OS a couple of times, and other than some minor icon and UI gesture changes, it's been a non-event.

At this point, my personal point of view is that if you want me to deal with MS and their chaotic approach to product strategy, you have to pay me to do it.

If I'm paying, I expect the other guy to sweat the fine points. Not my job.

The upside of de facto monopolies is that you have de facto standards. Everyone can read everyone else's Word docs.

The downside is that the vendor can jerk you around like a fish on a hook.

Because you're a fish on a hook.

Unfortunately, I have no advice for Doc S, I'm just abusing her thread to rant mildly about MS.

Haha! And this was in my inbox.

Adapt or die.

I, too, skipped Windows 8. I upgraded from 7 to 10 on my 4-year-old Dell in July and am quite happy with it. I find that I don't like the keyboard plus touchscreen combo and sticking with the touchpad with Windows 10 works for me. I have tended to prefer paying upfront for a fairly high-end machine and warranty that includes accidental damage and next-day on-site service so I can guarantee availability through a relatively long lifetime. I can't afford to be without my computer for any significant length of time and I don't like the hassle of switching to a new one. That strategy doesn't get you under $1k though.

So if I upgrade to Windows 10 on my two-year old Dell desktop, which doesn't have touchscreen, what does that mean?

I have Windows 7 now.


Win 10 without a touchscreen works fine. you just use the mouse.

i've been using it for a few months and haven't come across anything that requires a touchscreen. i haven't even come across anything that tells me a touchscreen would be an option.

it's just Windows with some new desktop candy.

Thanks, cleek

Now you all have me wondering if I should upgrade my wife's one-year-old laptop from Windows 8 to Windows 10. We hate, hate, hated Windows 8 when we first got it, but it's pretty much fine now that we're used to it.

We had the power-cord (power-jack, really) issue with this current laptop, which got fixed under warranty for almost free ($15 shipping or something?). You can't leave a laptop plugged in on your couch with 4 kids in the house. But I still don't understand why something that will turn an otherwise perfectly good laptop into a rectangular Frisbee is so flimsy.

Ever since we sent the thing back to HP to fix the power jack it's been very, very slow to boot up. They updated something while it was there, but what I couldn't say. I don't know if Windows 10 would do anything to improve that. Plus, anything that doesn't work now isn't my fault, but it will be if I upgrade the OS.

At any rate, $1k sounds like a lot to me for a laptop. My last 2 were somewhere roughly in the $300 - $400 range and seemed to be just fine, though no video editing and probably not more than 2 hours on the battery (guessing).

anything that doesn't work now isn't my fault, but it will be if I upgrade the OS

the upgrade didn't really break anything on my desktop, but it did change something that made a few applications become unregistered. so, i typed the reg codes back in and all was fine.

on a laptop, the sound driver got itself disabled somehow. that took some poking around to figure out. but, it was an easy fix once i saw what happened.

i was expecting a lot more hassle than that.

hsh, the upgrade answer is I would, in fact I did upgrade my wifes. She is much happier now.

Marty: I did upgrade my wifes.

A robosexual polygamist!!!

...in our midst!

Russell, that Keizer article was fascinating. I could believe that Microsoft (trying to) force businesses to put in upgrades on a constant, very short, timeline is not just going to generate substantial resistance. I think it might just be the straw the causes a lot of businesses do decide to leave altogether.

Maybe to Apple. Maybe to Unix (which a lot of them already have for some things anyway). But off of Microsoft.

That, too, would be a long and massive hassle. But probably less risky than having to put in a new Windows release every few months, without adequate testing.

I use a SSD (medium size) + HDD (honkin' big) on a laptop, and helped others do that as well. The SSD is the 'installed/main/boot' drive and the HDD is installed in a 'secondary/CDR' bay, but screwed down so it won't eject.

Then you hack the config so that things are stored where you want them. Definitely not an 'off the shelf' solution, and the HDD means less battery life.

A robosexual polygamist!!!

*sigh* I am not emotionally capable of satisfying two wives, even if they were robots.

It's either super, super easy to emotionally satisfy a robot, or it's impossible. I'm not sure which.

What does it mean if your robotic wife is spending too much time interfacing with the Orgasmatron?

And keeps making whirrs and whistles about upgrading to Orgasmatron XIV?

It probably means you've been spending too much time rubbing the orb and have been neglecting her.

I recently upgraded my desktop Mac (after quite a few years), and found all my old Pages files had been rendered unreadable, so it ain't just Microsoft - who actually do a fairly decent job with backward compatibility.
(I hate Windows with a vengeance, but it doesn't render me blind to Apple's faults.)

And I've been through a fair number of power cords, even if they are superior to the PC cludges.

Nigel: Entirely by chance, the other day I came across the source files for a couple of documents I wrote for UNIX troff just over 30 years ago. One included eqn-based math and tbl-based tables. Somewhat to my surprise, the stock groff package in the latest Mac OS X on my Mini produced the proper output.

"What does it mean if your robotic wife is spending too much time interfacing with the Orgasmatron?"

It means I get to watch football on Sundays.


:) :) :)

BTW, do you know why a post-doc needs both a wife and a mistress? It's so the wife can assume he's with the mistress, and the mistress can assume he's with the wife, and he can go to the lab and get some work done.


Are we sure that orb wasn't a baseball? (Because a football doesn't really fit the bill on that.)

TP, now that's funny. :)

It's funny because it's true.

My new laptop, which is waiting for me back in Orlando, should I ever make it back there, is an HP. Not sure what model it is, yet, because I haven't laid eyes on it. But it's got at least 16GB of RAM and a 500GB solid-state hard drive.

We used to use Dell exclusively, but apparently that has changed.

Not sure about graphics or display size. Usually those are in the fairly-decent category, because those other things cost.

My Dell machine has been very good, but apparently they have a schedule wherein they upgrade equipment at a certain time, regardless of when you got it to begin with. Mine's only been mine for a year and a few months.

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