Help me buy a new laptop
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  1. #1
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    Help me buy a new laptop

    My wife and I are not very computer literate. Both of us work at places where there are people that take care of things like security, troubleshooting, updates, etc. so we haven't had to learn much about these things. Our 10 year old Toshiba "house computer" is finally dead - it won't even boot up.

    Our home computing needs are very limited. We just need something to act as a photo/music repository with the occasional bit of web surfing. I get 35% off of Dell products through my employer so we're probably going to go that route.

    The thing is I can't really compare between different models since I don't know the differences between types of processors, hard drives, or what kind of memory needs I really have.

    Do you guys have any insights or tips you can give me or is it simply a case of "anything has to be better than what you have now"?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by dir-t View Post
    My wife and I are not very computer literate. Both of us work at places where there are people that take care of things like security, troubleshooting, updates, etc. so we haven't had to learn much about these things. Our 10 year old Toshiba "house computer" is finally dead - it won't even boot up.

    Our home computing needs are very limited. We just need something to act as a photo/music repository with the occasional bit of web surfing. I get 35% off of Dell products through my employer so we're probably going to go that route.

    The thing is I can't really compare between different models since I don't know the differences between types of processors, hard drives, or what kind of memory needs I really have.

    Do you guys have any insights or tips you can give me or is it simply a case of "anything has to be better than what you have now"?

    Thanks.
    considering that today is the "end of life" for windows 7, personally I would not recommend a windows machine at all. I despise windows 10. As a matter of fact, I am begrudgingly updating my desktop to win10 as I type this. For your needs i would recommend an adroid/chromebook option
    Of course I'm sure...that doesn't mean I'm right.....

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  3. #3
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    I bought a Lenovo Yoga 81JS last summer and I love it. The price for this high performance (not gaming-optimized) machine, which really is high performance, was around 800 bucks at best buy.

    System SKU LENOVO_MT_81JS_BU_idea_FM_YOGA 730-15IWL
    Processor Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-8565U CPU @ 1.80GHz, 2001 Mhz, 4 Core(s), 8 Logical Processor(s)
    Installed Physical Memory (RAM) 12.0 GB
    OS Name Microsoft Windows 10 Pro
    Version 10.0.18363 Build 18363

    As for win 10, I love it. Best windows ever. I started a long time ago with windows 3.1, and NT Server 4.0, and have been using various version up through Windows 10 and Server 2019.

    Win 10 and Server 19 got rid of all the stupid stuff in win 8 and 8.1, server 2012 and 2012 R2.

  4. #4
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    Through work I have to use a lot of HP consumer machines, if you are interested in Windows and HP, go for an Envy or Spectre but nothing lower. These are more premium lines, but trust me it's worth it.

    I also personally just purchased a high-end Lenovo and am impressed so far. But it's probably more computer than you need. Yoga C940.

    Based on your stated computing needs, Touch0Grey may be correct, a Chromebook is something worth looking into. I would suggest a higher end one, though, like a Google Pixelbook or HP's higher end Chromebook (which really has a nice feel to it).

    Lastly, Windows 10 is fine IMO, but stay away from Windows 10S, aka Windows 10 in "S Mode". You can convert S mode computers to full Home/Pro for free, but overall when a machine comes with this OS it is on a much lower end device with poorer performance and physical durability.

  5. #5
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    I'll have to look more closely at the Chromebooks but my reservations are that I'll need to learn a new OS and music/photo managing apps, and they appear to be a bit more $ than I need to spend versus going through my employer.

    Granted, I'm not happy with Windows 10 but that has more with me having to relearn how to interact with my computer than it does with how the OS performs (i.e. WTF happened to the "My Computer" button and why does Cortana keep bugging me to ask her questions that I don't need answered). I just have no patience for figuring out non-mechanical stuff.

    For example, I can get a Inspiron 3000 for $420 - which is about what I think is a reasonable price for my needs.

    - 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8265U processor
    - 256 GB M.2 PCLe NVMe SSD
    - 8 GB, 1x8 GB, DDR4, 2666 MHz

    I don't know if this is low-end, high-end, or if it matters at all.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by dir-t View Post
    I'll have to look more closely at the Chromebooks but my reservations are that I'll need to learn a new OS and music/photo managing apps, and they appear to be a bit more $ than I need to spend versus going through my employer.

    Granted, I'm not happy with Windows 10 but that has more with me having to relearn how to interact with my computer than it does with how the OS performs (i.e. WTF happened to the "My Computer" button and why does Cortana keep bugging me to ask her questions that I don't need answered). I just have no patience for figuring out non-mechanical stuff.

    For example, I can get a Inspiron 3000 for $420 - which is about what I think is a reasonable price for my needs.

    - 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8265U processor
    - 256 GB M.2 PCLe NVMe SSD
    - 8 GB, 1x8 GB, DDR4, 2666 MHz

    I don't know if this is low-end, high-end, or if it matters at all.
    You can turn off and disable cortana and all that other crap. Also, you don't have to use a microsoft 365-type login with win10 either, although during setup it seems like you do. That's easy to bypass and set up a local account.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPlKE View Post
    Also, you don't have to use a microsoft 365-type login with win10 either, although during setup it seems like you do. That's easy to bypass and set up a local account.
    No idea what you're talking about here.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by dir-t View Post
    No idea what you're talking about here.
    When I was going through the setup on my new computer, it demanded that I use an email address as my username, and then directed me to a microsoft site to register that email address with a microsoft account (or create one).

    I did, but then learned how to set up my own local account (non email username) that doesn't touch microsoft for validation.

    In my experience, the key to not hating microsoft operating systems is in learning to turn off and disable all the crap that is, crappy microsoft bloatware, spyware, adware, etc.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by dir-t View Post
    No idea what you're talking about here.

    Okay boomer

    Go with the Chromebook, relatively easy to use and figure out (if you can use an android phone, you can use the chromebook). As for the machine you mentioned earlier, its just a run of the mill spec laptop in this day and age, but more than powerful enough to do whatever you need.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljvb View Post
    Okay boomer
    Ha, exactly! Except I'm only 45.

  11. #11
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    #1 for Chromebook, if your phone is an Android, then the Chromebook will already feel familiar to you.

    #2 Based on what you say you mainly want to do the specs for that Dell are probably fine. i5 is more midrange, i7 is more premium. El Cheapo is typically Celeron, i3, or AMD brand chips. I personally like the current HP and Lenovo units more in terms of style and maybe construction, but can't imagine they are too different and if you can get a discount well that's not to be ignored.

    #3 Just a blurb on Microsoft forcing Microsoft account logins... so if you connect to network during OOBE (Out Of Box Experience, the blue setup screens when computer is brand new), Microsoft now forces you to create a Microsoft login. You used to be able to select local account but not anymore. HOWEVER, if you simply don't connect to Internet during OOBE, then you can still create a local account during that process. Either way, once you're on your desktop you can create local logins and switch to them if you don't want to use Microsoft account. Of course, now they have your email address so here come some marketing messages...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by dir-t View Post
    Ha, exactly! Except I'm only 45.
    Coulda fooled me.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPlKE View Post
    Coulda fooled me.
    I was just 44 two weeks ago. Where'd the time go?

    Jetdog, thanks for that information. It was useful. I do have a Microsoft login for my work computer so I assume that would work at home too.

    I don't have an Android phone and want to be able to put music from the computer onto my I-phone and *gasp* old I-pod. It looks like there is a workaround to make a Chromebook talk to Apple products so I may research that further.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by dir-t View Post
    I'll have to look more closely at the Chromebooks but my reservations are that I'll need to learn a new OS and music/photo managing apps, and they appear to be a bit more $ than I need to spend versus going through my employer.

    Granted, I'm not happy with Windows 10 but that has more with me having to relearn how to interact with my computer than it does with how the OS performs (i.e. WTF happened to the "My Computer" button and why does Cortana keep bugging me to ask her questions that I don't need answered). I just have no patience for figuring out non-mechanical stuff.

    For example, I can get a Inspiron 3000 for $420 - which is about what I think is a reasonable price for my needs.

    - 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8265U processor
    - 256 GB M.2 PCLe NVMe SSD
    - 8 GB, 1x8 GB, DDR4, 2666 MHz

    I don't know if this is low-end, high-end, or if it matters at all.
    An i5 will be more than adequate for your needs. I would definitely go with a solid state drive for a laptop, but for a desktop machine its not as necessary. The main benefit is faster boot time, shock resistance, and prohram loading time. IMO 256G is too small. I you plan to have lots of photos and music, a Terabyte would be better. Some machine now come with a small SSD and a much larger HD which give you the best of both worlds. 8G of memory is OK as long as you dont have a lot of programs running at once

  15. #15
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    If you keep them a long time here's what I would buy. At least 16GB memory, a 512GB NVMe SSD, 15.6" or 17.3" display, and lots of ports. Windows 10, don't even mess with a Chromebook, 2 in 1, touch screen, or something else. Buy a backup USB drive right away and set it up to back up your files on day 1. About another $100 or less for that.

    You did not specify a budget, what I'm recommending is about $1,000 total for a good unit. Just buy a fast solid basic Win 10 laptop imho and don't forget a decent mouse.
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  16. #16
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    Chromebook.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by dir-t View Post
    Ha, exactly! Except I'm only 45.
    Damn dude.. You are a year old than me.. how are you not at least semi IT literate....

  18. #18
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    Macbook Pro 13"

  19. #19
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    Next somebody will say Linux.

    My advice: stick with what you're used to using, unless you feel like spending "quality time" learning the ins and outs of a new operating system.

    I use mac, linux and several variants of unix back to Unix System V and a bunch of different iterations of Solaris, andriod, ios, and windows.

    I mostly use windows and prefer it. Even my coworker who has been a rabid mac fanfgrrl since the first macs came out decades ago, has switched to win 10, since she no longer does high end design work and got tired of spending premium bucks on apple hardware and mac-compliant software to remain in the dumbly expensive apple ecosystem.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljvb View Post
    Damn dude.. You are a year old than me.. how are you not at least semi IT literate....
    I never had to be.

    When I was in grad school I was poor enough to use the university's computers for everything. My first job out of college came complete with an IT department and I'm still there. They take care of EVERYTHING leaving me alone do my work - which only requires Word, Excel, and some chemistry modelling software.

    I'm not a gamer, social media user, etc. I spend my free time outside. Seriously, I only use my home computer for managing music, photos, and occasionally checking into some financial things so learning about computer specs was never important.

    I hadn't even touched the home computer for a couple months until I tried to put some new CDs (that's right!) into the computer to put onto my ipod after Xmas.

  21. #21
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    I never buy new laptops - I get used ones off E-bay with the OS already loaded. The last one I bought was a Dell Precision M4800 for a little over $200 with windows 10 loaded, fairly fast Intel I7, 8GB of ram, 500GB HDD and a good video card in nice shape. It's pretty common to see them out there as companies updated their computers every couple years. This last one will last me 4 or 5 years at least.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPlKE View Post
    Next somebody will say Linux.

    My advice: stick with what you're used to using, unless you feel like spending "quality time" learning the ins and outs of a new operating system.

    I use mac, linux and several variants of unix back to Unix System V and a bunch of different iterations of Solaris, andriod, ios, and windows.

    I mostly use windows and prefer it. Even my coworker who has been a rabid mac fanfgrrl since the first macs came out decades ago, has switched to win 10, since she no longer does high end design work and got tired of spending premium bucks on apple hardware and mac-compliant software to remain in the dumbly expensive apple ecosystem.

    Linux Sucks.. long live FreeBSD

    Windows sucks, even windows 10, while miles better, is still bloated and full of crap. Unless you get the Enterprise version, you cannot completely disable the privacy violating configurations. Pro and below still report metrics and crap back to MS. As a security specialist, this is unacceptable. Of course, Chromebooks are just as bad.

    I personally use a Macbook Air as my laptop, mostly for terminal/ssh and browsing, for more advanced stuff, I have a dual 16 Core E5 gen 2 Xeons (total of 64 cores with hyperthreading) and uhh... 20 TB of storage (Vmware Server and Nas server, 20TB of 600GB enterprise 15k drives, I can lose a bunch of drives before losing data)... and if need graphics intensive power desktop processing, I use Shadow.tech, it's pricey at $30 a month, but consider the cost of a powerful gaming rig or desktop, at around $3k and up, and you still have to pay for upgrades over time, the price is not too bad. I have no affiliation with Shadow, although I do have an affiliate link if anyone is interested in trying it out. Hell, I can use the Gaming VM from any tablet or phone. I use it for Fusion360 and other graphcis intensive rendering for CNC work (I have a CNC machine.. I like toys).

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljvb View Post
    As a security specialist,
    Well, there you go Mr. "how are you not semi-IT literate"!

    Can you hand-texture a soil sample, log a drill core, or interpret acid-base-account data? None of that crap requires a computer!

  24. #24
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    OK, enough of this mamby pamby talk and respectful discussion.

    I'm going full RBR, disk vs. rim, carbon vs. steel, pitbull pedal vs. sensible pedals, high tire pressure vs. low tire pressure, etc, etc.

    Mac sucks. Bam! Expensive, fragile, too proprietary, lock-in to the ecosystem that has turds like crappy batteries that cost too much to replace; obscenely planned obsolescence on a 2 year cycle, etc.

    Chromebook, for the price which is now equal or more than stout windows machines, is lacking. I learned this last summer when I went to buy a chromebook and ended up buying my win10 lenovo. And I'm a long-time android, chrome, and G-suite fanboi! So there's that.

    Linux, blechhh. Life's too short to be an operating system hobbyist who gets off mucking around under the hood.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPlKE View Post
    OK, enough of this mamby pamby talk and respectful discussion.

    I'm going full RBR, disk vs. rim, carbon vs. steel, pitbull pedal vs. sensible pedals, high tire pressure vs. low tire pressure, etc, etc.

    Mac sucks. Bam! Expensive, fragile, too proprietary, lock-in to the ecosystem that has turds like crappy batteries that cost too much to replace; obscenely planned obsolescence on a 2 year cycle, etc.

    Chromebook, for the price which is now equal or more than stout windows machines, is lacking. I learned this last summer when I went to buy a chromebook and ended up buying my win10 lenovo. And I'm a long-time android, chrome, and G-suite fanboi! So there's that.

    Linux, blechhh. Life's too short to be an operating system hobbyist who gets off mucking around under the hood.
    All this and more!
    Of course I'm sure...that doesn't mean I'm right.....

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