General Question

Maximillian's avatar

What laptop should I get?

Asked by Maximillian (948points) June 25th, 2010

So I’ve been debating with myself…a MacBook, or something else?
I would like some form of a laptop, but I’m not sure which. I would really like a MacBook, but its not entirely compatible with the rest of my school’s system. (I’ll be a junior in high school next year, if that matters.) So I’m thinking a Toshiba or something. But I’ve only got two years left until I’m off to college who have better computer systems, so maybe a Macbook. Any ideas?

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42 Answers

Seek's avatar

Whatever you do, stay far away from the HP series of laptops. I’ve had nothing but trouble with them, and their warranty department is staffed by the slaves of hell.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Maximillian Get a PC, not being compatible with the rest of the school is a hellish experience, especially when you’re racing against the clock to turn in a paper, and then you have to convert it as well…

I really like Dell. You can always get a new one for college, and Toshiba tends to break down really easily. And really quickly. It just makes a stinking bee-line for the “overpriced paper weight” thing.

jerv's avatar

I would go with the Toshiba unless someone else is paying for it. I love my T135 as a second machine and Toshiba has a couple of models that can stand tot to toe with an MB Pro in specs and reliablity while costing considerably less.

As a company, Toshiba does pretty good in reliability and customer service as well.

I avoid Dell and Sony for much the same reason I avoid Apple; good computers that can;t live up to their price tag.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Funny you should say that, because I’ve had nothing but great experiences with HP laptops.

jerv's avatar

@papayalily While I personally have not owned an HP laptop, the stories I hear and the reviews I’ve read are… less than flattering. Apparently, HP went downhill over the years.

Seek's avatar

Well, less than 1 year after purchasing my dv9000, random pieces of hardware stopped working – the wireless modem, the touch pad, then the screen casing split (none of which were fixed through warranty, because the warranty department is staffed by the slaves of hell). When the hard disk bit the dust, I gave up. My 1 year old son uses my $1500 laptop for a toy.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@jerv Carly Fiorina did do a number, but then they recovered quite a bit.

lillycoyote's avatar

Everyone has nothing but bad things to say about HP laptops. I’ve had two of them and have been quite happy with them. I’ve also had a Toshiba, a Sony Vaio and a Durabook. The Toshiba was a piece of crap, the Durabook was fine but it was loud, and I hate noisy, fan noisy computers, and the Vaio was loud and had a battery life of about 20 minutes and I finally got rid of it not because it failed but simply because it annoyed the hell out of me between the noise and the fact that I really couldn’t take it anywhere I didn’t have a reliable AC power source, which kind of takes a lot of the fun and usefullness out of having a laptop. My new laptop is an HP and I love everything about it, it’s quite, has a long battery life, does everything I want it to do, it’s just kind of bossy and thinks it knows exactly what I want it to do; it doesn’t know me, not at all, but that is a problem with the operating system and the installed software and I just have to work out some of the kinks.

ipso's avatar

HP is crap. Both personal experience and having worked in an IT department full of them. If you’ve had good luck, consider yourself lucky. I’m looking to my left at two dead HP machines at this very moment.

Dell is generally very good value. A workhorse. A Ford pickup, if you will.

Sony is the Mercedes Benz (or “Lexus” if you like) – a very well integrated and tested system. (Note – tight integration may not have the flexibility you require if you want wacky changes to your PC.)

Toshiba, since it was mentioned, is somewhere between Dell and Sony.

To me the ThinkPad is tops. Granted – it’s all about the nub for me, but I have owned laptops from every one of the manufactures I have just mentioned and HP is the only dud in the bunch.

Sony desktops are preeminent machines.

rooeytoo's avatar

I am a Mac fan through and through and it is no big deal to convert from Pages to a Word doc.. Sometimes it is a challenge in other ways but it is well worth the aggro in my mind.

I mean this sincerely but now we will hear it from the apple haters of which there are many, but I bet most of them never had one and are probably just jealous.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@ipso I’ve never had any problems with HP laptops, and all the reviews I’ve read recently have been in the 3–5 star category. Plus, I know everyone complains about their tech support, but it’s not like everyone else’s tech support is a joy to use, and I’ve never had it be significantly worse than anyone else’s.

jerv's avatar

@rooeytoo When it comes to Macs, I go by the facts, and the facts are that the OS isn’t as special as Apple fanbois think it is, the hardware specs are underwhelming, and the price tag is unjustified unless you place an artificially high value on things that can actually be obtained cheaper elsewhere if you are willing to do a little thinking and work instead of solving all of your problems with money that you may not have.
You are correct that converting is possible and, in fact, pretty easy but I can only justify a Mac if either you can get a decent discount (around 20–25%) or you just have to have designer labels on everything and thus will die of shame if you don’t have that Apple logo.
The truth is that they are good computers. Very nice build quality too. But they are not a gift from God the way some people think, and they are not flawless either, nor are they perfect for everybody.

@papayalily Unless things have changed quite recently, HP’s customer service is horrid enough to make the average customer service seem like five-star treatment. Maybe in a few months when they regain my trust….

jerv's avatar

@vamtire Would you care to elaborate? What about a Macbook makes it better than, say, a Toshiba L505?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@jerv I personally haven’t had more than the average amount of trouble with them in the 3 years I’ve had HP’s. But maybe I was just lucky.

rooeytoo's avatar

@jerv – I disagree with just about everything you said, but that is nothing new. Anything with the apple on it is almost guaranteed to be an excellent product. As with most quality products the price tag is higher than products of average quality and design. I don’t think Steve (nor I really) much care about your opinion, I’m too busy listening to my last lecture on my iPod and answering messages on my iPhone while looking in the window at the iPad and thinking hmmmmmmmmmmm!!!

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@rooeytoo Could you please cut the flame-baiting out?

Maximillian's avatar

I would like that as well. So far, I’ve got:
HP sucks, unless you’re lucky.
Toshiba’s break down easy.
Dell is a power house.
Sony is luxury.

It that right?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Maximillian All the problems others had with HP, I had with Dell. Plus, I wasn’t really impressed with the available features and it seemed like it charged the same price for less.

jerv's avatar

@rooeytoo It must be nice to be rich enough to not care about cost or value. But aside from the build quality, what does Apple really have to offer? Bear in mind that “ease of use” is inapplicable as that is not an Apple-exclusive, nor is it particularly true unless you are only doing basic stuff.

If the $999 Macbook switches to a Core i3 within three months, I might change my mind. However, such a move would also give the MB better graphics capability than at least half of the Mac line-up so I doubt Apple will do that becuase they don’t want the $999 Macbook to overshadow the more expensive MB pro and lower-end iMacs in power or graphics.

You are correct in that you, like many Apple fanbois, do not care about my opinion, and that is another of Apple’s weaknesses; the instant superiority complex. I could go on, but suffice it to say that I doubt you are capable of enough objectivity to even listen well enough to respond with a fact-filled rebuttal.

This Holy War has gone on for a quarter of a century and the Mac side has gotten annoyingly immature since OS X and the iPhone. We each know how the other feels here, so unless you want to surprise me by acting rationally and arguing on merit (like citing the advantages that only a Mac has that I can’t get on a Windows or Linux laptop for cheaper), just STFU and let the matter stand where it is and I will do the same.

@papayalily Maybe you were lucky, maybe HP changed. Read on…

@Maximillian You are the second person I’ve heard that about Toshiba from and yet it is not my experience nor what I’ve seen. “Here“ we have Asus and Toshiba nearly tied for #1, Apple in 4th, and HP sucking dust at the bottom.
That makes me wonder how much of a role luck and divine favor play in reliability.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@jerv So, when Carly Fiorina became CEO of HP, it became crap, and aquirred Compaq, which made it more crap. In 2005, the board forced her out. Since then, they’ve climbing their way up from the bottom. Any of their Compaq line still blows the big one, so you’ve got to go for the more mid to high end stuff, like the Pavillions and the Envys.

rooeytoo's avatar

@papayalily – May I ask what you are referring to, what did I say that was “flame baiting?” I simply responded to the usual contradictions and corrections directed to me personally by @jerv and I responded to him with my opinion. As always he fired back more corrections.

The OP asked “What laptop should I get” and mentioned Mac specifically. I replied to the OP. I have no idea why you or @jerv feel it necessary to respond to me directly, I am only giving my opinion as was requested in the question.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

“I mean this sincerely but now we will hear it from the apple haters of which there are many, but I bet most of them never had one and are probably just jealous” – insulting all those who would dare to disagree and making broad, inflammatory generalizations.

rooeytoo's avatar

@papayalily – my goodness you are a sensitive soul. I said that tongue in cheek because that is what always happens, look above and you will see proof positive. You may disagree til your heart’s content, I still love Macs and will always have Apple products, if you don’t like them, it’s your choice and I personally feel, your loss! The end (for me anyhow!)

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@rooeytoo I’m not sensitive, nor did I actually disagree with you on any of your points. I said that I felt you were being disrespectful to large groups of people for no reason, and I’m always pleased when Fluther is civil and decent.

jerv's avatar

@papayalily I sometimes wonder if that is even possible when dealing with zealots, and experience has shown me that Apple fans are often too wrapped up in proselytizing to be civil, decent, or realistic. Pity since there are sane, rational people who like Macs for legitimate reasons….

@Maximillian I would put many but not all Dells in the “luxury” category as well since hte ones with decent specs all seem to be pricier than I feel reasonable given the competition’s price for similar specs.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Let’s not make this personal folks. Make your suggestions and move on, please.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t like my Dell. I bought it because my husband really wanted Dell, not that I am blaming him. The bottons for play, pause, fast forward, etc are right against my tummy right now, because I am sitting on my sofa with my laptop, I find that to be a stupid place to put them, I have a ridiculour amount of viruses, and screwed up things happening with my computer, I don’t know if that has to do with the compuer brand or not. My Keyboard after a year starts to wear, I have had it changed twice already in three years, not sure if that is typical? The few times I have called for technical support I have a mixed review to share. A couple of times I had very good service, and a couple of times it was obvious the person on the other end of the phone call was not America and not really getting what I needed help with.

My husband wants to get an Apple next time. I probably will go along with what he wants. From what I understand the few things that bugged me about my Apple computer when I had one at work many years ago have been changed or fixed. Back then it did not have right click and a couple of other things. A close girlfriend of mine just bought her first Apple and she loves it. Loves the service (she just went to her first class to learn all it does). Also, I understand that their call center is only answered by Americans and Canadians.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie Viruses happen to any Windows system that is not adequately protected and maintained. Macs and Linux systems are practically (though not entirely) immune even without AV protection, but it’s a good idea to have it even on those systems.
Don’t blame Dell for the viruses though.

Seek's avatar


The computer I talked about above… That was a Pavilion dv9000.

Just go ahead and google “DV9000 hard disk problem” or “dv9000 screen broke”. I was shocked when I did that myself – tech support guys talking about receiving replacement parts that didn’t work three or four times before getting a good one, etc. I don’t think I’ll ever buy a new computer without looking for the problems it comes with again.

Maximillian's avatar

I’ve had very good customer service with Apple. Not a question about it. I understand now that converting Pages to Word is not the most difficult thing to do. My aunt has Apple products everything. She loves it, and every one who I’ve asked say they love them. It seems Apple is winning.

Next in line, I’d think is a Toshiba. However, this is the second source that tells me they break down easily. @jerv I don’t know, maybe you got lucky with yours. Link jerv gave me seems good.

Know one has really eleborated too much on the Sony. I don’t know.

And ASUS. Even though the link gave it good rates, I’d rather hear from any of you.

And Dell and HP are out.

jerv's avatar

I have a personal distaste for Asus, but the truth is that they are of decent quality and price so the worst I can say about them is that I would rather buy something else.

I think that this forum post says a bit though;
“As a former computer break/fix technician with experience in laptops, my opinion is that, if you go looking for bad, you’ll find bad. If this sales rep showed you all the Toshibas on their bench, it’s a sure bet that he only did that to up-sell you to something more expensive.

We were an Authorized Toshiba repair facility, so I did tons of repair work on Toshiba laptops. I also did tons of repairs on IBM Thinkpads, Compaqs, Sony, and the only reason I rarely worked on Dell was because we were not an Authorized Dell center, so we didn’t get their warranty stuff.

I currently live about 5 minutes from Dell, so they’re constantly in the headlines here. You don’t want a Dell product; Michael Dell has fallen prey to what every other multi-gazillionaire does: the almighty dollar. Everything from doctoring their books to make their profit margin appear better to investors, to buying B-grade parts in order to cut costs…Dell has gone from being THE leader in the personal computer (and laptop) market to being another dog in the fray fighting for a piece of the pie. They’ve earned the demotion, in my opinion.

Ask around; you’ll find as many people that hate their Dell laptops as those who hate their Toshiba laptop. I have a Satellite, and I love it.

Besides (for what it’s worth) every laptop manufacturer is putting identical parts (Fujitsu) in their systems and slapping their own brand on the case, so you’re getting the same laptop, but with different support. The only time I called Toshiba, I spoke to an American.”

Just out of curiosity, how much compatibility do you need? Depending on what you do for classes, there may be some things that there is no Mac equivalent for. Any sort of Microsoft Office document is easy to go cross-platform with, but CAD generally isn’t and audio/video work is hit-or-miss unless you stick solely with certain formats. Sure, you can dual-boot, but if you have to run Windows for most of your classwork then why spend the extra money for not much extra computer?
I can’t tell you what you actually need though; you have to answer that for yourself.

Maximillian's avatar

Well, I’ll need this to obviously access the Internet efficiently. I need it to be able to view online videos (You Tube, for example) and not take 5 minutes to view a 1 minute clip.

Create good documents: such as essays, presentations, and charts. The basics, really. I don’t need CAD or anything like that; I’m not looking to be an architect. However, I do need to research A LOT.

Dependability and efficiency is what I’m going for. If Apples got it, great. If Sony’s got it, great. I’m asking this to find the best of these two aspects.

Seek's avatar

I love Apple products. The fact that they last forever if taken care of says a lot to me,

however since you’re only needing basic use stuff (a processor that was made sometime in the last five years, and Open Office) I wouldn’t put a $2000+ investment into it. Especially considering it’s going to be school-use, and things do get stolen/broken/beer spilled on them/etc. I’d recommend an Apple for someone doing serious graphic editing, video/audio work, etc. Not so much for documents and web surfing.

Toshiba should have you covered for less than $500.

jerv's avatar

Even my Acer netbook has no issues with video; the bottleneck there is my 1024/384 DSL connection. When viewing videos saved on the hard drive, it isn’t appreciably faster to load than my Toshiba T135 (which has about five times the power) or even my Core i3 desktop system. I wouldn’t worry about that so long as you are buying new.

As for the document creation, I did some fairly hefty stuff on that Aspire One (even some transcoding, though that was slow) so again, pretty much any new laptop on the market will be more than sufficient for simple stuff like OpenOffice.

Dependability…. as you’ve seen Asus and Toshiba beat Apple for reliability, but to be fair I have to wonder how many people figure that their Macbook Pro is made of metal and thus abuse it in ways that no sane person would treat a laptop. But since five out of six laptops last three years or more without issue aside form wearing out the Lithium-ion battery and that figure seems to hold true for most brands, I’d say that most of the big names are pretty dependable/reliable overall, though I would still stick with Apple, Asus, or Toshiba to be safe.

As for efficiency, one of the things I like about my Toshiba is the all-day battery life. Other makers have that on some models as well; the Macbooks also rack up a few hours on a charge, and were the only 13-inchers I’ve seen yet that can beat a T135 in battery life. And if you are going to be carrying the thing around a lot, I am not sure if you really want anything bigger/heavier.

Asus may also have decent laptops that I didn’t mention but, to be honest, their website pissed me off so you’ll have to check them out on your own to look for a specific model.

Maximillian's avatar

So, Toshiba with Windows would be good right? And it has a good battery life? Sounds legit.

One more question: Sony. Not much discussion there.

jerv's avatar

The T135 has good battery life, which is why I picked it over the more powerful U505 and M505. I figure 6–9 hours is better than 2–3½ hours.

Sony… nothing really outstanding or groundbreaking there. The Vaio Y-series is their 13.3” lightweight with battery life no better than 6 hours (usually 4½) unless you go for the bigger battery. Prices for the Y-series start at $769, which is a little rick for my blood.
Then again, with a Core i3 (the i5 is only $100 more) and a magnesium casing, it compares favorably to the Macbook; a faster, more powerful computer with a tougher casing (the Macbook is polycarbonate; you need to spend $1199 for a Macbook Pro to get a metal Apple) at a better price but with less battery life, no optical drive, and no fancy logo.

Not bad, but not great either, and I feel that they are not as good a value.

Maximillian's avatar

I think you’ve made up my mind. Everyone, thank you. It means a lot to hear from the collective of Fluther. Thanks!

jerv's avatar

Well, as of 20 June (about a week ago) the T235 is on the market and it replaces the T135. It’s an incremental improvement in some ways but largely a direct replacement; same size, weight, price, battery life, and so on.

The jury is still out as the Pentium U5400 CPU is new and nobody really knows much about it or the computers that it comes in yet, but it’s an Arrandale chip like the Core i-series so it’s pretty powerful despite the slower clockspeed.

So, you can get the T235–1350, for about $600 or so (and again, I would recommend springing the extra for the Intel CPU and avoiding the AMD chips) or you can wait a month or so as the prices on the T135–1305 drop and snatch one up for a song before the semester starts.

Either would do just fine for you. I just didn’t want you to freak out if you couldn’t find a T135 when you are totally ready to buy and/or get confused by the T235.

BTW – This one is news to me. I didn’t even know about the T235 myself until a couple of hours ago!

espanyol's avatar

Its depend on the usage, an HP is good for daily study usage, functionality and quality and price are really balanced. Try to get the professional models, not the entertainment

bootonthroat's avatar

You should get whatever one is next on
It will be a best-value.

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