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anand
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Rec. for a cheap (< $500) laptop

Thu Sep 27, 2007 12:27 pm

I'm going on a business trip to Istanbul for a few weeks and am looking for a cheap laptop to use in my hotel and on the plane.

My main uses will be web surfing, playing DVDs, and general productivity apps (OpenOffice, etc.). Ability to play the latest games is not that important though I might play some older games (Civ 3, Half Life 2, etc.) to pass some time on the plane. I should have access to a power outlet at my seat for the long haul parts of the plane trip and will have access to power at the hotel and work site so battery life is not a huge concern.

From HP EPP:
Compaq C500T - Pentium T2080, 1GB RAM, 80GB HD, GMA 950 - $486

From Newegg (refurb models) - both of theese are $499:
Gateway MT6709 - Pentium T2080, 1GB RAM, 160GB HD, GMA 950 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6834101078
Gateway MT6456 - AMD Turion X2 TL-52, 1GB RAM, 160GB HD, ATI 1150 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6834101087

All of these systems have Vista Home Premium and a DVD writer.

The Newegg Gateway's both have a bigger hard drive than the HP one but since they are refurb I cannot take advantage of the 1 year extra warranty that Amex provides. The HD is easy enough to upgrade anyway.

I am leaning towards the Compaq mainly because of the extra Amex warranty but is there anything particular bad about Compaq or particular good about Gateway that should change my decision?

Also, are there any other good deals out there in the same price range I should look at instead? I am willing to go a bit above $500 if there's a good deal there.

Thanks!
Anand
 
Usacomp2k3
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Thu Sep 27, 2007 12:33 pm

Whatever you get, I recommend hitting up the 'egg and buying 2gb of RAM for it. For laptops especially, you don't want it having to hit the HDD that much. Also should help a little keeping the heat down.
 
UberGerbil
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Thu Sep 27, 2007 1:13 pm

You might want to check your local big box retailers as well -- a couple of weeks ago, during the big back-to-school push, there were some pretty good door-buster deals available. And yeah, on a laptop, with Vista, 2GB is a good idea. The cheapest laptops tend to have slow HDs as well, which is another option for an upgrade.

BTW, I hope you get a chance to do a little sight-seeing in Istanbul -- it's one of my favorite cities in Europe or Asia. If you've never been, and you have the chance, definitely go over to the old part of the city (Sultanahmet, around the Topkapi palace and Blue/Sofia mosques). The Byzantine / Roman mosaics are spectacular, if you're into that sort of thing.
 
anand
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Thu Sep 27, 2007 1:37 pm

That is good advice re: the memory. In the case of the Compaq, I can save $10 by specing it out for 512MB instead of 1GB. Then put that $10 towards 2 1GB sticks of RAM (~$65 at Newegg).

I will be there for 3 weeks so I'll have 2 full weekends to look around. Hopefully I can con one of the people I am going there to see to be my tour guide :)
 
anand
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Thu Sep 27, 2007 1:57 pm

One more question... are most laptop power supplies capable of handling 220V? I know I'll need a plug adapter but are the units capable of handling it? Just wondering if I should invest in a 220V->110V transformer or if a plug adapter is sufficient.
 
Usacomp2k3
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Thu Sep 27, 2007 2:23 pm

anand wrote:
One more question... are most laptop power supplies capable of handling 220V? I know I'll need a plug adapter but are the units capable of handling it? Just wondering if I should invest in a 220V->110V transformer or if a plug adapter is sufficient.

I believe most of them can handle it. I know my Dell one can.
 
Firestarter
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Thu Sep 27, 2007 2:24 pm

anand wrote:
One more question... are most laptop power supplies capable of handling 220V? I know I'll need a plug adapter but are the units capable of handling it? Just wondering if I should invest in a 220V->110V transformer or if a plug adapter is sufficient.

Almost all laptop powersupplies are rated for 100-240V, 50-60hz.
 
UberGerbil
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Thu Sep 27, 2007 2:30 pm

anand wrote:
One more question... are most laptop power supplies capable of handling 220V? I know I'll need a plug adapter but are the units capable of handling it? Just wondering if I should invest in a 220V->110V transformer or if a plug adapter is sufficient.
Yeah, every laptop I've seen in the last few years has a "world" power brick that can handle 50-60Hz and 110-240V; you should be able to check the tech specs to verify (and it's written on the back of the brick if you're actually examining one in a store). Once upon a time you used to have to pay extra for that, but I don't think any OEM still does that (though when shopping at the cheapest end of the scale it's prudent to verify).

Make sure you use a memory configurator (available at all the major memory company sites, eg crucial.com, kingston.com. etc) to ensure the memory you're buying is compatible with your particular model of laptop (you have fewer BIOS options, so notebooks tend to be a little picky about the memory they'll accept).

One other comment about Istanbul: they have the crookedest taxi drivers I've ever encountered, and I've taken taxis in several dozen countries across every continent (well, no taxis in antarctica ;) ). And I'm not just talking about the usual "shortest distance from A to B is via three other time zones." The worst ones seemed to hang around the big tourist draws; the ones in the business areas like Taksim seemed more honest. The most common scams: not turning on the meter (it's possible to have them take you some place for a flat rate, but you have to negotiate that before the vehicle is moving), using the night rate in the daytime (the meters have two settings, day and night, and the cost per minute is higher at night -- it's marked on the meter, IIRC daytime is "gündüz" and night is "gece" -something); claiming imaginary surcharges; and not giving you correct change (this was especially common back in the 90s when the exchange rate was more than a million old Turkish lira to the dollar, and all those zeros were easy to confuse). I had one driver try <i>all</i> of these on me in the same trip. But don't let this freak you out or stop you from taking cabs -- just treat it as a game: how will this guy try to con me, and how good am I at stopping him? The drivers I encountered were all good-natured about it when caught and immediately stopped (or went on to trying the next scam). But I also had several guys who were scrupulously honest, including the best driver I ever had -- and I got picked up by him entirely by chance.
Last edited by UberGerbil on Thu Sep 27, 2007 2:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
Usacomp2k3
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Thu Sep 27, 2007 2:32 pm

UberGerbil wrote:
Make sure you use a memory configurator (available at all the major memory company sites, eg crucial.com, kingston.com. etc) to ensure the memory you're buying is compatible with your particular model of laptop (you have fewer BIOS options, so notebooks tend to be a little picky about the memory they'll accept).

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductConfigurator.aspx
:wink:
 
UberGerbil
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Thu Sep 27, 2007 2:34 pm

Usacomp2k3 wrote:
UberGerbil wrote:
Make sure you use a memory configurator (available at all the major memory company sites, eg crucial.com, kingston.com. etc) to ensure the memory you're buying is compatible with your particular model of laptop (you have fewer BIOS options, so notebooks tend to be a little picky about the memory they'll accept).

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductCo ... nfigurator
:wink:
Oh, that's handy.
 
anand
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Thu Sep 27, 2007 2:59 pm

I've been reading up on Istanbul and reading about the various tourist scams. Seems like the big one is where a group of guys will try to convince you to have a drink with them... at a bar of their choosing... and end up hitting you with a huge bill and threatening you until you pay up. Thanks for the info on the taxis. I'll be able to take an employee bus between my hotel and the work site but I'd definitely be hitting up taxis for extracurricular activities. The hotel I am staying at is supposed to have their own fleet of taxis so I may end up using those since I'd think they'd be more reputable (albeit more expensive).

How far does the dollar stretch there? From what I've seen, the price of things there is pretty comparable to the price of things here (e.g. 1NTL for a coke = 80 cents or so USD) so I guess I'm not going on any shopping sprees :)
 
Heiwashin
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Re: Rec. for a cheap (< $500) laptop

Thu Sep 27, 2007 3:08 pm

anand wrote:
I'm going on a business trip to Istanbul for a few weeks and am looking for a cheap laptop to use in my hotel and on the plane.

My main uses will be web surfing, playing DVDs, and general productivity apps (OpenOffice, etc.). Ability to play the latest games is not that important though I might play some older games (Civ 3, Half Life 2, etc.) to pass some time on the plane. I should have access to a power outlet at my seat for the long haul parts of the plane trip and will have access to power at the hotel and work site so battery life is not a huge concern.

From HP EPP:
Compaq C500T - Pentium T2080, 1GB RAM, 80GB HD, GMA 950 - $486

From Newegg (refurb models) - both of theese are $499:
Gateway MT6709 - Pentium T2080, 1GB RAM, 160GB HD, GMA 950 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6834101078
Gateway MT6456 - AMD Turion X2 TL-52, 1GB RAM, 160GB HD, ATI 1150 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6834101087

All of these systems have Vista Home Premium and a DVD writer.

The Newegg Gateway's both have a bigger hard drive than the HP one but since they are refurb I cannot take advantage of the 1 year extra warranty that Amex provides. The HD is easy enough to upgrade anyway.

I am leaning towards the Compaq mainly because of the extra Amex warranty but is there anything particular bad about Compaq or particular good about Gateway that should change my decision?

Also, are there any other good deals out there in the same price range I should look at instead? I am willing to go a bit above $500 if there's a good deal there.

Thanks!
Anand


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Flying Fox
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Thu Sep 27, 2007 3:13 pm

Firestarter wrote:
anand wrote:
One more question... are most laptop power supplies capable of handling 220V? I know I'll need a plug adapter but are the units capable of handling it? Just wondering if I should invest in a 220V->110V transformer or if a plug adapter is sufficient.

Almost all laptop powersupplies are rated for 100-240V, 50-60hz.
You may still need to get a plug converter just to match the wall socket. Check what plug your laptop power brick uses (either 3-prong or 2-prong), and then get a proper converter for Turkey (another link to check).
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Usacomp2k3
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Thu Sep 27, 2007 3:14 pm

One other thought: 15.4" is kinda big for cramped quarters like an airplane. I personally would be much more fond of a 14.1" in that size. Also is a bit more portable.

Also, if you check out outlet.dell.com you can get some good prices on a refurb from them:
$519 = core2duo 1.5ghz, 80gb 5.4k rpm, 1gb ram, cdrw/dvdrom, intel x3100
 
anand
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Fri Sep 28, 2007 3:22 pm

Well, I ended up getting one of the Gateways :)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6834101087

I will miss that extra 1 yr. of warranty I would have had with the Compaq but with the Compaq, I'd have to wait until at least Oct. 10th before they could ship it out and that's cutting it awfully close to when I have to leave, so that was the biggest factor in my choice.

Also picked up some accessories:
DC adapter so I can use it on the plane. has both regular and "EmPower" adapters:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6834999402
Adapter so that I can plug it in while in Turkey...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6834999625
Laptop bag - only came out to $5 if I got it in a combo deal with the laptop... so even it sucks, it's only $5 :)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6834999594

Am I missing anything? Still need to pick up some extra RAM for this and a bigger hard drive maybe down the road.

I'll be flying business class for the long haul parts of the trip so hopefully that'll give me enough room to use the 15.4" screen.
 
UberGerbil
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Fri Sep 28, 2007 4:18 pm

Get a Kensington cable lock so you can bolt the thing to a desk in your room or something when you go out. It's unlikely to go walking off, but why take the chance?

I used to carry a bunch of accessories for doing dial-up overseas, but hopefull that's not something you have to worry about. Make sure you bring a cat5 networking cable (6' or so is usually good enough) and a USB cable's not a bad idea either if you think you might be hooking up to any peripherals. I get tired of using the touchpad so I carry a compact mouse (I have an old MS one that's no longer made, but there are a variety of compact mice out there). You'll be stuck with the touchpad on the plane (unless you're lucky enough to have an open seat beside you, so you can use that tray-table as a mousepad) but it's nice to have when you're at a desk.

I don't know how much air travel you've done with a laptop lately, but make sure you pack your bag so that you can easily pull the laptop out to send it through -- they make you do that. (In other words, don't over-pack your laptop bag and don't put anything on top of it). Some people carry their laptop in a separate padded sleeve so it's easy to pull out and remains somewhat protected as it goes through the machine, though I've heard sometimes the TSA makes them pull it out of that too :roll:
 
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Fri Sep 28, 2007 6:01 pm

UberGerbil wrote:
I don't know how much air travel you've done with a laptop lately, but make sure you pack your bag so that you can easily pull the laptop out to send it through -- they make you do that. (In other words, don't over-pack your laptop bag and don't put anything on top of it). Some people carry their laptop in a separate padded sleeve so it's easy to pull out and remains somewhat protected as it goes through the machine, though I've heard sometimes the TSA makes them pull it out of that too :roll:
On that note, also make sure the battery has charge in it so that you can show security that the laptop can be turned on. By extension, it's probably a good idea to have a clean desktop and stop using that pr0n chick as your wallpaper. :lol:
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