Monday, March 29, 2010

Sub £500 Laptop

If anyone could recommend a laptop for under £500 then I would sing your praises forever...

ps Sorry, as one poster wisely pointed out, it would gave been helpful if I had thought to say what I wanted it for...

Mainly word processing and web browsing, so a decent screen is important, but I don't want to watch DVDs or play games on it. Battery life of 2-3 hours is fine and portability isn't a major factor as I don't carry it around every day.


24 comments:

pjt said...

What do you want to do with the laptop? That has a significant impact on what to recommend.

DaveyDaveDave said...

You could look at the Acer Aspire range - they're kind of halfway between a netbook and a laptop - my girlfriend just bought one (I forget the actual model) for about £430, and it's excellent.

It's very much designed for portability, so it doesn't have a big screen, and you'd struggle with performance if you want to do any heavy processing, but if you'll just be web browsing and editing Word documents and the like, it should be fine. She can run Photoshop fairly happily on it, but something like video editing or gaming would be no fun.

Margaret said...

I had a bad experience with my Acer Aspire One netbook. I think the construction on them isn't very sturdy. In that price range, I find Asus eee PCs to be much more durable.

Anonymous said...

Well if you're wanting portability... You could do worse then one of the EEEPC range, such as this one:

http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2010/02/08/review_netbook_asus_eee_1005pe/

Or if you're looking for something a little bigger, Samsung, Asus, Toshiba and Dell all do fairly good entry level gear.

Note: Entry level laptops, to a one all have fairly appaling battery life. If you really want to take a machine out and about to use, get a netbook.

Things to avoid in a notebook: Intel integrated chipsets, basically, if it doesn't mention ATI or Nvidia with regard graphics, ignore (does not apply to netbooks). Avoid Compaq, HP, E-Machines and Pacard Bell like the plague, you'll be taking them back to the shop within 6 months of purchase. Acer... Some of their gear is great, but their netbooks are very very hit and miss in terms of quality.

Hope this helps.

Brian, follower of Deornoth said...

Try to get a discount for not having Microsoft software on it. You could always put Ubuntu on yourself.

TonyF said...

Dell have a 'build your own' laptop on line. If you can get to their web site, put in the parameters that you want. I know they are not the cheapest, but they do have a good reliability record. Mine gets knocked around quite a bit, but is still ok...

Dack said...

I'm no expert - mainly because I normally nod off within about a minute of someone talking technology - but I've had a Dell Inspiron for nearly four years and no probs yet. I think you can buy them for about £350 quid?

pjt said...

Frank - for your usage pattern, pretty much every new computer has enough features and computing power. You might want to avoid mini-laptops with Atom processors, they will be slow in the long run and the small screen is not good if you'll not benefit from the mobility. But otherwise, just get at least 3 Gb RAM, any CPU is good enough, and 15.6" screen is better for you than small ones.

What you should really look at is that the keyboard feels good for your fingers and the screen doesn't glare. The bright, smooth surface of many modern laptops reflects light inconveniently in some circumstances. What matters for you is reliability and convenient use, and the latter is something that only you yourself can decide.

I won't give you specific suggestions, but a couple of warnings: in my experience the Acer laptops typically don't have a very sturdy case (=> they bend in transport => motherboard breaks), so I'd avoid them (Eee minilaptops are strong but they're small and slow). And in business laptops, my people (about 30 users up to a year ago) were very unhappy with the reliability and compatibility of Dells, and very happy with Lenovo laptops. But the business series for both brands are above your price range.

Perhaps you could consider one of the lower end "business" models from HP Compaq ProBook series. My current main laptop is an HP Compaq and it's okay, nothing exciting but it works.

Consider also whether you want a numeric keypad in your laptop keyboard or not.

pjt said...

Oh, and one crucial thing: if you don't want to grow up and use Linux, get a laptop with Windows 7. Do not get Vista. Really. Seriously. Do not get Vista. If you get Vista, make sure you also get an upgrade to Windows 7 in the deal. It is much better.

Anonymous said...

I think your dad has one he doesn't use very much,maybe you could persuade him to part with it?

Anonymous said...

I think your dad has one he doesn't use very much,maybe you could persuade him to part with it?

Anonymous said...

I would go for a Dell every time.
But, you could do a lot worse than visiting www.pcadvisor.co.uk and looking through the forum. The advice there is excellent.

Anonymous said...

Try cpc.co.uk

Lilyofthefield said...

I've got a Dell Inspiron, which is fine. It was £400.

pjt said...

Note: the problem with many laptops (and Dell Inspiron in particular) is that you have a similar-looking laptop which is different. Components are changed during manufacturing, and there are multiple revisions. It may have the same model number, but it has a different network interface circuit, different WLAN, different Bluetooth, possibly even different display hardware. And this means different software drivers for operating system, and that means different bugs and behaviour.

Saying someone has "Dell Inspiron" does not really tell very much. There are an awful lot of different Inspirons around, some of them stable, some not.

This is pretty okay for a home machine, except that some machines are more stable than others. But if someone is trying to maintain a number of computers and keep them with similar software configuration - a regular requirement in corporate environment - this is a nightmare.

That is why the so-called business laptops are somewhat more expensive: there the manufacturer commits to keep the model the same (or at least less different). The same design is in manufacturing for a number of months, even years, and the same OS & driver package works in them. I believe that is why I have had such lovely experiences with IBM T43 and Lenovo T61.

This is also why the business laptops are more thoroughly tested, and that shows up in reliability. And this brings us back to recommendations for Mr. Chalk: because your performance requirements are not very tight (e.g. no game-play), you might want to sacrifice some of the top-notch performance for reliability, i.e. get a so-called business laptop with lower-end CPU (but enough memory!) even if something else is faster and newer. And do take a look at the ergonomy (screen in particular.

If you look at Dell, consider the Latitude line instead of Inspiron. Latitude E5500 seems to shop for £469 plus VAT&shipping in the UK. But I have no personal experience with that. Also, there is the Vostro product line. Actually, with no experience but looking at it on paper, I'd recommend Vostro 3500 at £369 plus VAT. Just try to see somewhere whether you like the screen and keyboard.

Athelstan said...

Get a netbook. The only downside is a smallish screen, but you'll have change out of £300. You can get Open Office from the internet. It is compatible with MSWord and it is is totally free because it is open source.

As a few people have said, if you are fairly IT savvy then a netbook running the ubuntu version of linux is a much cheaper option. My son has ubuntu on his laptop. It's easy to install and does everything that you would want it to do, looking at your requirements.

DesperateDan said...

As you'd discover from my own blog, I am still very wary of technology - anything that blinks green incessantly just sets my teeth on edge. However, I have had quite a lot of success with HP laptops, the Pavilion dvsomethingorother - is good I think. But it might be a bit dated now. As an aside, I'm currently typing this on a 'Thinkpad' - which I do not recommend. It's archaic at best, really, and would be much better served as part of the foundations for a jail for idiot politicians who lay all their faith in technology, rather than teaching. Anyone else want to donate thier laptop to this worthy cause?

Anonymous said...

Personally, I'd buy a slightly used HP business class machine if it doesn't have to be flashy, good build quality and pretty reliable in my experience, then go and book a short break with the change.

£500 will buy you a significantly overpowered machine for your needs.

Ben said...

HP Compaq 610 is very nice.

Bob the Bolder said...

For your needs, a Lenovo Ideapad running Ubuntu Linux is spot on - and I recommend for its attitude and service.

Bob the Bolder said...

that comment somehow lost my included link to the Linux Emporium at http://www.linuxemporium.co.uk/

inspectorgadget said...

You could have one from the auctioned stock that Ruralshire Constabulary are flogging off as part of the proceeds of crime act? Might have some naughty pictures on it though....... on second thoughts, maybe not.

Boo Boo said...

My girlfriend got a Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo 15" laptop a couple of years ago and I was very impressed with it. It is very robust and has never given trouble; it's still going strong.

I recently bought one for myself, a Windows 7 model. This is good again, although it was harder to find this time because fewer shops are stocking Fujitsu-Siemens PCs now. I got mine from Nice PC, who appear to be the main online seller for the brand.

Oh, and it was £430 inc. delivery.

Dack said...

Well.. happy Easter hols to all the teachers out there.

I've just been out on an end-of-term bender to compensate for having sat though an entire day of INSET re how to combat discrimination on account of race, religion, sexuality and gender.

No mention of the oppressed majority who value learning/achievement and want the opportunity to learn/achieve.

There's something wrong there somewhere.