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I need computer purchasing advice!
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TheRedEye
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 7:28 pm    Post subject: I need computer purchasing advice! Reply with quote

I have: $500 (give or take)

I want: A desktop replacement laptop (meaning that size and weight are not an issue, I have a Thinkpad for travel/work).

Must have: S-video out, a reasonable 3D card (I don't need to run Half-Life 2 or anything, but I would like to play, for example, the new Sam & Max chapters, or random old-ish 3D games via GameTap...basically, "relevant two years ago" is probably good enough), and enough horsepower to encode/splice/edit simple video clips (I'm guessing anything made in the last three years is probably enough for this).

Would be nice, but not necessary: Video-in already built in, one of those anti-glare monitors.

How likely am I to get something reasonable? This would essentially be my primary home PC, and while I don't need anything super fancy, I don't want crap!
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kap
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 2:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you're about 500 (well, maybe half that) bucks from getting something that meets your criteria and isn't a piece of crap. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.
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Deeblite



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kap wrote:
I think you're about 500 (well, maybe half that) bucks from getting something that meets your criteria and isn't a piece of crap. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.


I have to second that. Your could probably get a DESKTOP that meets your other requirements for $500, but not a laptop.
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ProgrammingAce



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's strangely difficult to find 2-3 year old laptops. Since laptops are generally made to order (so to speak) they don't usually have too much stock left over. Makes it pretty hard to find a "good" lappy for under $500.

The other option is eBay, but that just sounds like a bad idea for something like a lappy.
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ClamIAm



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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 7:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote=ProgrammingAce]The other option is eBay, but that just sounds like a bad idea for something like a lappy.[/quote]

Well, there's "refurbished" machines too, where you can hopefully get some kind of actual warranty on the thing. Still I don't know if $500 will quite get you there, even on a used machine.
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Smeg
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, even with a decent refurb you'd probably be looking at around twice that figure. Laptops are stupid expensive Red Sad
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Computolio_



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2007 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's not just the initial cost, either. You WILL have something go wrong with it, have to send it in for service and pay a hideous sum (either for the repair job itself or the extended warranty). You WILL need to replace the battery in 3-4 years when you start getting 15-20 minutes of run time out of a full charge.

However, for $500 you could throw together a fairly decent mini-ATX- based machine that can do pretty much everything you need it to do.
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TheRedEye
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2007 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Computolio_ wrote:
However, for $500 you could throw together a fairly decent mini-ATX- based machine that can do pretty much everything you need it to do.


Yeah, I figure it's more than possible, and I know that it's not going to last me forever (I don't expect it to!). I was thinking more along the lines of finding someone's used system that's still under warranty, I'm not expecting anything new and fantastic. Like, looking around Craig's List, I see stuff like this and think it's probably suitable:

http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/sys/260341004.html

Could you maybe elaborate a little bit though? Obviously I'm kind of clueless, I don't know what you mean by mini-ATX, nor do I know how to start building a laptop.
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Smeg
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2007 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know anything about laptop hardware, but as far as I know mini-ATX is for destops.
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Dot50Cal



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2007 10:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

laptops dont have a user created market..At least they didnt when I looked into getting one a few years back. The best you can do is upgrade ram and possibly a video card but not much else.
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TheRedEye
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2007 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, that's what I thought, hence the confusion.
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Carnivol
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2007 11:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess if you get a laptop which isn't totally pocked size friendly.
(i.e. if you don't get something like a 12" Fujitsu or a tiny Notebook from Apple)

You should be able to customize the following parts on your own;

Ram should be upgradable, usualy, laptops have two ram slots, one which often is hidden away with the system default and one free one. Some has both available for changing.

Graphics card laptops of a little bit of size, usualy has a mini-agp, or whatever it's called. (maybe they've upgraded to some mini variation of PCI-express now, dunno). It's also common for laptops with integrated cards atleast to take something between 64->256 of your system memory and use as shared graphics memory.

HDD, most "good" laptops has an easy way to access/remove the drive and replace it with another.

optional drive This is usually a combo DVD-+R/RW DL these days, but you can usually eject these somehow and replace them with future stuff such as Blueray drives or evt. an additional harddrive. (a HDD in this slot also requires a specific casing for the HDD to go in)

PCMCIA Guess I didn't need to add this one, but did anyway, normaly you have one or two PCMCIA ports on a laptop, and since most laptops these days have internal wifi cards these days, the PCMCIA is usually left open for USB add-on cards, TV Capturing cards, fancy pro-soundcards, 3G online adapters or whatever...

mini-pcmcia If your laptop has a built in wireless adapter (or the laptop you bought has a similiar sister model with a built in wifi), this is where it's most likely found. Like the ram slot, this is usually just hatch underneath your machine or somehow hidden under the keyboard.
So say, if you have a 802.11b card (or no card at all), you can quickly open up and put in a 802.11g compatible card (or something else that fits).

CPU some laptops actually lets you quickly swap this too, by removing the keyboard to access the cpu. But I don't think there's been a huge market for selling laptop CPUs stand-alone.

Anyway, on most so-so-ish laptops these days, anything but mobo, cpu, display and gfx card can usualy be swapped quickly without having to even unscrew any screws.
Mobo and display are probably the most annoying parts to change, as you usually need a new case to fit them.
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ProgrammingAce



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2007 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hit up pricewatch.com to see what i could find...

Amazingly enough, i found some decent lappys for 500-600. Looking under laptops with no OS i found this in the $500 range:

http://www.pricewatch.com/3/336/336-2.htm
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TheRedEye
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 1:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ProgrammingAce wrote:
I hit up pricewatch.com to see what i could find...

Amazingly enough, i found some decent lappys for 500-600. Looking under laptops with no OS i found this in the $500 range:

http://www.pricewatch.com/3/336/336-2.htm


And starting there, a few links later I found (and purchased) this:

http://www.buy.com/retail/product.asp?sku=203325922&loc=101&sp=1

Decent horsepower, a 3D card, S-video out, and exactly $500. I win this challenge!

Thanks for the advice guys.
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ProgrammingAce



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 2:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote



That ain't bad at all. Shows you what we know...
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Wonderbutt



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 3:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheRedEye wrote:
ProgrammingAce wrote:
I hit up pricewatch.com to see what i could find...

Amazingly enough, i found some decent lappys for 500-600. Looking under laptops with no OS i found this in the $500 range:

http://www.pricewatch.com/3/336/336-2.htm


And starting there, a few links later I found (and purchased) this:

http://www.buy.com/retail/product.asp?sku=203325922&loc=101&sp=1

Decent horsepower, a 3D card, S-video out, and exactly $500. I win this challenge!

Thanks for the advice guys.


I have an older version of this model, the Acer Aspire. Yours is different than mine in the RAM department, the CPU is the same. The RAM that it came with was a pitiful 192mb, I upped it to 1GB and it runs fast now. It's a very good laptop, really, i was surprised to see how good it was for a cheapie. I did not buy it, but got it as a gift.
I mostly use my Mac G4 Powerbook now, relegating the Acer to server/File share. Had I known the price of my Acer I would have told you about it. Upon seeing ypour choice, i asked my benefactor the price he paid (700 in 2004).
I would suggest you get an external HD, 40 was filled up quickly here.
I definitely suggest you buy this lappie.
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TheRedEye
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 4:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wonderbutt wrote:
I definitely suggest you buy this lappie.


Already did, and ordered an extra gig of RAM from Newegg to celebrate. My Thinkpad serves me well for journalism, but is shit for fun. Now I have a fun machine. Hooray!
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kap
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 4:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wonderbutt wrote:
I mostly use my Mac G4 Powerbook now, relegating the Acer to server/File share.


Funny, because my G4 Powerbook has about the same specs as that Acer redeye picked up, but obviously an older and slower CPU. I'm at the point that I whine and cry that it's just too slow, but I really am just trying to convince myself to buy a macbook.
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Wonderbutt



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 4:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool, RedEye, you'll have plenty of fun on it.
Yeah Kap, my G4 is 867 MHZ with maxed RAM at 667 (Weird max). I regularly torture myself by going into the Apple store at 5th Avenue on lunch break and perusing the Intel Macs. Then Apple goes and unleashes the iPhone dammit. Macs rock, but one deficiency as you may know is emulation. Purely due to ubiquity, Windows emulation lords over Macs emulation scene. Also, ripping my DVDs on this thing is painfully slow. So the perfect solution for me is an Intel Mac.
Can't rely on Richard Bannister all the time, bless his Scots soul.
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kap
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 5:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Emulation is kinda difficult, yeah. Mednafen does compile on my G4 800, though, so you should try that if you're comfortable with the command line. That said, I hate that anything taking a decent amount of CPU gets the fan going.

My Powerbook is also maxed on ram, but it's at a gig. 667 doesn't really make a lot of sense :/ You sure it's maxed?
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