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Buying a laptop; what spec?

readerreader Experienced MentorMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,040
I'm thinking of buying a laptop this week

(I'm also thinking of buying moneysoft, VT and taxcal sometime next year)

Has anyone got any ideas regarding laptop spec; i.e. what numbers should I be looking at re:

Speed
RAM
Memory
Price

And:
Processor
Manufacturer

Any responses will be much appreciated

Comments

  • JodieRJodieR Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 1,002
    Luckily I leave the techie bits to my husband, but on a practical level the features that influence my decision are:-

    a. It must have the numeric keys included - those stand-alone usb numberpads are so tempremental - it's so much better having it built into the laptop.

    b. assuming you're right handed it's good to pick a model with usb slots on the left and/or back. If they're on the right then I find the wires get in the way of the mouse.

    c. most people look at me a bit nuts when I say this but I find that when I'm working at nightime that a light coloured keyboard is much easier to use than a black one.

    Jodie
  • slackdaslackda Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 460
    Have to say im very impressed with my G/f's Packard Bell Easynote, im a techie geek and went into the dreaded PC world.... and ended up walking away with a

    http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/packard-bell-easynote-ts13-hr-035uk-15-6-laptop-red-09862673-pdt.html


    http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/packard-bell-ts11hr039-15-6-laptop-black-10783798-pdt.html

    Main reason i like these is the full keyboard with number pad, so i can use excel on it :D

    Depending on budgets

    but i would look to get
    Speed :- anything upwards of 2ghz will be fine.
    RAM :-At Least 4gb, higher speed raiting the better
    Memory :- assuming you mean storage as RAM is memory - 500GB is ideal, but 320GB would be fine, then easy to pick up a usb back up drive that you can back up to,
    Price :-

    And:
    Processor :- At least a 2nd Generation intel I-Series :- if you can go for a I5-2410M over an I3-2310m, generally speaking the higher the number i.e 2410M the better the processor.
    Manufacturer :- All depends on budget, not all brand offer the full size number pad, if you do go for the likes of Compaq/Dell/Packard Bell Acer, i would advise on doing a clean install of windows to remove all the bloatware that is inlcuded from the factory.

    I would advise going into the likes of pcworld and having a play, checking the weight and key placement and build quality, but be wary of pricing they are heavily inflated in there, the ones that have "massive discounts" i.e £200 off are actually closer to the real price they should be selling for.
  • readerreader Experienced Mentor MAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,040
    Wow! Thanks for the replys; the debate re: 32-bit vs 64-bit on accounting web was quite interesting.

    I'm still undecided; the more I learn about latops the more confused I become.

    I might go for:

    http://direct.tesco.com/q/R.212-0879.aspx

    or

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/B0053GLCDU/ref=cm_cr_dp_all_helpful?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending

    although both packard bells interesting
  • blobbyhblobbyh Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,415
    IMO, (most current) laptops are on a more level playing field than they were a few years ago and you can now pick up a fine machine for around £400. Niche magazines will tell you that the more you spend, the more you get and to an extent they're correct, but it's often a case of which car would be better? One that does 130mph costing £9k or one that does 135mph for £15k?

    I personally think the HP DV6 range are beautifully made laptops while the differences between 4gb and 6gb of RAM or Core i3 or i5 are largely academic since you're unlikely to test even the lowest limits for basic computing. I use a two year old Pentium Dual Core 2.2ghz with 4gb RAM and my desktops widgets show that I rarely use more than 20% of the processor and 45-50% of the RAM for basic work, barely above tickover speed. Even watching a high quality Divx file loads the processor at only around 40-45%.

    More important to me would be long battery life as you don't want to be anchored to the mains with a power hungry unit. Also, look for an HDMI output or even Blu-Ray drive if you want to watch movies or photos on an HD television.
  • slackdaslackda Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 460
    both the laptops you mentioned are good for the cash, but like blob says, battery life is important, the faster the processor and higher the ram, the more it will eat the battery.

    most decent laptops will come with HDMI output on them.

    not read the 32 vs 64 article, but i would put it as, would you buy a ferarri and put normal unleaded in it or would you put performance fuel in it.

    64 bit is backwards compatible and is the future compatible.
  • burgburg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,440
    reader wrote: »
    Wow! Thanks for the replys; the debate re: 32-bit vs 64-bit on accounting web was quite interesting.

    I'm still undecided; the more I learn about latops the more confused I become.

    I might go for:

    http://direct.tesco.com/q/R.212-0879.aspx

    or

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/B0053GLCDU/ref=cm_cr_dp_all_helpful?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending

    although both packard bells interesting

    I have 2 of a similar laptop to you second link. Instead they are AMD quad core processors,with less ram (3gb) upgradeable to 6th, I only have 320gb hard drives as most docs are stored on a server.

    I paid £420 each for these but they seem to no longer be on sale as happens with most tech these days! Having had bad experiences with a Dell, HP and Samsung I'm more fussy but must say I am pleased with these. By the way they are running 64bit windows and I have had no problems
    Regards,

    Burg
  • blobbyhblobbyh Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,415
    32 bit installations can't use more than 3.2gb of the RAM so any excess RAM is wasted.

    Also, check the keyboards on any machines you test. Keys should have reasonably firm resistance when pressed nor should the keyboard flex under pressure. Check the smoothness of the laptop opening and closing as too much stiffness will likely result in broken hinges two or three years down the line. The lid should also be quite rigid, too much flex could result in a damaged screen in case of accident. Glossy screens are bright but often reflective under bright lighting which can be very distracting.

    Oh, and whatever you do, don't consider a netbook a mini laptop! They do have their uses but certainly not as cheap lappies.

    I could talk about this all night but my bed beckons...!
  • readerreader Experienced Mentor MAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,040
    I might go for the refurbished version of the £400 Packard Bell (price: £340)

    i3 (2310M) processor (dual core)
    4MB RAM
    500 GB
    2.1 GHz speed

    Should be more than enough to store files and run VT, SAGE, Moneysoft, Taxcal

    Although I'm not quite sure what refurbished actually means and how risky they are

    http://www.dixons.co.uk/gbuk/packard-bell-easynote-ts13-hr-035uk-refurbished-15-6-laptop-red-10934180-pdt.html
  • readerreader Experienced Mentor MAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,040
    Another good value for money refurbished laptop:

    http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/acer-aspire-5750-refurbished-15-6-laptop-black-10934148-pdt.html

    Laptop hunting so so unbelievably addictive/time consuming- too much choice
  • blobbyhblobbyh Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,415
    Refurbished - from a direct retailer, NOT from E-Bay - usually means they're customer returns, more often than not within the cooling off period under the distance selling rules. Technically they're second hand hence the refurbished tag, although they're usually indistinguishable from new products. After all, a store wouldn't take them back if they were significantly marked or damaged, and they're generally offered with the exact same warranties as brand new products.

    The Acer looks nice but I'd go for a minimum of three USB ports. With two, once you've connected a mouse and say a broadband dongle, you've used them all up and may have to resort to a hub which is a complete pain in the ass. The Packard Bell also looks nice though...
  • slackdaslackda Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 460
    my g/f has the packard bell, and im impressed, at that price i wouldn't knock it.

    only downside is the speakers are rubbish.
  • readerreader Experienced Mentor MAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,040
    I think I'll hold out for another year.

    I'll probably go for Samsung when I do eventually buy something; they also do screens and laser printers.

    Just out of interest, is it worth buying a 15.6" laptop and then a large 24" £200 screen? I think having a large screen (or even 2 screens) would be really useful; half the screen for one excel spreadsheet and the other half for another excel spreadsheet; or half for VT and half for excel; or half for VT and half for taxcal, etc......
  • burgburg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,440
    Personally I have found the Samsung's not to be of great quality. Has a printer of theirs which the quality was poor and a laptop which was only a cheap one but only lasted a year or so.

    I personally use two screens as I run a paperless office. I tend to have my data entry (whether that be VT, Accounts Production or Tax software) on one screen and my source docs on the other. I have a 15.6" laptop and a 20" widescreen. Works well together. I have used two screens for around the past year and don't know what I would do with only one now!
    Regards,

    Burg
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