Can someone recommend a < $300 Laptop?

Discussion in 'Odds & Ends' started by JackB1, Feb 11, 2014.

  1. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    I am tired of typing on my IPad and prefer a keyboard. Can anyone recommend a laptop or notebook for around $300 that will do a decent job with just the basics? Email, web browsing and of course Tennis Warehouse Forum posting? :)

    Note: I don't care about touchscreen and would prefer less than 14" screen.

    I was considering something like this:
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/asus-11...olsp-app01-128?id=1219083269681&skuId=2912671
     
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  2. cluckcluck

    cluckcluck Hall of Fame

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  3. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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  4. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    Jack, you can't be cheap when it comes to computers. I wouldn't recommend ASUS at all. The brand makes unreliable computers and customer service is abysmal. I see a lot of college kids using them..

    Anyways, save up some money and get a laptop that will last 5+ years.

    EDIT: Why don't you get a keyboard for you IPad? Actually, why did you get an IPad anyways?
     
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  5. enishi1357

    enishi1357 Rookie

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    i bought the the 320gb version on sale for $200 on the last day of the week after black friday and i must say it was a good purchase. Also trust me you would wanna get the touchscreen for all asus laptop just cuz the fn + the top keys to change volume is irritating so with the touchscreen at least it is intuitive.
     
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  6. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    That is one philosophy. I go the other direction with Windows laptops. I buy cheap and when they break in 3 years, the next operating system is out. Rinse and repeat. I think my El Cheapo at home is an Asus but I'll check tonight. Windows 8 is horrendous btw.
     
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  7. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    Wait, you buy a computer with no software and hardware warranty? That is not wise. Honestly, buying a computer is an investment. I spent around $950 for my computer because black-lit keyboards are a must. It was the cheapest one as well. Also, I would not purchase any warranties from Best Buy. The folks there are freaking sales hounds. Seriously, a sales rep spent 10 minutes trying to persuade me to buy an expensive PC warranty when I didn't have enough money for it. I told him that I didn't have the moolah, but he still kept talking! I recommend getting the software and hardware warranties from Amazon. They are better and less expensive than BB's.

    When I purchased my first laptop in October, Windows 8 was already installed. I hated the software, but I got used to it. I don't use any of the apps except for the scientific calculator. Now, I have Windows 8.1. I barely notice the difference.

    Every time I go to a coffee shop, almost everyone is using a Mac.. Interesting..
     
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  8. v-verb

    v-verb Hall of Fame

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    I gave up on Windows PCs and laptops. I did get a cheap Acer laptop for my daughter and it sucks. Should have spent the extra $400 and got her a MacBook Air.

    Windows 8 is indeed horrendous
     
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  9. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    My current laptop is a 2008 MacBook Pro. I've spent about $3,000 on it and I use it daily, mostly for work. I used to buy cheap stuff and then moved to buying better stuff - the better stuff lasts longer but not necessarily so. There is expensive crap and inexpensive good stuff out there. I'm using Dell low-end servers as my desktops that I bought from their refurb site - tons of horsepower and expandability and really, really cheap. Our spare laptop is also a 2008 model from Dell - it's from their XPS line which is a premium line.

    One thing to try might be to ask relatives if they have a laptop that they don't need that runs Windows 7 or later. There are families that collect them and have a stash in their basement. It seem that everyone in my extended family is like this.

    Regarding the comments on Windows 8: I use it on my home desktop and it's fine. I installed that open source program that restores the Start Button and Menu and spend almost no time in the Modern UI. Windows 8 performance is really great.
     
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  10. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    So does anyone have any recommendation s for me? :)
     
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  11. Backbored

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  12. Ronaldo

    Ronaldo G.O.A.T.

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  13. Fifth Set

    Fifth Set Professional

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    Amen to this. Our Samsung Chromebook is an example of the latter. I have had so many experiences with the former (e.g., Dell laptop and desktop), however, that it has made me appreciate Apple's offerings. Their stuff is expensive but solid, reliable and low maintenance (not constantly fiddling with anti-virus).
     
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  14. Ronaldo

    Ronaldo G.O.A.T.

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    What makes the Chromebook a gem?
     
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  15. Fifth Set

    Fifth Set Professional

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    It's light, durable and hasn't had any problems. The keyboard quality is surprisingly good. The battery life is outstanding. Our kids use it so the locked down OS is actually a positive (I don't particularly enjoy my job as household Director of IT!). Very low maintenance in terms of anti-virus, updates, etc.

    Corporate IT departments are actually adopting them as well because the economics make so much sense. Most users of full blown PCs utilize less than 5% of their devices' functionality.
     
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  16. Ronaldo

    Ronaldo G.O.A.T.

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    Prob makes tablets attrractive
     
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  17. Fifth Set

    Fifth Set Professional

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    Already had one when we bought the Chromebook. Generally agree though.

    The Chromebook is basically a tablet with a much better keyboard situation, which was (apparently) important to us - after having both I set up a computer bar of sorts. Kids could choose between Chromebook and ipad with nice Apple keyboard in front of it. They always ran off with the Chromebook to do their homework, etc.
     
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  18. ohplease

    ohplease Professional

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    Word. The chromebook is exactly the answer for people who want a casual device with a keyboard. Any machine running any other OS at the same price point is likely garbage.

    If you've already got a tablet, then the answer is a bluetooth keyboard case, not a whole new device.
     
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  19. Ronaldo

    Ronaldo G.O.A.T.

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    What is the best office suite for an ipad?
     
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  20. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    I personally prefer a PC with Microsoft Office. But I work on sensitive documents that can't go on the cloud.
     
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  21. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    Refurb is OK, but 15" is too big and bulky. Thanks though Rinaldo.
     
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  22. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    Considering a Chromebook. Would love to hear more opinions on it.

    I want to ditch my tablet completely. Its just a 7" mini, so I dont want to add a keyboard to it. I'd rather get a larger screen.
     
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  23. esgee48

    esgee48 Hall of Fame

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    Try discountpc.net (a sub of arrowdirect.com). Select Laptops and OS Windows 7 Pro if you do not like Windows 8.

    The machines come with a warranty on battery and can be upgraded before it is shipped. Most are less than $400. Sorry about that, but they are constantly renewing their stock as corporate leases expire. For an Office Suite, I would choose OpenOffice 3.0 or higher as these versions support editing and revising PDF documents. Get the disk from the bay for basically the cost of the disk. It is totally compatible with Office 2014
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2014
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  24. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I still say go with the cheapest Windows laptop. For those who own Macs, we know Apple has much better hardware and software that lasts ages. If you look at the price per year, it is probably equal to a cheap Windows laptop.
     
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  25. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    Well, you get what you paid for.

    Yeah, spending three to five times more money is a better approach.
     
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  26. Fifth Set

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    Even though I'm a big fan overall, I will tell you my view of our Chromebook's disadvantages. Our particular model has a poor screen. Poor resolution, not very bright and kind of blotchy even. Our particular model has also had trouble connecting to our wireless HP inkjet printer. Admittedly the printer does not have the Google-recommended cloud print feature.

    All things considered, I would try to spend more and get an Apple.

    If it's just not economically feasible and you're set on that price point, shop some Chromebooks in person and get a sense of keyboards, screens, hard drives, battery life and printer compatibility - those are really the main Chromebook variables. I agree with what others have said about a $300 PC being junky, filled with bloatware, etc.
     
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  27. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    > Yeah, spending three to five times more money is a better
    > approach.

    I've made several hundred thousand on AAPL stock so I consider the stuff that I buy there free. I've done this with Dell stuff too.
     
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  28. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    Ok I think I'm going to get an Acer Aspire V5 11.6" but have a ciuiple questions.....

    Should I get the windows 7 model for $300 or the Win 8 model with touchscreen capabilities for $350?

    Is Windows 8 as bad as everyone is saying?
     
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  29. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    Huh.. I see..

    Well, not everyone can say that. It just annoys me when people jump on the Apple bandwagon and claim it as the GOAT of tech.
     
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  30. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    In the interest of transparency, Im typing this reply on a macbook pro.

    Honestly if you just want web browsing and email - go chrome book. It's just going to make your life easier. You get a cheap windows laptop and you will have to deal with a rapid end of life (sub $300 models are not usually cutting edge), uninstalling bloatware, potential hard drive failure..etc.

    The Chromebook is like an iPad in which you just fire it up and go. It's really exactly what you are looking for, and it should be a very fast performer.

    Furthermore, you can buy the newest wi-fi one for $279, so the hardware in it should be very good for the price.

    I personally use an iPad a lot.

    The Acer aspire is old tech, and not worth the money.

    Seriously at your price range just get a chrome book or a keyboard for an iPad.
     
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  31. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Get the Windows 7 model. The Windows 8 I only use the touch screen for the new stupid "Charms" bar on the right. Put it this way, remember that start button you've come to love since Windows 95? They got rid of it in Windows 8. Naturally they moved and renamed all the things you got used to so you have to completely relearn it all again.
     
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  32. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    I thought about it and 99% of what I do is email & websurf. I got the Samsung Chrome for $250 from Best Buy online and used my paypal racquet sales balance to pay for it :) It gets great reviews and everyone says he keyboard is top notch and thats what I want it for...typing. I almost got a touchscreen Windoes 8 Acer, but I think this simpler solution will do me much better.
     
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  33. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    Typing on my new Chromebook right now :)
    So far so good. Hope I can get used to this keyboard.
    Takes a pretty firm press on the keys to type. I'm a little
    clumsy on it right now. Otherwise its a pretty nifty little machine so far. Setup took less than 5 minutes :)
     
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  34. cluckcluck

    cluckcluck Hall of Fame

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    Jeez, so much for not wanting a Chromebook :roll:
     
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  35. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    Haven't u ever changed your mind about anything?

    I thought about it and most of what I need a laptop for is web browsing and email. For a good price I get what I need in a very simple and easy way. We'll see how it goes though....I have 30 days to return it :)
     
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  36. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Sweet, I don't have one but let us know how it goes. I think that is probably the best purchase you could have made at that price point.
     
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  37. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    Google and VMWare are working together to make it easier for businesses to run remote desktop from ChromeBooks to Virtualized Windows 7 Servers. That is you have a server running multiple instances of Windows VMs and someone that needs to run Windows just does remote desktop into the VM and it appears that Windows is running on your ChromeBook. So far this is for businesses but it might be a model for homes or cloud services serving operating systems and applications.
     
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  38. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Yeah pretty common. VMs encounter some QoS issues, but I think it will be a more standard practice in a few years.
     
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  39. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    That's been the model where I work since 2002 though the platform is Linux instead of Windows.
     
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  40. stapletonj

    stapletonj Semi-Pro

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    best of all, you say you already have a tablet?

    just get a compatible Bluetooth keyboard that has a slot for the tablet for anywhere from $40-$90.....they make them for all kinds of tablets. Logitech makes good stuff.

    viola - cheap - no learning curve - instant upgrade.
     
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  41. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    I have a Ipad MINI....so I didnt want to add a keyboard to that. I wanted a bigger overall piece.
     
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  42. dParis

    dParis Hall of Fame

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    Aw, give him a break, Jack. He may not be aware of your racquet history... ;)
     
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  43. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I thought about that too. :)
     
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  44. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    Well if I had my mind made up, I wouldn't be posting here looking for ideas, now would I? :)

    Actually PP had a great suggestion about the Chromebook. I really don't need a full blown laptop w/ Windows. I just inititally thought I didn't want to be limited to the Chrome OS, but after I thought more about it, it made a lot of sense.

    I actually really like it so far, except the keyboard keys need a pretty hard press for typing. If I can't get used to it, back to the store it goes! :)
     
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  45. Fifth Set

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    I actually applaud you for considering the input here that suggested Chromebook. Too often folks just post questions and then ignore the comments, rendering all the responses a waste of time.

    It's a neat little machine. Congrats and enjoy!
     
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  46. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    It is. Thanks.

    Unfortunately I just found out Toshiba has a 13" Chromebook model coming out next week that is getting great reviews so far :) The 11" screen IS a bit small. I think the 13" model would be a perfect screen size. There may be a refund/exchange coming! :)
     
    #46
  47. PaulFCB

    PaulFCB Semi-Pro

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    I think you can go second hand here.

    Since my GTX 470 broke on my Desktop ( which I wasn't using much of, really ) I was left without it since I don't have money to buy something worth a replacement ( am waiting for Maxwell and maybe a mid-end 800 Series in Q2-Q3 2014 though ).
    Now I depend on my old ****** Dell Inspiron 15'' with T7250 Core 2 Duo, Integrated Intel, 2 GB RAM, replaced the 160 GB HDD with the external 500 I had on hand and put the 160 in the external case.
    Moves like c r a p, have Windows 8 on it and it's acceptable for forums or easy sites, Facebook sometimes overwhelms it. But hell, it's 15'', which is already too small considering my 22'' 3D 120hz Samsung I'm used to. For 300 bux you can probably buy a much newer ( and don't buy Dell of course, I was naive back then in 08 to buy this, but it for my low budget it was looking better than others ), even with an i5 1st gen/i3 2nd gen maybe? If not, even 17''.
    Can't even imagine life on a 13'' screen, if I upgrade my Galaxy S2 to a Sony Xperia Z I'm already getting close to that with a freaking phone.
     
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  48. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    Where'd you get this opinion of from ASUS? They've been in the PC business a really, really long time. They've got a lot of low-cost offerings these days, that's for sure, but they hold one of the highest reputations for enthusiast grade desktop motherboards. It's like any other company that has a wide breadth of products... there's going to be the gems, and there's going to be the crappy products. This applies to the Dell/HP/etc lines as well. 5+ years is a LONG time in tech. I'm not saying it's unreasonable to want/expect 5+ years, though. Clinging to a laptop for 5+ years when the cheap/crappy models will be faster than a nicer than a 5 year old machine in 3.5 years is kind of a silly mentality. Especially when total cost of 2 low end machines is less than the single 5+ year purchase. Different story when we're talking about build quality and the semi-intangibles, obviously. Nothing wrong with an iPad, they're excellent consumption devices. If you try to force your current usage model onto a device that is not designed to do what you're doing right now, you're going to have a bad time. There are benefits/drawbacks to either side, of course.

    (As a real-world example, the Intel Celeron processors are actually insanely awesome bang/buck. Since Sandy Bridge, Celerons have been much, much faster than 95%+ consumers could utilize. Look at benchmarks if you don't believe me. The cheapo laptops are no joke these days. MANY come with 4+ GB RAM, and several hundred GB hard drives are extremely inexpensive. Build quality issues aside, upgrade the HDD to an SSD for $~80 and you've got a pretty mean machine that can handle quite a workload.)

    Warranties are generally a bad thing to buy additional to the purchase of your machine and the built in manufacturer's warranty. This is assuming you don't get additional support. There are people and situations where a warranty or service plan are useful (non tech savvy folks for sure). You can get a warranty extension from buying machines on certain credit cards (Amex extends mfgr warranty +1 year, for instance). I won't get into a credit debate, as it's beyond the scope of this thread, though.

    Isn't this what you're arguing FOR when talking about a $950 model vs a $300 model or a tablet? Where do you draw the line? It's arbitrary and subjective, is it not? Is there a magical cost/benefit ratio that everyone is supposed to be born knowing? I feel like there's a double standard, here...

    While you already made your decision (and IMHO you made the wrong one), WIN8 is actually pretty awesome, BUT it requires a touch screen to really appreciate the design decisions. Microsoft (and for full disclosure, I'm biased when we're talking about Microsoft ;)) made some UI mistakes. WIN8 is actually an excellent OS, but things are so different, and navigating is not intuitive, so it's hard to see why and how things are working right. I think people are too rooted in their "old ways" in windows that they just aren't ready to embrace change. I understand both sides of the coin, here. There's a point in life where it's just not worth trying to keep up, and Microsoft didn't do a good job in communicating how to work with WIN8.

    If you like WIN7, get an inexpensive (or free) add-on/tool to give you back your original start menu and boot to desktop. WIN8 has significant improvements over WIN7 that will benefit everyone who cares about boot speed. This is especially true if you have an SSD.

    As far as WIN8 being as bad as everyone is saying --> It depends. It really depends on how you work with your computer. If you have a touch screen, the UI becomes a non issue IMHO, and if you can learn a few tricks, it's actually pretty awesome for the most part. There are SOME design choices that I really hate, though. (For instance, shutting down prior to win 8.1 took 4 actions). Think about why WIN8 exists for a few minutes before turning a WIN8 PC on, and I think you have a better frame of reference for the entire system. It's splitting the gap between traditional desktop/laptops and tablets, and it does an OK job of both, but not a great job of either.


    Sounds like you'd actually love a Surface RT or similar device. It is more inline with a traditional tablet, but has a keyboard and a "real" office suite. If you have no connectivity, how useful is your chromebook? I won't get started on Windows RT, as I think it was another miss for Microsoft, but for the price ($179 refurb on ****), the Surface RT has great battery life, and is extremely productive (as compared to an iPad). There's no comparison when it comes to app libraries, though. Devs build apps for iOS/Android first. So if you need the latest/hottest games, you'll want to avoid the Windows environment for now (assuming we're talking about a consumption device). The Win RT should be considered a productivity device, so it's kind of in this weird limbo from a market positioning perspective.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VYf5MWyTn8

    Check this video out, and before anyone freaks out at me -- compare apples to apples, please. Surface 2 is better, but it gets out of budget pretty quickly.


    Edit: I'd like to add to my WIN8 comments...
    It's a crappy OS for mouse/keyboard (only) usage. It's just inefficient and slightly annoying having to navigate things. It gets way easier with keyboard shortcuts, but I wouldn't expect most people to remember/memorize these shortcuts. In WIN8.1, Win+X = a treasure trove of power user "frequently used" items. Win+I = charms/settings. Win+D = desktop view (minimize everything, hit it again, it brings it all back up). Windows management = win + Left or Right cursor keys. Snap windows left and right quickly, multitask efficiently. You can do this in Metro/snap, but I won't bother with any metro apps until you can window them and/or until the app store gets really useful. To be fair, the big names are all available as metro apps, but I prefer tabbed browser experience over metro. It's too flat.

    Here's the one that seems to bother EVERYONE though. Start menu used to be Start -> Programs -> FolderofProgram-> Program. Simple, right? NO. This is inefficient and awful. Since VISTA <---- you could hit the windows key to bring up your start menu and then simply type the program you want. Lets say you wanted Google Chrome, or Internet Explorer, or Firefox. You can simply hit: Start -> "browser name" -> Enter. This still holds true to the metro start pane. Just hit windows, type the app you want (don't even have to look at the screen), and hit enter. I'm a bit of a keyboard shortcut snob, though. Anything that requires me to move my hands from the keyboard is inefficient. The mouse is SLOW. Touch can be quick.
    http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-57390299-285/23-new-keyboard-shortcuts-for-windows-8/
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2014
    #48
  49. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    Yes I did get a Chromebook, but it's not "over" until the return period is over :)

    Yes the CB is useless without a wireless connection, but I primarily use it at home while hooked up to my WIFI, so I'm not sure that is even an issue?

    My biggest reason for wanting to ditch my IPad Mini was:
    1) get something with an easy to use keyboard (tying on a touchscreen just flat sucks)
    2) get something with a bigger screen than 7", but not too big (15+").

    The Chromebook does these things, but I am still undecided about the keyboard and the screen size / resolution. I am not initially thrilled with how hard I have to press the keyboard buttons on the Samsung CB, but EVERY reviewer seems to love it, so maybe I will adapt? The screen display isn't quite as sharp as I would like and is vey bright but with little contrast and sharpness. I am still considering a Win8 touchscreen laptop, but am very hesistant due to all the overwhelming negative posts everywhere about Win8. There must be something to it.
     
    #49
  50. Fifth Set

    Fifth Set Professional

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    Quoted for novelty. Have never seen these words written or spoken together!
     
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