Can someone recommend a < $300 Laptop?

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

  1. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    It's an issue, but you won't know it until the ONE TIME you need it and you're outside of the designed usage model ;) I wouldn't worry about it too much if you're not fussy when it comes to computers. If you were using an iPad as your main machine, you'll probably be able to live with it.

    There's definitely SOMETHING to the WIN8 hate, that's for sure. I won't even defend it that strongly because it's simply a matter of "different strokes..." I am a quick learner, and I've grown up with computers in my life since childhood, so I'm semi-predisposed to picking things up quickly. I would definitely hesitate to hand a WIN8 unit to my parents without being able to sit down and show them how everything works, though. If you're willing to put some time and effort into learning it, I actually think WIN8 is pretty impressive. I don't think you should HAVE to put some time and effort into learning it, though. So I see both sides. It's easy to make WIN8 feel like WIN7, and there's speed/security benefits. Unsigned drivers and using WIN8 for development/tinkering purposes is A HUGE HUGE HUGE PITA though. Drivers and support are much better than the XP --> Vista transition, though.

    I'm surprised, you must not read many tech articles ;) In the nerd scene, WIN8 is pretty well received. In the public eye... maybe not so much.

    (But again, I'm kind of biased, so feel free to discount/discredit any viewpoints I have...)
     
    #51
  2. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I think the Apple approach of having a desktop operating system and a mobile operating system is better than the Win8 "one size fits all" approach. Win8 has some great features but it is just slower to get things done when using the computer as a desktop equivalent.
     
    #52
  3. Dedans Penthouse

    Dedans Penthouse Hall of Fame

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    Can someone recommend a <$300 laptop?

    < $300 laptop?

    "Scores" on W 28th street.
     
    #53
  4. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    A ChromeBook may be useful on-the-go if you have tethering on your phone. Otherwise you have to look for free WiFi on the road and that may or may not be easy to find depending on where you are.
     
    #54
  5. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    I am almost never "on the road" :), unless I am on my way to a tennis match.
     
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  6. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    Well the Samsung Chromebook is going back. After a week, the screen started to hurt my eyes. Its hard to explain but it has no contrast so it always looks washed out and too white. Its also hard to get the right vertical angle on it. Also the keyboard was too stiff IMO. Liked everything thing else about it though. Not sure what I will do next? Toshiba has a 13" Chromebook coming out for $279 and I am considering a Dell Inspiron 11" touchscreen Win 8.1 laptop. Dell is having a $50 off presidents day sale.
     
    #56
  7. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    From what I've seen from the technology nerds out there, the Dell Venue pro 11 (and 8) are both being received well. I'd check out a Microsoft retail store for some hands on if you happen to have one nearby. I wouldn't be surprised if they price matched promotional prices either (just ask). Check out the Surfaces while you're there. I think if it were me, I'd go with the DVP11 still, though.
     
    #57
  8. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    The Venue Pro 11 is not cheap. I don't think that you'd find one with keyboard at $300. It's a very nice system but I'd wait until they add 64-bit support for BayTrail.
     
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  9. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    Last edited: Feb 17, 2014
    #59
  10. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    People just need to do their homework; and not follow the words from both Duplicity Squad or extreme Apple/Microsoft appreciators. I didn't want to pay nearly a grand for my laptop either, but I'm taking a shot in the dark if you buy a 'less expensive' model. However, as long as you take care of your computer and buy insurance for it, the cheaper models can last just as long as the expensive ones.
     
    #60
  11. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I had not touched my Windows 8 computer much since I upgraded to 8.1. The start button is back! It is different but has a lot of core functionality so I'm starting to feel better about it.
     
    #61
  12. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    Thanks for the response. It seems like what you're advocating (educating oneself) is also at odds with the advice you give. If someone buys a lower end model, there's more of a crapshoot, I'll give you that. At the same time, there's extreme value at the low end price range, depending on what your needs are. It seems like if you took your own advice and "did your homework" on the low end models, you could still come out ahead. I guess in the end, I'm just giving you a hard time because you're extremely absolute in your tone -- I'm at the opposite end of the spectrum, generally ;)

    Out of curiosity, have you ever tried to make a claim against the insurance you purchase? I think for the average user, insurance ends up costing more over time than just 'doing your homework.' Insurance (depending on who provides your coverage) is much less useful than many would expect. You can pay a lot of money for good coverage (with useful terms), or you can essentially throw away your money on crappy insurance (which, to be fair, you've already touched on in this thread). (More) [E]xpensive machines also have issues that plague the 'low price/low quality' end of the spectrum (see Macbook nVidia lawsuit which also affected many HP models, etc). I'm not going to get carried away with the examples, though. It's easy to give silly one-off example counterpoints. I'm just trying to give the flip side of the coin.

    You can also get your old start button back if you are inclined to do so. There are third party tools to do this. I think the real issue people have is that anyone (read as: power users AND/OR people who hate change) shouldn't have to do this. I actually think the new way things are done make a lot more sense, but you have to be willing to take a step back and re-evaluate computing. Since it's so integrated into our day to day lives, it's not easy for everyone to do so. I don't blame them, either.
     
    #62
  13. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    To me it all comes down to number of clicks. Before the Start bar readdition, everything seemed to take more clicks to get to or use.
     
    #63
  14. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    A claim? Nope, it's against Worst Buy (I mean Best Buy) policy. I paid over $110 just for one year of hardware and software coverage. I tried to check Geek Squad's prices, but they don't display them on the site.. I was looking at Amazon's Square Trade prices, and here are the links:

    3 Year Computer Protection Plan ($900-$1K Value PCs):
    http://www.amazon.com/SquareTrade-3...=1387999872&sr=8-2&keywords=computer+warranty

    3 Year Accident Protection Plan ($900-$1K Value PCs):
    http://www.amazon.com/SquareTrade-C...r=1-24&keywords=squaretrade+computer+warranty


    Here's an article about why SquareTrade (Amazon) tech protection plans are better than Worst Buy's:
    http://lifehacker.com/5659223/why-f...ranties-over-geek-squads-black-tie-protection
     
    #64
  15. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    That's funny, to me, it is all about the number of keystrokes. I'm no snob when it comes to user experience/user interaction, but learning (and remembering) a few keyboard shortcuts makes life so much easier/faster. I 100% get that not everyone uses/interacts with their computers the same way that I do, though. This is the reason I can acknowledge that the OS is both terribly designed and awesomely designed. Since Vista(!) the start menu has actually been pretty "smart." You just installed an application? Hit start, and then type the application name. Hit enter. Once the application is up and running, it'll show up on your taskbar. If you use it often, you can right click and "pin it" to the taskbar. Done. If you type slowly, and/or need to look down at your hands while you type, then I can fully understand a mouse preference.

    Yep, Squaretrade is pretty solid. I raise an eyebrow when you recommend (any) warranties, because most/many of them out there are scams. Protection programs, service plans, etc. are designed to pad margins and cover very little. The reason BB employees are so keen to sell the extended warranty is that they get kickbacks and use them as performance metrics. The margins are very thin otherwise. I find in general that the manufacturer warranty is sufficient. When it comes to semiconductors, it's rare that a device will actually die outside of warranty (relatively speaking, of course). Faulty devices will generally fail right away, provided there's no bizarre failure mode like ESD coming into play.
     
    #65
  16. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I'm pretty big on shortcuts but you REALLY need to know them in Win8 otherwise things slow down even more. Different strokes for different folks I guess. Windows 7 is still the best OS Microsoft has designed IMHO. A wholesale design change like 8 will have a love it or hate it response.
     
    #66
  17. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    Isn't there a program that makes Window 8 look and feel like 7? Just install that and problem solved.

    http://www.classicshell.net/
    http://blog.laptopmag.com/make-windows-8-like-windows-7

    MS also shows you how to change it back:
    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-vista/change-windows-to-classic-view

    p.s. got my new Dell Inspiron coming tonite, so we'll see how I like Windows 8 :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2014
    #67
  18. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I'd rather not use 3rd party apps for that. The MS link is for Windows Vista.
     
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  19. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    OK, so far so good with my new Dell Inspiron 11. Really like the feel of the keyboard and the screen is much nicer than the Chromebook. The glossy screen is much easier to look at and the keys are soft to the touch. I am going to leave Windows 8.1 as is for a while and see how I like it. So far its not too much of a nuisance.
     
    #69
  20. movdqa

    movdqa Legend

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    Which keyboard did you get? The one with the battery or the one without? Intel/Dell/Microsoft are going to get Atom working in 64-bit on Windows sometime this year so I'm waiting for a 4 GB model that will support VMs. The Dell Venue Pro 11 is the best-looking model to me in an ultraportable right now - can't wait to see what a second generation version looks like. I could go with the Haswell but that would probably cost about $1,500 with the bells and whistles.
     
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  21. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    Not sure what you mean, but it's this one:

    http://www.theverge.com/products/inspiron-11-3000-series/7332
    http://www.dell.com/us/p/inspiron-11-3138/pd

    pretty impressed so far. Keyboard and screen are MUCH better than what was on the Samsung Chromebook.
     
    #71
  22. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    Translation: the accidental protection plan is the only plan that you need. : )
     
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  23. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    I also found a great deal on an Acer Apsire V5-122P 0857,
    which has almost identical specs to my Dell Inspiron 11, but the price was so good I got it too, planning to keep one and re-sell the other. The Acer hasn't been delivered yet, but when it comes, I will also put it through it's paces and see which laptop I prefer.

    Anyone know of any good benchmarking programs to test each machine on, so I can get a good comparison? Also, what's a good PC game to test each with to see which one runs it smoother?
     
    #73
  24. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    just a followup.....

    I went with the Acer Aspire v5-122p over the Dell Inspiron 11 and love it! The backlit keyboard on the Acer is so nice to have. It's great to be able to type at night in my living room without having to turn more lights on.
    So glad I ditched the Chromebook and went with a full blown Windows system. The keyboard is better, the screen is better and I don't have the limitations I would with the Chromebook.

    And about Windows 8, I love that too! Took a few days to learn my way around, but now that I do, it's great. It's like having a tablet and a laptop all in one. Windows 8 really makes great use of the touchscreen and for those that never gave it a chance, you really are missing out. Regular Windows 7 seems boring now compared to 8 :)
     
    #74
  25. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    #75
  26. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    I didn't get it for gaming. But it can run some older games quite well. It runs Tomb Raider Anniversary quite well and some of the older Need for Speed games too. I still have a xbox 360 for those times when I can get some gaming in (when the wifey goes out of town :) I heard that the 360 controller works on laptops too...have to try that.

    I upgraded the RAM to 10Gb on the Acer and also unistalled McAfee and lots of the other bloatware and now it runs pretty good. There are lots of games on Steam that I could download and install if I wanted too, but gaming on my laptop will proabably be around 5% of it's usage.
     
    #76
  27. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Oh, ok. You asked about gaming benchmarking 2 posts above so that is why I made that post.
     
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  28. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    no, I was asking for good benchmark sites so I could compare the 2 machines I was considering or a game I could try running on each to see which runs it better by comparison.

    I fully realize a 1 Ghz laptop won't be ideal for gaming.
     
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