Laptop Guidance

I really need a new computer... To keep organized and in touch with all the things that keep me sane. I would love to get some input from yall who understand computers...
I will be using the laptop for internet, some gaming, photoshop/graphic editors, ... I want to be able to sit on my couch and design templates!!

This also brought a question bubble to mind... how many of you live on your laptop? do you use your laptop to stay organized? How many of you bring it everywhere you go? How do you keep your laptop life organized? :D

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Apple MacBook Pro

If I needed to replace my current laptop then I'd go straight back the Apple Shop and buy another MacBook Pro. I love it. Integrates with iPods and iPhones out of the boxes.

Although a little more expensive than the Windoze laptops with Apple you get pretty much all things as standard that on the Windozey ones require expensive upgrades or options. The only option I'd advise you to get for a Mac is a mouse rather than relying on the in-built mousepad and single butto; just makes things easier rather than an absolute necessity.

Internet connectons are a doddle. In built 10/100/1000 Mb/s network interfaces as is WiFi to th latest (published) IEEE standard. Standard USB sockets and Firewire too.

Should you ever have to give a presentation then the DVI outlet (with a VGA convertor cable) means you can have the presenter notes on the laptop screen and the presentation proper out through the data projector.

Apple's web browser (Safari) is better than Interent Explorer (though personally I use Firefox).

Plus a Mac is generally more secure than a Windozey PC. There are no viruses for Mac! The only wild exploit needs the users complicity to install itself ... and only if you are visiting human not planner p0rn.

[Update] And oh yes the customer service from the Genius bar at an Apple Shop is excellent. Real computer experts who don't try to flog yo the latest release of the newest product. Just advice you can count on.

also a Mac lover

I have to make another plug for the the MacBook. I bought mine from as reconditioned for a bit cheeper than new. A few months ago I began having a problem with the space bar not working. I took it to the Genius bar at the apple store and they fixed it while I waited. The whole bottom "plate" of the notebook got replaced (keyboard, track pad, and the plastic around it). When I asked how much, the genius said not to bother, he just did it for me -- and it is _way_ out of warranty. After my experiences with Dell costumer support, lets just say I'm still doing the happy dance

As far as organizing stuff, for a first line of defense, I have a projects folder for each thing I work on (writing, health, planning, etc.). Each project is then broken down into folders that make some kind of sense. For more detailed project planning I use Scrivener for my novels. I use Curio for putting documents, pictures, and websights of related information together. I actually have a Curio project for planning with sub-pages for different sizes. For just random bits of info I use Journler which is free, although as much as I use it, I do need to make a donation.

Although I am an electrical engineer, I don't respond well to high-maintenance user electronics. I just expect stuff to work and to do what I need them to. The MacBook is easy.

I don't live on a laptop

I don't live on a laptop myself but my daughter does. She sits on the sofa and watches movies, downloads or listens to mp3's, does word processing or internet surfing and photo editing. But it's not as portable as you'd want; she's basically still tethered to the power supply and external hard drive and the laptop is too heavy and too big to carry around in her purse. Plus she doesn't have a wireless account for it so she wouldn't be able to get on the internet if she took it with her.

I think I'm going to get an Asus Eee pc soon so I can take it everywhere with me. Most laptops that can do everything you want are too heavy to cart around. There are still trade-offs between what you want to do and portability. I think I'll get a T-Mobile account and the Eee, so at least I'll be able to sit at Borders or wherever and use it.

I can accept using my desktop at home for the business apps I need and taking the Eee with me for the portability. But right now there aren't many small, really portable laptops that are reasonably priced that have reasonable keyboards and are powerful enough to do it all.

But maybe someone else has some suggestions.


The acer Aspire One

looks very appealing to me. The keyboard is 80-90% normal size, and you can get it with a big enough hard drive and enough memory to run WinXP and thus your (my) favorite programs.

Acer Aspire One

I got mine a couple weeks ago and really do love it. And you can't beat the price.

Acer's EEE PC is the way to go for portability

I travel a bit supervising student teachers and use the Acer for observations. It is so light. I mostly stick with word processing and Internet use so I don't think heavy graphic use would be much fun. I just love the size and the weight in my briefcase. I bought a Kensington security system because I am in schools a lot. No offense but high schoolers like toys! I also use a wireless mouse as a personal preference. Mine does not have a lot of storage space so I have to be judicious as to what I load as apps. The keyboard is smaller but I manage it ok even with a disability with my right hand.

"To fly, we must have resistance."

The eeePC is made by ASUS,

The eeePC is made by ASUS, not Acer.

EeePC too small for me

I have an EeePC (701) and it's way too small for me. The keyboard is tiny and the screen isn't much bigger. If you have small hands (I don't), then it may work for you, though some of the other models may have larger features which would make them more useable. Since it's solid-state, I am thinking of setting it up on my treadmill (with an external keyboard; I can live with the screen) and surfing as I walk. (If I'm coordinated enough to do both, of course!)

Love my Mac and don't plan on changing course any time soon. It's easy, it's fun, and I don't have to endlessly fiddle with it to get it to do what I want.

I love my Macbook

I do, I love my Macbook. I've had it since December. I bought my first PC in (wait for it...) 1984. It was the first time I had used anything since a mainframe with punch cards or a stupid terminal (I'm not being mean, it was not a "smart" terminal that had actual memory). It was a "portable" computer that weighed about 40 pounds and had a whopping 1 meg of memory. For an extra $300 you could get 2 meg. I didn't because I didn't need it. I could run, in a DOS environment, Word Perfect and dBase III - everything I needed to organize and analyze data and write my dissertation. Every PC (desktop or laptop) was downhill from there since after that I was forced to use Windows. My last Windows based laptop died last summer and I replaced it last December with a Macbook. I will never go back. I do not organize my life with it because I am in a Windows/Outlook environment at work. I have tried to sync my Macbook with Outlook via MobileMe but it still isn't working properly. In the meantime I keep my calendar, schedule, tasks, contacts, email, on my work PC. As soon as Apple works out the Outlook sync trouble I'll use my Macbook as my main life organizer and just sync to work. I read a book of tricks for Outlook called "Organize your life with Outlook" (or something like that) that was full of good tips. It was similar to GTD and while I don't follow the author's "manage your life" system, I do use many of her Outlook tips.

Yup ;-)

I've been laptop-only since about 1999. I've used Macs exclusively until this past August, when I bought an MSI Wind. I bought the Windows version, but immediately put Ubuntu on it, and I've been quite happy with it. It took a bit of fussing to get everything working, and suspend still doesn't work, because I was lazy and did what is called a "Wubi" install, not a full install. However, otherwise, it's been doing great. It's small enough to go in my pannier on my bike with me, without my having to worry about rattling it to death, and is comfortable on my lap, and just about wherever I need or want it. (Just this morning, I was reading an article, and wanted to finish it, so I had the computer in the kitchen while I made waffles for the kids) I'm still contemplating tossing the Mac OSX onto it, but so far, I haven't felt the need. I still use my Mac PowerBook for photography and video, and for my email archive (It backs up everything to my external hard drive and mobileme), but for daily use, it's my tiny "liliputer" that does the job. You ought to seriously consider one of these--there are a bunch now--the eeePC comes in three or four flavors (701, 900, 901 and 1000H--but get the 901 over the 900--better processor and battery life). There's the MSI Wind, the HP mini-whatever, the Dell is coming, Lenovo has one coming, and there's the other one that somebody mentioned already, whose name and manufacturer I keep forgetting. If you are already on Windows, then the answer is easy, but if not, then your choices may be more open. If you want the Mac OS, but don't want to pay for the hardware, and don't mind breaking license agreements, then the Wind is the best. If you _really_ want a Mac--and I'll admit, the MacBooks are still calling my name.... then, if you want small, the MacBook is your best option, with the MacBook Air, if you don't want or need to plug lots of hardware into it. But the Air can quickly get expensive, as you will need the external hard drive/Time Capsule, and the DVD drive.

I guess I can see your confusion. ;-) Well, just buy the MSI Wind and be happy! ;-) (That was a joke)

One thing to keep in mind, what with Google Docs and mail and calendar and contacts, if you are willing to sign your life over to Google, you can quickly discover that it won't matter what computer you are using, so long as it can run these things in the web browser. You might want to look closely at how you use your computer, and maybe alternate ways of thinking about it. I know that since I got my Wind, I find myself putting more and more documents into GoogleDocs, simply because I can now use those docs regardless of if I'm on my Mac or Wind, and I don't have to worry about syncing the two, transferring files, or even backing up--although I should--but so far, nothing "essential" is on GD.

Well, I've blathered enough.


Sara - I think we've had a

Sara - I think we've had a discussion on FB chat about this before. I suggested looking at Dell then and I would suggest it again now.

The mini notebooks are great for travelling, but they are limited in what they can do - mostly online stuff and basic word processing, spreadsheet, etc. Also, the small keyboard and screen might take getting used to. I own an ASUS eeePC 900 and had a great time using it during my recent trip to China. Back home, I still use a Win desktop with a 17" screen, while the 900 goes to the coffee shops with me when I need to get out from my apartment. Oh, I also own a 13.3" MacBook but find it too big and heavy to take out to the coffee shops with me.

thank you all!

I'm afraid to leave the world of PCs...since all my programs are PC platform (ie photoshop)

I was wondering if there is a video card I should be looking for if I will be gaming once in awhile or should they all be okay? >.< I should probably take the time to learn what all the different ghz's and mbs mean...

oh and i do like the google/zoho documents online! They saved me at work a few times. we use macs and i got a few .doc files for a special section in our periodical and WHAM... google saved my butt :D

What kind of keyboard should i look for in order to be comfortable? I heard that some netbooks are cramped :(

my artwork | my blog



I have been on the eternal Comfortable Keyboard Hunt. Actually, it's only been 12 or 13 years now, since I have tendinitis and bursitis. I have forced my company to buy about a half dozen different kinds in my search. They all reside in a hutch in my office, no longer used.

The one I like best these days is a Kinesis Freestyle. It's a split keyboard with a classic layout (for the most part) sans number pad. You can buy gadgets to elevate the center if you want, so you have an adjustable angle and height. Unless I am typing for hours on end (that is, writing new documents in the 50-page range) I don't need the adjustable height, just the angle of separation. It ain't cheap, but I bought it with my own money so I'd be able to keep it. The part I like the best is the very light strike force required to press the keys. Not having a numpad is easy on my shoulder, too. I miss a numpad, but I like not being sore better.

Anyway, I haven't ever found a laptop that had a comfy keyboard. They're all too straight and flat. Some of them have comfortable strike force, but if you can't straighten your wrists you'll eventually get sore. So if you really need to type and mouse a lot, get an external keyboard and mouse and a nice big monitor for your regular workstation. Can't take those everywhere, obviously, but wherever you do the most typing is where you leave them.



Games all depend on what kind of games, or more specifically, what games you want to play. The monster, graphics-intensive ones will require a graphics card with dedicated video ram, not ram shared with your main memory. Also, such laptops are likely to cost a lot of money any more. However, if you want to play light games (casual games), then most likely any laptop's memory will serve you today. If we knew what games you have in mind, that would help.

As to keyboards, I find my Wind's keyboard to be very good. I just measured, and my Pismo's keyboard (full-size, or very much so) has a key spacing of abotu 20mm, and my Wind's is 17mm. The only keys I have problems with are the comma, period and foward slash, because they are reduced size. All the rest are ok for me. Also, if I have my computer sitting back far enough on the desk, I have no problems with fatigue while typing. I'm overall surprised with the keyboard--and the Wind in general. I figured I could sell it if I weren't happy--but I ain't sellin'! ;-)

However, I would recommend finding some real-life samples, and spending time with each of them, and see which feels the most comfortable.


Hi Sara, I've got a Macbook

Hi Sara,

I've got a Macbook since July 2007 and I've been so happy I bought it! This is my first laptop and previously I thought having a laptop might not be a great idea but I was totally wrong. I carry it with me almost everywhere I go. I make notes at school, I use it for the internet (www, e-mail), gaming (Heroes of Might and Magic), listening to music, watching photos.
Learning to use Mac has been so simple and it is so user-friendly in many ways. It's worth every penny.

Hi Sara. Last October I

Hi Sara.

Last October I purchased an HP laptop from Best Buy (I wanted to see and try the laptop before buying). My significant other purchased a desktop PC from Dell online. In both cases we went with a package deal that suited us well. And in both cases we've (knock on wood) had no problems requiring tech support. Admittedly we're both old hacks at computers.

This was my first laptop. It replaced a long-dead PC. While I don't carry it with me everywhere, I do like being able to use it anywhere in the house or out in the park on warm days. My volunteer work involves processing memberships, which often has multiple people (all with laptops) sitting around the kitchen table working with a pot of tea in the middle. Not quite the LAN parties of old-but similar. :)

As to video cards -- pick a game that interest you (or two, or three) and check their recommended minimums. Then get a card one or two generations better. Or better yet, find a laptop with that +2nd generation video card installed.

If it's within your budget, I strongly recommend buying a 17" (or bigger) video monitor for your desk. I find it helpful when designing layouts and doing fine work to have the large video monitor for display. Most PC laptops these days have an external video plug that can be used to plug in a second monitor (some even have two!).

As to how I organize my life -- I use a combination of a DIY Planner I made myself, Google Calendar and Remember the Milk. I'm also using d3 (a TiddlyWiki) to log my activities at work.


I'll take a trip to some stores like Best Buy and Circuit City tomorrow and get some hands-on time with keyboards and mouse pads ... just to see what's available...

I never thought of checking minimum requirements on my games :) truth is i've been on a '02 computer so anything would probably seem fast~! hehehe

my artwork | my blog

The smaller, the easier to carry around

When I bought my current laptop, I planned to continue my studies which in this case would have ment carrying my laptop around. So I chose LG TX Express, a stylish little laptop with 12" screen, only 1,1 kg... Well, no internal dvd, but most of the time I don't need it anyway. I can do very well with the external one.

I am pleased with my laptop and ready to recommend it for others as well. However, if you are going to do graphical stuff, I guess you need a bigger screen. For playing you might also need a more powerful graphics card, though it's not one of the worst at all.

- customizing Filofax Personal -

Concur. Smaller, lighter is good...

If your prime need is mobility, getting a smaller, lighter laptop will pay off. I used to have a Dell Latitude D600 for a work laptop, and although it wasn't that big, I hated carrying it around on trips. I now have a Dell D430, which is only three pounds without the larger battery, AC adaptor, and external DVD drive. Of course, with all that other stuff, it's considerably heavier, although still small and much better for traveling.

Actually, I don't recommend Dell, since the first D430 they gave me failed (display cable was no good) and I don't care for Windows. (I have no choice at work) I think their quality control has slipped. I've used a Mac at home since 1986, and would definitely prefer a Mac laptop. I'd recommend the MacBook for all-around use, though not for high-demand games. It's light enough and reasonably priced. (Note: it's rumored that Apple will announce new MacBooks on October 14th). You can get refurbed MacBooks on Apple's online webstore for attractive prices and their refurbs carry the full manufacturer's warranty. Of course, the MacBook Air is even lighter and thinner.

The MacBook Pro has the horsepower to run high-demand games, but, they don't make one smaller than 15". (the old 12" Powerbook was just the perfect size) It is a very good laptop though, albeit considerably larger and more expensive than the MacBook.

I won't comment on suitable Windows laptops since I don't have much experience with them save the ones I've used at work.

Laptops are convenient, but are a compromise. You get mobility, but at a higher cost than an equivalent desktop unit. They cost more to repair, so an extended warranty is often a good idea. And, they're easy to steal, so you have to be a little more security conscious.

As far as software, if you were switching platforms, you can sometimes upgrade software to the same or newer version for the Mac. It's called a cross-grade, and most companies are willing to do that. At least you won't have to purchase an entirely new set of software, which can easily cost more than the laptop.

If I could justify buying a Mac laptop for home use, I'd have one now! :-)

Good luck,

"The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once." Albert Einstein and Buckaroo Banzai

Apple or Dell

Once you go Mac, you'll never go back. ;)

If you want an ultraportable, you'll be giving up a lot of horse power. But if you do want a 2 pound machine that you can tuck in a purse, ultraportables are the way to go.

I'm mostly a Mac household, but I do have one PC, a Dell Inspiron E1405 with extended battery that I bought about 18 months ago. It's no frills but got good reviews for being a quality machine. I've been happy with it.

Suggestions: Max out your RAM. Intel Video cards are no good for gaming.

"In some situations you need to ask yourself 'WWRD?' What would Riggins do in a situation?"
Landry Clarke -- Friday Night Lights

I took a big risk and looked

I took a big risk and looked on craigslist, found a Dell D600 for a good price, the way I figure it, I got what I paid for just in software.

We've got three teens in school, they do a good amount of research on the internet, also the high school boys have to type up all their papers, etc. there was a pressing crunch for a keyboard, so now we've got two 'stations' for the kids to go back and forth, and the rare option to take it out.

*Next day edit*
so far we haven't figure out how to organize or manage all the stuff that comes with it...

1. I did lable the cords (charger and internet cord) with label maker...type, unpeal and stick together.
2. I added a book jewelery thing to the usb key (bought a spare just for me (okay in case Daughter loses hers).
3. dug out older printer from garage, bought new ink, and voila, set it up in the newly developing hobby room, for another slick printing station too.

the most movement the laptop makes is from the eating table to the hobby room (formerly called the dining room which we never dined in (kids and carpet, dogs and sloppy adults don't get along together, so we banned the idea of a dining room entirely).

oh, laptop came up to our bedroom last wkend when hubby wanted to watch a movie (okay he wanted to play with the laptop).

honestly I'd like a tote or backpack, or something to just stash the stuff in....I'm tired of the thing just sitting on the table we eat on. they drag it in here to plug into our main computer (just off the kitchen table in the room adjacent to it.