Notebook Recommendation

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Notebook Recommendation

Postby kokalo » Wed Nov 21, 2012 6:33 pm

Hi all!

Don't frequent these forums a lot these days, but still regard them as THE place to have good advice, from differing perspectives.

After a loooong time, I find myself able to justify and afford a NEW notebook/laptop.

My price range is about NZ$1000, which would fit a wide range.

I think I would like a business class notebook, since I have been selling and using the consumer ones for far too long and I want something that is going to work a bit better, with higher build quality and last until it is obsolete and not fall apart on me.

I don't like Asus (at least not when it comes to noteboooks - personal experiences, let's leave it at that). Sony - $200 extra just for the name - NOTY. I haven't seen anything from ACER in that would fit the prifile in the business range - consumer I could get something and save $200 but not sure i want to go there. d(H)ell..... 'nuff said!

So!

That leaves me with 3 options:

Toshiba SatPro C650
HP ProBook 4540s
Lenovo B580

All of them have very similar features:

i5 CPU 2nd or 3rd gen
1GB or more dedicated VRAM with a mid-range GPU
500GB+ HDD
15.6" screen
dedicated number pad

Other features are either similar enough or of no concern to me...

HP is the most expensive one, but not by much. I have also sold and configured (read: got to play with for 2-3 days before delivering to clients) 2 4530s model ones and I am somewhat in lust with the machines.....

Lenovo - I don't know.... If it was IBM - legendary, aren't they? But they are not IBM any longer. Benefits - they look a bit nicer than the old IBM clunkers. Can they be trusted? I'm simply not familiar enough with recent models to judge that myself....

Toshiba - I have sourced and supplied some ex-lease Tecra units to a client, 3+ year old units, worked since then for over 18 months - no worries, no problems... but those were Tecras. I have a feeling that SatPro are just renamed Satellite units so that Toshi can claim a premium from business market. Feeling is reinforced by the fact that they are sold in the same shops as "run of the mill" consumer units, and that I know someone who owns a SatPro c650 which (albeit older generation model and with a dualcore celly/pentium CPU) has clapped out twice within the first year.
Sure, warranty covered repairs both times but...

SO.... thats my quandary. I suppose I have made up my mind already, but would like either a second opinion confirming it for me, or some serious recommendations to change my mind.

If you have managed to get to the end without succumbing to the TL/DR, please help!

Regards,
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Postby Karlsweldt » Thu Nov 22, 2012 5:58 am

Lots of review links on all brands, including this one.. http://computers.toptenreviews.com/laptops/
Each brand will tout their product as "best", but may fall short in some feature comparisons with other brands. Some brands have their own in-house production lines, while others are only 'assemblers' of components purchased elsewhere.. from major names.
As to your needs, choose what is best suited for your own needs. Ruggedness for traveling, of course, is important. Some brands claim to be "indestructible", within reason.. while others claim small size and light weight. But that may mean short battery life. Regardless of brand or model, it may be wise to get an extra battery for extended off-power use.
The latest OS versions have more intent toward touch-screen operation, and may be an only choice.. such as Windows 8®. Apple® products also are more dominant toward touch-screen use.
And don't forget to figure in Wi-fi use, for communications. But air time for data may be expensive!
If there is a "shopper's club" nearby, check them for the best price. They should have a good display of models. Yes, Lenovo has taken the IBM laptop line over.. but most models do have a good rating.
Good luck in your quest.
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Postby Mr T » Thu Nov 22, 2012 11:48 am

HP - poor... They come in for the most basic repair, namely chip reballing/reflowing or DC jack is broken. By far the most common brand to come in for this.
Lenovo, not so popular, but in the UK are pricey.
Toshiba are pretty reasonable, my stepkids have one apeice and beat the s**t out of them and so far two years later still going...

Others to look at include ASUS, ACER and Samsung.
DELL are not to bad and well supported surprisingly few come in for repair!
SONY are expensive, expensive on parts, time repairing.. Tend to avoid them.
I have been programming on computers since the ZX81.
I am an apprentice trained Electronics Engineer with qualifications to back it up.
I have been repairing computers since 1996.
Yet to some people I still know nothing...
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Postby kokalo » Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:14 pm

Nice, thanks for the replies, and good to see youn 2 are still active here.

@Karl:

- Not fussed (or even interested) in touchscreen and same for Macs.
- ruggedness - not an issue - the unit will be "used here, then moved and used over there" not "used on the go" - small size, light weight and battery life of over 2 hrs ditto.
- my target is "i5, 1GB VRAM, 15.6"" anything else is up for discussion.
- reviews I found aplenty but that site is closest to a genuine comparison between diff models/brands - thanks for the link
- I would like to get an entry level business notebook, even at a $100-$150 premium - from experience they tend to keep going longer
- have you got more info about "stickering" - i know ASUS used to make stuff for a lot of smaller outfits, and at one stage, dell and acer had models that were almost identical, even down to the shell and port positioning - i have'nt got any current info here at the back end of nowhere

@ Mr T:

- never experienced or heard the chip reflowing issue with HPs, good info, is that on all classes or consumer models only? I had a good look at the ProBook DC Jack design and positioning and it seems to be a lot better than on their consumer level machines (one more point in favor of business level machines)
- would you agree with me in the assesment that SatPro is just a higher priced consumer machine? I used to love Toshibas but the last few i dealt with felt really cheap and fragile and had all sorts of issues (consumer ones)
- ASUS don't want, ACER cant seem to find any TravelMates, only Aspires and Samsung - never clear on their nomenclature - can't tell consumer from business machines.
- Dell - too closed and proprietary, parts tend to cost more if needed, onyl available direct here in NZ and pricing not really any better than others (+ I have a semi-wholesale discount with a couple of suppliers here in NZ so I dont want to pay the retail margin)
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Postby Karlsweldt » Fri Nov 23, 2012 2:07 pm

This WIKI link sort of "shines a light in a dark closet" about who really makes laptops, not just putting their brand on them.
As to the main chipsets family, AMD® , Intel® and Via® are the leading favorites. SiS® is also a major chipset maker. But alas, many companies now source their chipsets from China, not the 'usual' Taiwan or Philippines.
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Postby kokalo » Fri Nov 23, 2012 8:21 pm

Wow, interesting read!

So Pegatron = ASUS (or their manufacturing arm) a major ODM that builds stuff for others - but why has their quality and reliability has gone down the drain....

Acer I knew about, essentially they make their own, and stuff for others

I know Foxconn made stuff for just about everyone, including iPhone, Ipads etc...

But in the end of the day what does it mean? Is the ODM with the larges share THE BEST, or just the cheapest? Is the brandname that manufactures for themselves (ie ASUS and Acer manufacturing arms) better than the one that outsorces? Can it be expected that the brand with just one ODM is more likely to have conistent quialty control and thus consistently good (or bad) product?

SHould I just go for Samsung since they seem to be the only ones who do in-house manufacturing...

Thanks Karl, very useful info, but i think I'm even less certain now lol...
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Postby kokalo » Fri Nov 23, 2012 8:27 pm

BTW, managed to find a TravelMate from one of my suppliers... may need to wait a few days to get stock but seems ok. Only 2nd Gen i5, not 3rd, and a relatively old GPU, but that GPU is well regarded and probably better performance than anything I would get in the price range I'm considering. Plus about $200 (or more) NZ cheaper than the Lenovos and ProBooks i was looking at.

So the question begs - are TravelMates as good as ProBooks and for that matter, are ProBooks all they are cranked out to be?
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Postby Karlsweldt » Sat Nov 24, 2012 3:30 pm

Certain company brands are true manufacturers of motherboards or main boards.. and usually have their own brand on them. Similar to looking for a good place to eat. If the cook eats there, the food must be good! :lol: :lol:

But when any company name purchases a stock of boards, it could be in the thousands.. sufficient cause for a manufacturer to make a "special" run for that customer! But one board model may work for several variations, and you may note a few missing (by purpose) components on the board surface. Nothing wrong with that idea.. it saves overhead on inventory.
Same is true of the auto industry, or most other fields.
But other marketers may skimp on certain functions or features, to make a better profit. Yes, some models are flimsy and chintzy.. and the price may classify them as "disposable". Yet other company lines are truly robust and stand up to abuse. The warranty usually signals that factor.
Each brand and model will have their own in-house reviews, and a Google search will provide many independent links.
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Re: Notebook Recommendation

Postby shockersdud » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:55 am

kokalo wrote:Hi all!

Don't frequent these forums a lot these days, but still regard them as THE place to have good advice, from differing perspectives.

After a loooong time, I find myself able to justify and afford a NEW notebook/laptop.

My price range is about NZ$1000, which would fit a wide range.

I think I would like a business class notebook
business reviews, since I have been selling and using the consumer ones for far too long and I want something that is going to work a bit better, with higher build quality and last until it is obsolete and not fall apart on me.

I don't like Asus (at least not when it comes to noteboooks - personal experiences, let's leave it at that). Sony - $200 extra just for the name - NOTY. I haven't seen anything from ACER in that would fit the prifile in the business range - consumer I could get something and save $200 but not sure i want to go there. d(H)ell..... 'nuff said!

So!

That leaves me with 3 options:

Toshiba SatPro C650
HP ProBook 4540s
Lenovo B580

All of them have very similar features:

i5 CPU 2nd or 3rd gen
1GB or more dedicated VRAM with a mid-range GPU
500GB+ HDD
15.6" screen
dedicated number pad

Other features are either similar enough or of no concern to me...

HP is the most expensive one, but not by much. I have also sold and configured (read: got to play with for 2-3 days before delivering to clients) 2 4530s model ones and I am somewhat in lust with the machines.....

Lenovo - I don't know.... If it was IBM - legendary, aren't they? But they are not IBM any longer. Benefits - they look a bit nicer than the old IBM clunkers. Can they be trusted? I'm simply not familiar enough with recent models to judge that myself....

Toshiba - I have sourced and supplied some ex-lease Tecra units to a client, 3+ year old units, worked since then for over 18 months - no worries, no problems... but those were Tecras. I have a feeling that SatPro are just renamed Satellite units so that Toshi can claim a premium from business market. Feeling is reinforced by the fact that they are sold in the same shops as "run of the mill" consumer units, and that I know someone who owns a SatPro c650 which (albeit older generation model and with a dualcore celly/pentium CPU) has clapped out twice within the first year.
Sure, warranty covered repairs both times but...

SO.... thats my quandary. I suppose I have made up my mind already, but would like either a second opinion confirming it for me, or some serious recommendations to change my mind.

If you have managed to get to the end without succumbing to the TL/DR, please help!

Regards,


You must have purchased a notebook. I am looking to purchase a new one and my budget is $1100. I need it for business purpose. WHat is your recommendation?
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Postby Karlsweldt » Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:47 am

@ shockersdud.. Check Web sites, such as www.newegg.com/ or www.amazon.com/ and even shopping "club" sites. There you will note features and prices. Even the home site of each brand would have detailed specs on the models you are interested in. But with any laptop or home computer, choose your item based on needs. For light-duty use, almost any model would do. For demanding graphics work, you would need an expensive model. For harsh environments, a ruggedized model would be the only choice.. such as a Toughbook® from Panasonic or others.
Also look for reviews on each model, to note performance and flaws.
Battery life is limited in some models, longer in others. You may want to invest in a second battery for extended off-power use.
F@H.. to solve mankind's maladies.. in our lifetimes!
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