Tuesday, June 19, 2007

laptop: macbook v. everything else

Do you use a laptop? If so, what kind and how do you like it? I despise those little rolly ball mouse things on the one or two laptops I've ever worked on, but it seems I'm going to have to make the plunge if we're going to continue to travel every couple of months. I have researched online until my face is blue. Now I'm wondering about the actual experiences of others. My two computers now are just regular PCs, nothing special. I never do games, don't need a lot of software. I take a lot of photos and upload them to an internet host, email, this rambling, and that's it.

Part II of laptop: Do you have wireless capability? Do you use a wireless card or do you just grab a connection out of the sky? I am such a technophobe, I don't even know the terminology. Help?

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Blogger Dave said...

Once you go laptop, you will never go back. Just get the kind with the touchpad mouse. Those little rolly-things do suck.

June 19, 2007 7:41 AM  
Blogger Ms. Place said...

I have a Toshiba with a touch pad. It's got Windows XP installed on it. These days all laptops come with a wireless card. Make sure to get a DVD/CD port, I use a miniature mouse as well. If you use your laptop for graphics or games, you'll need to consult someone who uses their laptop for similar tasks. My puny system is good enough for the simple tasks I use it for.

June 19, 2007 7:50 AM  
Blogger eba said...

I've used laptops and desktops. They're both fine. I agree with Dave that the touchpads (or glidepoints, as they're sometimes called) are easier to use, once you get used to them, than those rolly things. Touchpads are small flat sensitive rectangles that you use by dragging your fingers around and tapping. They're attached right to the keyboard area of the laptop, so you don't have to carry extra equipment around. The cool thing is that you can use them right-handed or left-handed and you don't have to hold your hand at an awkward angle to use them.

For "just grabbing a connection out of the sky", you need some piece of equipment that acts as an interpreter between your computer and those signals that you're grabbing. For older computers, you probably do need an extra wireless card. Many newer computers are "wireless enabled", which means that the card is already built in.

I suspect that most laptops will fill your needs. I find that Amazon is really helpful for its comsumer reviews and consistent descriptions, and they often have the lowest prices and most convenient terms. (I once had an order held up by a non-Amazon seller until I returned a salesman's phone call asking whether I wanted to add more expensive items to my order. Ugh!!!)

So I might start by thinking about operating system (Windows or Mac?) and then size and weight (see? Size does matter!). Are you completely happy with and used to using Windows? Mac is supposed to be easier, but years ago, I found that I couldn't figure out how to do anything on the Mac because all the other computers I used were Windows machines. So my home computer uses Windows -- it's less hassle for me. Do you want something super lightweight? Do you not care? Do you want a larger screen or can you live with a smaller screen?

I hope this helps. Good luck with your choice!

June 19, 2007 8:00 AM  
Anonymous tater said...

I love my mac. You may have to change a few things around, but you are a sharp cookie, and will figure it out quickly. I have never had a security issue with the Mac OS. An added benifit is they are pretty and stylish (I just love the shallow end of the pool at times!). *Wink*

June 19, 2007 8:52 AM  
Anonymous Doralong said...

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

June 19, 2007 10:04 AM  
Blogger Red7Eric said...

Mac lovers do love their Macs ... and yet, I'd suggest getting a Windows-based laptop unless you're planning to ditch your two current PCs and Mac-ify completely. I've used both, and they're both fine (I know, I know ... he stands alone; whatever -- they're just computers).

But definitely get the wireless adapter. I work from home every Monday -- and first thing, I grab my laptop, walk down to my local coffee shop, plug in, order my egg-n-cheese on a croissant, a cup of strong coffee, and check my e-mail in bliss. As soon as the computer turns on, it tells me that wireless access has been detected, and would I like to connect? Yes, please ... two clicks later, and I'm surfing the web like a 21st-century Moondoggie. It's a beautiful thing.

And I second the vote on the touchpad thingy. Others I know have purchased a mouse that goes wherever the laptop goes.

June 19, 2007 10:13 AM  
Blogger Cindy174 said...

Go with the touchpad. It works good. And wireless. It is great but I don't recommend dealing with hewlett packard. It has been a nightmare. The best computer buying experience I have ever had was my last PC where I went in to small computer store where the guys sat with me and talked about all the uses I may contemplate and custom built it. It did not cost any more than if I had bought retail as far as I can tell. My laptop buy was more stressful than buying my house and I don't think it has to be that way. Laptops are great, a/k/a notebooks. I can move around the house and take it out back on the patio if I want, and still keep my internet connetion which is sent through a router as a signal. It is so easy. I have to have easy. I also have windows XP I know that Windows Vista is out but I have heard some bad things so check that out real good before you pick.

June 19, 2007 10:58 AM  
Blogger Helen said...

In spite of my deep-seated hatred for those smug "I'm a Mac" commercials...get a Mac with a good airport (wireless) card. If you live in a residential area, you should never have to pay for wireless internet.

June 19, 2007 11:52 AM  
Blogger David said...

No help here. No laptop, I hate them. Keyboards are too small and the mice, no matter what version they are, drive me apeshit.

Yours in techno-tarddom,
Little David

June 19, 2007 12:00 PM  
Blogger Willym said...

On my second laptop now - first wa a IBM notebook which I used the 3 years we were in Poland. Switched to a desktop when I got back and then bought a new laptop last year. All PCs thus far. Love the wireless - got the router attached to the desktop upstairs and use the laptop downstairs in the famiy room. Can't stand the little mouse thing so I bought a wireless one, and a wireless keyboard too. Guess most of the time I use the laptop sort of like a desktop.

Laurent just bought a new MAC notebook - his second and he loves it - particularly the built in cam and microphone.

Which ever way you go PC or MAC do get the wireless - its a great feature.

June 19, 2007 12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great idea, I've been using a lap-top since my pc self distructed (worm/virus). It has WinXP etc, you can purchase a wireless mouse if you don't like the other. Check out bthe offerings on ebay, where you can easily get one to fill your needs for much less $, then if you decide you want something different you've not spent too much to find out. Good luck Jeanne

June 19, 2007 12:17 PM  
Blogger rodger said...

I love my MacBook Pro which comes with built-in wireless, a touch pad, camera and mic.

I have a desktop PC as well and have no problems sharing files between the two.

You can also get a usb mouse but I'm sure you'll find the touchpad is really convenient once you start using it.

Best of all...as Helen pointed out...you can get free internet virtually anywhere as most folks do not password protect their modems. This is especially handy when traveling.

June 19, 2007 12:59 PM  
Blogger more cowbell said...

It's true -- once you have a laptop, you'll never want a desktop again. Ditto everyone else: touchpad rules. I have a minimouse, but never use it. It will come with wireless connectivity. You will still have to pay for internet connection to your house, just like now. I have a router that hooks up directly to my cable, and the computers hook up wirelessly to the router. Sometimes you'll get lucky and one of your neighbors could have an unsecured network that you can connect to. (we can see 2 neighbors who are not secure -- fools -- but their signals are too weak for us to hook up) Just make sure you secure your wireless network meaning no one can hook up to it without the access code.

Our laptops are Dells. Mine is old as dirt in laptop terms. It's about 8, I think. It still works fine, but the power cord just died on me, so I have to replace that. (it's so old the end piece is a different shape. Bastards.)

I like the IDEA of a Mac, but am concerned about connectivity/compatibility. The 2 folks at work who are Mac-ers often have trouble receiving docs by email (like Publisher) and other problems. But, they are die hard Mac loyalists, as all Mac users seem to be. Must be something to it.

And i love the Mac commercials...

June 19, 2007 2:00 PM  
Anonymous lynette said...

i love the mac commercials, too. i've never even been in the same room with a mac.

i need something light, solely for travel. love y'all's descriptions of flouncing around the house, out in the garden, on the deck, but if i'm anywhere but my desk, i don't want to have the hated computer with me. at least as far as i know, laptop virgin that i am.

okay, so i can steal someone's bandwidth (is that the correct term?) . . . cool.

so how do i keep others from stealing my stuff. with my recent experience with the thief selling my retirement account and transferring the $$ elsewhere, i would hate to be throwing things up in the air that others could retrieve to do dirty deeds.

a router . . . does that come with the cable connection i already have? the modem?

will my neighbors be able to tell i'm stealing from them? it's not that i'm opposed to stealing, just the embarrassment of getting caught ;-)

thanks!! you guys are great!!!!

June 19, 2007 2:10 PM  
Anonymous lynette said...

oh, critical features, almost forgot:

lightweight, not too huge because it has to strap to my carry-on or the backpack i use when traveling. both have straps that would run around another little package.

June 19, 2007 2:10 PM  
Anonymous tater said...

They won't be able to tell. They won't be able to access your files either. It's like an open spigot, anyone can dip in and drink at the same time, might slow down your bitrate though, depending on how many users are on your connection. The only time someone can get into your computer is when you allow them, by downloading spyware, or navigating to an insecure site and providing details to a stranger inadvertantly(fishing). I'm sure there are other tricky ways, but I am no computer tech, and am not too familiar with the minute details.

June 19, 2007 2:20 PM  
Anonymous lynette said...

tater, my stock sale was accomplished by someone using a keyword logging virus. it's not detected by my spyware stuff or any of the virus protections i've got (or any that are available).

i'm told the only way to protect against this is to log into things differently: type your login, then move to white space and type some gibberish, then back to the password, then white space for more gibberish, then enter.

it sucks. it's slowing things down, but it's better than having my "golden years" (heh) stolen by some shitty little asshole.

June 19, 2007 2:42 PM  
Anonymous Michele said...

We bought a Dell Inspiron 6000 - which is fine - but we lust for Mac baby we lust. You will love the wireless ...

June 19, 2007 2:50 PM  
Anonymous Doralong said...

Lynette- actually if you're worried about logging viri and such (and all PC folk should) go Mac girl.. But really the best thing to do is go forth and ask the experts. Most of the PC retailers in smaller towns are smarter than you think ;) And usually not inclined to piss off a neighbor that will tell everyone they know if they're not happy.. But point being, as others have noted, they will actually sit down and listen to you, Unlike the big box stores. Personally I always figured that good service is actually sometimes worth paying for.

That said- get thee to the nearest Apple store as well, tell the nice people what you want, and hear what they have to say. Cute commercials aside (and they are awful cute) there are genuine advantages, and file sharing gaps aren't the huge issue they used to be. But really the only way to make an informed decision is to sit down and play with both and see which you prefer. But somehow I think you'd just love the dashboard widgets ;)

And you will love wireless, it rules! I can get dinner going and get a little work done at the same time- I wireless networked the house with my daughter's Dell laptop, my iMac and Powerbook, the hubby's jacked out Windows box, and his work laptop - a PC something or other.. plus the youngest childs eMac and have had no problems at all.

June 19, 2007 3:25 PM  
Blogger evilganome said...

Macbook. Think Macbook Lynette. It runs OSX and crappy stupid Windows. I know, I have both on my beautiful Macbook. Dave is right. I had a PowerBook for years. It finally died of old age. I bought a desktop because it was cheaper. A year later I got another laptop.

Honestly, I have been using Mac's for years, as well as working in Windows at jobs. Mac's win hands down, and with the new Intel chips you can run both platforms.

Bargain hunting hint: Go to the Apple website. Go to the Store. Scroll down and hit the little sale tag. You can get a refurbished Mac from Apple. The good part is the machines mostly are either demos or computers that someone took home, took out of the box, decided they didn't like it and returned. These things had to go through QC twice. And Apple has some of the toughest quality standards in the industry.

June 19, 2007 3:43 PM  
Blogger Ms. Place said...

Get an Apple dahling. Windows sucks. And get a router. It's hard for an uninvited creep to go snooping around your private stuff when you have a router. If you haven't sent out a signal, the router will prevent these crooks from coming in because you haven't initiated the interaction. I heard it straight from Leo Laporte, the Tech Guy.

June 19, 2007 3:53 PM  
Anonymous tater said...



Built in camera for streaming video so you can make movies and post them, just like JMG. Time for an anti Bush Commercial from ma Belle.

June 19, 2007 4:15 PM  
Anonymous TedBear said...

My work PC is a Dell D630, Duo Core Processor, 4 GB RAM, dedicated 256 MB video card, yayaya. It is wicked fast. It is also expensive at $4000. It weighs 4.3 lbs.

My Overeducated Redneck uses a very fast new ThinkPad.

We use Windows PCs because work provides Windows PCs.

If we didn't need Windows PCs for work, then we would both use a Mac notebook.

Last week I visited one of my two sisters in NYC (10004). Sister 1 wanted a new PC. I took her to the Apple Store and she purchased the new MacBook. She loves it. Sister 1 can also run her Windows programs from within the Mac operating system faster than if they were running on WindowsXP alone. It has built in wireless and videoconference camera (called iSight, I think).

Sister 1 NYC called Sister 2 SFO, and went on and on about her new Mac.

My HQ is in SFO, so when I visited my sister the next week, we went on a shopping expedition from Belvedere to the Apple Store in SFO. We purchased the identical MacBook for Sister 2.

Both of them are now raving Apple fans.

The MacBook weighs ~5 Lbs.

One more vote for the Mac. My colleagues at work are running our software under MacOS Windows emulation faster than on WindowsXP.

My colleagues at work are all buying iMacs at home.

For us, our next home computer will be an iMac 24".

June 19, 2007 4:17 PM  
Blogger Beula said...

Thank you Lynette. I am also searching for a laptop and didn't even know where to start. This all helps, a lot.

June 19, 2007 6:32 PM  
Blogger eric3000 said...

Thank goodness I have the Other Eric to take care of all these technical things for me! I have his old PC laptop and he got a new Mac. He had some trouble getting used to it but I think he likes it now.

And I thought all laptops had touchpads now. They drive me crazy, though, so I bought a wireless mouse.

June 19, 2007 6:37 PM  
Blogger rodger said...

Tony makes a good point about the refurbs at Apple and I highly recommend you purchase Apple care. The only time I would ever consider an extended warranty is with a laptop. Mac or not.

Oh..and remember...once you go Mac...you'll never go back.

June 19, 2007 7:00 PM  
Blogger LSL said...

Um, I just have to say the "Ma Belle" name is so cute :) Good one, Tater.

June 19, 2007 7:40 PM  
Anonymous Old Lurker said...

If you're going to be travelling with this thing be careful. Laptops can get lost or stolen, and all your passwords go with them. You will want to investigate software that can protect your private data from snooping even if your laptop gets into the Wrong Hands.

You'll also want to be backing up your data religiously (or synchronizing it to your desktop, or something). That goes for all computers, I guess, but you don't often drop your desktop onto the floor.

Laptops are great. I like them too. But they come with dangers that are not always apparent to people moving from the desktop world.

June 19, 2007 10:08 PM  
Blogger hellojed said...

I have a bog-standard Dell computer with a touchpad, and I use it every day with no problems. My laptop already had a wireless card in it when it arrived.

June 20, 2007 2:40 AM  
Blogger Ms. Place said...

Thanks, tater, it is a Mac. I have this problem with words. They get in the way of my thoughts.

One additional thought, dahling, I purchased an 80 gig external hard drive (this seems large, but I understand you can buy a 500 gig external hard drive these days) Anyway, I back up all my computers every once in a while (I should be more diligent). Very important. Cost of an external hard drive? Only around $120 tops. They're much less on sale.

June 21, 2007 4:09 PM  

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