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Computer World

This entry is partially to move The Book stuff down the page and ease the pangs of self-consciousness but also a wee call for advice. Harvey, my beloved 5.5 year old iBook has finally died. Properly this time. He's not responding to medical treatment. I gave him to Rhiannon earlier this year so she could work on computer things at home and just when she was getting her head around all the Mac keyboard shortcuts he's snuffed it!

So now I'm determined to help her find an affordable alternative. I'm thinking PC, since Rhi's not rolling in dough. We'd only need a very basic model – she's not a sad nerdypants like her big sister. She just needs a place to keep her modest music collection and do a bit of casual web surfing and word processing. I've not been in the market for a laptop for ages and have no idea where to go. Dell? PC World? Ebay? 2nd hand? What do you guys recommend? Any ideas gratefully received 🙂

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About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m an author, copywriter and old school blogger. I love telling stories about life and helping my clients to tell theirs. Find out more about me and how we can work together.


28 thoughts on “Computer World

  1. I am having the same dillema but the other way ’round. Shall I move to mac and be cool when I open up my laptop in a public space or stick to the old PC. The trouble for me is that I just purchased lots of software (whilst I was still a part time student) for the PC and I cannot afford to go and buy it all again.

    If I didnt have that issue – I would go Mac. Does she know any students? Cos Mac have fantastic student deals.

    Good luck

  2. I would probably look more along the lines of an external drive for her music, and a basic, perhaps second hand PC with enough memory to run MSOffice. But that’s just me. Most of my drive space on my laptop filled up with music, and when I moved it onto an external drive, it ran a lot smoother. (But of course, I am a sad nerdy pants, however Microsoftricised :-P)

    Just one thing. STAY AWAY FROM THE VISTA. That is all.

  3. agreed with previous commenter, avoid the Vista if you can. I had a bit of cash to throw around and went with HP, you could probably find a decent deal on their website, they let you choose the requirements you’ve mentioned, including budget, and find a solution to match. let me know if this sounds any good and i’ll forward a link 🙂

  4. What? Harvey died? There must be some sort of shelf life for iBook’s as mine has just died as well, considering they were around the same age. Logic board apparently. $900 to fix.

  5. Hi Shauny – I’d recommend getting something as up to date as she can afford – even a casual web surfer will get frustrated by a slower machine. And be a bit careful if you choose the second hand route. It might just be me, but I’ve never had a good experience buying second hand electronic equipment.

  6. Hi Shauna

    Both my partner and I got our laptops from eBay. We got some nice reconditioned ones that were no more than 1.5 years old. Nothing wrong with them, maybe a little scuffed covers but nothing that affected the performance. The only things we have added were some extra RAM since it really does make things a little bit faster. We paid about GBP250-300 so it is doable! good luck!

  7. How about a reconditioned Mac?

    But yes, stay away from Vista. Don’t fear the cheapy brands either, the Acers of this world make some pretty good kit (and a lot of the basic parts are the same no matter which model you buy anyway)

  8. Check out the prices on low-end Dells and so forth before you go and buy anything second-hand. The difference is often not that remarkable, particularly by the time you buy another battery for the s/h one that’s just died, and also particularly when you consider that laptops only really hit their sweetspot in terms of price/performance a couple of years a go, maybe even more recently than that. The new mid-range Thinkpad that I use at school matches my desktop speed-wise on just about every task (bearing in mind that I don’t play games), and I could never have said that about any other laptop I’ve owned (when compared, obviously, with a contemporaneous desktop).

    And I add my voice to the caution against Vista. Seems to be a dog, unfortunately.

  9. Hey Shauna,

    First up, congrats on the book, as a (very) long-time reader now it makes me want to squee! for you.

    I’m a McNerdypants working in a PC repair store and my advice is to stay away from the cheap brands like Dell and HP, unless you buy the extended warranty and want to make use of it… IBM’s are still one of the best out there but also on the more expensive end of the scale. Really though, like Miss D said, buy as up-to-date as you can afford and External drives are the way to go for media storage (and backup).

    As for Vista, the only problems we get are older programs and hardware that aren’t compatible. Which is a hassle if you’re updating, but not really if you’re going all new.

  10. I really have had good luck with Toshiba. They have affordable laptops (mine is a tablet PC) and they have this great 3 year warranty that covers even tragic user damages like spilling coffee or dropping, or scratching the screen. I am not sure how there service is in the UK, but I have convinced family and friends here in the US and they have been very happy with customer service, repair times and warranty.
    I do not have issues with Vista like the others mentioned…but it is important that the machine was made for Vista and not an older machine with a new OS (Then again I had been beta testing Vista for over a year when they released to the public so I had a lot of time to get used to the menu and other differences (I would also like to remind people that XP was around for a long time and that is why they have such dramatic changes between OS’s, Mac has been releasing OS’s more frequently so the changes have been more gradual. ))
    I am not going to get into the Mac vs. PC debate, I prefer PC, because of cost and the fact that I have just used them more. So I recommend the Toshiba lines of laptops, the “satellite” and “tecra” are the ones I have the most experience with. And if you like to draw or do handwritten notes then the Tablet PC is awesome, it is a Wacom tablet built into the screen so that you can draw/write directly on the screen.

  11. I have a reconditioned Dell and its just fine for me. I’m sure I’m using it for about the same tasks that Rhi would be using hers for. I was able to talk my COMPANY into getting it for me… maybe Rhi can do the same? Mwah haaa haaa Haaaa! Little does the COMPANY know I use it more for crap than I do for work!

  12. HURRAY!

    Yeah, you guessed it, I missed comments on the last post. Ha you think you get around self consciousness and I bring it right back up… to the bottom of the page buried in the comments. Yay me. But seriously, well done, and you are definitely going to be my very first, very special blog-to-book buy. So impressed with anyone that can manage to write a whole one, and thrilled for you, and very much looking forward to it.

  13. I have an MSI which is one of the cheap end brands but works well. One to consider especially if price is an issue.

  14. I don’t know if this helps but I bought a whiz-bang Sony Vaio so I won’t have to worry about upgrading it for ages and I bought it on finance too. I think it’s worth getting something solid to start with. Can your sis do finance? It’s good if you’re discipline and make the repayments. My man loves his new 13″ Macbook and bought it on finance too.

  15. Get a Mac laptop from eBay. There’s no need to go over to “the dark side”. If you do, however, stay away from Vista; even the PC bigots at my office are deinstalling Vista and putting XP back on. It just doesn’t work.

  16. If she wants cheap

    Linux Operating system

    Ubuntu which emulates the Win XP envroment allowing you to use all the sftware you may already have.

    Open Office, it’s Windows Office suite but free

    Anti Virus Grisoft, a great little anti virus

    Zone Alarms.a top firewall

    The Core media Player, it’ll play anything, and for a couple of quid it’ll even play DVDs

    All free.

    Abandon the Mac thing.

    It is a “lifestyle” decision, not a computing one.

    Have a look at dabs they’ll have something around £300

  17. I’d suggest that going PC is a future of pain and suffering – although if she has to, make sure she downloads the free AVG anti-virus – and NOT Norton Anti-virus which I’ve seen spectacularly grind PCs to a halt (just by existing!).

    You can get a MacBook new these days for £700 or so – not cheap but much less than Harvey cost, I’m sure (I went from a iBook – the girly one – to a PowerBook G4 12-inch to a MacBook – each time a drop in price).

    Linux may be a good operating system but not many people know much about it so it’s not likely to be the best for a non-geek.

    As for second hand, if you’re after a laptop I’d avoid the thought of second hand like the plague. If it’s a Desktop you’re after, at least you have a good chance that it’s been sitting stably on a desk most of its life, but with a laptop you haven’t got a clue whether it’s been dropped, bounced or whatever.

    Scott F 🙂

  18. I have just purchased (and am typing this) on a new DELL laptop.

    It’s a VOSTRO 1000 2GB memory, for £279. I use it to type, spreadsheet (MS Works) and surf, nothing too difficult. It’s FAB, and it arrived in just 4 days. My PC (and MAC) IT-literate husband picked it, and I’ve been very pleased.

    It’s from Dell BUSINESS but you don’t have to have a VAT code or anything. Husband finds Dell business cheaper than “personal” Dell site.

    LINK:-
    http://www1.euro.dell.com/content/products/features.aspx/4x_vostro_1000?c=uk&cs=ukbsdt1&l=en&s=bsd

    PS I have your book on pre-order.

  19. Vista is Satan. Even the people I work with over at MSuck don’t use it. Office 2007 is a close runner-up in the satanic category, too.

  20. Wow thanks comrades! some great ideas here! I had no idea Vista was so shit! That makes me laff.

    And I ain’t getting into any Mac vs PC debate. It’s not a ‘lifestyle decision’ for me , but rather which computer provides the most simple and enjoyable computering experience. woohoo! 🙂

  21. Didn’t mean any offence Shauna, but as you can get a PC laptop for under 300 and the best price you can on a Mac is 200% plus. At that price to opt for Mac has to be seen as a “Lifestyleee” decision.

  22. Dell are good – it’s probably worth getting something with a warranty rather than something second hand. My two year old dell latitude collapsed recently because the bit where you plug in the power cable died. It was ridiculously expensive to fix, but they came and fixed it the next day, and if it had been under a three year warranty i would have been fine.

  23. Can’t help with the best supplier…being on the other side of the world and all. Besides, I got my new notebook with a hefty staff discount, thanks to my son working at the right place. 🙂 Although we’ve had quite a few friends use Dell here and they’ve been good.

    Re Vista – I’ve had NO END of problems with it, mostly sorted now, but there are still some ongoing and really irritating ones. Using all new software may be all very well if you’ve been living in a cave and have never owned a computer before, but for me that wasn’t an option. The biggest problem was that if I ran the new version of Office, which apparently works a treat with Vista, I would be unable to use any of my existing documents and templates. Anything created on an earlier version won’t work on the latest Office programs. Uh, hello? Running an online business here…kind of inconvenient!!

    So my trusty Office 2003 (or whatever version it is) KIND OF works. Apart from regularly shutting down/freezing/causing my printer or email program to get all confused and sulky and so on. I’m THIS close *holds up thumb and forefinger* to dumping Vista and going back to XP.

    Anyway….for what it’s worth, my new laptop is a Toshiba Satellite. It’s NICE! (apart from stinky Vista)

  24. Just to contradict a couple of comments (sorry guys), I had a Dell for a couple of years and had no end of problems. Luckily I’d paid for an extended warranty or it would have cost me a fortune, so no saving from a cheap upfront price. Even so, the last problem I had before I ditched it took 5 visits and 4 weeks of not having my laptop available for use. The technicians who were doing the work told me the machines were rubbish and they were being paid by Dell.

    Also, the support service was the worst I’ve ever experienced. I’m generally a peace love and mungbean type of gal but considered making little Dell staff voodoo dolls I became so annoyed with them.

    I’ve got a HP laptop now but wouldn’t like to recommend it yet as I haven’t had it very long. It’s been fine so far, although it does run a little hot during extended use.

  25. KEK

    I would advise ythat you download the free Open Office, it does all the things Windows Office is meant to, it supporets all the older file formats and is FREE.

    http://www.openoffice.org

    It’s great, did I mention it’s FREE?

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