Choice of laptop

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

Smoky

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 11, 2005
Posts
3,589
Location
wherever we are parked
As we patiently wait for delivery of our pusher, we are working on the many side issues related to choice of the various devices we will need to stay in electronic touch with the world.? Our old hp pavilion ze4300 is woefully inadequate these days.? Heck it now takes a full ten minutes to boot up because of all the things I ask it to do these days.

We decided if we are going to upgrade we might as well take a look at some of the multimedia laptops, most of which are running the Windows Media Center operating system.  Especially since the Admiral has decreed no desktops will be allowed on the flagship.  This really hurts the pocketbook because it could take as much as $3,000 to equal what a $1,000 multimedia desktop could do.

Favorite choice so far, though quite expensive, is the Dell Inspiron 9300.? Once I add the 100 gig drive, the nVidia graphics, the optional 3 year accidental damage warranty, remote TV tuner, and other extras, the $1295 base price mushrooms to about $2700.

Anyone out there familiar with the 9300?? Anyone out there have another multimedia laptop recommendation we should be looking at?
 

Steve CDN

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 31, 2005
Posts
2,388
Location
Canada/U.S.A
Smoky,

I bought a Dell desktop late last year with the same type of set up you are describing and I was surprised at how little actual space it required in the coach.? I actually bought it to use in our new condo up North, but it resided in the coach for it's first five months of life.?

I had it set up on a folding TV tray table, like the kind sold in Walmart etc.? Granted you cannot haul it out like a laptop when at a truck stop or at a Campground.

I would advise staying away from Toshiba, since the fiasco they had with a few models they refused to recall though thousands of people experienced spontaneous shutdown due to overheating...now there's a class action against them.? Search for Toshiba on the Forum for more info.

Apparantly Gateway customer service and support is pretty bad based on reports that have been made.

My experience with Dell support has been pretty good, being able to resolve each problem in a relatively short period of time and by competent tech reps...in India.

If you are interested in Dell, be sure to check out the secret discount coupons.? Do a Google search for Dell Coupons

Sites like CouponMountain.com,? CouponCabin.com,? CouponMonkey.com and Secret-Coupons.com? change their coupon selection often, so check them frequently.? In many cases you can accumulate them and use several, but watch the expiry date.
 

Ned

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Feb 1, 2005
Posts
25,107
Location
USA
In my considerable experience, I would recommend avoiding Dell, HP, Compaq, especially in notebooks.  I have found that the Toshiba Satellite line of notebooks to extremely reliable and excellent values.  We're on our second Satellite, and the first one is still running.  Gateway used to be pretty good, but I think their quality has declined in recent years.
 

DougJ

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 7, 2005
Posts
549
I'll back Ned's support of the Toshiba line. 

I'm on my second T-Satellite in ten years.  Only went to the second one because the after about 5 years (IIRC) the screen on the first one died; replacing the screen was almost as much as buying number two.

Ciao,

Doug
 

Ron

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Jan 29, 2005
Posts
18,082
Location
Home is where we park it
Smoky,

I to will back Neds recommendations.  I have had two Gateway laptops and have had excellent service from both of them.  The times I have called Gateway for information on getting additional memory they were very responsive.  Have never had a reason to call them on the older Gateway which was bought in 1998.  I did replace the hard drive in both computers this year.  Having said that if I were to buy another laptop today it would either be a Chembook or a Toshiba.  Would not even consider a Dell, Compaq, or HP.
 

John From Detroit

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 12, 2005
Posts
24,582
Location
Davison Michigan
Well... There are some subjects which are prohibited in some forums, Religion nad politics behign among them

(Note, Religion and politics have been discussed here so I'm nto talking about this forum)

You have opened a religious debate.

Myself, after dealing with Dell Customer Non-Service on a couple of issues revolving abound my daughter's delktop... NEVER would I suggest anythign with a slanty "E" on it  NEVER.

I happen to be a thinkpad fan myself

But here is the advice... Visit the store, try the "mouse" device, Try the keyboard, See how it feels, look at the screen, see how it looks, let your hands and eyes be your guide cause when you get right down to it the only REAL difference between one laptop and another (Except for apple) is basically the keyboard, mouse and screen, 

Oh yes, there are differences in speed, memory and OS too, but those differences exist within a line as well as cross lines

But the best advice I can give is buy one you like.
 

Smoky

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 11, 2005
Posts
3,589
Location
wherever we are parked
Well there is certainly no consensus on this one.? LOL!

I have had outstanding results in the past with Dell, Compaq, and HP.? And terrible results with Gateway and Toshiba.? Grrr.? I hate it when I cannot find a clear consensus.

I have two goals for my laptop.? One is to be able to record TV shows.? The other is to have a speedy computer that will process email and banking without my having to sit around and wait for slow multitasking.

How important it the Windows Media Center operating system for multimedia activities?? I would prefer to run Windows XP Professional so I could take my old desktop outside and use remote desktop to access the new laptop inside.? Just what does the media center OS give me that Professional will not do?

Are there any full timers here that use a desktop in their home on wheels?  How do you manage to keep it from taking over all the available space and weight?
 

Steve CDN

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 31, 2005
Posts
2,388
Location
Canada/U.S.A
Smoky,

It is not surprising there is no concensus, because each of us has had good and bad experiences with each brand.  My bad experience with a part of Toshiba's support influenced my choice.

As I said before I was surprised at how little room the desktop required in the coach considering the small footprint and light weight of the LCD monitor.

My machine is running Media Center.  It may not be absolutely necessary for doing what you want to do, but I have had difficulty with software other than Media Center to support the ATI TV card installed by Dell.  Nero does not work and Windows Movie Maker allows recording of TV but excludes the audio while recording.  Bottom Line is that Media Center is the most reliable and idiot proof for recording TV.  It's what I use to record the program before processing it elsewhere.

The other features of Media Center allow for really neat slide show screen saver for your personal collection of images, but I don't like Media Center's music management.  I prefer the Sound Blaster software that Del provided for music management.

Why do you prefer Win XP Pro rather than Home or Media Center, which is essentially Home with the Media Center features.

If you get Media Center, get back to me because there is an update that allows for some configuration settings that are not included in the default installation.


 

Smoky

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 11, 2005
Posts
3,589
Location
wherever we are parked
Steve:

My only interest in XP Pro is to be able to run Remote Desktop on my best pc.? When I go outside and sit, I'd prefer to have this old laptop, and use it as a dumb terminal to do work on my best machine.

But Media Center will likely overway such a small need.

Which Dell desktop do you recommend?? Either the one you are running now, or a newer choice if one is out there?

And how would you compare it to te Dell Inspiron 9300 laptop?
 

Ned

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Feb 1, 2005
Posts
25,107
Location
USA
Smoky said:
My only interest in XP Pro is to be able to run Remote Desktop on my best pc.? When I go outside and sit, I'd prefer to have this old laptop, and use it as a dumb terminal to do work on my best machine.

You don't need XP Pro for that, get one of the RealVNC flavors.  Works better than remote desktop for what you want to do.  The best part, it's FREE :)
 

Karl

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Posts
5,154
Location
Elkhart Lake, WI for the summer. Work at Road Amer
Smoky,

Don't have recommendations on specific laptops other than Toshiba and ThinkPad but Media Center, according to MS, is meant to be pre-installed in special machines and is NOT distributed as a stand-alone product. That doesn't mean you can't get it, but support may well be an issue. Also, consider network requirements if you're using wireless. You may be looking at upgrading some or all your wireless components or even replacing them with ethernet. Check here for some important facts: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/mediacenter/evaluation/devices/networkperf.mspx All that glitters is not gold :-\    Specifically, remote desktop is supported but many things are not :(
 

Smoky

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 11, 2005
Posts
3,589
Location
wherever we are parked
Ned:

Tell me more about the free replacement for remote desktop.  I am very interested.

KKolbus:

I am only interested in a laptop that is designed for use with Media Center.  So far this includes the Inspiron 9300, Toshiba Qozmio, certain Sonys, certain HP/Compaqs.  I am open for any additions to the list.

Also I might be persuaded to stick with a desktop, but because I will be fulltiming the less space and weight of a laptop has its attraction.
 

Steve CDN

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 31, 2005
Posts
2,388
Location
Canada/U.S.A
Smoky,

Based on my experience with the Dell desktop I used in the coach and because you're considering Media Center, unless you really need the portability and/or use external hard drives for storing your recorded TV, consider a desktop.  You can get a decent size LCD monitor and lots of storage.

I got the Dell 8400 with a P4 3.6 Ghz processor, 1 Mb Ram, the N Vidia GeoForce 6800 Video card, a 2 CD drives, one for burning DVD's, one for CD's and two hard drives, a 400 GB and a 300 GB.

It's a workhorse that can multitask to your heart's content.

Whatever you decide to do, don't forget to check the coupon sites to save hundreds of bucks.
 

John From Detroit

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 12, 2005
Posts
24,582
Location
Davison Michigan
Smoky said:
I have two goals for my laptop.  One is to be able to record TV shows.  The other is to have a speedy computer that will process email and banking without my having to sit around and wait for slow multitasking.

I will be putting at least one desktop (and very slightly possibly 2) in my Intruder when it arrives (like one now and swapping it for the other one when we go full time)

For recording TV... May I suggest a REPLAY TV unit  You want to look on E-Bay and it's ilk for a model in the 50xx range

(IE: 5040 5080 and the like) Models in this range support INTERNET VIDEO SHARING (55xx do not) they record in MPEG format on a standard hard drive.  Using easily obtained FREE software (You need the latest in Sun's Java Run Time Enviormant and a free JAVA app called DVArchive) you can also download to your computer and take with you, or you can "Stream" to either your computer or to another REPLAY with the same first digit in it's model number (IE: a 5040 can stream to a 5504, I know, I do it daily)

It does require an internet connection at least every other day

But it makes TiVo look like a poor man's excuse.  Lots and lots of features you just don't have in TIVO, The 50xx units have automatic commericial advance (When it works it skips commeriicals, does not always work though) and all Replay units support "Theme" recording,  IE: I tell it "Record any show who's title contains the string "CSI" and it does, CSI, CSI NY CSI Miami and whatever the next CSI show is)  Very nice Much nicer with DVArchive,  Urls for info www.replaytv.com  and www.dvarchive.org
 

Ned

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Feb 1, 2005
Posts
25,107
Location
USA
A Google search on realvnc will turn up lots of references.  Or go to realvnc.com.  Another version is http://ultravnc.sourceforge.net/, an open source version that support chat and file transfer.  A 3rd option is http://www.tightvnc.com/.
 

Smoky

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 11, 2005
Posts
3,589
Location
wherever we are parked
LOL John!  Well I have been at this for 8 months now.  I am practicing quite a bit of patience. But then every once in a while I get an attack of impatience!  ::)
 

Bob Buchanan

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Posts
3,038
Location
Philadelphia, PA
Smoky:

Smoky said:
This really hurts the pocketbook because it could take as much as $3,000 to equal what a $1,000 multimedia desktop could do.

My experience with the Toshiba is very favorable. I have had two now, am if I upgrade, will probably go that way again. However, unless you absolutely need the portablility of a laptop, I would look closely at the array of small footprint consoles available for desktops. As you point out, the cost is 3 times as much for a laptop, plus you have limited expandability and self repair options. I have 2 desktops and would never consider a laptop as the primary machine in my MH. Once set up, you can Wi-Fi a cheaper laptop or whatever.
 

DougJ

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 7, 2005
Posts
549
Hi Smoky,

I see some suggestions that you might get a desktop.

I understand you're looking for a "media machine.

I also understand you want to protect your pocket book.

The following came in my mail today:

---------------------
HP Pavilion notebook
Get immersed in movies and music faster than ever.
Price: $1199
Buy it here: MP Superstore
http://ct.com.com/click?q=99-4mtyQAdl8Il753MvuNfA8viiBL9R

---------------------

Two or three years ago I bought a Pavilion desktop for my wife and she's never had a whiff of trouble with it.

I've just bought a Compaq Presario (under the HP banner) to dedicate to digital photography.  The price was right: under $1KCdn for a 3100+ (sempron 754 CPU--don't get one with socket A because those are slower) with 1Gig RAM, 80Gig HD, built in card readers, oodles of USB ports, XPHome SP2, and various software freebies all of which I have already removed.

Ciao,

Doug
 
Top Bottom