Laptop Recommendations?

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Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
This morning I attempted to boot up my Toshiba that I've had for well over 4 years and got a BSOD with the dreaded "unmountable boot volume" error. I suspect the hard drive is toast and it's been at least a year in coming. Even if it could somehow be fixed, it's about time for another one anyway. (I don't think I've lost any irreplaceable data since I started storing that offline at the first sign of trouble. But I might try to work with it later to make sure.)

What would the brain trust here recommend? It appears that Toshiba's market share continues to grow. Other contenders would appear to be Dell, HP and Lenovo. I have no personal experience with any of the latter. I do know that Lenovo is the successor to the old IBM Thinkpads that were highly regarded.

I won't entertain any recommendations of "Get a Mac!" unless you wish to donate to my PayPal account to help me pay the difference. :lol: Surely hard drives go out on Macs too, or are those indestructible as well? :p
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Chris,

I have owned most brands of PC. Currently in our house are a ThinkPad (mine), two IdeaPads, one HP, two (older model) Sonys and a Toshiba (circa 2008). I have owned a Dell also. My personal opinion of the PC market is that I would never own a Dell again (really bad experience), and probably would not buy another Toshiba (pretty bad experience). Depending on the model, the HPs (NOT Compaqs) seem decent; my Sonys worked well, but the quality seems to be declining recently, with an emphasis on entertainment (screen quality, blu-ray drives) vs. performance (processor speed, hard drive specs).

I have been very impressed with my ThinkPad W530, as well as the IdeaPads (Z570 and Y570). The user base swears by them as well, and tends to be VERY loyal (maybe even more loyal than Mac fanboys). The only exception seems to be the complaints about the move away from the traditional ThinkPad keyboard - which I have never used, and so don't need to get "unused to." If you shop SlickDeals and the Lenovo website you can probably get a really good deal. I got my son a refurb IdeaPad Y570 on Outlet for under $600 (basically an opened box with one year warranty, no visible size of repairs or use), and it has really good specs (at least I think so) : latest generation i7 processor, 8GB RAM, 500GB 7200rpm HD, wireless N, 15.6 HD screen. I would expect that would be around a $800 PC normally.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
One other thing - if you think it is the hard drive, I'd recommend getting a new drive. Even if this is the time for a new laptop, it is always good to have a spare, and you can get a basic laptop hard drive for relatively cheap (here at Newegg a good drive, 320gB 7200rpm for $50. To have a spare machine for $50 is a good idea from my perspective.
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
The biggest question that needs to be answered is: What are you planning to do with the laptop?
I'm not looking to do hard core gaming or that kind of thing. I mainly use it for email, general surfing, watching things like NetFlix and the occasional PowerPoint presentation.
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
Thanks Fred!
I had problems with my Toshiba Satellite (which I bought in early 08) from the start. But that had to do with a Microsoft issue that was resolved by calling them and getting a hotfix. Then a year or two later it would blue screen all the time. That was finally solved after a complete reinstall.

Someone recently told me that many hard drives fail after 3-5 years. It happened to a Gateway laptop we had that was around 5 years old. By contrast, an old Gateway desktop (running Win 98) lasted much longer. It never did fail but just became very obsolete. I think the capacity was 2 GB!

There are complaints with the keyboards on newer Toshibas. Specifically with some of the keys not working at all or some other issue. (It's not what I'd call the "traditional" laptop keyboard.) But it's probably at least as easy to type on. My wife got a new one mainly because it was the best value for the $$ at the time. She said there is already an issue with one of the keys but I can't remember what it is.
 

Moireach

Puritan Board Freshman
Moireach

This morning I attempted to boot up my Toshiba that I've had for well over 4 years and got a BSOD with the dreaded "unmountable boot volume" error. I suspect the hard drive is toast and it's been at least a year in coming. Even if it could somehow be fixed, it's about time for another one anyway. (I don't think I've lost any irreplaceable data since I started storing that offline at the first sign of trouble. But I might try to work with it later to make sure.)

What would the brain trust here recommend? It appears that Toshiba's market share continues to grow. Other contenders would appear to be Dell, HP and Lenovo. I have no personal experience with any of the latter. I do know that Lenovo is the successor to the old IBM Thinkpads that were highly regarded.

I won't entertain any recommendations of "Get a Mac!" unless you wish to donate to my PayPal account to help me pay the difference. :lol: Surely hard drives go out on Macs too, or are those indestructible as well? :p
Get a mac :p

An 11" Air from eBay brand new might not be as expensive as you think. You guys get them cheap over there anyway!

Lenovo seem to be the only company apart from Apple doing that good in the laptop market at the moment. Sticking with the brand who are doing well is always a good idea I'd say. I'd recommend a lightweight and small laptop. I use mine for the same as you and I've been surprised at how such a small laptop is every bit as good as a big one and so much cheaper and more portable.
 

JoannaV

Puritan Board Sophomore
Surely hard drives go out on Macs too, or are those indestructible as well? :p
No they die too. The Apple guy even told us hard drives only have a short lifespan.

I'm perfectly happy with my Toshiba Satellite from Jan 09 but don't really have anything useful to say, just that I appreciate you've had a couple of good responses already and hope they keep on coming. I'm out of touch with the current state of PCs and would like to have a vague idea of what's good and bad nowadays!
 

jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
Avoid Dell and Sony like the plague. They have been going down hill for years now and even their CEO and President has said they are focusing their attention on other projects and while still making and supporting them, they are not keeping up to date.

One reason why Mac's cost more is because they are made of Alluminum and use SSD drives (except the MacBook Pros). SSD Drives are very much preferable when it comes to labtops especially if you have off line backup (and you can access the content wiressly through services like Carbonite). Metal is to be preferred to plastic for heating reasons.

Like all things in life, you get what you pay for. Mac's are expensive because they come with a great warentee and tech support. No other computer company on the market matches Apple at that. Now, the support thing you probably won't need, but if something does go wrong it is a pain sometimes not knowing which warentee you have to use (hardware, software, or store warentee- which are always more limited). Mac covers you on all 3 fronts, internationally and works with Apple retail stores AND authorized repair places and retail stores. So that's my serious pitch for a Mac.

But Lenovo is the best on the Windows Computer on the market right now in my opinion (speaking as someone who sells Mac Computers for a living now), and even their plastic computers are built better than some crappy Asus, Dell, or Fujitsu, though HP isn't that bad- they have decent customer service.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
We use Lenovos at work - some of them never leave the docking ports, but some of them do a lot of traveling. They seem to hold up pretty well. I usually get cheap Acers for home - I consider them semi-disposable. If one were to break or get stolen, it wouldn't be a disaster.
 

jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
Also let's be realistic: We're living in the second computer revolution: A computer made 7 years ago is obsolute for the basic needs of many people today. A computer made in 2006 running Windows XP will have trouble updating, running Cloud services, using HD video online, and they have much less storage. The laws of physics +economics teach (according to an article I recently read) demand that storage double in size for the same amount of money. This is more or less to be true from my experience. You can get 1tb for less than 100 bucks some places, give and take with tax.

I always think its good to have a medium priced labtop (connected to a larger monitor) to be used as a desktop, a tablet for portable stuff (bluetooth keyboard for longer stuff) and a smart phone for quicker things. That seems to me the most productive and effective model.
 

jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
We use Lenovos at work - some of them never leave the docking ports, but some of them do a lot of traveling. They seem to hold up pretty well. I usually get cheap Acers for home - I consider them semi-disposable. If one were to break or get stolen, it wouldn't be a disaster.
Depends on if they are moved a lot or what not. I rather have a tablet and a nicer laptop that stays on the desk. Unless you live in a high crime area, I don't get why you would expect that? Insurance would cover it anyways.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Unless you live in a high crime area, I don't get why you would expect that?
Unless you want to lock it to the plumbing, there really isn't a good way to secure it in a hotel. And if you end up in a later boarding group, there may not be room for a bag that will hold two laptops. So the work one goes under the seat, and the personal one goes in checked luggage.

As for insurance - Allstate will cancel folks for 3 legitimate claims. So you don't want to waste a $500 deductible on a $600 computer for what will be a net $100 claim. Better to get a $350 laptop and plan to write it off.
 

Gord

Puritan Board Freshman
Wal Mart had Toshiba Satellite AMD 64's on for $249 with a 300 gig hd here in Canada, I'm sure in the US you could beat that by a country mile.

Before you give up the ghost on the old one, get a copy of Linux Mint and see if it will install. There are many things besides the HD that will give you a BSOD. My 12 year old Sony Vaio is purring like a kitten on Mint and only used for browsing, reading email small scripture study with Xiphos.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
One can get a Mac with a solid state drive (SSD) built in, and these do not crash and fail as the spinning drives do. Due to the 2nd law of thermodynamics even Apple HDs will fail – I've had some go after 3 years, 5 years, 10 years – but they are generally rugged machines. I bought my recent MacBook Air (13 in) with a 256 GB SSD along with a 27 in Thunderbolt Display as at 70 years old I want to relieve the strain on my eyes. But, as I had some money last year yet foresaw leaner times ahead, I bought what I believed will last me for another good 5 to 10 years (if the Lord grants me to live that long). I bought it with as many features and accessories as I could afford, so I would be up-to-speed with the newer technologies. I got the MBA as it was light and I could travel with it. I am a writer and researcher, so I needed a machine that would last, and continue performing well.
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
Wal Mart had Toshiba Satellite AMD 64's on for $249 with a 300 gig hd here in Canada, I'm sure in the US you could beat that by a country mile.

Before you give up the ghost on the old one, get a copy of Linux Mint and see if it will install. There are many things besides the HD that will give you a BSOD. My 12 year old Sony Vaio is purring like a kitten on Mint and only used for browsing, reading email small scripture study with Xiphos.
Thanks for the Linux suggestion. I Googled the problem and saw others suggest Ubuntu. It would have to be something that I could boot from the drive. The posts in the computer forum stated that you could use this to transfer files off the bad HD. The only thing I can do is get to the menu where you would boot into safe mode. But neither that nor system repair works. Recovery disk does nothing either. The only thing I get with safe mode is a black screen with the big cursor pointer.

Either way, the HD is toast. I don't think I have anything on there that I would really hate to lose.
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
So it appears that the consensus with Windows machines is Lenovo. I had planned to look at my options with Lenovo and these posts confirm the wisdom of doing that. Are there any particular models, etc. that I should zero in on?

Thanks for the input. Maybe I should send jogri my PayPal information in a PM as I had noted in the OP. :lol:
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
One other thing - if you think it is the hard drive, I'd recommend getting a new drive. Even if this is the time for a new laptop, it is always good to have a spare, and you can get a basic laptop hard drive for relatively cheap (here at Newegg a good drive, 320gB 7200rpm for $50. To have a spare machine for $50 is a good idea from my perspective.
Stupid question coming--Would my Toshiba recovery disk work with the new hard drive? That's the only copy of Windows (Vista) that I have. Ultimately I think it's time for a new laptop but I could use the old machine as a backup if this could work.

Best Buy has hard drives for $50 too.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
It should - but you may want to put Windows 7 on it and start from scratch to avoid Vista headaches.
 

M_Scott

Puritan Board Freshman
One other thing - if you think it is the hard drive, I'd recommend getting a new drive. Even if this is the time for a new laptop, it is always good to have a spare, and you can get a basic laptop hard drive for relatively cheap (here at Newegg a good drive, 320gB 7200rpm for $50. To have a spare machine for $50 is a good idea from my perspective.
Stupid question coming -- Would my Toshiba recovery disk work with the new hard drive? That's the only copy of Windows (Vista) that I have. Ultimately I think it's time for a new laptop but I could use the old machine as a backup if this could work.

Best Buy has hard drives for $50 too.
This is a task not for the faint of heart, here's some reading material on the task provided by Toshiba - System Recovery and Recovery Media

If all you want to do is email, surf, and a bit of multimedia, the Linux suggestion is a good one. Get a new drive compatible with your laptop, get a flavor of Linux/Ubuntu that you like, you may be surprised, a few bucks on a new drive and a free (and new) OS might be all that's needed to extend the life of the laptop another few years as a backup.
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
One other thing - if you think it is the hard drive, I'd recommend getting a new drive. Even if this is the time for a new laptop, it is always good to have a spare, and you can get a basic laptop hard drive for relatively cheap (here at Newegg a good drive, 320gB 7200rpm for $50. To have a spare machine for $50 is a good idea from my perspective.
Stupid question coming -- Would my Toshiba recovery disk work with the new hard drive? That's the only copy of Windows (Vista) that I have. Ultimately I think it's time for a new laptop but I could use the old machine as a backup if this could work.

Best Buy has hard drives for $50 too.
This is a task not for the faint of heart, here's some reading material on the task provided by Toshiba - System Recovery and Recovery Media

If all you want to do is email, surf, and a bit of multimedia, the Linux suggestion is a good one. Get a new drive compatible with your laptop, get a flavor of Linux/Ubuntu that you like, you may be surprised, a few bucks on a new drive and a free (and new) OS might be all that's needed to extend the life of the laptop another few years as a backup.
I've used the recovery disk before. I think it took about two days. It might not be that bad with a newer OS, but for Vista (almost a year ago in this case) it took that long to download all of the updates, including two Service Packs.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Lenovo all the way. I recommend the Lenovo T430S. Just an anecdote why I love my Thinkpad (which I've had since 2007). My Pastor spilled beer on the keyboard of his Macbook and it still turned on but no longer works without the power supply connected. Repair cost isn't worth the computer cost itself.

Conversely, three weeks after I finished laughing he had done this, I did the same to my T400. Result: Thinkpads have drain holes. It caused some "stickiness" in the space bar but, oh by the way, every key is removable and "snap-back-down-able". Furthermore, when the keyboard wore out, I just bought another keyboard for $75 and stuck a new one in about a year and a half ago. I recently bought a hybrid 750 GB drive and the performance is remarkable with a bootup time of 20 seconds and immediate application startup. Notebook performance is mostly controlled by the hard drive performance because it's the slowest I/O device in the computer.

Bottom line is that the T400 series is light and rugged and with a 9 volt battery has a 5-6 hour battery life. Did I mention that the computer is almost 5 years old and I'm typing on it right now?
 
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