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Old 01-30-2012, 11:07 AM
 
Location: Tyler, TX
15,210 posts, read 18,490,880 times
Reputation: 8052

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Quote:
Originally Posted by archineer View Post
they're constructed from plastic, which frankly is inferior to the macbook pros aluminium unibody.
Being made of plastic doesn't mean that it's inferior. I have guns made of plastic, and they're considered to be among the best firearms in the world.

Apple products may be constructed well - I don't know; I've never owned one - but don't assume that because it's got an aluminum shell that it's better than anything that doesn't. You can't make that determination based on that one fact.
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Old 02-01-2012, 03:51 AM
 
Location: Minneapolis
1,617 posts, read 4,774,199 times
Reputation: 1208
For the average user, I think Dell, HP, and Toshiba are pretty decent. They're competitively priced, and perform well. IMO, Dell's built-in speakers tend to sound better and play at a higher volume than the other two, but that's not saying much (individual models also vary a lot within a brand).

You can get tougher hardware from Lenovo and Panasonic, but you'll pay. Tougher hardware is probably a good idea for a student or a contractor, but not everybody needs it. (Apple is nice, too, but that's a whole 'nother can o' worms.)

As for use and care, they will obviously last longest if they're not dropped or spilled on, so, um, don't do that.

It's also very important not to let them overheat. Most have a small fan with an air intake on the bottom, and you have to be conscious of that when you set the machine somewhere while it's running. For example, never set it on a bed, sofa, or carpet, or you'll block the intake and the machine will run hot, possibly damaging it, possibly permanently. It's not a bad idea to add some 3/8 inch (1cm) stick-on feet for better airflow. Also, be sure, sure, sure that you put it in hibernate or shutdown mode before packing it in your laptop bag. (That reminds me... Buy a good padded laptop bag if you plan to take it with you, and use it religiously.)

The ever-present weakness in laptops and notebooks (and to an extent, even desktops) is the hard drive, because it's a mechanical device that physically wears out over time. In laptops, they're easily damaged by excessive shock (such as a drop), jostling, and vibration, especially if it happens while it's running.

The good news is that a new type of drive, called a solid-state drive (SSD), is becoming affordable for a practical amount of storage. SSDs have no moving parts. Instead of spinning platters read by a moving head, they use flash memory. Therefore, they're more durable. They also allow data to be read extremely quickly, speeding boot-ups/wake-ups and program loading. Many high-end laptops are now shipping with this type of drive. It's more expensive for less storage, but is worth considering. (The Macbook Air is one example off the top of my head.)

For me, if I'm going to do a reformat/reinstall on any computer--especially a laptop--that's 2-3 years old or older, I just buy a new hard drive as a preventative measure. I feel like a hard drive that's more than 3 years old (that has a lot of hours on it) is a ticking time bomb, except I can't see the timer. The mechanical type is pretty inexpensive ($50-100), and the read/write speeds go up every year or two, so a new one results in nice little performance boost, with the reliability boost of a new drive.

One last little tip is not to buy the highest performance, nor the cheapest processors. Buy the ones designed for moderately good performance with long battery life. They will tend to run the coolest, giving you less fan noise and a potentially longer life with better reliability. If you want to know more about the specific processors in the units you're considering, (and maybe read some very thorough reviews), you'll find a good nerdy hardware site, such as my long time favorite, Anandtech . com, to be a wealth of information.

Last edited by Thegonagle; 02-01-2012 at 05:17 AM..
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Old 02-01-2012, 03:53 PM
 
Location: USA
701 posts, read 993,994 times
Reputation: 651
Quote:
Originally Posted by NJBest View Post
The best ones are the ones that will survive being dropped, slammed, and spilled on. The only ones discussed in this thread that meet that criteria are the Lenovo ThinkPad and Panasonic ToughBook.
I "kind of" agree with your statement about Lenovo and the Toughbook being "the best".

But, "the best" is relative. Best at what? Hardware? Software? Ergonomics? Design? User experience? To me, "the best" laptop is one on which I'm most productive.

I work in a shop where the standard issue are Lenovo ThinkPads for developers/office employees and Panasonic Toughbooks for field personnel. We're kind of first responders during storms or some such events.

Most of us on the team have an office-issued laptop, a T420 or something close to it. It's okay for everyday office use and mobile computing. I have it with me 24/7/365. Sometimes, I get to use the Toughbooks, depending on the situation and location. Again, sufficient for what I need to get done in a situation.

However (you knew that was coming ...), it seems like every freaking week, our Thinkpads and/or Toughbooks are always being fixed/patched-up/being worked on, etc... Mine won't go a month without being "tuned-up". And it's pretty slow. Good thing these tweaks are done remotely. I don't have to bring it in. Well, once, when the hard drive crashed and they had to replace it and re-image.

But when I work from home, I open up my Mac, login remotely and work via VM. It works better than my office-issued T420. No hiccups whatsoever. I've been doing it for years now.

So spec-wise, the Lenovo and Toughbook might be "tougher". But I'm more productive with my Mac. And since it's my personal property, I'm more careful with it.
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Old 02-01-2012, 04:06 PM
 
24,503 posts, read 35,965,437 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fastninja500 View Post
I "kind of" agree with your statement about Lenovo and the Toughbook being "the best".

But, "the best" is relative. Best at what? Hardware? Software? Ergonomics? Design? User experience? To me, "the best" laptop is one on which I'm most productive.

I work in a shop where the standard issue are Lenovo ThinkPads for developers/office employees and Panasonic Toughbooks for field personnel. We're kind of first responders during storms or some such events.

Most of us on the team have an office-issued laptop, a T420 or something close to it. It's okay for everyday office use and mobile computing. I have it with me 24/7/365. Sometimes, I get to use the Toughbooks, depending on the situation and location. Again, sufficient for what I need to get done in a situation.

However (you knew that was coming ...), it seems like every freaking week, our Thinkpads and/or Toughbooks are always being fixed/patched-up/being worked on, etc... Mine won't go a month without being "tuned-up". And it's pretty slow. Good thing these tweaks are done remotely. I don't have to bring it in. Well, once, when the hard drive crashed and they had to replace it and re-image.

But when I work from home, I open up my Mac, login remotely and work via VM. It works better than my office-issued T420. No hiccups whatsoever. I've been doing it for years now.

So spec-wise, the Lenovo and Toughbook might be "tougher". But I'm more productive with my Mac. And since it's my personal property, I'm more careful with it.
Yea, I basically asked the same question in the second post in this thread when I said:

Quote:
Originally Posted by NJBest View Post
Everyone defines "quality" differently. What do you consider "high quality"?
MacBooks attempt to deliver the greatest use experience. So are they the best?

The ThinkPad X220 is one of the very few laptops with a good quality LCD. Are they the best?

Dell and HP are probably the best value in terms of what you can get for your dollar. Are they the best?

It's all relative like you said.
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Old 02-01-2012, 06:26 PM
 
13 posts, read 18,630 times
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i really think it depends on what you need and what you budget is. i like apple for graphics and other video editing stuff but for office work and gaming, it's Asus Republic of Gamers. if it's simple note taking during exterior meetings, i go for HP Pavilion.
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Old 02-02-2012, 11:42 AM
 
7,249 posts, read 5,705,958 times
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Quote:
Smoky, you need to know that almost all parts and pieces for computers are made by a very small number of companies and that all computer manufacturers use them.
Sure, the internals are largely the same (aside from moving ports around or whatever). However, the cases are quite different. A gigantic plastic Pavilion or Inspiron with no internal support is going to cause the motherboard to flex every time it's picked up. Something with better construction (like a Thinkpad or Macbook Pro) isn't going to flex, and thus isn't going to be putting that stress on the components. Similarly, a notebook with poor thermal design is going to run hotter, leading to shortened life.

Sometimes even minor differences can have a huge effect. For example, lots of cheap laptops have the power connector soldered directly to the motherboard, so when the cord gets yanked, some significant damage can occur. Better laptops don't solder the connector directly to the motherboard.
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Old 02-03-2012, 09:29 AM
 
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
11,820 posts, read 13,961,605 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
A gigantic plastic Pavilion or Inspiron with no internal support is going to cause the motherboard to flex every time it's picked up.
What?!?
That's simply not true.
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Old 02-03-2012, 09:33 AM
 
902 posts, read 957,447 times
Reputation: 1103
Asus. I will no questions own another. They make a bad ass tablet as well.
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Old 02-03-2012, 10:08 AM
 
7,249 posts, read 5,705,958 times
Reputation: 7963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peregrine View Post
What?!?
That's simply not true.
Nonsense. Go to your local retailer and pick them up. You can hear the creaking. That's the sound of the internals slowly being killed.

You can away with it at 13". At 15", things are getting questionable. Beyond that, cheap plastic junk with no internal support structure will flex, even if it's by a small amount. PCB and all the stuff soldered onto it do not like to be flexed.
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Old 02-03-2012, 06:31 PM
 
28,611 posts, read 40,594,929 times
Reputation: 37281
Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
Nonsense. Go to your local retailer and pick them up. You can hear the creaking. That's the sound of the internals slowly being killed.

You can away with it at 13". At 15", things are getting questionable. Beyond that, cheap plastic junk with no internal support structure will flex, even if it's by a small amount. PCB and all the stuff soldered onto it do not like to be flexed.
So my 17.3" "cheap-ass" HP laptop that has been hauled all over the country, tossed in overheads, shoved under airliner seats, thrown in the back of my SUV, etc should be dead by now?

You know less than you think you do.
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