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Old 07-17-2007, 10:44 AM
 
124 posts, read 616,532 times
Reputation: 93

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My husband and I will retire soon and plan to take quite a few car trips during our first few years of retirement. We want to buy a portable computer to use mostly in the car on these trips. We want to be able to be able to do all of the usual things we do on our desktops -- play games, watch movies, upload photos, be set up for internet connections when we stop for the night. We currently do not have GPS in our car, so we might want the capability for this on the portable. We do have "Streets & Trips" software that we could load onto the portable.

We've always bought Dell for our desktops, but I'm a little p-o'd with them about a problem with our last computer so I'm not opposed to a different brand.

For those of you who are using a portable for travel, will you please tell me what you are using and would you recommend it? I'd like to keep the cost under $1000 if possible since we have 2 heavy-duty desktops and this one is just for travel. If anyone has one with a 17" inch screen, I'd appreciate hearing about it -- my husband needs as big a screen as possible.

If you can think of any other features that you think I might need for this type of use, please let me know. I have years of experience with desktops, but have never owned a portable. Each time I have tried to configure one on a manufacturer's website, I end up with a monster costing more than $2000 -- I know this is way more than I need for our travel. Please help. Thanks all.

Mimi
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Old 07-17-2007, 12:53 PM
 
Location: Home is where we park it.
3,098 posts, read 8,349,863 times
Reputation: 3185
Do you belong to Sam's or Costco? They actually have the best deals. I got my HP at Sam's. It has a 17 in screen and I LOVE it.

I also got an AC Mobile Power Adapter that allows me to plug my computer into the cigarette plug of my car.

To use the internet while on the road you will also need a broadband network card from someone like Verizon, Sprint, or AT&T but make sure you have the computer with you when you get the card to make sure the card fits it. There are two sizes of network cards. Liz
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Old 07-17-2007, 02:16 PM
 
Location: Colorado, Denver Metro Area
1,048 posts, read 3,985,972 times
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Each summer I do several road trips. I got the Microsoft Street and Trips 2007 and also bought a USB GPS (separately). Stores do carry the software with a GPS. I often was able to get a better deal on the software and then find the GPS on eBay for about $50. So, this is my portable GPS, which is a great help!

As for other features, you will need to make sure that you have an Ethernet port (all new computers do nowadays) if you want to use high speed internet at hotels. For wireless, while you have to be in range from the access point, you can buy a USB wirelesses antenna. So, if you have a great laptop that does not come with a wireless antenna, you can still get it and then use a USB antenna. You can get them for $10-20 on sale. Again, remember, wireless means you are within a close distance to an access point (within ~300 ft generally).

To get online from, almost, any point on your road trip, is much more expensive, but southernlady5464 explained this above.

In addition to being able to play DVD, I would also recommend ability to write CD (and if you can, the ability to write DVDs). It is great capability to backup files etc.

Like southernlady5464 said, I also use a AC power adopter.

If you have any more specific questions or issues, please let me know and I will try my best to answer.
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Old 07-17-2007, 08:10 PM
 
4,270 posts, read 13,971,231 times
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If I were you, I'd go to a physical store. Do you have a Fry's Electronics nearby? I literally just bought a new laptop over the weekend so I'm very excited for you. Coloweb can vouch for me b'c he helped me with my hard drive on my caput old desktop!

I ended up buying a Sony Vaio and LOVE it. I was also impressed with Toshiba. Here is a link to my specs:

SonyStyle.com | VAIO® FZ Series Notebook PC<br />with Blu-ray Disc®

The retail price is $2K but I got it at Fry's for $1900. I know this sounds shallow but as a girl, I like the way things look so that's why I recommend going to a store. Plus, you can ask questions. Just make sure you talk to a sales guy who knows what he's talking about. Initially I got stuck with someone who knew didly but there were so many people there willing to help that I eventually got someone who was knowledgeable.

Good Luck!!
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Old 07-18-2007, 05:48 AM
 
124 posts, read 616,532 times
Reputation: 93
Default Thanks for your replies

Thanks for your replies. I think you've given me enough information so that I can choose. I know the Sony Vaio's are highly rated, but I didn't want to spend that much as foma spent.

I'll take a look at the HP's at SAM's.

Last question......XP or Vista? I'm running HP on both of our desktops....hoped to go with Vista for the portable, but hear there are still quite a few bugs. Opinions please. Thanks again.

Mimi
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Old 07-18-2007, 08:09 AM
 
Location: Home is where we park it.
3,098 posts, read 8,349,863 times
Reputation: 3185
All the pro's who work on computers that I know say stay with XP until the first service pack comes out. I still have XP media on mine even tho I have the upgrade for Vista sitting in the laptop bag. I am NOT installing it any time soon. IF I was in the market for a new computer today I would still buy XP. Liz
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Old 07-18-2007, 09:45 AM
 
4,270 posts, read 13,971,231 times
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I have Vista and there' s a lot of security stuff in it which I know is good but at the same time, very, very, VERY annoying. Did I mention how annoying it is?

Anyway, the other thing you need to think about if you upgrade to Vista is installing old software that was compatible with XP. It may not work on Vista. I had problems with my HP7410 printer. I did a little research and found the software online. I also had problems with a couple of other programs so you may want to do your homework before uprgrading.

It seems like you need a whole lot of memory to run a lot of the "start up" programs, too. I don't know of that's a Sony Vaio thing or a Vista thing. Luckily my 'puter is super fast but I'm trying to alleviate some of that stress b'c it takes forever to load up when I boot up!
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Old 07-18-2007, 09:55 AM
 
124 posts, read 616,532 times
Reputation: 93
Thanks for your comments on choice of operating systems. I'm inclined to stick with XP for the next couple of years. Now I'll have to find a portable that still offers XP....I know some of the companies are still offering a choice.

Thank you all again for helping me. You've been great!

Mimi
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Old 08-07-2007, 12:27 PM
 
Location: Oregon
1,169 posts, read 3,400,244 times
Reputation: 572
Hi Mimi-
I was a diehard Dell customer too for 20 years, but last winter bought a Toshiba laptop at Circuit City. It still has the XP, and has DVD/CD burner, wireless, etc. I love it. I'll never go back to a desktop again. I'm sitting on my couch right now with laptop on my lap. I love wireless! Anyway, the one I have is Satellite (cost 1,000) A105-S4334. They don't have those anymore, but the replacement ones are similar at same cost. I compared fro months before I bought this one. I configured same thing online at Dell, as was $150 more (even when supposedly $300 off for limited time only - LOL). I really like the screen on Toshiba. Take a look at one if you haven't bought one yet. Good luck!!!
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Old 08-08-2007, 06:00 AM
 
124 posts, read 616,532 times
Reputation: 93
Thanks Karla. No, I haven't bought one yet. I'll take a look at the Toshibas. I love hearing reviews from people who actually use the products. Thanks again.
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