Decisions, decisions!

Do you have a question? Post it now! No Registration Necessary.  Now with pictures!

Threaded View
I'd like some advice/input/opinions on a laptop I'm considering. In
brief, my use is mainly for the internet, for my newly rediscovered love
of photography (this time going digital) and the possibility of using it
to do (mostly) straightforward videos - family, friends, travel - your
basic home movie type stuff.

Having said that, my two other requirements are price and to have it
last. Just to give you an idea of what I mean by lasting, my first
computer was a desktop NEC Ready 9522 purchased in August of 1996. Six
years later, due to the limitations of that computer, I bought a used
Toshiba Satellite 2805-S402 for 800 bucks. (A pretty good deal at the
time.) Now it's nearly 5 years later and I find the Toshiba I have is
not as useful as I'd like it to be. So, as you can see, I really do keep
my computers for a long time!

The computer I'm looking at is a Gateway MP8709 for $1149(US) at Costco.
The specs are here --->
  In brief, a 17" screen, Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 processor (4 MB L2
Cache, 2.0 GHz, 667 MHz FSB), Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950, 160
GB 5,400 RPM SATA hard drive, 8X Multi-Format Dual Layer DVD-RW, plus
assorted plugins and media readers. I'd rather have a dedicated video
card instead of an integrated one, and I have read that with the type of
processor this computer has, it's a waste that it doesn't have a higher
rpm hard drive, but I'm wondering if this is as good as I'm going to get
for the price. Initially I wanted a laptop for at or under $1000. When I
started researching laptops, I saw other items that appealed to me, but
in the end, they end up driving up the cost and they aren't items I
really truly see myself needing. (e.g. wanting an ExpressCard, vs. the
PC Card on the Gateway - I don't need an ExpressCard, but I can't help
wondering if it's something that might be useful down the road)

 From what I've found online, the Gateway seems like a really good deal.
Will it fulfill my current needs and do so for the next few years?

Thanks for any and all useful comments!


Re: Decisions, decisions!

The specs on the Gateway are ok.  You do keep computers a long time;
generally, a computer, and laptops more so than desktops, won't be "top
of the line" for more than a year, and by 3-4 years will be seriously
obsolete (although still usable).  By 6 years, it won't run the software
that you probably want to use.  [I have TWO 2805's ... but also an A105
just bought a couple months ago.]

If you want a 17" screen, while your computer is ok, I'd look at (and
probably favor) a Dell E1705.  There are some "hidden deals" at Dell
using "secret" coupons and "starting configurations" available at (and some other sites, but techbargains is the best
site).  In particular, there is a "$500 off $1,499" coupon that will let
you configure a $1,499 system and buy it for $999.  There are also some
coupons for $999 and up configurations that let you buy it for $300 off
or sometimes 30% off.  So you may be able to do better than the Gateway

If you don't need a 17" display, and if you can settle for a Core Duo
instead of a Core 2 Duo, there have been some good deals on completely
adequate Toshiba A135 models for as low as $549 (although there are no
such deals RIGHT NOW .... last one was at Best Buy 3 weeks ago).  One
neat thing about the A135 is that some configurations of that model
(there are about a hundred A135 configurations) can support two internal
2.5" SATA hard drives.  Another computer I'd look at (with the same type
of deal mentioned in the previous paragraph) is the Dell E1505.

Some other comments:

-There are 7,200 rpm laptop hard drives available, but getting a 7,200
rpm drive will both reduce the maximum drive size and also drive the
cost up through the roof (the cost of the drive may triple, and the two
largest size 5,400 rpm drives don't exist in a 7,200 rpm speed at all).

-You have not specified any applications for which discreet video would
necessarily provide any real benefit.  Discreet video is recommended if
you are doing either gaming or CAD, because they are 3D applications.
Neither digital video nor digital photography will benefit from discreet
video, however, nor will web browsing or office applications.  GMA950,
while not as good for 3D applications as chipset video, is quite
reasonable for most of the applications that most people do (including
those that you have mentioned).

-ExpressCard vs. PC Card .... actually, I think that most of us would
rather have PC Card (some of the Toshiba models really did it right,
they have one Express Card slot and one PC Card slot).  There are very
few Express Cards available right now.  The people who have issues with
the computer that they bought as to it's expandability are the ones who
have laptops with Express card slots; the PC card, for now, is the
BETTER choice (and Dell, in particular, screwed up big time by dropping
PC cards far too soon)  In fact, Toshiba had both Express Card and PC
card slots in the A105 series, and in the later A135 series, they
dropped the Express Card slot and went BACK to PC card only.  Having one
of each was nice, but given a choice of one or the other, I'd take the
PC card slot over the Express Bus slot.

Deborah wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Re: Decisions, decisions!

Hi Barry,

Thanks for the response!

I checked out the site you recommended, but even using the coupon code,
the total was more than the Gateway. I built a Dell (E1705)system as
close to the Gateway as possible. With the $500 coupon, the total cost
was close to $1400 including tax and shipping. (I live in Hawai`i.) So
it didn't seem worth the extra cost.

After reviewing and doing a little more research, the only true sticking
point for me with the Gateway is the graphics card. However, I did find
(online) that the processor and RAM are the two key components with
photo editing, which is the primary computer activity I will be pursuing
that is the most demanding of computer resources. That doesn't include
the video editing, which is something I see myself doing in the future,
so again, it's back to the video card for that. But (thinking out loud
here) would "home movie" type videos be too much of a stretch for the
graphics card the Gateway has? Gaming and CAD applications aren't even a
consideration for me.

Actually the 17" screen isn't an absolute for me. It just worked out
that the Gateway encompassed most of what I was looking for and just
happened to be a 17" too. But I have to say I'm kind of attached to the
idea of having a Core 2 Duo. It's what changed my mind from an 15.4" HP
with an AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52 (and marginally superior graphic card
NVIDIA GeoForce Go 6150 - still integrated) that I was set to buy for
$899 (plus tax).

You make a good point with the ExpressCard/PC Card issue and the 7200
rpm hard drive. The truth of it is, if I had the type of laptop I really
want, I'd be looking at spending close to $2K and at that price, I might
as well buy a Mac! :D


Re: Decisions, decisions!

Both digital video and digital (still) photography are NOT demanding
applications for video ... both are "2D" rather than "3D" applications.
  The video card won't matter much.

In fact, digital still photography is not particularly demanding of CPU
or memory either, but encoding digital video is EXTREMELY demanding of
CPU (although not so much memory), and also digital video is extremely
demanding of hard drive space (but not so much speed).

I haven't gone through the exercise with Dell since December, but at
that time for $1,400, you could configure almost any Dell hardware that
you wanted for about $1,499, and the coupon would take it down to $999.
  I think that's still the case, although I admit that I have not tried
it lately.

Deborah wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Site Timeline