Looking for a cheap laptop

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I'm looking for a cheap laptop as a gift for a family member.  It will
be used for basic web surfing and word processing, fanciness is not
needed.  I guess it has to run Windows (sigh).  I think I want to buy
a new unit rather than a used one, in order to minimize the amount of
tech support I'll be dragged into providing.  I'm thinking of the
entry level Inspiron from Dell, which is $450 with 512mb and the wifi
option after rebate (I don't understand why there's a rebate with a
Dell since the mfgr and retailer are the same place).  It has XP Home:
how is that different from XP Pro, and will a very basic user care?

Also, do these machines typically come with restore CD's or at least
some way of making them, based on a restore partition?


Re: Looking for a cheap laptop

Paul Rubin wrote:
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Unless you consider a grand "cheap", you're right.  The lowest priced
Apple iBook goes for somewhere around that.

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That may not help, but I agree you're probably better off going with new.

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XP Pro has some networking and security features-most notably the
ability to join a Windows domain or Active Directory, and the ability to
encrypt files-which XP Home doesn't.  And no, a "very basic" user
shouldn't care, at least not right away.  Should he or she begin to care
later, the XP Pro retail upgrade for less than $200 would make a nice
possibility for the next gift-giving occasion.

By the way, $450 for a 512MB rig with built-in Wi-Fi isn't a half bad price.

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Only Dell can tell you for sure, but I'd imagine they'd come with at
least one or the other.  I'd certainly consider backing up the hard
drive to CDs using Ghost if all they give you is an on-disk partition,
as insurance against the hard drive taking early retirement.

Good luck.  Let us know what you end up going with.

Re: Looking for a cheap laptop

On 27 Nov 2005 14:48:42 -0800, Paul Rubin
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My dad recently bought a Dell 2200.  It came with nothing but the
restore partition, and no way to make a restore CD (all this was
explained on a piece of cardboard that looked like a CD).

Since I was setting up an inexpensive automatic backup system for him,
I made him a set of True Image 8 (www.acronis.com) backups - one of
the HD as it came, including the restore partitions, and one of the
main partition after we installed all his stuff on it.  These (burned
to CD or DVD) and a TI boot disk will get the system back to the
starting point in a short time (20 minutes on his system).

I consider this to be a far more useful approach than the vendor's
restore CDs anyway, since it avoids the need for reinstalling all the
updates, apps, etc.

Neil Maxwell - I don't speak for my employer

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