What laptop to buy

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I'd like to get some recommendations on what kind of laptop to buy.

I am an engineering student who will move to Japan for one year, and
I'm planning to buy a laptop there. As I don't speak much Japanese
(yet), I'd like to prepare for this now so I know what to look for

My most important requirement is that linux and free software runs
nicely on it with as many open drivers as possible. I don't want to
install closed source binaries to graphics, wireless nic and things
like that up and running. I also want the laptop to be pretty cheap, I
don't need an expensive multimedia or gaming computer, but I will
probably do calculations and compile stuff, so some memory would be

As I will install Linux I don't care if I get Windows shipped with it,
I'll just remove it.

I've been told Dell's computers are pretty cheap, what do you think? I
have two old CPx H500GT Dell computers in which both keyboards have
broke, including one or two replacements. No matter how careful I
was, keys just stopped working after a while. That is absolutely not
acceptable. Have Dell fixed their keyboards? Otherwise I will choose
some other brand.

If it doesn't matter which brand, could you please tell me what kind
of hardware that will work best in Linux? What type of graphics
hardware, sound, network, and so on.

And last question, probably dumb, but I'll ask anyway. Any opinion on
where to buy a laptop. From the vendor directly, or from some


Re: What laptop to buy

evanevankan2@hushmail.com wrote:
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   Two brands to consider would be Toshiba (Japaneese) and Lenovo
(Chinese - bought out IBM's PC division).  I bought a Toshiba A215-S5825
back in Feb. for $480 and have been very happy with it.  Memory is dirt
cheap these days, but bear in mind most laptops only have 2 DIMM slots
(versus usually 4 on desktops).  Be sure you can get Linux drivers for
whatever you buy because most components in laptops are proprietary,
unlike desktops.  I'm running Windows Vista, so I have no experience
with Linux drivers.
   As to where to buy, the local papers in my area have multi-page color
ads for computer dealers like Frys, Staples, Best Buy, Circuit City, and
others on weekends.  That's where I found the laptop I'm using now.
Consider buying an extended warranty because laptops have more hardware
problems than desktops in general.  I spent $200 extra to get a 4 year

Re: What laptop to buy

On Tue, 15 Jul 2008 12:22:50 -0400, Hula Baloo quoth:

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the advice I hear most often and it makes good sense is to go to the store
and boot up the laptop with a 'livecd' or two. if the livecd recognizes
everything, then you can be confident. Linux may still work even if it
doesn't but then you know you have a bit more work to do. I mainly have
had trouble with networking in the past.

(don't know if the livecd route can test for acpi.)

I haven't done this myself often. I remember once going to BestBuy and
asking the fellow about running Linux. to answer my questions, he ran off
to find his own livecd!

perhaps other spots to look for are whether the webcam works, if it has
one. most of my experience is with HP and they have been good for me.

one is usually advised in any case to stay away from the _most_ recent
models of any brand.


Re: What laptop to buy

In message
evanevankan2@hushmail.com writes
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My suggestion would be to find a  few models that you like locally in a
store, go home, look up the manufacturer's website and see whether the
same model appears on the Japanese site. Take a list with you when you
set sail.

On another list I was trying to help someone who had bought a Japanese
laptop from NEC, only to find that he couldn't find any drivers on their
Europe/US sites.
I think that to change the language, it may be necessary to replace most
of the software, even the bios.
I've had the same thing with a Japanese NEC scanner. NEC seem to
specialise in hardware that is specific to Japan.

Come to think of it, someone like you could perhaps help me. I'm totally
lost looking for scanner drivers amongst the Japanese writing on their
site. :-)

Re: What laptop to buy

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Look into the Asus Eee, which comes with Linux &
utilities preinstalled, 4 Gb solid-state storage (not HDD)
for $399 in the USA (more expensive in Asia, where
it is built.)   The screen is barely postcard size but
clear and functional:  runs on AA batteries, I believe, and in
general very cute.

Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)

Re: What laptop to buy

Don Phillipson typed: on Tue, 15 Jul 2008 14:14:24 -0400
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Hi Don! I have an Asus EEE PC 4GB. And they sell many different versions.
Like 7 inch screens, 9 inch and 10 inch screens. And different SSD sizes as
well. The cheap ones have 2GB of SSD storage. And they go up from there like
4, 8, 12, and 16 GB.

None of them uses regular batteries. They all use Li-Ion batteries like
regular latops. Like for example, the 701, 702, 900, and 901 and I think the
1000 series all use the same Li-Ion battery. Although Asus has like two or
three sizes, third party has a lot more sizes.

Yes they come with either Linux or Windows XP versions. Which is a bit
unusual for a model to offer either or. Depending on the model, Windows XP
Home versions either cost about 50 bucks more or the same with less SSD.

The cons are mostly that the screen is small. Those that like small screens
this should be okay. Others complain that the keyboard is very small.
Personally for me, both are about as small as you can get and I'm still okay
with it. And it appears that hundreds of thousands are too. Soon maybe
millions. ;-)

Gateway Celeron M 370 (1.5GHZ)
MX6124 (laptop) w/2GB
Windows XP Home SP2 (120GB HD)
Intel(r) 910GML (64MB shared)

Re: What laptop to buy

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...and is a serious step down in functionality from a "standard" laptop:
Tinier keyboard is noticeably less productive for most people to use, has no
CD/DVD ROM storage, mass storage is limited to memory cards (typically much
smaller than hard drives), etc.

Eee's are great devices, but if you're only getting one laptop, for most
people it would be a poor choice.

Re: What laptop to buy

Joel Koltner typed on Thu, 24 Jul 2008 16:08:47 -0700:
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That is a tough call! I have both. I mean both four regular laptops and two
EEE PCs. I do have external 2.5 inch hard drive and external slimline DVD
drive. They can be connected to the EEE PC and they do fit into the
traveling bag I bought for the EEE PC (about the size of a bag for a
portable DVD player). Although I rarely bring them with me as I rarely use
them anyway. And with my regular laptops, I rarely use the DVD drives either
unless I want to install programs or watch a DVD movie.

Remember too, some have reported that using hard drives in a moving vehicle
can fail in two months or less do to vibration. This isn't so with EEE PC.
While my two laptops does sport a SD slot, they only read up to 1GB SD
cards. While the EEE PC can read 32GB SD(HC) cards. I personally used two
16GB SDHC cards. So I can carry like 6 full DVD movies with me on two
postage stamp size cards. And the EEE PC is barely larger than a single DVD
box itself.

And I have to tell you; when I walk out the door, it isn't the regular
laptops anymore. But rather the EEE PCs. Although I still use the regular
laptops at home. But when traveling the EEE PC wins hands down. Even when I
am out on the patio. As regular laptops just seem too huge and bulky after
using the EEE PCs.

Windows XP Home SP2

Re: What laptop to buy

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This is why I'm starting to think that a desktop and a
device such as epic or some other ultra mobile makes
more sense than laptop only approach

Re: What laptop to buy

me@privacy.net typed on Sun, 27 Jul 2008 09:18:21 -0500:
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I duuno... it doesn't to me so much. As desktops and laptops cost pretty
much the same nowadays. And most laptops can do everything and just as fast
as a desktop. So price wise and function wise, they are the same really.
Plus I see laptops as having a big plus over desktops in many areas even
when solely used as a desktop. Many of which are:

1) Far less power required and less heat
2) Far smaller and cheaper UPS
3) Easier to upgrade the HD
4) Easier to upgrade the memory
5) Far easier to plug and unplug devices
6) Even if you rarely go portable, they can do that too
7) Laptops take far less room than desktops

And I have one laptop on a desk connected to external keyboard, mouse (both
wireless), monitor, hard drives, printer, etc. And if I want to take one of
my other laptops to do the same thing, it is so easy to unplug a few plugs
and swap them out. Thus four laptops takes up less space then one desktop.

Of course I am saying all this because I personally don't find the need to
depend on desktop computers at all (since the last few years anyway).
Although I also know some people still do. But I am not sure why? Only
things I know of is if you need a high powered graphic card or more than 4GB
of RAM. Then a desktop might actually make sense to me.

So I guess in your case, you need to decide on a laptop only, or a
laptop/desktop and an ultra mobile device. You can get a desktop vs. a
laptop just using it as a desktop. But I would ask why?

Another thing to think of IMHO, is two of any kind of computers are far
better than one. Even if that one is a super computer. As back in the days
before multitasking OS, I was multitasking with multiple computers on
different desks. As without moving my chair, I would just spin my chair to
be sitting at two other desks with computers running. Three desks were
positioned in a U shape.

Today the need is less than it used to be. But even with multitasking OS,
your computer can be overwhelmed with some tasks. Like:

1) CD/DVD burning
2) Video and some audio converting
3) Installing anything that requires a reboot
4) Of course, times someone wants the computer you are using
5) I'm sure there are more.

Like many years ago without multitasking OS, I still don't need more than
one computer running 99.9% of the time. But for the times you do, boy is it
a lifesaver! And just think of all of the times with just one computer and
one day an update screwed the system all up, a hard drive fails, or some
other unseen event happens. And all you need is to get online and lookup
what a silly error code means and you can't. Because your one and only
computer won't let you! Well computer number two to the rescue. :D

Gateway Celeron M 370 (1.5GHZ)
MX6124 (laptop) w/2GB
Windows XP Home SP2 (120GB HD)
Intel(r) 910GML (64MB shared)

Re: What laptop to buy

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How big is your external monitor?

And are the wireless keyboard and mouse Bluetooth.....
or plain wireless?

Re: What laptop to buy

me@privacy.net typed on Sun, 27 Jul 2008 13:37:06 -0500:
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I use three. A 19 inch, a 27 inch, and a 48 inch.

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27MHZ wireless. It isn't anything special and I wouldn't recommend it. Only
because I had to boost up the voltage on the keyboard. Mouse is fine. The
stock keyboard only works if the 2x AA batteries are over 1.5v. Thus now my
modified one uses three AA batteries and works until each cell drops below
1v. Which is using the full capacity of the cells.


Gateway Celeron M 370 (1.5GHZ)
MX6124 (laptop) w/2GB
Windows XP Home SP2 (120GB HD)
Intel(r) 910GML (64MB shared)

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