Which New Notebook To Purchase - Help

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I am helping someone to determine which Notebook computer to purchase, for
use in the preparation of starting a new business (wine store).  The plan is
to use the computer for putting together a business plan and then beginning
the initial setup of QuickBooks Premier (Retail Edition for 2006).  I don't
have any experience with notebooks but do have more than an average
understanding of desktops.

Initially this person wanted to spend only $1000.00 for the new notebook but
I convinced her to increase the amount to $1500.00.  My suggestions were as
follows:  CPU 1.8GH minimum, HD 60GB, CD/DVD Burner, Windows XP Home,
Reinstallation CD for windows, 1GB Ram memory, 15.4 inch Ultra Sharp Wide
Screen SXGA with Display with TrueLife, Wireless Networking Card, Video Card
of 128MB ATI Mobility Radeon (or something similar), and Hardware and
Accidental Warranty of at least one year with At-Home Service.  I also
recommended that the following software be installed when she receives the
computer: NAV 2006, Sunbelt CounterSpy, BoClean, and SpywareBlaster (and
maybe ZAPRO).

My initial concern about the notebook is whether it will have enough power
to run the various software programs, especially QuickBooks.  I am thinking
maybe the CPU should be as a minimum of 2.0GH??  I am hoping that the 1GB
Ram memory will enable the software to run faster that a snails pace.  She
will also need to print off of the laptop as well, since at this point she
does not have a desktop.  Regarding the brand and model, my initial
suggestion was Dell since my last three computers have been with Dell and I
have been happy with the purchases and support overall.  So I may be a bit
biased as to what my experience happens to be.  However, I can remember some
comments about the IBM laptops being of high quality, but suspect they may
be rather expensive.

Any suggestions, recommendations, and comments would be very much
appreciated as to computer manufacturers, models, hardware specifications,
etc.  I realize that the notebook is a different animal compared to the
desktop and so don't want to mislead this person.  Thanks for any help, Sam.

Re: Which New Notebook To Purchase - Help

Sam wrote:
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IMO, you have somewhat over specified (read $$) for general office
applications.  For example, the ATI graphics is unnecessary, 512MB RAM
is sufficient. Your vision of notebook computers as "slow" is a few
years old.


Re: Which New Notebook To Purchase - Help

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I would take that $1500 that you have for a budget and use it to purchase
both a desktop and a laptop computer.  You can easily get both from Dell as
they are currently running some very good specials.  Your friend can then
take the laptop home to do work on when needed.

Look at the Dell Small Business website and check out the Dimension 9150.
Currently offered at $879.  Bump the RAM up to a full 1.0 GB and you can
still stay well under $1000 for the system, and that includes a 19 inch LCD
monitor.  I would also consider the Dimension 5150, starting at $659.  I
would try to configure either machine with a dedicated graphics card and
minimum of 512 MB of RAM.

Then look at their laptops.  They are currently running the Inspiron 6400 at
$749.  The other poster is correct in that most of the current laptops are
perfectly capable of running applications like QuickBooks without a
dedicated graphics card.  But, if you are going to spend $1500, buy the most
machine you can get for that money.

Also do not forget to check out the Dell Outlet.  They have some incredible
deals there and that $1500 could get you a couple of very good systems.

As far as security software is concerned, I would not use anything from
Symantec.  In fact, you don't have to spend a dime to get very good security
software.  You can use the free edition of AVG Anti-Virus, the free version
of Zone Alarm, Spybot Search & Destroy and Ad-Aware.  All totally free of
charge and all very good.

Re: Which New Notebook To Purchase - Help

Sam wrote:
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Don't just look at the CPU MHz, look at the CPU type as well.

Does she care about running on battery power?

Does she want a separate monitor and keyboard when in the office, versus
on the road? I prefer a smaller, lighter machine, and using a monitor,
and Bluetooth KB and mouse, when in the office (prolongs the life of the
notebook as well).

Does she want to use the computer as a P.O.S. terminal as well? If so,
get something with serial and parallel ports (not a lot of notebooks
still have these).

I'd recommend XP Pro, not XP home. Get Bluetooth built in if she wants
to use an external keyboard and mouse (I'm a big believer in not having
to have a plethora of dongles plugged into the notebook). Be sure that
the CPU is a Pentium M, not a higher power chip.

Look for something that comes with a 3 year warranty as standard. Forget
  NAV, use AVG from Grisoft, which is not only free, but doesn't slow
down the system as much.

If getting something from Dell, look at the Small Business models, not
the home models.

Not sure where you are, but in some areas there are resellers of Dell
machines that get new Dell notebooks from corporations that bought more
than they needed, and resell them, with the full warranty, at good
prices, see "http://www.sfbaycpu.com/laptops.htm "

I have a notebook with a 15.4" wide screen, and I probably would not get
such a screen again. It's good fore watching movies, but it makes the
notebook too large.

Re: Which New Notebook To Purchase - Help

Sam wrote:
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There is nothing that you want to run which would require 1.0 Go of
memory. Go with a chip for laptops and free spam and virus software.
Someone suggested buying a desktop and a laptop - not a bad idea. If the
store is open and the owner wants to do work at home or elsewhere, there
is going to be a shortage of equipment. I don't think that I would go
with a wide screen - makes the machine bigger to transport and most
software doesn't need the extra space; in fact, it is an inconvenient
for many uses.
I know a guy with an equipment sales and service shop that has been
runnng his business for 5 years with an old Toshiba - any laptop today
will do what this person needs.
Happy shopping. Ching, ching.

Re: Which New Notebook To Purchase - Help

Important Caveat:
I got more opinions than actual knowledge and/or experience. Sad, but true.

I have no way of knowing what, if any, financial limits constrain your
wine seller. For some folks the diff between $1000 and $1500 is only a question
which digit to put on the check. If that's the case, ignore my ramblings. They
have no relevance to your friend's life. Just go out and spend up a storm!

But if that's not the case then I tend to agree with the first poster. You may
have "somewhat over specified". Unless QuickBooks now includes a 3D role-playing
gamer mode, the integrated graphics on the current crop of notebooks should be
adequate. My advice: sanity check the graphics after picking a notebook based on
other criteria first.

Total system speed is much more important than CPU speed. Having said that, I've
driven both a Presario with a 1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 and a Gateway MX6025 with a
1.3GHz mobile Celery chip. Both had 256MB, 4200RPM drives, and Win XP Home. I
definitely noticed a performance difference between the two. I thought the
was a .... well, lets skip the profanity.

If possible, run some simple test tools on notebook systems you're considering.
Booting from a Memtest86+ CD works pretty well for me. The memory speed and
throughput numbers Memtest86+ displays can be interesting, informative, and
relevant. (http://www.memtest.org /) CPU-Z is another useful info tool. Windows
based and you can carry it self-contained on a USB memory drive.
(http://www.cpuid.com/cpuz.php )

There was a comment that 1GB of memory is over-kill. Perhaps so. But then again,
recently got 2x512MB PC2700 SODIMMs of Micron memory on ebay for under $55. If
can get 1GB of reliable memory for a good price, what's not to like about that?

Of course, shopping on eBay is a lot like j-walking across a multi-lane highway
during peak traffic. Even if you're careful and constantly vigilant, you're
taking a risk. But (I think/hope) not everything on eBay is a scam.

If you're going to spend money on some form of "extended warranty", make SURE it
covers the LCD! I have a friend who owns a really nice (for her purposes) Compaq
Presario V2000 which is now essentially useless to her. Everything works fine
except for the display which is cracked and unreadable.

I'm sure after she accidentally destroyed the LCD she was initially thankful she
had purchased the (so-called) insurance. That changed when "Best Buy" pointed
the clause in her agreement which explicitly excluded display damage. If you buy
insurance, make sure it actually protects what you think it will protect.

About the "buy both a laptop & desktop" suggestion ... evaluate this in the
context of whom you are getting the system for. If your friend would have no
problem networking and syncing applications, files, bookmarks, and email between
two computers then this may be a big plus.

But it also may be more of a hassle than your friend really wants. If your
values simplicity above all else then having all her data (except backups!) in
package may be the way to go. If you go the notebook only route, a separate
monitor and keyboard for office is definitely worth considering.

Some sort of backup seems essential for any computer to be used for a business.
I'd suggest setting aside $100-$120 for a 250GB or so drive in a USB (or
attached enclosure for backups. There are 250GB Seagate IDE drives which come
a 5 year warranty that can be had for $70-80 if you're patient, look-around, and
willing to go the whole annoying rebate route.

My final suggestion would be to ask to do a brief test-drive of some of the
laptops of some friends. How "usable" are the keyboard and pointing device? Also
try to visit the manufacturer's support web-site and see what you think of the
experience. After all, you're not buying just a piece of hardware, you're buying
an integrated system.

How easy is it to update the software and drivers on the laptop? At minimum
should be a means to automatically detect and notify of hardware and software
updates. The better manufacturers have software which also downloads and
the update for you.

How easy is it to use the notebook and/or web support to answer questions your
friend might have? Try searching for info on how to the use the special purpose
keys on the laptops. For info on setting up different power settings. Stuff like
that. If you're up for it, try the on-line technical support chat and see if you
get a useful answer or just a bunch of overly polite, scripted, party-line

-the "why should ignorance restrain me?" john

Re: Which New Notebook To Purchase - Help

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LOL.  Exactly what I was thinking, but you said it so well!!!

Re: Which New Notebook To Purchase - Help - THANKS

Many thanks for each of your replies and the very informative information!!


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