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Buying a computer system/Please advise about which laptop to buy.


QUESTION: Hello Bobbert,

Please advise me on which laptop to buy. My needs are VERY simple:

Mostly, I use my laptop for work (writing for the Internet) which requires only Microsoft Office (I could get by with Open Office if needed), and the Internet. I've had a Toshiba Satellite A 215 for 5 years, and it has been extremely reliable. I think I paid about $400 for it.

I would be okay with another one like it if thereís nothing new on the market thatís a better value. Mine has 2 gig RAM and a 32-bit Operating System with 184 gig hard drive. Even that amount is more than I need.

It has a 15 inch screen and since I'm a 70 year-old woman, I donít think my eyes would be very happy with one thatís much smaller. Also, I donít need a long-lasting battery, because Iím okay being ďtethered.Ē

But I think this laptop may be going, so I would really appreciate any advice about a very basic system that is, preferably, under $500. I will really appreciate any advice you might offer?

Many thanks,

ANSWER: What about the current system is either at fault, or not living up to expectations? I'm just trying to understand if a new system, or simply some minor repair, would be the best course here.

That said, given that your requirements are fairly minimal, more or less any modern laptop or ultrabook would be more than suitable for your needs. I like Dell and HP based on their consistently good customer support, but given that you don't have any real software requirements (MS Word runs on most anything), you could probably also get along quite happily with an Apple, although the price will be somewhat higher.

If you need a specific recommendation, let me know.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


Thank you so much for your response. You've given me considerable food for thought, and you're quite right in asking why I want info on a new one. As Ann Landers used to say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

However, there are little things that give me problems, and I'm a little skitsy about it, because I've had two laptops bite the dust, one in the middle of deadline-oriented project, and I wasn't prepared with info about what to rush out and buy, so I could get back to work.

I guess the thing is, I just want to be ready, so if you've got the time, I really would appreciate a specific recommendation. Thank you for any suggestions.

Many thanks,

Something like this should be appropriate for your needs:

If this machine is related to a paycheck, I'd probably consider one of their SMB products, and an associated SMB warranty -

The primary drive there would the better warranty support, to ensure they can turn the machine around fairly quickly if something should happen to it. You can read more about that here:

Again, I probably wouldn't go the extra expense if this isn't a machine that directly relates to your paycheck, but if it's very important that this equipment stays in working order, unless you feel like taking on that burden yourself, I'd go with their more "premium" support to ensure that everything will be taken care of. Apple has a similar offering with AppleCare:

But Apple's hardware will still cost more:

Just something to keep in mind, more than anything else.


Buying a computer system

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I have nearly two decades of experience in IT, computer repair, and related fields and will attempt to provide the most solid, brand-agnostic advice when it comes time to purchase a new computer, or upgrade an existing machine. I can answer anything from the seemingly basic to the downright complicated - and will do my best to provide this information in a clear and concise manner.


I have been an enthusiast of PC's for many years, and can answer questions about the purchase/use of a new computer or the purchase, installation, and use of upgrades for existing computers. There probably isn't a whole lot related to the home computer that I haven't seen over the years.

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