Thursday, July 2, 2009

Seeking Recommendations

Dear readers, I have upgraded!  Consider this my pilot post written with Windows Live Writer, a program which I hope will solve my blogging woes.  Internet Explorer 8 will not allow me (and, apparently, anyone else) to copy text from a Word document into Blogger.  Weird!  With as many words as I write, it was very clear to me that this was unacceptable.  The wonky formatting on yesterday’s post was a result of using Firefox.  I thought funky Firefox was a better choice than not posting my piece at all.  Still, I was not happy.  Let’s consider today’s post an experiment.  Everything is an experiment when you are a scientist, especially one who is on the cusp of getting three little letters after her name.

I do have an actual purpose for this post, and that is to seek your recommendations regarding a new laptop computer. The Dell I use now is not really my computer; it belongs to my lab.  When I graduate in September(!), I should give it back.  In the meantime, I need to buy myself a computer.  I’m looking for a PC that has a decent amount of space for storing data.  It must come with built-in wireless ability (although I here it’s rare for a new computer not to have this—true?) and not weigh a thousand pounds.  I like the size of my current computer (about 10.5” x 12.5” x 2”) and wouldn’t mind finding something with similar dimensions.  I can be flexible about the price because I firmly believe you get what you pay for, and I will be using this new computer every day for a long time.

Do you have any suggestions for brands or models I should check out?  Which stores have the best service for computer customers?  Any happy stories about recent computer purchases?  Or, on the flip side, are there any warnings you want to offer?  Advice you wish someone had shared with you before you wasted your money on a crappy machine?

I thank you in advance for your words of wisdom!  Have a beautiful day, dear readers.


ttfn300 said...

get a mac ;)

Andrew S. said...

Your requirements for storage space and wireless ethernet should be satisfied by any new computer. Given the dimensions you gave, I think you have a 12-14" widescreen computer. Computer sizes are measured by the diagonal across the screen. Measure that to confirm your current size to compare to models you shop for. You will also want to weigh your current computer, to get a sense of how much you currently carry around.

I've been a fan of Dells for a long time, and I currently use an XPS M1330. I like it less than some of their previous models, though, and I may consider other brands for my next purchase. Use a manufacturer's website to shop and buy. Don't go to Staples or Best Buy, you're sales person probably won't know what they are talking about and/or they will pressure you into buying before you are ready.

Get a warranty with accidental damage protection (blog in the bathtub?), say for three years.

Macs are good too, but it sounds like that isn't what you want. Let me know if you are considering them, and I can give advice there too.

Now is also a good opportunity to think about finding a way to regularly back up your data. Hard drives WILL fail, and are more likely to do so in their first six months of life than in the following three years. Get an external hard drive and/or start using on online system. BACK UP YOUR DATA.

Alright, I'm off my soap box. Let me know if you want more info. Have fun!

Rosiecat said...

Haha, ttfn! I'm not cool enough for a Mac!

Andy, thank you thank you thank you! What excellent advice. I will keep your words handy as I start shopping.

On the whole, I've been very happy with the Dell I've used for the past five years, so I'll probably start by looking at Dells.

Blog in the bathtub? Why, I've never even considered that! That's because I'd probably electrocute myself if I did!

JD said...

I could suggest a more build-it-yourself appraoch. Even if you are not able to build it yourself, you can probably find a local computer store (especially in a college town like Evanston) where you can select the components and then have them assemble it and set it up. This has several advantages:

1. Only get the parts YOU need or want.

2. Support a local company employing local people

3. Your computer does not start out with all the JUNK the major manufactures put on them...

4. Better service down the road if something goes wrong. Much better to go in and see Sam, the guy who built your computer, then to have to call Dell's infamous customer service in India.

5. Probably end up with a better price and a machine more suited to your needs then a generic.

I purchased my new computer from a company that builds them to spec over the internet and ships them in. But that was more of a gaming specific machine. You would probably be better off sticking to a local company!

Rosiecat said...

Wow, JD, that is SUCH an interesting idea! Hmm! I never even thought of that. I agree with you wholeheartedly about supporting local business as much as possible; for me, it is a work in progress. Baby steps! But the local question is complicated for me because I will be moving at the end of September, so what's local now won't be local for much longer. I really do need to buy my computer before I leave Evanston, preferably before the end of August. But with your advice in mind, I'm going to talk to my tech-savvy friends around here to see what they think about buying a locally-produced machine.

Thank you so much for your advice! I have so much to think about now.