Calling All Computer Nerds

Since Erick is quite obviously having problems with his computer these days (See “Slow-Blogging”), I figured I would fill the void by abusing my front page posting privileges with a personal request.

With Mother’s Day coming very quickly, I have been getting the not so subtle hint that my wife wants a laptop.  (Subtle: “Gee this computer is so slow.  I wish I had a computer that was faster.”  Not-so-subtle: “So what kind of laptop are you getting me for Mother’s Day?  I’d like a laptop that has …” You get the picture.)

For those of you who know me, I am cheap – which makes shopping for a laptop very difficult.

Since most of you know far too much about computing, I figured why not ask what you would suggest I look for/purchase.

Also, consider this an open thread … feel free to discuss what you are getting for Mom/what you Mother’s out there want for your special day.

Oh, and Thanks to all you moms out there – for loving us through thick, thin and Bill Simon.


  1. dorian says:

    You did not provide enough information. First, what does she want to use it for? I’ll assume she isn’t a power gamer, but will it be for just web browsing and word processing? Music? Photo editing? Also, what size does she prefer? Does she want a “full-sized” desktop replacement or a super-small ultra-portable? How important is battery life? Back-lit keyboard? DVD drive? Will she want to burn cd’s on it? Does she still use floppy disks? You have to take all those things into consideration. One thing, I WOULD NOT buy is a laptop with Vista. Not until Service Pack #1 comes out, anyway.

  2. Demonbeck says:

    Let’s see, web browsing and word processing will be the primary functions, but will download music and process a few family pictures on there. We’ll want CD/DVD burning capabilities as well. Portability is important but it doesn’t need to be ultra small. We haven’t used a floppy disk in years.

    As far as battery life goes, back lit keyboards, etc. I don’t think they are deal breakers either way.

  3. Doug Deal says:


    Report back on the stats of the current laptop. What operating system does it use (e.g. Windows XP), how much RAM does it have, which can be checked in the “System” control panel.

    I have helped many people who have a “slow” computer, and generally it comes down to the RAM. My fiancee bought a DELL laptop that was running XP with only 128 MB of RAM. 128 MB is the bare minimum suggested by Microsoft. This means that the computer will barely run, by spending a great deal of time writing information to the hard drive, which is slow, instead of reading it from RAM, which is many times faster.

    Really, you need at least 512 MB of RAM to run XP and not experience extreme slowdowns when running applications.

    Unless she is doing something extreme (video editting, editting large image files, running complex mathematical simulations) any newish laptop will suffice, as long as it has enough RAM.

    One note about what dorian said. Vista will probably require at least 1 GB of RAM to run reliably, and I would recommend against buying a laptop with it pre-installed. I am so much against it, I will probably buy a Mac laptop instead. Mac uses Intel chips now, and allows people to use Windows as well as the Mac OS. I can then install XP and never worry about Vista touching my system.

  4. Demonbeck says:

    We currently have a desktop running on XP. She wants a laptop she can carry with her.

  5. debbie0040 says:

    Check out the Dell website. They have a great deal on Dell Inspiron for 949.00

    Dell’s are great

  6. Doug Deal says:

    Ah, sorry Demon, I misread your post. I thought you were replacing one.

    Anyway, the most important component to enjoying using your computer is the RAM. The more the better.

  7. burnsbacker says:

    If you order a dell be sure to order it through the small bussiness section, they dont include all the crap software as they do in the home section.

    i would look at a Dell Lattitude D520, the current lattitude notebooks are awesome, they are well built and look really nice. We got my little brother a D620 for college and he loves it. the D520 starts right now at about 500 bucks and you can add what ever you need.

    However looking at the dell website you can 1700 dollars worth of lattitude computer for 1299 with the deal they are running.

  8. Donkey Kong says:

    I purchased a refurbished Dell Inspiron 6400 with 80GB HD, 2GM of RAM, Core2Duo processor, in November for a killer good price. I can’t remember the specific price, but I think it was in the ball park of $700-$900.

    Yes, its refurbished, but it still comes with a 1yr warranty. I’d highly recommend it.

  9. Idgie Threadgoode says:

    If you order a dell be sure to order it through the small bussiness section, they dont include all the crap software as they do in the home section.

    Excellent advice. The “Inspiron E505” and the “Inspiron 6400” are the exact same device, but (a) you can still get XP instead of Vista on the 6400, (b) less crap, etc.

    Also, I highly recommend getting a computer with XP on it, not Vista. Vista is awful – slower than XP, more junk than XP. It’s just not ready for prime time yet.

  10. Doug Deal says:


    This looks like a good computer for what you are looking for. I had to post it on my site because Dell makes it difficult to link to the actual computer you have built, unless you are the same user that built it.

    There is a link on it that will take you back to the Dell site with the default options for it. You can refer back to the first page for what options I selected.

    The total cost is somewhere around $680.

  11. dorian says:

    I would suggest going to (I am not affiliated with them in any way). Their main page has links to the best dell deals, if you want to go cheap. Dell laptops are definitely on the cheap. Just remember, you get what you pay for. This is especially true in regards to computers.
    I would offer one piece of advice, and it is simply this: don’t get less than a gig of ram. In terms of performance (and generally speaking) it matters more than processing speed.
    Lastly, if you look for “dual core” processors, as opposed to “core 2 duo”, you can find some excellent deals as both manufacturers and retailers are getting rid of their inventories with the older chip.

  12. Chris says:

    Debbie has an excellent point w/ Slick Deals. and I echo the comments regarding Dell. I’ve owned and used several Dell laptops and I’ve been pretty happy with them.

  13. Icarus says:

    What does any of this stuff have to do with Larry Birkhead attending the Kentucky Derby?

  14. Doug Deal says:

    I think it is Demon. Memory is the most important component, assuming you have a recently made computer. Most of what people think as a slow computer is one that is swaping out “pages” to the hard drive, instead of storing the data in memory. Processors are so fast these days for what they are mainly used for (internet, word processing) that you are already much faster than you need to be.

  15. debbie0040 says:

    It is worth it. Think of how happy your wife will be that you spared no expense for her 🙂

  16. Chris says:

    If you’re really watching your $$, you can probably find the ram cheaper elsewhere. I bought the bare minimum w/ my MacBook and then maxed it out from Crucial – saved about $250

  17. katurner says:

    My choices of laptop are Dell, Compaq, and (reliable) Lenovo/IBM.
    If you get one with Vista get a 2-3ghz cpu (1.6ghz or faster if going dual core) and 2gb RAM. Get a DVD burner and spend good money. Avoid an NVIDIA chipset if possible. Vista and NVIDIA dislike one another.

    As one poster said, get XP if possible. If you get Norton Internet Security on the laptop take it off, install AVG antivirus/antispyware, and Zone Alarm. Norton is a resource hog.

  18. gatormathis says:

    if you all that tight

    check you’re local street corner.

    you can probably get a real deal for about 50 bucks.

    complete with all somebody’s else’s info

    which might just be valuble in itself.

    post all the interesting pictures please……….

  19. Holly says:

    I have an iBook and love it. I do, however, want to upgrade to MacBook at some point. Probably after getting a new car. In other words, no time this year.

    However, I will be investing the $80 in iLife ’06 this week. I want GarageBand 3 badly.

  20. Brian from Ellijay says:

    huh, that was all greek to me Holly, err, should I say apple. 🙂

    I spent 700 on a notebook from Best Buy 3 months ago. It came with Vista and I have not had any problems with it. It is Core Dual of course, 2 gigs, 15.4 ultrbright screen, Radeon 1150M graphics, 120 GB hard drive.

    Then of course the wireless card, the 4-1 memory card reader, and double layer DVD RW.

    I did price Macs, but the for the same hardware it would have been almost 2000.

  21. Holly says:

    This is sort of related, Erick, so I’m posting it here. I reinstalled Safari two days ago and now can see lots of stuff I couldn’t before, including the color-coded boxes. Yay!

  22. Chris says:

    And pretentious. You get your wife a MacBook, she’ll spend all her time in independent coffee shops blogging.

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