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>> No. 23763 Anonymous
10th February 2015
Tuesday 5:26 pm
23763 Cheap Laptop
Hello chaps.

To cut a long story short, I am purchasing a laptop on behalf of a friend who basically needs it to run his HGV Theory Test CD's. As such, his budget is £150-200.

I would have preffered to get something with Windows 7 as the OS, as it's more similar to the XP he is familiar with, but 8.1 seems to be the only option.

I've had a look on PC World and eBuyer, before I commit to just getting him a bog standard 11" Asus or Lenovo or whatever, any sagely words of advice?
Expand all images.
>> No. 23765 Anonymous
10th February 2015
Tuesday 5:41 pm
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>>23763

Get something refurbished off ebay with a year's warranty (preferably direct with the manufacturer), I've had three like that and they've all lasted me at least two years (and that one was because someone decided to drop a beer on it, ahem) and one is 4 years and going without even having to replace the hdd or anything.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Toshiba-Satellite-C50-AMD-E-Series-1-33GHz-Dual-Core-15-6-Inch-500GB-4GB-Laptop-/171523123476?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item27ef932914

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/GRADE-1-Windows-7-Lenovo-IBM-X61-Laptop-C2D-3-6GHz-3Gb-Ram-Warranty-Office-Cheap-/321142152770?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item4ac5905e42

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/IBM-LENOVO-T410-LAPTOP-WINDOWS-7-PRO-OFFICE-i5-2-4Ghz-320Gb-4Gb-WIFI-/351146744001?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item51c1fa18c1

All of those come with a warranty (probably the Argos one is the most trusty warranty if you're worried about that), come with Windows 7, are decently specced (3 or 4gb of ram) and are under £200.

You really do have to be a mug to buy a new laptop from a price gauging dump like PC World these days.
>> No. 23766 Anonymous
10th February 2015
Tuesday 6:48 pm
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>>23765
Seconding every part of this.

Also, if he winds up liking it and wants to upgrade it later then throwing in an SSD will make a big difference. The smaller ones by then will cost a pittance.
>> No. 23767 Anonymous
10th February 2015
Tuesday 8:26 pm
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I think if you put Classic Shell on 8.1, that makes it feel more familiar.
>> No. 23768 Anonymous
10th February 2015
Tuesday 11:24 pm
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>>23767
The worst thing about 8.1 is the metro menu by far, but apart from shutting down/rebooting there's no real reason ever to use it. It's like Windows 7 in all other ways more or less.

>>23765
Those look ideal for OP, but in general I would be worried how long a refurb's going to last. Even if it doesn't fail, having an outdated processor/less RAM versus a new model means that it'll get outdated and useless a lot faster.
>> No. 23769 Anonymous
10th February 2015
Tuesday 11:31 pm
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>>23768

> Those look ideal for OP, but in general I would be worried how long a refurb's going to last. Even if it doesn't fail, having an outdated processor/less RAM versus a new model means that it'll get outdated and useless a lot faster.

To be clear I'd definitely be worried if I was buying second hand off any random chap on Ebay, especially if the unit was already out of manufacturer warranty.

However, most refurbs done by actual companies are mainly ex-demo, ex-display or ex-lease units, which means they've spent most of their lifetime sitting, boxed, in some procurement store cupboard waiting for a use that never came.

Unless you're high-end gaming (and good luck to you) then you really, really, don't need cutting edge processors and there are plenty of refurbs out there capable of taking 16gb of RAM (the laptop I'm posting from is an ex-lease refurb Thinkpad (£275) whose 4gb factory RAM I swapped out for 2x8gb sodimms).

The truth is that whether you buy new or refurbished you'll get the same 12 month guarantee but you'll pay twice as much for new as you will for refurb (did you know they're still selling laptops with Celeron processors 'new' in PC World? The mugs some people get taken for... ) for exactly the same specs.
>> No. 23770 Anonymous
10th February 2015
Tuesday 11:55 pm
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>>23769

I have bought several ex-corporate Thinkpads. I spent a fair bit more than £150, but they were all tidy and fantastic value for money. I think that the life expectancy of a three-year-old Thinkpad is probably greater than a brand new cheapo Acer or Asus; An old i5 processor is considerably faster than a new Celeron, and Thinkpads are built like brick shithouses rather than plastic toys.

My only concern about buying a refurb of that age would be battery life - lithium batteries have an inherently limited lifespan and start to fade fairly badly after three or four years.

It's worth pointing out that most of the cheap 11" laptops on the new market don't have optical drives, so OP's mate would need an external DVD drive to use his theory test software.
>> No. 23771 Anonymous
11th February 2015
Wednesday 12:19 am
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I wouldn't recommend a refurb from Argos because they use a company called D & J Henry, and that's bad news. My refurb had to be sent for repair and came back with a broken hinge cover, missing screw covers, broken clips, and covered in scratches. It took months to get a half decent replacement, and I had to deal solely with that company; Argos head office refused to assist me.
>> No. 23772 Anonymous
11th February 2015
Wednesday 12:29 am
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>>23769
>>23770

> I think that the life expectancy of a three-year-old Thinkpad is probably greater than a brand new cheapo Acer or Asus; An old i5 processor is considerably faster than a new Celeron, and Thinkpads are built like brick shithouses rather than plastic toys.

100% agree.

>My only concern about buying a refurb of that age would be battery life - lithium batteries have an inherently limited lifespan and start to fade fairly badly after three or four years.

Again agree. I forgot to mention this because battery life isn't a major issue for me as long as it doesn't automatically power off if I accidentally knock the charger cable out.

> It's worth pointing out that most of the cheap 11" laptops on the new market don't have optical drives, so OP's mate would need an external DVD drive to use his theory test software.

Very good point and not something I was immediately aware of. Much like floppy drives 10 (15?) years ago, cd-rom drives are being slowly shifted out in favour of recovery partitions and cloud-based software and backups.
>> No. 23773 Anonymous
11th February 2015
Wednesday 12:41 am
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>>23772

With regards to old Thinkpad batteries, I own three Thinkpads currently, an X220, An X200 and a X2something tablet that I've lost somewhere in my house. Two of them have the orginal batteries and they still report good charges - the X220 I'm currently typing on will last 4 hours on a full charge, and that's at full brightness.

I'll accept I'm probably just lucky with my batteries, but what's more important is for these models, there's still NOS Lenovo batteries available online. They're not exactly cheap, at around sixty quid for a 6-cell, but it's certainly a problem that can still be solved.
>> No. 23776 Anonymous
11th February 2015
Wednesday 1:22 pm
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Thanks lads. I did consider a refurb, I've had phones and never had an issue.

However it's not for me, and my friend (a middle-aged sikh who wants to quit managing a shop) doesn't know enough about computers to either be fussed or actually use it for anything intensive, I think one of these two Lenovos will fit the bill.

The more powerful one is actually cheaper, but only with cashback, and I can't be arsed with doing that for him.

http://www.ebuyer.com/665843-lenovo-essential-b50-45-laptop-mcd2guk

http://www.ebuyer.com/665844-lenovo-b50-30-laptop-mca2wuk
>> No. 23777 Anonymous
11th February 2015
Wednesday 4:32 pm
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>>23769
>Unless you're high-end gaming (and good luck to you) then you really, really, don't need cutting edge processors

You don't need a 4th gen i7 sure but my old laptop had a Celeron and after a few years use it was slow as hell doing anything in Windows 7. Maybe the core series CPUs would be usable for longer.

You make an excellent point about DVD drives though - for some reason even the 15" Dell laptops don't come with a disk drive as standard so it's not limited to the smaller sizes, definitely worth checking before you buy.
>> No. 23778 Anonymous
11th February 2015
Wednesday 5:51 pm
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>>23776
Both of those have horribly shit CPUs. If he really doesn't need performance and isn't going to, then just buy him any old £80 Core2 Duo lappy and be done with it, rather than wasting another extra £100 on a similarly performing system that just happens to be new.

Here's one, for instance:
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/HP-COMPAQ-6910P-CORE-2-DUO-LAPTOP-2-50GHz-4GB-160GB-DVD-RW-BT-WIFI-WIN-7-Ref-101-/111581923766
>> No. 23782 Anonymous
11th February 2015
Wednesday 7:14 pm
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>>23778
Yeah, IMO it's worth getting new if you want it to last but if he only needs it to run test CDs there's little obvious benefit.

In fact, can he not just borrow a friend's or use a library computer?
>> No. 23787 Anonymous
12th February 2015
Thursday 12:07 pm
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>>23777

> You don't need a 4th gen i7 sure but my old laptop had a Celeron and after a few years use it was slow as hell doing anything in Windows 7. Maybe the core series CPUs would be usable for longer.

Celeron (like Atom) is an utterly awful CPU designed for 'mobile' devices like Netbooks. Now that the Netbook has been done away with by the tablet they're crowbarring these underpowered husks into laptops. Caveat emptor.
>> No. 23788 Anonymous
12th February 2015
Thursday 2:04 pm
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>>23787

They're perfectly acceptable if your requirements are basic. It's easy to forget that for a lot of people, a laptop is just a Facebook machine. Nearly all Chromebooks are Celeron based, but they're hugely popular and justifiably so - they're a cheap, hassle-free option if you just need a web browser. The fact that they have SSDs makes them feel much faster in use than a more powerful machine with a traditional hard drive. A Chromebook with a weedy Celeron will boot in seven seconds dead, wake from sleep before you've finished opening the lid, and handle ten browser tabs without breaking a sweat.
>> No. 23789 Anonymous
12th February 2015
Thursday 2:22 pm
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>>23788
I've not used ChromeOS but I'm going to assume it's a lot more lightweight than Windows.

My old celeron-powered machine was fine for running Xubuntu but Windows was just a bit too much for it. I guess that's why all the original netbooks were Linux-based for a while (back in ~2010 or so at least). I guess that most people who just want a 'facebook' machine can't be bothered installing and using Linux however.

Having upgraded to a newer model powered by an i5, 8GB RAM, SSHD and nvidia graphics the difference is fairly immense - boot time's down from minutes to a few seconds.
>> No. 23790 Anonymous
12th February 2015
Thursday 2:44 pm
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>>23789

The i3/i5/i7 are pretty much the top of the food chain for laptop CPUs right now (desktop too, I believe). You have to watch out for the generation too, as a 4th gen i5 will still kick the crud out of a 2nd generation i7.
>> No. 23795 Anonymous
12th February 2015
Thursday 4:08 pm
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>>23789

Lightweight is an understatement- It's pretty much literally nothing but a web browser with a file system. Great for browsing the web, but naff for pretty much anything else- The decentralised approach to computing we're seeing now is all well and good in a business environment, but at home, there's very few people it's likely to work for unless you're the kind of arsehole who spunks money on every single new gadget and already have everything short of your toaster hooked up to "The Cloud".
>> No. 23797 Anonymous
12th February 2015
Thursday 5:02 pm
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>>23789
>I guess that's why all the original netbooks were Linux-based for a while
Not really. To my knowledge, all of them supported Windows, albeit not very well - the main hurdle was the cost of a licence. Historically, Microsoft charged somewhere in the order of £75 per Windows licence; cheap laptops have always been seriously cramped by this constraint. When netbooks came along, notably Asus' EEE series, their manufacturers gambled that the low price of the product would be enough to outweigh the general user's unfamiliarity with a different OS. Microsoft ended up giving away Windows XP licenses to these manufacturers - the threat to their dominance of the OS space was apparently more significant to them than the lost licensing revenue.

The netbook manufacturers gladly jumped to Windows when it was offered for free; they had no ideological stake in linux, it was simply a business decision. The situation is quite different with Chromebooks. The OS is given away, since Google's business model is predicated on advertising via services rather than selling software licenses, and they get to bundle support for those services into the device. Presumably in response to this threat, Microsoft recently slashed their OEM licence prices for Windows + Office for portable devices, reportedly to around £20 per unit, and with services like Bing and Office 365, Microsoft has been trying to move towards being a services provider supported by advertising, rather than a software developer supported by software sales. It is very difficult for a company of Microsoft's size to do a "hard turn" like this, but the decreasing viability of charging for software means it's all but inevitable that they'll need to pull it off if they want to remain in the game.
>> No. 23799 Anonymous
12th February 2015
Thursday 6:00 pm
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>>23795
My sister has a Chromebook and quite likes it. She's shit with technology and hates spending money on computers so she doesn't exactly fit the "arsehole who spunks money on every single new gadget" description. She does live in London though, so she's never far from a net connection.

On that note, though, I find it odd that it's nerdy types who often seem most sceptical about devices with mandated net connections. It was on display again somewhat recently with the uproar about the Xbox One. I'm sure these people are just like me - they basically consider internet access to be a necessity like water and fuel and haven't lived without it for any real length of time since the turn of the century. A tiny Windows laptop without an internet connection is about as useless to me as a Chromebook without an internet connection, it seems weird to draw a distinction in this day and age.
>> No. 23800 Anonymous
12th February 2015
Thursday 6:52 pm
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>>23795

I'm a professional software developer and demand a lot from my computers, but I absolutely love Chrome OS and think that it is the next big wave in personal computing. All of the ten highest-rated laptops on Amazon are Chromebooks, and they're representing a rapidly growing proportion of laptop sales. They are incredibly slick and well-engineered, and are far less limited than you might imagine. They don't suit everyone yet, but the loss of functionality is more than compensated for by the lack of hassle compared to other operating systems.

Chromebooks are far from useless without an internet connection - apps can be downloaded from the Chrome Store and used offline, and they will automatically sync with any cloud services as soon as they get a connection. If I'm sitting on a train without a net connection, I can read and reply to e-mail messages or edit documents, and everything will sync up seamlessly.

The range of software is still limited compared to Windows or Mac OS, but it's growing all the time and there are lots of surprisingly powerful programs. There are fully-featured audio, video and photo editors, for example. All of the big media services like Spotify and Netflix work, and you can even use BitTorrent and play media files from local storage. If you need Microsoft Office, you can access that via their cloud-based Office 365 service. I have no problem doing real software development work on a Chromebook - I have all the tools I need to edit files and connect to remote servers, and can do a surprising amount of work offline.

Chrome OS is by far the most secure and reliable operating system out there, including other versions of Linux. Because all software runs within the Chrome environment, it is strictly sandboxed. The whole disk is encrypted by default and Chrome OS supports two-factor authentication. Secure Boot verifies the integrity of all system software against keys stored in read-only memory, and will fetch and reinstall anything that becomes corrupted. If something goes catastrophically wrong, your Chromebook can just securely wipe the local storage and recover everything from the cloud. It's now standard advice to use a Chromebook when doing business in China, because nothing else is as resistant to tampering.

Chrome OS isn't yet a complete replacement for a fully featured OS, but the gap is narrowing quickly and they're already a compelling alternative for many people. Chromebooks are now my default recommendation for anyone who isn't reliant on a specific piece of software. They're cheap, they get great battery life, and they're a pleasure to use. They're great for non-technical users, but they also make a brilliant secondary computer if you already have a decent desktop.
>> No. 23801 Anonymous
12th February 2015
Thursday 6:56 pm
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>>23799

> On that note, though, I find it odd that it's nerdy types who often seem most sceptical about devices with mandated net connections.

> A tiny Windows laptop without an internet connection is about as useless to me as a Chromebook without an internet connection, it seems weird to draw a distinction in this day and age.

It could be because "nerdy types" do massively different and more complex things with computers than you do.
>> No. 23802 Anonymous
12th February 2015
Thursday 7:28 pm
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>>23801
And when was the last time that any of them were without an internet connection, hmm?
>> No. 23813 Anonymous
12th February 2015
Thursday 9:26 pm
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>>23802
Not him, but personally, I do quite a bit of programming. I don't really find myself needing the internet that much for it; for example, when using the language I find myself working in the most, Haskell, I don't often have to look up a function; the compiler gives really very good error messages, so I can usually fix any problems by myself; often, even though I don't bother installing the documentation locally, you can tell what a function does from the module it's in, its name, and its type. For the very small amount of time I need to be online, all of the information is textual, and terse; so I can fairly comfortably use my phone's 3G connection if, for example, I'm on a train. Even if I don't have a connection, and I really need one, generally, I'll just move on to a different part of the program. So if I had a "traditional" operating system, I can fairly comfortably do something productive without a network connection; it's not so comfortable on Chrome OS (although I'm sure it's doable, considering it's linux; if I can install GHC on an Android ARM device, I'm sure I could do it on an x86 Chromebook).
>> No. 23814 Anonymous
12th February 2015
Thursday 9:32 pm
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>>23813
>really very good error messages
That must be nice.

Unexpected T_PAAMAYIM_NEKUDOTAYIM
>> No. 23815 Anonymous
12th February 2015
Thursday 10:18 pm
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>>23814

The fact that I understand that error message makes me want to cut myself.

If I ever meet Rasmus Lerdorf, I am going to fuck him. Not fuck him up, fuck him. In the arse. Dry.
>> No. 23816 Anonymous
12th February 2015
Thursday 11:29 pm
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>>23814
If I had a dollar for every time I saw that....
>> No. 23820 Anonymous
13th February 2015
Friday 12:32 am
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>>23813

This. I don't use haskell myself but I have two colleagues who use haskell and f# and I spend most of my life in windbg, IDA pro, and the python interpretor. As long as I have the debug symbols for the images I'm working with I honestly don't need an internet connection for my work at all beyond checking email once a day or so and the work irc for chatting. I can honestly work quite happily for days at a time with no internet connection at all with no lack of productivity. Manpages exist for a reason, after all.
>> No. 23822 Anonymous
13th February 2015
Friday 2:44 am
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>>23814
Ah, PHP. Such a brave little soldier that it even if it errors it still just keeps on trying.

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