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Need some laptop advice...

Old 07-25-02, 09:07 PM
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Need some laptop advice...

I'm starting graduate school this fall and have been shopping for laptops for weeks. I just recently found a possible deal at Costco and could use some advice. Here are the specs:

Toshiba Satellite 1105
Intel Celeron 1.13 GHz processor
256 KB Level 2 Cache
133 MHz front side bus
Microsoft® Windows XP Home Operating System
256 MB SDRAM memory (expandable to 1024 MB)
DVD-ROM drive
20 GB Hard Drive
14.1" TFT Active Matrix display
Intel 830MG integrated graphics controller with 8 MB external
UMA video memory
3D Graphics Accelerator with AGP bus support
3D Graphics Accelerator, BitBLT hardware, Hardware cursor,
Direct Draw support
Integrated V.90/56k modem with Data & Fax support
Integrated 10/100 Ethernet LAN
Battery: Rechargeable, 43WHr removable NiMH battery
Built-in 3.5", 1.44 MB diskette drive
12.6" L x 10.9" W x 1.5" H
Weight: 6.96 lbs.
One-year warranty on parts, labor and battery


Realtek ALC202A codec chip, software sound audio controller
3D sound support with HRTF 3D positional audio, Direct 3D Sound supported
16-bit stereo, Windows Sound System, Ver. 2.0
Built-in stereo speakers

Expansion Slots:

Two expansion memory slots
Two PC Card slots (support two Type II or one Type III PC cards) 32 bit CardBus ready

I/O Interfaces:

Three USB ports
ECP parallel printer port
RJ-11 modem jack
RGB (monitor) port
RJ-45 LAN port

Included Software:

Lotus Smart Suite
Intuit Quicken Basic 2001
Microsoft Windows XP Home Operating System

Costco's price is $999.99 but with a member coupon, it's $899.99 (according to Toshiba's website, the msrp is $1249.00. I plan to use it primarily for school but I'd like to occasionally play a few of the games that are out today (I realize that I'll have to skip the 3D games). Do you guys think that I'll be able to find a better deal under $1000? If so, what do you recommend? Does anyone know the difference between Windows XP Home and standard XP? Thanks for any help.
Old 07-25-02, 09:20 PM
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1) Celeron is suckkk. Especially at just over 1.1GHz. It will probably have a useful lifespan of a couple of years. After that, the newest apps will be too CPU-intensive to run well. Unless you're planning on using your notebook strictly for Office stuff and some basic Internet services, I'd recommend something faster.

2) Never buy a notebook without a reliable extended warranty. Notebooks inherently more prone to damage due to their mobility. They're also crammed with lots of parts in close proximity, which means that parts are exposed to more heat and thus wear faster. The parts also tend to be very proprietary, so repairs can be awfully expensive. AND, even with the most recent technology, notebook batteries need replacing every year or two - having a hardcore warranty will save you one or two $100 battery replacements down the line.

3) If you're remotely interested in gaming, you should be worried about the graphics processor. 8mb of video memory is wimpy; today's standard video processor has at least 32mb. "Hardware BitBLT" does not inspire confidence since this is a very old 2D graphics function. And the lack of a name brand is worrisome; the only halfway decent notebook GPU's are branded by either nvidia or ATI.

- David Stein
Old 07-25-02, 09:42 PM
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Thanks a lot for the info. I didn't realize how poor celeron was. I began looking at P4s but I couldn't find any affordable models (feel free to recommend). Do you think that this is about as good as it's going to get for a $1000? I guess I could just live off of top ramen for a couple of months and get a P4 instead. Most of the laptops that I've seen have had 1 yr warranties. Do you recommend buying an extended warranty?
Old 07-25-02, 10:41 PM
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All of the P4 notebooks I know of is around $1500 at least. Plus another $200-300 to extend the warranty to three years. I would say most definitely wait a bit longer for the prices to drop a bit in the Fall and your budgets grows and you're ready to spend a bit more.

edit: remember that notebooks are non upgradeable so you will want at least 16mb of video memory.

Last edited by Ranger; 07-25-02 at 10:43 PM.

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