Windows laptop advice needed

Posted by: MacGizmo

Windows laptop advice needed - 07/13/09 07:11 AM

I can't freakin believe I'm even considering this...

I'm looking for a laptop to run Windows Vista Home Premium (eventually upgraded to Windows 7), in the $400-$600 range, with a reasonable sized LCD (15" is fine). The laptop must be able to run Windows 7, with the full "Aero theme" or whatever they call it.

Netbooks are not an option - screens are too small, and they mostly run XP. I've looked at quite a few laptops that were relatively light-weight and compact. But I've also seen a few in that price range that were 17" screens and nicely equipped (media drive, including LightScribe, 3GB RAM, etc.).

Obviously I'm a Mac guy, I haven't used a Windows PC in years (for any amount of time anyway), so I've kind of lost touch with which brands are best (I refuse to pay Sony Vaio prices!).

Any 1st-hand knowledge/advice would be welcome.

PS: NO, I'm not switching - just need it for some specific ongoing work - thus the low investment price I'm willing to put into it.
Posted by: MacGizmo

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/13/09 07:13 AM

By the way, I'll say now that I'm also considering just buying Windows 7 when it's released and running it via Parallels - but it's not the optimal solution for me at this time.
Posted by: six_of_one

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/13/09 07:16 AM

I'm sure you've already considered this, but what about Boot Camp?

Assuming you already have a mac laptop? -- Why buy a whole new machine if you may already have the iron?

=)
Posted by: John Rougeux

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/13/09 07:40 AM

That's what I was going to suggest, Boot Camp.
Posted by: MacGizmo

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/13/09 07:45 AM

Yeah, I've considered that too. But at this point, a copy of Windows 7 Professional costs $300, Parallels/Fusion costs around $80 - it just seems to me that getting an entire laptop with Vista Home Premium and a free upgrade to Windows 7 is a smarter buy in the long run. (especially considering it'll be a tax write-off).

But then again, I'm not sure. Perhaps BootCamp might be a decent option. I don't want to run in "emulation" speeds, I want full speed.
Posted by: trey

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/13/09 08:26 AM

Well, if you can get over the cheap-o "Fisher Price my First Computer" feel of it, Acer seems like a pretty good bet. I recently read this article about how they've been outpacing Dell in laptop sales. In my experience, that makes it easier to find drivers and stuff later on down the road when you decide to put Linux or whatever on it.

Just remember to look into how easy it'll be to upgrade RAM and stuff before you get it.
Posted by: SgtBaxter

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/13/09 09:12 AM

If you're going the boot camp route, then an alternative is to buy an OEM copy of windows from Newegg, it's generally 1/2 the price of the full blown retail version. You can't move it to another machine, however.

Other than that, Asus makes great machines, so does Acer. They're generally not stuffed with all of the useless crap you'd find on a Dell or HP either.
Posted by: NucleusG4

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/13/09 09:28 AM

You can't move it to another machine, however.

Are you saying that when it gets registered it gets locked to that machine?
Posted by: SgtBaxter

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/13/09 09:35 AM

Yep. Just like when you buy a Dell, or HP, or whatever you can't put that copy of windows on another machine.

Well, you *can* if you know how, just not legally.
Posted by: EzyriderTX

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/13/09 09:58 AM

I used a dedicated Windows machine for years to test my sites in IE. But when I got the MBP I went with Boot Camp. I even use it to run my company's CNC machine software and it works flawlessly. Heck we've even started using iMacs with Parallels to run on our digital finishing systems for the sign industry. Running Windows on my Mac actually makes it feel a little snappier. I would save the extra $300 or so and just go with Boot Camp.
Posted by: Jim_

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/13/09 12:11 PM

Originally Posted By: MacGizmo

I'm looking for a laptop to run Windows Vista Home Premium
JD, my world is shattered.

cry
Posted by: MacBozo

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/13/09 12:20 PM

I think, sometimes, that I'd try installing Windows on my little Mini. Then I come to my senses. I don't have enough time for the aggravation.
Posted by: Mississauga

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/14/09 03:39 AM

Originally Posted By: MacGizmo
... it just seems to me that getting an entire laptop with Vista Home Premium and a free upgrade to Windows 7 is a smarter buy in the long run.
Actually, no. There's proof out there that Windows runs better on a Mac than any computer it was intended for. I recall a MacWorld report stating the top Windows computer was a Mac! I have clients who were die-hard windows users and now only use Macs for those purposes... and still remain puzzled why the Mac runs Windows better.

I recommend the Boot Camp or Parallels options.
Posted by: MacGizmo

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/14/09 07:01 AM

Everything you guys have said is my "dilemma" - I'm trying to find a "cheap" PC laptop that isn't complete crap. I'm not having much luck. To get a DECENT machine with a reasonable video card, amount of RAM, hard drive, media drive, etc., you basically have to spend $800+, but then you're stuck with a HEAVY, full-sized laptop.

Just to "un-shatter" your world, Reboot, let me say why I want this.

First, I've been unemployed for 9 months. But I have been freelancing quite a bit. While the freelance income is nowhere near what I was making at my last job, it is "un-taxed" income. So if I don't start buying some write-offs before the end of the year, I'm just going to be giving it to Uncle Sam anyway.

Second, my new job is a Windows-based office. A Mac may be in the future, but for now I'm stuck running Windows Vista. I NEED TO LEARN WINDOWS! Not only that, but as a self-proclaimed tech geek, I should probably at least have a bit of knowledge about Windows, if for no other reason that simply having some perspective.

I'm still going to be doing a lot of writing. My 15" MacBookPro is nice, but the sucker is really heavy. To be honest, I'm going to eat my words from a while back and say that I really should just sell it and get a MacBook Air - because I don't really use the power of the MBP, rarely use the media drive, and I would love the light-weight laptop. To be honest, the only thing about the MBP I do like is the larger 15" screen. But the MBAir is probably all I need for what I use it for (the heavy-duty work will still be done on my MacPro at home). But I really love the MBP, and I don't have a single scratch on the sucker... the Mac-lover in me hates to part with such a great laptop for no great reason!

That being said, I may have to consider using BootCamp. I have also considered buying the OEM version of Windows as mentioned above. The biggest decision going this route is which machine to install Windows on. Do I leave it on the desktop where it'll certainly run the fastest (but then I'm stuck re-booting my main workhorse to use it), install it on my MBPro for the most power on a laptop, or bite the bullet and get a MacBook Air and install Windows on it (where I'll probably suffer the slower speeds). This problem would be so easily fixed if MS allowed you to install Windows on a desktop & a laptop with a single license (like Apple does - even though Apple doesn't enforce it with stupid activation schemes).
Posted by: MacGizmo

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/14/09 07:08 AM

By the way, anyone have an intelligent comparison of Vista Home Premium vs. Vista Business? What's the REAL difference? 32bit vs. 64bit?
Posted by: MacBozo

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/14/09 07:34 AM

My knowledge of Windows is probably less than yours, but I have helped Windows users use Windows based solely on my Mac experience. laugh
Posted by: MicMeister

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/14/09 07:57 AM

The biggest difference most visible to most users between Windows 'Pro' and 'Home' versions in XP has probably been in the network settings as in Pro version you can have your machine join a domain whereas the Home versions only have an option to join (or create) a workgroup. Not really much of a difference. Then again, with Vista, MS claims the Business version has some little extras to help in the business environment... In your case I'd just go with the cheaper alternative, which probably is the home premium.

I can't really go that much in depth in Vista, as I am totally and completely skipping it and most likely will get Win7 via Bootcamp on the MacBook.

And as for the initial advice on laptops, go with what Sarge said if you are still going to get a windows laptop. Getting a big name brand like Dell/HP/Fujitsu-Siemens... you get tons of bloatware preinstalled.

Also, there is this slightly annoying windows laptop scout courtesy of Microsoft.
Posted by: NucleusG4

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/14/09 09:31 AM

Mississauga... I remember that.. I also remember this..


http://www.engadget.com/2007/12/07/macbook-pro-really-was-pc-worlds-fastest-tested-laptop-until/

http://www.pcworld.com/article/136649-3/in_pictures_the_most_notable_notebooks_of_2007.html
Posted by: MacBozo

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/14/09 09:53 AM

So, you can buy a PC that runs Windows faster than a MBP. It'll just cost you $5000+. laugh
Posted by: NucleusG4

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/14/09 06:34 PM

Giz, mebbe I'm just being partial but I like the idea of toting a Mac Book Air and being able to boot to OSX if I get in a pinch and can't do it on a Winders machine. If all you have is a Windows laptop and get stymied by something simple then you are going to have to ask for help. As opposed to just booting into X and maybe being able to get it done there.

Plus... it would be very cool to be the only one in a Windows workplace toting a Mac that is also a Windows machine when necessary.
You will be a candle in the darkness my friend. Sell your MBP and take the 800 you were putting towards a Windows laptop and that should just about get you there.
Posted by: carp

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/14/09 08:41 PM

LOL

To be honest my work Dell - XP has such a crappy photo managing wizard of whatever they called that - Anyway when ever I had to take photos which I took tons for work , I always went home from camera to Mac then emailed myself at work , yep big hassle but worth the drive
Posted by: SgtBaxter

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/15/09 04:59 AM

Also, if you do end up getting a windows book, make sure to get a decent one, as the cheaper ones are often slower than molasses.

I'd splurge and make sure to get stuff like a dedicated video card, instead of integrated that sucks up memory, etc. Make sure you toss at least 3GB of RAM in it too.
Posted by: polymerase

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/15/09 06:48 AM

Originally Posted By: NucleusG4
Sell your MBP and take the 800 you were putting towards a Windows laptop and that should just about get you there.


I would go this way too. My MBP15 is like a cinder block compared to the MBA. It goes everywhere with me. Didn't they just announce new MBAs? Then the originals might be found as refurbs. The older ones are plenty fast enough for Safari and Mail. I run everything on it and rarely feel it is slow.

I like the "candle in the light" view. The MBA is still a show stopper. I was sitting down with 25 strangers in a hotel conference room in DC and the small talk before the meeting was how thin my MBA was. I intentionally pulled it out of an interoffice mailer. ( So I went from , poor fool doesn't have a computer to OMG.) I could not believe some of the hulking masses some of these poor people had to haul around. For double bonus ooh aah points I used my iPhone for mail while reading the conference work on the MBA.
Posted by: NucleusG4

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/15/09 06:56 AM

Hehe... nothing like being more on the cutting edge than your cohorts.
Posted by: John Rougeux

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/15/09 08:47 AM

Originally Posted By: polymerase

I would go this way too. My MBP15 is like a cinder block compared to the MBA. It goes everywhere with me. Didn't they just announce new MBAs? Then the originals might be found as refurbs. The older ones are plenty fast enough for Safari and Mail. I run everything on it and rarely feel it is slow.



Refurbished MacBook Air 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

13.3-inch glossy widescreen display
2GB memory
80GB 4200-rpm PATA hard drive
Built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
Built-in iSight Camera

$999.00
Posted by: John Rougeux

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/15/09 08:47 AM


Refurbished MacBook Air 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

13.3-inch glossy widescreen display
2GB memory
64GB solid-state drive
Built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
Built-in iSight Camera

$1,199.00
Posted by: MikeSellers

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/15/09 08:56 AM

Smaller hard drive but $200 more? Hmmmm.
Posted by: MacBozo

Re: Windows laptop advice needed - 07/15/09 09:02 AM

SSDs (Solid State Drives) are still a bit pricey compared to the spinning platter variety HDDs.