liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
[personal profile] liv
So I'm in the market for a new laptop yet again. My Toshiba is getting on for four years old, and it's getting a bit old and tired, but it pretty much does everything I want, so I'm happy to keep it in service. However, a couple of days ago it overheated spectacularly and died. After I propped it on its side and left it to cool for a couple of hours, it started up again without any visible problems, so this isn't an emergency yet. But when my previous computer started overheating when I tried to play games, it became more and more unreliable, dying due to overheating several times a day, then several times an hour, then pretty much all the time, and when I tried to get it repaired I was told the motherboard was fried and it would be cheaper to buy a new computer than replace it.

Whatever computer I get will primarily be used for work. So I don't need anything with cutting edge mindblowing specs, but I probably do need something fairly vanilla which will be compatible with standard tools, I can't afford to be too ideologically purist about proprietary software. I want a laptop that is going to function more or less as a desktop replacement, so I'm not too fussed about weight, and I would rather have a bigger screen than a tiny one, but 15'' with modern display tech is probably plenty. I am willing to spend extra money on something I can trust to be robust and reliable, than on a super-fast processor or a high-end graphics card or that sort of thing. But I'm starting to suspect it's not actually possible to spend more money on a computer in order to get something that will actually last more than three years, it's the whole built-in obsolescence thing.

Hardware: I certainly want 4GB RAM, because modern software is so bloated that anything less than that will probably be unbearably clunky. The question is whether it's worth paying more to get 6GB or 8GB? Probably the most memory-intensive thing I do is image processing. I would be surprised if I could ever use more than 200 GB of memory. (Gosh, those numbers are scary to someone who grew up in the 80s.) I would like some kind of graphics card, mainly because I sometimes do play games, albeit casual ones. I want to be able to play DVDs but I'm not interested in stunningly high definition and I'm not looking for a computer that's primarily a media centre. Similarly I wouldn't want a computer with no sound at all, since I do tend to listen to background music while I'm working, but I'm in no way an audiophile. I assume all computers these days come with wireless and wired networking capability? Is there anything I should look for that's worth spending money in terms of improved internet capability?

Any ideas about brands? I'm inclined against Dell because of their lousy QA. My previous computer, that started dying after less than three years, was a Lenovo; I liked it very well until it failed on me. My current one is a Toshiba; it's lasted a little bit longer before it started showing problems, but it's always seemed surprisingly sluggish to me compared to its theoretical specs. I didn't even get the boost you usually get from upgrading from a cluttered, ancient machine to a three years newer, post Moore's law brand new beast.

OS: even though it feels slightly treasonous to say so, I am actually pretty happy with Windows XP. However, putting XP on a new computer is not actually a sensible plan, especially not since it's about to be EoL'd. I'm kind of horrified by everything I've read about Windows 8, because I really seriously do not want a computer that's pretending to be a tablet and completely designed around entertainment, I want an expletive work machine. So the question is, should I go to effort to get something that's still running Win7 (I use Seven at work and it's a bit irritating for someone happy with XP but not actually dire), or should I put up with Win8 and research tweaks to make it a bit less awful?

I'm not in principle against Linux but it does bring compatibility problems; I have managed so far only putting Open Office on this machine, but it's increasingly an irritation, I really ought to bite the bullet and pick up an academic licence to Microsoft Office. I honestly truly do need Photoshop for work purposes (see: image manipulation), and no, the GIMP is not an adequate substitute, sorry geeks. And they're not essential but I do kind of like having access to things like Steam and Spotify. I'm also not really interested in having to do a lot of fiddling about under the hood to make things work. I know this makes me prime Microsoft bait, and I do feel bad about it, but I want to prioritize actually using my machine for work, rather than becoming empowered by learning how to modify it. It used to be the Ubuntu was the thing for non-geeks, and I have an oldish version of it on my netbook, which I quite like, but apparently it's gone all flashy special effects and trying to be Windows 8 these days. So if I do go for Linux, possibly even dual-boot with a Windows partition for when I need Windows-only software, which distro do you all recommend?

Budget is about £500; I will spend more than that if you can put a convincing argument why I'm really getting more bang for my buck, let's say something that will last me five years rather than three. I really do hate having to upgrade my computer so frequently. It's bad for the environment and contributes to serious exploitation, but I have the kind of job where a computer is a pretty vital working tool, so I can't really skimp on it. Just poking around, without having done any serious research, I'm thinking something like this low-end Acer; any good reasons against it?

Annnnnd computer overheated again while I was composing this, though I had nothing more exotic running than a browser with three tabs open. That confirms I need a new machine sooner rather than later. I have decent backups, though I'm sure they could be better, and I don't have hugely redundant backups, so I'm mainly relying on my external hard drive not failing. If the computer actually irretrievably dies tomorrow, I won't lose anything irreplaceable. Any ideas how to export settings from Firefox, that's one of the things that always trips me up when I have to upgrade my computer?

Alternatively, any suggestions for what I can do about a three-year-old laptop that's overheating? I'm now working with the computer propped up so air can circulate under it, but I have no idea if that's more than just a placebo. Is there a component I can replace that in fact costs less than 80% of the price of a brand new computer? Is there anything I can do at the software level?

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-18 02:19 pm (UTC)
hatam_soferet: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hatam_soferet
Sympathy. Are Macs out of the question?

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-18 02:37 pm (UTC)
hatam_soferet: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hatam_soferet
Fair enough. UD uses a MAc for his work and seems happy, which is why I ask.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-18 04:26 pm (UTC)
batdina: (monster cat)
From: [personal profile] batdina
the partner chick uses a Mac for work, with VMWare which allows her to load windows based programming inside the Mac OS. She hasn't had compatibility issues with her co-workers that I've heard of (and she designs high end help systems for software design so if there were issues, she'd have encountered them).

that said, I bought a high end Lenovo four years ago that's still clicking along just fine (I understand the mid-range ones do die in a few years though).

I'm ambidextrous at computing since Bar Ilan is a WinOS program and I'm stuck with that (though I'm practicing with VMware myself to see if that'll work in the future). And I barely scratch the surface of what a Mac can do for me. I mostly like it because when a cat knocks it to the ground, I can pick it back up and be fairly certain it'll still boot up.

:::hands:::

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-20 06:36 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I had a mac and it was shiny and I liked it, but I didn't like it five times as much as the ebay Thinkpad I replaced it with for a fifth of the price when it died for the second time in two years.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-18 02:21 pm (UTC)
ofearthandstars: Stack of old, dusty books. (old books)
From: [personal profile] ofearthandstars
Could you get an external USB-powered cooling fan? My Dell started overheating repeatedly about a year ago (of course, I found out post-purchase about this tendency), but once I bought the cooling fan, it seems to have stopped completely. I have a Targus that is elevated slightly at the back and has one central fan - I bought it for about $30 and it works great.

Additionally, there are a dozen or so tutorials on the web about how to make your own, if you have an old computer fan or even some CDs lying around :)
Edited Date: 2013-03-18 02:24 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-18 02:58 pm (UTC)
pseudomonas: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pseudomonas
If you can take it to a computer repair shop and get the innards cleaned out, and possibly get them to check the heatsink is still in good thermal contact with the processor &c, that might help too.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-18 03:05 pm (UTC)
pseudomonas: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pseudomonas
If you feel like it, you might be able to open it up and dedustify it yourself, given the right screwdrivers and a guide like http://www.irisvista.com/tech/laptops/ToshibaP15/fix_laptop_overheating.htm

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-18 03:38 pm (UTC)
pseudomonas: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pseudomonas
also, if you can use another computer in the interim, you might reduce chance of permanently frying useful bits of the laptop.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-18 03:09 pm (UTC)
pseudomonas: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pseudomonas
Xubuntu is Ubuntu with a simple window manager (XFCE) instead of Unity (which is where the flashy stuff you mention is), it's fast, reliable, and I've been using it for about a decade on desktops and laptops with no obvious problems.
Edited Date: 2013-03-18 03:10 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-18 03:22 pm (UTC)
pseudomonas: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pseudomonas
I still dual-boot with Windows 7, for the sake of the odd evening's game-playing.

I'd also suggest (as a last resort cos it's no fun) re-installing Windows before giving up on the machine as too slow; most of the slowdown seems to come from unwanted applications taking up memory. My computer has 3GB RAM and seems to run Windows fine, (apart from the latest games, as you'd expect).

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-18 03:49 pm (UTC)
pseudomonas: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pseudomonas
It's not really Microsoft's spoon-feeding, it's having a computer that arrived set up for the peripherals. Plugging a new device into a Windows machine is (IME) way more pain than plugging a new device into a Linux machine - these days most things seem to just work.

I *think* though I'm not sure, that the retailer has a responsibility to provide a way to reinstall the OS.

Anyway, assuming you can spare the disk space, I'd try dual-booting and see how it works for you.
Edited Date: 2013-03-18 03:51 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-19 10:34 am (UTC)
naath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naath
A lot of the "easier" is "what are you used to". For instance any time I have to spend more than a few minutes using MacOS I will get to keyboard-snapping-frustration levels with the fact that alt-tab doesn't do what I want it to do dammit... but loads of people prefer MacOS.

My desktop is running Debian; which... actually was a lot easier to install than I expected (much improved installer since I first did it 10 years ago), has had no problem with random peripherals (including the printer that refuses to talk to my Windows laptop), and has an Updater that generally Just Works Dammit. Then again I've personally never found MSOffice to be any better/more useful/easier than Open/Star/Libre Office... so probably my requirements from a computer are very different to yours.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-18 04:03 pm (UTC)
wychwood: chess queen against a runestone (Default)
From: [personal profile] wychwood
In my experience, the driver thing really isn't an issue these days - it certainly used to be, and I remember those days, but I've found over the last few years that I've had more success with plugging random things into my netbook and having them just work than doing the same with Windows machines. There are occasional problems, yes, and a new Linux install will probably need you to install some extra packages for DVDs, etc, but that happens with Windows too.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-20 09:08 am (UTC)
draigwen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] draigwen
Ditto. I've found it a hassle getting peripherals installed into windows 7 and 8, and I had a USB wireless dongle that worked out of the box in Linux but never did work in windows.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-19 08:52 am (UTC)
ewx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ewx
The usual practice for machines sold without separate OS media is for there to be a recovery partition which can be used to do a reinstall. If this is present it should be visible in Disk Management. (If you actually want to use it then the web has a confusing array of instructions about what key to press early in the boot process...)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-18 03:19 pm (UTC)
wychwood: chess queen against a runestone (Default)
From: [personal profile] wychwood
I'm currently running Ubuntu but with XFCE on top instead of Unity - no flashy special effects, fortunately, but it's still part of the Ubuntu Massif. I'd recommend it, if you're happy with Ubuntu aside from the flashiness. Also, I believe it runs Steam now!

Anyway! I actually came to comment on the Firefox settings thing. Firefox has a built-in sync now (in the options / preferences menu) which allows you to back-up and share settings between multiple machines. The first time you do it, it backs you up somewhere online, and subsequently any connected machine you use will download any changes you've made since you last used it, and upload any changes you make while you're on it.

It's slightly easier to get set up initially when you have both machines in the same place, but you can absolutely do it remotely. I've been using it since it was introduced (and similar add-ons before that) and it's brilliant - it can sync your bookmarks, history, add-ons, passwords, preferences and tabs. I've just moved work computers, and the tabs and preferences didn't all come across, but I'm not sure whether I'd ticked the boxes on the previous computer to specify that, but the rest are all working fine. I use it at home, for my desktop and netbook, and at work, when I'm moving between computers and also for the work account I have on my netbook.

Definitely worth setting up even if you only ever use a single machine, in my opinion, but ideal if you're multiply computered.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-18 04:10 pm (UTC)
wychwood: chess queen against a runestone (Default)
From: [personal profile] wychwood
Valve have introduced a Linux version, as I understand it. You can run some things under Wine, as well, but that *is* fiddly, and far from universally effective.

Yes, you have to actively specify that you want machines to be synced with each other - you set up an account and connect all the relevant machines to it, and you can have multiple accounts (I think one per email address, probably, that's usually the way). Like you, I don't want to synchronise work and home, so I have two accounts set up.

Passwords - yeah, that's true. You can get software password safes that would give you a more secure way of managing them; I know Bruce Schneier has recommended some in the past. There are certain passwords I keep only in my head, for greater security, but for most things I'm willing to trust Firefox with them. If I have them saved in the browser I don't really see a difference between trusting Firefox with the information there but not doing so with a remote location also owned and controlled by Firefox. I can see why everyone might not feel the same way, however! I didn't sync passwords when I was using the similar-function addons before Firefox Sync came along.

I know you can back up some things - bookmarks, certainly - into a format you can then restore from. And you can copy the files that have your preferences and cache and so on from your computer, though I don't know that they would work if you put them into another instance of Firefox...

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-18 04:41 pm (UTC)
pseudomonas: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pseudomonas
The Valve release of Steam for Linux will still only let you run games that themselves run on Linux, I take it?

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-18 04:45 pm (UTC)
jack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jack
*hugs* Oh no, poor laptop :(

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-18 05:58 pm (UTC)
ewx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ewx

A lot of the complaints about Windows 8 don't really make sense to me. I've been using it for several months for, among other things, software development, web browsing, email, photography and games.

1. When running desktop applications (i.e. non-"Metro" applications), it's not particularly different from Windows 7. (A few applications, e.g. IE and Chrome, can run in either mode.)

2. The start menu has turned into a start screen. Evidently that bothers some people but the way I use Windows (which is with all the applications that I actually use pinned to the taskbar) it doesn't actually make much difference.

I think this is a "what you're used to" issue rather than a real usability problem though: as a rule one uses the start menu (or start screen) to select something and run it, it's not something you need to be constantly visible alongside something else.

IMO what they've really done here is really to formalize the habit some people have of putting all their application icons on the desktop, but in a way that doesn't clutter the desktop.

3. "Metro" applications are indeed full screen and, worse, often lacking in useful functionality. The PDF reader is a good example: running full screen is inappropriate in something one might use for displaying reference material while working on something else, and it's incapable of printing.

Of course in that particular case, shipping with a PDF reader at all is TTBOMK an improvement over previous versions of Windows, and the solution is the same as it was for them: install one. Nevertheless, there are justified criticisms here, it's not just a matter of getting used to something new.

I've not encountered anything that made me feel it was "completely designed around entertainment".

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-18 07:09 pm (UTC)
syderia: cyber wolf (geek)
From: [personal profile] syderia
I would second this comment - which is completely in synch with my experience with Windows 8 and the way I use it.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-20 09:15 am (UTC)
draigwen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] draigwen
Yeah,I don't mind windows 8 either. I'm usually using a tablet nowadays so I guess having the start page is just natural to me.

The MSN / Skype metro app is terrible though. I've missed messages because notifications didn't show up, and who wants to chat full screen? I'm sure it's fine for some things though.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-21 12:20 am (UTC)
pplfichi: (stones)
From: [personal profile] pplfichi
I upgraded my three year old laptop to Win 8 (along with a healthy ram upgrade it needed anyway and a hybrid SSD drive) and it's *so* much faster. That said, some things are a definite step back. None of this is a show stopper and I find the speed increase more then worth a few inconveniences here or there.

1. ModernMetro mode apps just don't work with multiple screens. Not only do they take up a screen (ignoring docking) they only work on one screen. Other screens show the desktop view and if you try to use something on another screen (using alt+tab as the mouse won't move otherwise) the system will sometimes boot you out of metro to the desktop often enough to make multitasking frustrating. A shame as they actually improved multi-monitor support in desktop view...

2. Multitasking between metro apps sucks - alt+tab doesn't really cut it if you have more then a couple of things open. The fact that the entire classic desktop view is just one tile on the metro switcher makes it useless if you're using both sorts of app.

3. Lots of stuff works in metro, but only if you know the keyboard shortcuts, of which they added a lot but it's not clear. As an example printing works fine from the metro PDF reader if you press ctrl+p which lets you select print options, but this isn't exactly obvious.

4. Sometimes installers just won't give you shortcut tiles in the start screen if you're a normal user and you've installed something through an UAC prompt as Admin. Possibly not MS's fault, but I never saw this in 7. Creating shortcuts yourself is not user friendly.

5. Most annoyingly for me they crippled the search feature that used to be in the start menu in Vista/7. Running apps or programs just by typing in the start screen works as well as used to. Settings and files are split off into separate tabs needing extra key presses (or remembering the win+f/win+w search shortcuts). I can't find any way of opening a folder now though. I'll eventually get used to it I'm sure but this one annoys me pretty much every day as I just don't see the advantages of the new system.

6. Some gesture implementations on laptop trackpads appear to be maddening. I've only used this on someone else’s laptop as mine doesn't have trackpad gestures but it just seemed too sensitive to me to the point where using the trackpad to actually control the mouse was tricky without accidently activating a gesture. The laptop owner hated it too and we found we had to just uninstall the synaptics driver. Some sensitivity settings and/or an option to turn gestures off would have fixed this (especially as said laptop had a touch screen), but they just didn't have any. Suspect this will be fixed in a service pack or something.

None of this is a disaster and I wouldn't want to put people off the OS as it is faster and the desktop mode does basically mostly work just like a faster 7 with a start screen. But it has it's annoying points nonetheless.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-18 07:16 pm (UTC)
ewx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ewx

One reason computers overheat is a fan failing. IIRC I've encountered this a couple of times. In desktop computers it's usually practical to diagnose and fix this as it's easy to look inside while the system is running and notice a still fan, and replacement components are readily available. Fitting them can involve a bit of swearing.

Another reason is that the thermal grease used to ensure good heat transfer between the CPU and heatsink degrades with time (or occasionally is badly installed in the first place). I have had this happen multiple times and it's probably what's going on in this graph. Diagnosing this can be a bit harder, but if you're sure that temperature is the problem this is IMHO the most likely cause. In desktop computers, it is practical to fix: replacement grease is readily available. Removing and replacing the heatsink may involve swearing.

Computers get dusty inside, and I assume that can impede airflow, though I've never yet had dust cause an overtemperature shutdown myself.

The bad news of course is that laptops are a lot fiddlier to work with than most desktop computers, raising the difficulty both of diagnosis and fix (and presumably raising the cost if you take it somewhere to be repaired).

There's not much you can do in software other than measure the temperature at various points in the system. Various applications support this and sometimes the BIOS setup screen will report system temperature(s) too.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-18 07:39 pm (UTC)
ewx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ewx

I'd be amazed if anyone was selling laptops without sound or wireless networking. There are laptops without wired Ethernet (e.g. Macbook Air) though, so it's at least worth checking, if that matters to you.

There are laptops without DVD drives; there are also portable USB DVD drives.

I would go for more RAM rather than less, especially if the image processing involves large numbers of images (or rather, large numbers of pixels). pace the remark above about laptops being fiddly to work inside, adding more RAM is often one of the easier things to do; if money is more valuable than time to you (or if you object to abusive pricing, in the case of certain vendors) it may be better to buy extra RAM separately.

If IO performance matters to you enough to be worth spending money on then consider getting a laptop with an SSD instead of (or as well as) a 'rotating rust disk'.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-18 08:48 pm (UTC)
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
From: [personal profile] highlyeccentric
My Dell has always had overheating problems. These are improved by 1. using a laptop stand and 2. in extreme heat, training a pedestal fan on it.

Dunno if that will help for you...

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-19 12:52 pm (UTC)
cxcvi: Red cubes, sitting on a reflective surface, with a white background (Default)
From: [personal profile] cxcvi
I would advocate going to 8GB, either in the initial computer specs, or upgrading afterwards. If you're going for a laptop (and it looks like you are; I can't be sure), then memory upgrades are fairly easy to do yourself, and two 4GB sticks would cost you in the region of £40 (or less if you shop around). Desktop memory upgrades I would say are slightly harder, mostly because of getting to the memory slots on the motherboard. Given that you want a laptop that you're not going to want to upgrade in a while, you want something that's still going to be reasonable near its expected end of life (given you want it to last at least 3 years, that's in 2 years time). Windows will use 2GB of memory by itself, leaving you with just 2GB for all of your programs, and there may well be something you want to (or need to) run in the future that will use all of that and more. Plus having more memory means that your computer will use its swap file (basically your computer's way of cheating itself more memory by using hard disk space; and if that sounds really slow, that's because it is) a lot less, or maybe even not at all.

Hard disk space may be worth thinking about as well. Unless you have some form of external storage, you'll probably want a 1TB hard disk. These can be upgraded later, but that would require you to reinstall your OS, which can be a hassle. You're unlikely to see anything lower than 500GB unless it has an SSD (hard drives that work more like memory cards), but you are unlikely to find a laptop with one big enough for Windows while staying under budget.

If you do decide to go for Linux (either directly or by dual booting), I'm not sure what I'd recommend. On my laptop that runs Linux, I personally use Arch Linux, because I wanted to be able to choose what was installed and included. My user interface is very minimal (OpenBox as window manager, tint2 as panel, rxvt-unicode as terminal, no dedicated file browser, no fancy UI effects at all), but it took a fair amount of configuration to get there. This plus the distro doing pretty much no hand-holding at all is why I wouldn't recommend it unless you either have a fair amount of previous experience, or you want to jump off the deep end.

My partner has a laptop cooler, and she finds it very useful. They feel particularly useful if you use your laptop in bed, as they elevate it slightly. I would also recommend getting the dust removed from the internals, though. Shouldn't be too expensive. I think my partner paid £30 to have the dust removed, and that sorted out a lot of her overheating problems.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-19 08:13 pm (UTC)
lovingboth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lovingboth
My first question would be 'why do you want a laptop, when this keeps happening?' - yes, they are portable, but you are paying more for something that isn't as good, is much harder to upgrade, and more likely to break / get stolen - but...

I am another one running Xbuntu (Ubuntu set up to use XFCE from the start) on two netbooks. The desktop has Linux Mint (based on Ubuntu, but with some more sensible choices) using the MATE desktop (if you are used to XP, you would be right at home!)

For running Photoshop, see this - he has set up a virtual PC in Linux, installed XP on it, then install Photoshop in that.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-20 03:21 pm (UTC)
shreena: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shreena
I was going to say this - if you'd like something that is portable for occasional use, you could buy a tablet or a small light netbook/laptop (e.g. the Chromebook) but for day to day working, it sort of sounds like a desktop might be a better fit.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-21 01:14 am (UTC)
pplfichi: (fairy)
From: [personal profile] pplfichi
If it's a desktop replacement and you rarely to never carry it around would a desktop be more suitable, keeping the existing laptop as the one-off luggable? More for the money, way bigger screen, much easier to fix/upgrade but obviously much less portable.

For making it overheat less, I’d definitely take it to bits or get/pay someone to do it for you. Whether dust, fan or heat sink paste failure this is all fixable (dust obviously being the easiest if the heat sink is easy to get to. Some laptops are easy to take apart with easy online guides or maybe even the official service manual. Some are... much more of a pain in the behind).

I'm a fan of mid business and high end range Dells (the things are often easy to repair and the next day service package is fantastic) and high end Lenovos (expensive but nice), but these both cost more than you want to spend. Apple makes great hardware and you can dual boot it with Windows so everything can be made to work natively and you could ignore OS X completely if you wanted, but again more than your budget. Otherwise I think it's the luck of the draw. Every manufacturer has made great laptops and dud laptops and often you just don't know how good it will be in the long term as by that point it's been replaced.

OS wise, all three major OSes work. I use Windows as my host OS, but do most of my work in a Linux VM, leaving Windows for Internet/email, Office, photo editing and gaming. Windows 8 isn't as terrible as many make out (see my post above), but everything is just a case of getting used to it. The ease with which you can run a different OS in a VM means OS choice is practically less important. You could use Windows as your main OS because the hardware works and run everything in a Linux VM if you wanted, or vice-versa. Same applies to Macs as well as PCs. That said, it sounds like you probably just want Windows 7 as it's probably closest to your XP experience?

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-09 05:15 pm (UTC)
toothycat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] toothycat
My last laptop, a Sony Vaio, lasted 8+ years before the graphics died spectacularly (it's actually still working 3 years on, as long as you don't mind headache-inducing lines down any screen it's plugged into). My current laptop is also a Vaio, and it's one of the ones you can customise at the Sony website and they put it together for you. I don't know if they're still doing Win7, but at the time I bought my current one they were offering to put WinXP on it (I was very tempted!) so I'd be surprised if it wasn't an option.
Vaios aren't cheap, but in my experience they're worth it. The laptop-before-last was an HP, and it made the standard 3 years before dying. I did pay extra for various things, though, including light weight, which you said you weren't interested in.

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