Author Topic: Laptops, which company is better?  (Read 4807 times)

Bobbias

  • #1 Poster
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7189
  • 404 Avatar not found.
    • View Profile
    • Magnetic Architect
Laptops, which company is better?
« on: November 25, 2007, 11:22:43 PM »
I know it's kinda a hard question, and on larger sites it may well turn into a flamewar, but I'd like your answers on the subject. My girlfriend and I want to know a bit more about the different companies that make laptops and what their track records are, because by the looks of things, the next one she buys won't be dell. (She's not very happy with their tech support, and there have been quite a few issues with the hardware in her laptop.)

As far as her issues go, here's a quick list:
Hard drive was loose and always seemed to be jiggling out and causing issues and such. (It's been fixed, last I heard, but it was a rather long running issue, and even the stuff tech support told her to do didn't fix it, I'm not sure how it was fixed.)
The ethernet port doesn't keep a good connection, and since her cord is missing the springy piece of plastic that locks it in, she has to wrap it around the screen to keep it at the right angle to make a connection, and it still disconnects a lot.
Her power cord is broken, but dell won't replace it. The want her to buy another one. Their credit card is at it's limit, so they can't afford to right now, so even if they have enough money on them, they can't buy it because she needs a credit card.

Plus, re-installing the dell hardware drivers is a gigantic pain in the ass. Their site is nearly impossible to navigate. At least their forums are nice.

In any case, what other companies should we look into and what are the general impressions you have of them. (I'm also interested personally, because I don't know much about the companies that make laptops, since I've never owned a laptop. I may yet need one, or buy one, at some point, so this would be as good a time as any to learn.)
This is going in my sig. :)


BANNED FOR BAD PUNS X_x

Spectere

  • \m/ (-_-) \m/
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5432
  • printf("%s\n", "Hi!");
    • View Profile
    • spectere.net
Re: Laptops, which company is better?
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2007, 12:01:47 PM »
I've used several Dell laptops (I dealt with a TON of them at last job, and my laptop is an Inspiron 9300) and haven't had any problems with them (the battery being completely dead on mine, but (1) it's two years old and (2) I was kind of ignorant on what's good for Li-Ion batteries at the time).  I really haven't had a problem navigating their site.  Really, all you have to do is pick the model or enter the service tag and it lists everything.  They've even improved the way the drivers are listed.  It's far better than hp/Compaq, for one (with hp/Compaq's site you're lucky if it even brings up the right model due to the forced search system).

Also, the Ethernet "port" issue is the cable -- of course if you have a busted prong it's going to have a hard time staying in a laptop.  That's like blaming 3Com or Asus because I tried to use a bad cable in the onboard Ethernet port on my system a couple of months ago.  Just reterminate it or swap for a different one.

How exactly did the power cord break on it?  If it was from something that could be considered abuse, no company would have replaced it for free.  If it just died and the system is still under warranty (emphasis on the latter), make sure to tell them that.

The thing with any laptop is that you shouldn't get the base model.  This is true with Gateway, Acer, Dell, Compaq, everyone.  Always aim for mid-range or better or you will pay for it in the long run.  I know a bunch of people with cheap Compaqs (including myself a few years ago) that really regretted it.  The only problems I've had with my Dell were all the fault of ATI's drivers (and I can't blame Dell for me not picking the nVidia GPU).  I also forgot to specify that I wanted recovery discs and contacted technical support about them.  They shipped them to me overnight, free of charge.  I was also pleased to find out that Dell gives out actual operating system CDs, even at the time I ordered it.  Most companies then only shipped DVDs with the recovery image on them.

So, long story short, mid-range or better, always.  The systems are always better constructed and have higher-quality parts.  Despite the issues that your girlfriend had (at least one of which isn't an issue with the system) I still recommend Dell.  I've used hundreds of their systems between school, work, and home, and have yet to have any major issues with them.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Bobbias

  • #1 Poster
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7189
  • 404 Avatar not found.
    • View Profile
    • Magnetic Architect
Re: Laptops, which company is better?
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2007, 06:06:43 PM »
You know those piece of hard plastic at the end of the cord that are there to protect the cord from being bent too hard in the wrong direction:

Generic image, not the same type...


Well, it got bent too hard and you could see the the wires separated from the connector just behind that piece of plastic. I don't know if it is still under warranty or not.

Also, I should point out that on my computer, I could have a broken ethernet cord like that plugged into the back of my computer and it would be perfectly fine. The issue is that the port is a little too big. A normal cord would fit fine, but would have a bit more free space around it than most other ethernet ports I've known.

Also, the hard drive issue was VERY annoying, because nobody at dell seemed to have any idea how to help, and even sending it back to them to get a new hard drive didn't work, if I remember correctly.
This is going in my sig. :)


BANNED FOR BAD PUNS X_x

cristian989

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 282
    • View Profile
Re: Laptops, which company is better?
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2007, 06:47:03 PM »
I've had a toshiba laptop for about 4 1/2 years now. I've only had two problems: the screen died out (which was covered under my extended warrantee) and the keyboard needed to be replaced.

I plan on either getting a new laptop soon, or building my own PC. Either way, if I go for the laptop, it will either be another toshiba or a panasonic toughbook.




Bobbias

  • #1 Poster
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7189
  • 404 Avatar not found.
    • View Profile
    • Magnetic Architect
Re: Laptops, which company is better?
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2007, 06:53:32 PM »
My dad has a toshiba laptop that's pretty damn old too. I don't remember a single problem he had, but my girlfriend doesn't want toshiba... She thinks that they overheat too easily.. (ironic, since a dell exploded...)
This is going in my sig. :)


BANNED FOR BAD PUNS X_x

Spectere

  • \m/ (-_-) \m/
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5432
  • printf("%s\n", "Hi!");
    • View Profile
    • spectere.net
Re: Laptops, which company is better?
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2007, 08:08:43 PM »
Also, I should point out that on my computer, I could have a broken ethernet cord like that plugged into the back of my computer and it would be perfectly fine. The issue is that the port is a little too big. A normal cord would fit fine, but would have a bit more free space around it than most other ethernet ports I've known.

If the port were too big the plug wouldn't fit right even if it did have a prong.  And I don't recall it being anything like that on my laptop.

Also, bear in mind that you don't move a tower or desktop system around nearly as much as a laptop.  It's kind of an unfair comparison.

(ironic, since a dell exploded...)

Any laptop can explode, you're just forgetting/ignoring the factors that cause them to combust.  If they're running a hot Pentium 4 processor, the system isn't clean, and enough of that heat gets to the battery, the battery will combust.  If they're running with a faulty battery, one that uses, say, that particularly bad run of cells that Sony shipped out, it can explode.

No brand of laptop is more likely to explode than any other.  I really wish people would stop implying otherwise, because the whole "ZOMG DELL LAPTOPZ ASPLODE" thing is getting really tiring.

Another thing to consider: Dell was the first company to issue a recall regarding the exploding battery situation last year (which, again, was completely Sony's fault), despite the potentially bad press that could be targeted at them.  You didn't see Apple, Toshiba, Gateway, Sony, or any of the other companies using the same cells issue recalls until weeks after Dell issued theirs, probably for fear of the negative attention.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Bobbias

  • #1 Poster
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7189
  • 404 Avatar not found.
    • View Profile
    • Magnetic Architect
Re: Laptops, which company is better?
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2007, 12:10:31 AM »
I was simply pointing out that I thought it was ironic the fact that the first instance I ever heard of a laptop exploding was a dell system, and that she was weary of toshibas because of their heating issues.

When I meant too big, I meant only slightly. Not every port is exactly the same size. Some of them are a tighter fit than others, and that one happened to be a muich looser fit than some I've seen, loose enough that it required that the cord be on an angle to make the proper connections. I used that exact same cord with the broken part plugged into my router and it was fine, even without the prong.

I realize that heating is an issue with every type of laptop, and when she mentioned the toshibas apparently having crappy heat sinks and such, I told her she could always get one of those cooling pad things. There are ways to keep a laptop cool, even if it's built in cooling isn't very effective. The other part is making sure you buy a system with smarter technology, and chips that don't run as hot.

RELEVANT: http://wearescientists.com/advice/2007/03/06/ (Scroll to the laptop question)
« Last Edit: November 27, 2007, 05:48:10 AM by Bobbias »
This is going in my sig. :)


BANNED FOR BAD PUNS X_x

Spectere

  • \m/ (-_-) \m/
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5432
  • printf("%s\n", "Hi!");
    • View Profile
    • spectere.net
Re: Laptops, which company is better?
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2007, 11:23:21 AM »
Actually, I've never seen a problem with Toshiba's heat dispersement either and I've used a fair number of them.  Are you sure she just wasn't using a Pentium 4-based laptop?  Those get ridiculously hot and there's really not a whole lot the laptop manufacturers can do about that.

Also, I really hope the person in that link was joking.  It's hard for me to take someone seriously when they go on about evil megacorporations.  Also, processors designed for laptops are quite expensive to buy retail.  The Pentium-M that's in my laptop was literally a third of what I paid for the laptop -- Dell certainly didn't pay that much for it because they were able to buy in bulk.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Bobbias

  • #1 Poster
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7189
  • 404 Avatar not found.
    • View Profile
    • Magnetic Architect
Re: Laptops, which company is better?
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2007, 11:53:52 PM »
Lol, yeah, he was joking, you should read all the other questions and answers there, that has to be one of the funniest advice columns I've ever seen. I have no idea what the system was running, and she probably doesn't either, and I'll point that out to her.

I'm not sure that you couldn't put a laptop together for a half decent price, but the question is quality. I know laptops are different than PCs, when it comes ro pricing, so I'm not sure how things stack up with laptops. I know that you're just wasting your money if you buy pre-packaged PCs most of the time. There are times where you might get some better hardware on occasion, but I find that I can make an overall better computer for the same, or a little bit more money than those pre-packaged computers.

I think when I bought it, my computer would have likely cost quite a bit more to get a comparable setup pre-packaged. Hell, it was cheaper to buy the mobo, processor, and case separate than buy a barebone kit. I also kinda cheaped out on the mobo just a bit because I couldn't afford the slightly better models and such. I could have gotten SLI and/or DDR2 ram support for not much more, but I just couldn't afford it. All in all, my system was a pretty nice build for what it cost me, and I would never have been able to afford a similar build from someone like dell.. Especially considering I bought a 320GB hard drive with it.
This is going in my sig. :)


BANNED FOR BAD PUNS X_x

Spectere

  • \m/ (-_-) \m/
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5432
  • printf("%s\n", "Hi!");
    • View Profile
    • spectere.net
Re: Laptops, which company is better?
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2007, 12:50:58 AM »
Thing is, I've seen so many people seriously act like that that I sometimes have a hard time telling what's what. :P

I've heard of sites that offer parts that let you build a laptop.  Really, I'm not too sure what kind of quality you could expect with something like that, but the fact that computer manufacturers can get some of the potentially expensive and hard to attain components in bulk, it'd be hard to beat the price.

As far as desktop and tower systems go, I can see very high-end machines potentially being cheaper from companies like Dell.  For instance, when you look at some of their better Precision workstations, it's doubtful that you'd be able to put together an equivalent system for less.  Of course, some of those systems also use high-end SMB-capable motherboards with twin Xeons and allow for ridiculous amounts of RAM, so it's easy to see why that would be true. ;)  A lot of servers are the same way.  Sure, you can get some decent motherboards with RAID, but how many places sell dual and quad processor boards that support 32GB of RAM, let alone the parts that you could use to fill the spots?

Mmm, this talk about high-end computing is exciting me. :<
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Bobbias

  • #1 Poster
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7189
  • 404 Avatar not found.
    • View Profile
    • Magnetic Architect
Re: Laptops, which company is better?
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2007, 01:01:22 AM »
Haha, lol, quite true. I can understand how a pre-made high-end workstation or server could be potentially cheaper that way, but anything under about 1000 or 1200, you could probably make yourself for cheaper.

That said, I could probably put together a small system built for networked storage for cheaper than those things you see advertised, lol.most 1TB networked storage systems cost between 600 to 1000. All you'd need is a mobo with built in lan, a rather slow processor, since it's only workload would be connecting to the network, and doing whatever is necessary to transfer that data, a bit of ram, since the system probably won't need too much of that either... Hell, my 133 could probably have dealt with the loads necessary to act as a memory server. Of course, I'd have needed to give it the ability to deal with RAID, as wel as a network card, but in all honesty, that's probably all you need.

The only thing that would really cost you is a custom box, lol.

But yeah, for stuff like mobos that support twin Xeons, it's gonna cost you. My mobo supports RAID, has 2 IDE connections and 5 SATA slots, IIRC. It's a beast when it comes to how much hard drive space I could give it.
This is going in my sig. :)


BANNED FOR BAD PUNS X_x

Spectere

  • \m/ (-_-) \m/
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5432
  • printf("%s\n", "Hi!");
    • View Profile
    • spectere.net
Re: Laptops, which company is better?
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2007, 03:31:51 AM »
That said, I could probably put together a small system built for networked storage for cheaper than those things you see advertised, lol.most 1TB networked storage systems cost between 600 to 1000. All you'd need is a mobo with built in lan, a rather slow processor, since it's only workload would be connecting to the network, and doing whatever is necessary to transfer that data, a bit of ram, since the system probably won't need too much of that either... Hell, my 133 could probably have dealt with the loads necessary to act as a memory server. Of course, I'd have needed to give it the ability to deal with RAID, as wel as a network card, but in all honesty, that's probably all you need.

The main difference is that the high-end NAS systems are built from the ground up for network and data throughput.  Regardless of how high-end you go with a consumer-grade system you're not going to achieve the same level of performance as a good dedicated server when you put a load on it.

Of course, we're talking about very different markets here -- the corporate market is considerably different than something that you or I would use in our homes.  Even small businesses could make due with the kind of solution that you're talking about.

But yeah, for stuff like mobos that support twin Xeons, it's gonna cost you. My mobo supports RAID, has 2 IDE connections and 5 SATA slots, IIRC. It's a beast when it comes to how much hard drive space I could give it.

What's frightening is that those sort of boards are common nowadays.

Also, you forgot about the ability to use USB and FireWire hard drives.  For shame. ;)  I was bored at work one time and put together an order for a system that had two 1TB IDE hard drives, seven 1TB SATA hard drives, a bunch of USB 2.0 cards, a ton more of USB 2.0 hubs, and enough external 1TB hard drives to fill up said hubs.  I don't even want to know how much power a setup like that that would consume.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Bobbias

  • #1 Poster
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7189
  • 404 Avatar not found.
    • View Profile
    • Magnetic Architect
Re: Laptops, which company is better?
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2007, 07:11:57 AM »
Haha, yeah, how much space total was there, and how much would it have cost? lol.

And yeah, I know that it would never be good to put a setup like that in use the same way that a commercial database server would be, but as a data server for home use, that would actually probably be a damned good idea. It'd barely cost more than the hard drives themselves. Too bad I destroyed my old 133's processor years ago to see what the cored looked like after we stopped using it, lol.
This is going in my sig. :)


BANNED FOR BAD PUNS X_x

Spectere

  • \m/ (-_-) \m/
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5432
  • printf("%s\n", "Hi!");
    • View Profile
    • spectere.net
Re: Laptops, which company is better?
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2007, 12:50:48 PM »
I don't remember exactly how many hard drives I had in there.  All I know is that it was reaaaaaaly expensive. XD

And yeah, I was actually thinking about doing something similar when I get everything together.  It would be a damn nice thing for a home user, especially with some sort of RAID setup thrown in.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Bobbias

  • #1 Poster
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7189
  • 404 Avatar not found.
    • View Profile
    • Magnetic Architect
Re: Laptops, which company is better?
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2007, 03:27:58 AM »
Plus, for home use you can just cannibalize some old computer that isn't doing much. Only issue is that you'll usually need other parts to support raid on a lot of the old computers.
This is going in my sig. :)


BANNED FOR BAD PUNS X_x