How to choose a Laptop/notebook


Nov 12, 2009
Hello guys,
I want to buy a machine that will do stuff. I don't know very much (it took me months to figure out what to get in a desktop) - the terms laptop & notebook have a kind of intrinsic face value where lap is larger and... but who knows. Me, I want to pay the least I can to get the most stuff done.
I'm a disabled vet, but mobile and I want a toy to help my travels - like a super intelligent, pet-companion who has no say in where I go or what I do, but who can help with routing, context and background info, take notes and keep me tied into home base. A movie at night, cheapest gas, best or favorite food, and on and on. I sometimes dictate to Dragon 9, I like to chck out Wiki for stuff. And on Sunday I like to sit in front of a TV with the latest lines & talk to my son about why his bets are way off the mark. Simple guy, simple life. I'm getting a device on e-bay to hold my laptop in the van (Notebook Laptop Mount Desk Auto Car Truck Stand Holder= ) and a GPS device ( GPS USB PDA Laptop Notebook Receiver w/Street Atlas USA = .
Can you guys help me get a simple toy to keep things cheap & easy?

1_What is your budget? $200 - $350

2_What is the size? general portability (under 8lbs.)- in car & occasional hikes.

3_What screen resolution? Average - my eyes aren't so good - size more important so i can zoom in OK. (Sure would love 17" screen)

4_Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop? Portable - in addition to my desktop.

5_How much battery life? 4-6 hours between charges.

6_Do you want to play games with your laptop? None, have never played!

7_What other tasks to do with your laptop? GPS in my car; Take notes with Dragon-Naturally Speaking / Winword; Use internet to enlighten and amuse myself.

8_How much storage (H.D.D Capacity) do you need? 20 - 100 Gb.?

9_If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post the links to them:,
Pacific Geek = [url=]

Tiger Direct = , etc.

10_How long do you want to keep your laptop? till i outgrow it or it dies.

11_What kind of Optical drive do you need? CD-DVD PLAYERS / recorders?

12_Please tell us about the brands that you prefer: Really want to stay with XP, NO VISTA 4me; Intel - best processor (don't have good reasons).

13_What country do you live in? PA - USA

14_Please tell us any additional information: Thanks a whole lot. You've already got me thinking far more clearly than when I started and I think the questionnaire is great. Thanks Maziar for the great place to start.

FAQ Discussion Thread:

PS - sorry guys - couldn't figure out how to make a straight internet hyperlink.


Well, you're probably not going to find a netbook with a large screen. Max is usually 11-12 inches for those types of machines.

This is the only pre configured machine that isn't too much beyond your budget:

Your best bet for your budget would be to check out Dell, as you can configure your own device. My advice would be to increase your budget or save a bit more before buying in order to get what you really want out of a laptop.


Nov 12, 2009

Thanks B,
Just noticed your response. I hadn't seen that one @ new egg but it really does look like the best new for the money I've seen so far. It's a great suggestion. I've been looking at Toshiba Satellite P25's and the HP Pavilion Zd series USED on eBay. They seem to go off at my budget numbers, but I guess I'm gun shy over used stuff. As for waiting, that does make the most sense. As x-mas approaches the prices will plummet this year. I'll try the Dell configuration tomorrow before kickoff.
Thanks for a thoughtful and gracious response.
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