Simple portable laptop for studying (ssd, poor gfx)

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Moondrinker

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To be as succinct as possible, I need a new portable laptop with an excellent keyboard and a decent 13 inch screen in the 400-500$ price range exclusively for studying, browsing and watching a movie. Something lightweight, simple and sturdy but quick and responsive with no fancy features.

- A semi-fast/good CPU.
- As poor a graphic card as one can get (should be able to watch a movie).
- Preferably a SSD(64/120gb HD space is more than enough- Mostly textfiles will be stored) - I don't need storage at all, but I want it to be quick.
- No optical drive.
- Preferably Linux and Windows.
- Lightweight/portable.
- No touchscreen or any features that might crank up the price like back lit keyboard/buttons, bloatware etc. (but it needs a webcam/mic, preferably good quality but I'm not that good looking anyway).
- No specific requirements for battery life. Can be bad as well.

I'm looking at a quirky build here and can't really find the market for it. I'm thinking I should just get the worst out there but I am going to use it 6-8 hours a day. It would be a shame.

Any help or advice?

Sincere regards.

 

jaguarskx

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You are not going to find any laptop with a SSD in the $400 - $500 range; even a small SSD. It seems 12.5" - 13.3" laptops are generally very expensive because it is those form factor that most people want for both ultra portable and also "ultra powerful" or at least powerful enough. All the 12.5" - 13.3" laptops that i have seen are out of your budget so you need to look at smaller or larger laptops.

Maybe the 14" Lenovo Z410 will suffice, however, I recommend the $500 model with the Core i3 since the $400 with the Celeron CPU is likely to be a bit too weak in my opinion. It weighs in at 4.4lbs.

http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/ideapad/z-series/z410/

The $500 version comes with a Core i3-4000m CPU and the Intel HD 4600 graphics core which is actually the 3rd most powerful integrated graphics core beaten only by the AMD Radeon HD 8610g and HD 8650g integrated graphics cores.

 

jaguarskx

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For something smaller and lighter that is in your price range, there is the Dell 11 3000 series which starts at $380 and weighs in at 3.15lbs. However, it does come with a Celeron CPU, while considered weak, it should handle basic tasks fine. But you might find the urge to by a new laptop sooner rather than later compared to going with a laptop that has a Core i3 CPU like the one above since programs and the internet gradually become more CPU demanding.

http://www.dell.com/us/p/inspiron-11-3137/pd?oc=fncwk01h&model_id=inspiron-11-3137

 

Moondrinker

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Yes, that was my hunch as well. There should be a market for that though, for people that don't need any fancy utility and touch-screen flipflop laptop/tablet but just a semi-quick/responsive portable laptop with a good keyboard. Not a lot of ram, little HD space, 3rd gen CPU (actually, doing a bit of reading, it might make more sense to get a 2rd gen CPU. As I gather, these babies are the same architecture as 3rd gen but with poorer integrated graphics - just what I'm looking for?) , low-end gfx, decent screen, nothing else.


This looks pretty solid I think (though, the comment about the gfx is not necessary), I know I am asking for the impossible here, with my price range. I am going to the US in April actually and I've been wondering if I should buy my laptop over there. It would allow me to get a 700-800$ laptop instead (residing in Denmark, taxes are mad and i could save up a bit in the meantime). I'd have to find a substitute for writing my thesis though.

Question about brands;
I have a question about brands. My ex-girlfriend had a Lenovo (actually, I'm typing on one now) and it was just a horrible piece of hardware.Everything seemed wrong with it (blue screened often/poor build quality) except the keyboard. I notice that it is the same keyboard that I'm typing on now and I was wondering if Lenovo has a renowned standard for their keyboards? Especially the ones on the thinkpad which seems sturdy and a bit old-fashioned (i like that). Chances are I won't be able to try it out before I buy it, perhaps if i do so in the United States.
I had a HP Pavilion before which just died on me after 7 years (i liked it a lot) but I haven't found a whole lot of HP's on the sites that review laptops, they seem to have receded a bit from the market.
I would like to avoid Samsung. Borrowed a friends laptop, a top of the line all aluminum model that actually sports the specs I'm looking for (SSD 128gig, CPU, low-range gfx etc. but a somewhat poor screen quality), but the keyboard was horrible (flat and jerky, not a lot of spacing between the characters).
 

jaguarskx

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Since you are in Denmark that changes things since the laptops I recommended are based on USD.

Lenovo laptops are generally good quality, but it also depends on which model and luck. For example, I have a Lenovo IdeaPad Y470 and the nVidia GT 550m died a little bit over two years after I bought it. However, I am sure many others with the same laptop do not have the issue. I am not disappoint about it since I stopped playing games on the laptop before the dedicated graphics chip died. I have also been considering buying a new laptop anyway since the 1366x768 resolution screen is too low for me to effectively multitask. I am looking at laptops with a 1080p screen and the Lenovo ThinkPad T540p / L540 are pretty high on my list at the moment.

Lenovo was renowned for their keyboards in the ThinkPad series, but unfortunately they have moved away from the old "traditional keyboard" to the current chicklet or "island style" keyboards found on consumer level laptops. From what I've read the ThinkPad keyboards are still a lot better than the keyboards on average laptops, but many diehard ThinkPad users are extremely disappointed about the change, if not angry. I have an old IBM ThinkPad T40 with the traditional keyboard and even though I have been using my Lenovo IdeaPad Y470 with the chicklet style keyboard, I find that I type much quicker and more accurately with my still functional T40 from 2003.

If you have family or friends in the US, then perhaps you have purchase the laptop for you or you can ship it to their address. Buying online is of course less expensive than buying from a store. Of course you will likely not be able to physically test them out prior to purchasing.

HP laptops are not receding from the market, but I can say why you are not finding many reviews. Perhaps some of the laptops you are looking at are new. For example, I cannot find any reviews on the ThinkPad T540p and L540. I may have found one for the T440p, but I am not sure.

You will likely have a hard time looking for a store in the US that sells ThinkPads in the store itself since most consumers do not buy business oriented laptop. The only place in New York City that I know of which do sell ThinkPads is Datavision.

http://www.yelp.com/biz/datavision-computer-video-new-york
 
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