South Africa - New Notebook Advice (less than US $1000)


Feb 12, 2016
I need some help purchasing a new notebook in South Africa.

I still have my HP Pavilion dv5284ea laptop I bought 11 years ago and I have NEVER had any problem with it - it's still running Windows XP SP3.

See webpages below for all the great features and that is for an 11 year old machine. (I upgraded it to 2GB RAM and it came standard with all the “on select models” features.)
2. - see either of the first 2 manuals

I never really appreciated the great features it had for that time (2005), especially the PC card slots and. EXTENSIVE ports until I started looking for a new laptop.

By now you have probably worked out my first problem with the latest notebooks – so few expansion features and ports compared to my old machine.

I will be doing EXTENSIVE research on the web, downloading multiple files, streaming video, multiple web pages and spreadsheets all open at the time, some photo editing, PowerPoint presentations using data projector and then normal leisure usage, e.g. watching movies, listening to music daily while I work (at home). I am NOT into gaming.

My most important consideration is durability.

I was thinking of a notebook with AT LEAST the following specs:
1. FHD 15.6” screen (1920x1080)
2. Either an Intel i5 or i7 CPU - fifth or sixth generation
3. At least 8GB RAM, preferably 1 x 8192 DDR3L 1600 so that it can be easily upgraded with another 1 x 8192 to 16GB.
4. 500-1000GB HDD, preferably 7200rpm
5. DVD+/-RW Optical disk drive
6. HD webcam (720p)
7. Ports - 1 x HDMI,
- 1 x D-sub VGA out (for my data projector),
- at LEAST 2 x USB 3.0
- and 1 x USB 2.0,
(ABSOLUTE minimum 3 USB ports total, preferably 4)
- 1 x RJ45 Ethernet LAN,
- 1 x Headphone/Microphone Combo Jack,
8. Bluetooth / 802.11ac wireless LAN
9. Windows OS

My ADSL seems to go down when I need it the most (only about 2-3 times a year but extremely irritating) and I then use the RJ-11 (modem) jack to do a dial-up connection. So it would be great if I could somehow include that as well, as it is my current backup when all else fails even though it is sooooo slow – better than nothing at all.

My web searches have led me to the following:

1. Lenovo Idea Tab Z5170 (Product ID - 80K600X6SA)

2. HP ProBook 450 G2 (Product ID - N0Z05EA)

3. Acer TravelMate P257-MG-767S (Product ID - NX.VB6EA.003)

4. Acer Travelmate P257-MG (Product ID - TMP257-MG-55UG)

5. I could not find Asus or Dell with the specs I am looking for, although there are HD (1366 x 768) options, e.g. Dell Inspiron 5559 (iS5559-I76500-81000#WIN10 or NBDEI55596200i74110S).

So please, if my most important consideration is durability, together with good performance, please comment on the following:

(a) Your advice on the 5 options above (Lenovo and HP seem best to me regarding the specs I have mentioned).
(b) Any other options I can look at around R15 – R16 000 (less than US $1000)
(c) I've heard that Acer and Asus have pulled out of South Africa ???
(d) Also, your opinion regarding the RJ-11 (modem) jack issue mentioned above.



Mar 29, 2016
I personally use a Lenovo X220 it is not bleeding edge but I don't need it to be. It has an Intel core i5 2540M series processor. Obviously there are newer systems. I have found Lenovo to be both durable and good options for the price. They are rather plain black cases but I want a system that works reliably I don't need fluff and glamor.

I purchased refurbished to cut down the sticker price and immediately upgraded to Win 10 from Win 7 and purchased more memory to upgrade it to 8 GB. Even with the extra RAM, docking station, and monitor I spent less that $550 USD. The main laptop cost only $250 refurbished.

Most newer systems do not include modems here in the U.S. although you can often purchase an add-on USB modem. The newer Lenovo's are similar and some have HDMI and DisplayPort. Most have built-in Bluetooth and WiFi. Many I found refurbished have at least 500 GB hard drives. You will often get a better deal with a smaller screen in the 13 to 15 inch range and add your own larger one plus you get the advantage of having a smaller portable system with the ability to have dual screens which I find useful especially since you noted that you often have multiple applications open simultaneously. That is exactly my situation when I am working.

The Core i7 based Lenovo you listed as your first system is a very capable system. It has good performance, more so that the X220 that I use. Your intended use, it would certainly perform well. However, look at the performance benchmarks for the CPUs.
Lenovo Idea Tab Z5170 Core i7 5500U: and
Lenovo x220 core i5 2500M:

In raw performance tests the Idea Tab comes in just 300 points ahead of the core i5 but it also supports 2 times the memory of the X220 at up to 16 GB. I don't know what you have for options in refurbished hardware in South Africa. Here in the U.S. I use and you could certainly reference price points with options you have there. Certainly there are current release systems with better performance that either system I have noted here but the price point will go above $1000 USD quickly.

I opted for the X220 because of portability. I travel enough via car or plane to provide application and server support that portability is important but the docking station gives me the option to have dual screen and a big screen when I need it at home or in the office as well as adding additional USB ports for external CD/DVD/BluRay, external hard drive. With most newer laptops (2 to 3 years old to current releases), you should have at least VGA output (HDMI and/or DisplayPort are common on Lenovo, HP and many others) to support a second screen whether you use a docking station or not.

Good luck on your hardware search.