Jottings on science, religion, technology, pop culture and faith from the Antipodes.

Digital Technology

Windows notebook computer?

In the next few weeks we’ll be wanting to get a basic Windows notebook computer for home for Kim to use for the various things she does. Looking around the place there seem to be a plethora of low-end models selling from between $800-$1000 depending on the rebate given by the manufacturer.

I was wanting to know if anyone who reads this blog has had any advice to offer on minimum specifications or brands that worked (or didn’t work) for them. We’ve had good experiences with our Acer Aspire desktop (including very responsive servicing) in the past, but I know that different companies load a heap of third-party ‘rubbish’ on PCs which you end up having to cull off when you get the machine.

In a perfect world we’d find one running Windows XP Pro (which we quite like), though most seem to have Vista Home Basic (VHB) on them. Moving to Vista Home Premium (VHP) adds between $200-$300 to the price of the computer, and my understanding is that VHB runs find in 1GB RAM, but VHP really feels better in 2GB of RAM.

The notebook only needs to do this kind of thing: word processing, spreadsheet, Windows media player, web browsing. No real need for DVD authoring (though burning DVD backups would be very useful), nor will it be playing any recent games (so video requirements are low). Hard disk requirements are modest too, as it won’t have games or lots of media loaded on it.

Basically, we’re looking for a reasonably well-made, reliable budget notebook PC that can do the above. And preferably one we can see in person first at a store so we can check out the keyboard feel.

BTW – If you want to make a Vista PC look like XP (and reduce the processor requirements) then this video is useful: Quick Tips: Make Windows Vista look like XP video – CNET TV.

P.S. To all the Mac-heads out there (including myself 🙂 ), a MacBook isn’t the right choice for this job. Firstly, cost-wise it’s $800-$1000 more expensive, Kim wants to use Windows (so bootcamp would require buying the OS on top of the PC), and we have an unused Office 2003 package so we don’t have to buy Office. Now if I was buying one for me, then I’d be keen on one of the new MacBooks with the extra RAM.

1 Comment

  1. Chris

    Hi Stephen,

    I’ve been using a Dell notebook for the last 3 years, no issues. Their entry level machine is around $800 (add $33 to go up to 1 GB RAM), and can be bought with either XP Home or VHB installed. I think XP Pro adds another $125 to the price.

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