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Help me buy a computer for commuting!
July 2, 2012 12:10 PM   Subscribe

I need a laptop that I won't be sad over if it breaks or gets lost, my target budget is Less Than or Equal To $400. Ideally super light with a full size keyboard.

I have a Macbook pro, but I don't want to take that on the bus to and from school (a university) & work. The computer will need to run Linux as all my stuff that I'll be doing on the commute will be Computer Science/Programming stuff. Round trip, my commute is about 1.5-2 hours. Riding the bus cuts my fuel costs from $300 to $0, with free rent I'll be able to save all that cash.

I was looking at: http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0382600

It's an Acer Aspire AS5349-2899 15.6-Inch Laptop. But I need suggestions:

Criteria:

1. Must be under $400
2. Must have full size keyword
3. Must be able to run a Java and C++ IDE. I'm looking at running Eclipse as my main IDE. Must also be able run VIM, SSH Client, Netbeans etc...
4. Must be able to run Ubuntu Linux with Wireless and Display drives working with no issues
5. Should have a big screen, but I can cut on this to save the weight.
6. Dual Boot would be nice.
7. I want new, not refurb

Any ideas?

Target budget: <$400
Target Purchase Date: After August 17, 2012
Target Life of Computer: 1 academic year or greater (I'm a senior)
Target OS: Ubuntu Linux
posted by snow_mac to Technology (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Does any laptop have a full size keyboard?
posted by dgeiser13 at 12:29 PM on July 2, 2012


I think you are looking for magic here, esp wrt cost. MacBook airs fit your use case, except for price.
Maybe an older used one?
posted by rockindata at 12:37 PM on July 2, 2012


If you keep an eye on Woot, they regularly feature new (or sometimes refurb) sub-$400 full-powered laptops. Here's another candidate.

You will absolutely need more than 2GB RAM for what you describe, though. I say that as someone who spends all day using Eclipse on Ubuntu. (and if you're willing to consider the "new" criterion, look on Craigslist for a used ThinkPad T60 - lots of them show up for around $200 as businesses retire them, and a T60 is an all-around better machine than anything you'll find for under $400 new)
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 12:38 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Check newegg maybe? Here's one that might work: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834215345
posted by Grither at 12:41 PM on July 2, 2012


Craig's list
posted by Flood at 12:44 PM on July 2, 2012


I picked up a pretty great Toshiba at Office Depot for that. It has no software, but we got that online for cheap through my work.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:47 PM on July 2, 2012


Check your local pawn shops. You should be able to find a wide selection under $400.
posted by chazlarson at 12:51 PM on July 2, 2012


I bought this a month ago. I like it. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834246310
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:11 PM on July 2, 2012


3. Must be able to run a Java and C++ IDE. I'm looking at running Eclipse as my main IDE. Must also be able run VIM, SSH Client, Netbeans etc...

Do you have remote access to machines on campus that can run Eclipse? You might have an easier time coming in under budget if you look at the laptop just as a device to X11/NX/VNC/RDP into a more powerful machine on which to do all your work. The bonus here is that you could get an ARM-based laptop and take advantage of the better battery life.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 1:11 PM on July 2, 2012


Do you have remote access to machines on campus that can run Eclipse?

Unless the bus provides wi-fi, it would be difficult for the OP do work on the commute using remote X11.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:15 PM on July 2, 2012


I have access to a wifi hotspot. What are my options? I have done remote session before and they work well.
posted by snow_mac at 1:19 PM on July 2, 2012


I can't speak to running Ubuntu on it, but otherwise, the dual-core Thinkpad x120e is the exact computer you want. I got mine for less than $400, but the model has been discontinued so that may be trickier now. The x130e also looks great, but runs pricier.

I run Eclipse on mine all day long - it's my primary computer, and I have an IT job. It barely weighs anything. The keyboard is amazing, one of the first models with the new-school Thinkpad chicklet keys. The screen looks great - it has the same resolution in 11" that the Acer has in 15.6". It takes 8gb RAM. The battery lasts 5 hrs.

It's so good, I almost can't believe it's a real computer. It's everything netbooks should have been but never were. If you can find a deal on one, snap it up.
posted by zjacreman at 8:04 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


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