There are so many laptops out there!
December 26, 2008 2:24 PM   Subscribe

Laptop recommendations for a ~600 USD budget

Yep, another laptop question.

I have a ~600 USD budget. I mostly surf the web, email, type, that type of thing. No gaming, but I do occasionally edit photos/videos.

I'm planning to put some distribution of linux on it (probably Arch).

I'm not really sure about what brand even to look at, as I haven't bought a laptop for a while, and I had been looking at netbooks because I thought my budget would be a lot smaller. I'm still open to them, but I think I'd be better suited to a regular notebook. (I think I'd get a Samsung NC10, though, because it seems to be the best of the current netbooks.)

I did have an older, used IBM Thinkpad that was very good, until it broke. It did, however, survive at least three drops to the floor from at least waist height.

I'm slightly wary of Dell because I've dealt with their support before, but I may be able to be swayed..

Right now I'm looking at a Toshiba , a Lenovo, and an HP.

I definitely want a new laptop (not used!). I have seen the past few questions about laptops.
posted by majikstreet to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh yeah, and I'm looking to purchase most likely after the end of this year.. Definitely before the end of January, though. I am open to purchasing before the end of this year, but only for a very good deal.
posted by majikstreet at 2:26 PM on December 26, 2008

You could look at the Asus eee 1000. It is bigger than the 900 series, but still light and compact. It comes with linux on it, so all the hardware should work with whatever distro you go with.

(I love my eee!)
posted by achmorrison at 2:51 PM on December 26, 2008

Best answer: It's a matter of personal preference, but the trackpoint swayed me toward Lenovo--I find a trackpoint much easier to use than a touchpad when I can't plug in a mouse. I think some Toshiba laptops have a similar pointing device now as well.

I'm not sure if the laptop you linked to has it, but last year when I was looking for a laptop, I watched the slickdeals forums for deals. I'm sure you could get something with a trackpoint for under $600 if you like trackpoints.
posted by needs more cowbell at 2:57 PM on December 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

I got my HP Pavilion dv6910us for slightly over $600, it came with a 64-bit Turion X2 and 3 GB of RAM. OpenSuSE installed and recognized absolutely everything.
Apart from my Leopard DVD not recognizing the hard drive, I'm completely satisfied with it.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:18 PM on December 26, 2008

go wild...
posted by geos at 4:08 PM on December 26, 2008

Best answer: I think Lenovo is making some of the best laptops out there. I use a Thinkpad at work and have an Ideapad Y510 for home. Sturdy and reliable, they just work and aren't loaded with all the usual Dell/HP bloatware.
posted by Argyle at 4:36 PM on December 26, 2008

Just bought a new Acer Extensa 5630 at Costco for about that price. It is my 2nd Acer. Mostly email, surfing, iTunes- I run PS on it as well - no problems. 3Gigs Ram, 250 HD. My 2nd choice was going to be a Toshiba- my wife has one and I love it as well.
posted by bytemover at 5:02 PM on December 26, 2008

I bought a refurbished Dell d410 from Dell financial. Very nice feature set. They are selling for about $400. The battery was dead on mine but still a great sub $600 notebook.
posted by JohnR at 5:49 PM on December 26, 2008

I'm in a similar situation, but I went with a Refurbished Lenovo Thinkpad, T61 with a discrete Nvida graphics card. Normally it's somewhere in the 1500 range but refurbished its around 660$.

There are a ton of different ones, the T61 is just the one I thought was a good deal.
posted by tropikal at 6:51 PM on December 26, 2008

I'm in the same boat. I'm buying a HP Pavilion DV4-1140GO, but I may have waited too long: it was $600 after rebate a couple days ago.

Try price comparison sites, you might find a price better than Amazon's.
posted by quarantine at 7:04 PM on December 26, 2008

Response by poster: Hmm. right now I found a coupon for Lenovo (USP48HOURSDEC26) that gets me some off of their laptops. I'm right now looking at a SL400 with decent specs.. I think if I just get the least amount of ram that they offer and buy more separately, it's a lot cheaper. (I could get 4gigs of ram for ~$36 + shipping, while lenovo offers it for like $100!) I think that coupon is going to end soon, though..

I'm still afraid of used/refurb laptops.. Lenovo's refurbs seem to have bad specs, anyway.

I think if I find a deal like this one I'll buy a Lenovo.
posted by majikstreet at 7:30 PM on December 26, 2008

I have a Toshiba, they are OK when healthy but check for the battery: Toshibas have a rep for short battery life, and if you have a problem you can't just dowload a fix from your windows disc, you have to wipe the whole hardrive and reinstall windows from start. Clumsy.
posted by zaelic at 2:05 AM on December 27, 2008

I've had good luck with refurbed machines (gateways) purchased through tigerdirect.
posted by notyou at 7:53 AM on December 27, 2008

And i see you aren't interested in refurbs...

I apologize for the clutter.
posted by notyou at 7:54 AM on December 27, 2008

Make damn sure that linux works well on the machine in question. It can be very frustrating to not have working hibernation or working sound.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:15 AM on December 27, 2008

I'm on my second refurbished Dell. No problems at all, and the prices are hard to beat. Buy from the Dell Outlet store on their website. Usually these are machines that someone ordered and then canceled after they were built or failed initial testing off the line and were diverted for diagnosis and repair. Or minor scratch and dent. Both of mine were pristine. There's no way to tell that it's not brand new. Except I paid half what my friend did for the same thing 8 months ago.

- Purchased direct from Dell, warranty is identical to a new one. Sometimes better.
- Good price- generally 2/3 of the price of a "new" one, and no downside.
- May have been tested and QC checked better than factory fresh.
- New models, all but the most bleeding edge.
- Most likely, the PC was never in another end-users hands. Once a PC is shipped, Dell rarely takes the whole thing back.

- You are purchasing from inventory they already have. Can't do too much customization. But they usually have a pretty good selection and you can find something that will work.

Normally I don't buy refurb stuff unless I'm willing to accept that it's junk and may not get warranteed. Especially from third party retailers. And really not old "off lease" stuff. Especially with something expensive like a laptop. I was in MicroCenter once, and they had 3 year old computers out for something like $249 with no monitor/keyboard/mouse/OS. As it happened, I know that those particular models were about $550 new, with all of that. And the one they had out was filthy inside. And had blown capacitors. So much for "refurbished"...

Same thing at Tiger Direct- they have "refurb" stuff there that was filthy, expensive for what it was, and a failure-prone model.

But like I said, the Dell outlet store is different. (Note on Dell's support- the better warranty you have, the better support you get. Also, buy business machines rather than consumer ones. Support is better, I've found.)

(Lenovo's Thinkpads are still pretty good machines, though their design and build quality is down. If it's the same price as any other brand, a perfectly good choice. But I wouldn't pay for or expect anything better than a Dell or a business-line HP.)
posted by gjc at 12:07 PM on December 27, 2008

Response by poster: I ordered a Lenovo SL400 today. Can't wait until it arrives :)
posted by majikstreet at 2:07 PM on December 27, 2008

Response by poster: I mean to update this before, but oh well. The laptop "arrived" on Friday the 2nd, but UPS said I wasn't home. So I went to the customer care place and picked it up. I love the laptop!
posted by majikstreet at 12:32 PM on January 6, 2009

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