Where to find a laptop that can't get online
October 20, 2010 9:29 PM   Subscribe

Can you point me to online stores where I can buy a laptop computer that does NOT have Internet access?

The goal is to be able to leave my laptop at school or work and thereby force myself to stay off the Internet, while still having the ability to do work on a computer.

I'm looking for the following specs:

- no wireless capacity
- laptop rather than desktop
- large screen and large keyboard
- Windows, not Mac or Linux
- can run MS Office
- USB port

Optimal, but not crucial
- no built-in Internet capacity whatsoever
- $50-$100 range
- Windows XP Professional
- originally a nice computer, even if now it's old

I imagine this will be either many years old or refurbished, which is fine.

Thanks in advance for all help!
posted by foursentences to Shopping (14 answers total)
I'd recommend finding a laptop that has a minicard for the wireless (most do AFAIK - especially the older ones) and then removing it. Just check to see if you find directions on how to remove it before you buy, for example here are directions for a Dell Lattitude D620.
posted by cftarnas at 10:03 PM on October 20, 2010

Maybe check the Lenovo online store? It seems like they pretty frequently have sales on the leftovers from large corporate custom-orders, because some of the discount machines on there have weird configurations. Frankly I can hardly see many people ordering computers without wireless anymore, but it may be worth a try...
posted by rkent at 10:26 PM on October 20, 2010

You can configure any laptop to not have internet access by disabling the networking device in Device Manager. If you're worried that you'll cheat and go back in and re-enable it, then set up the system with both an administrator account and a regular user account. Set the password of the admin account to a long string of random characters that you won't be able to remember and write it down on a post-it that you keep at the back of a desk drawer at home. Log in to the Admin account once to disable the hardware, then log off and only use the normal user account from then on. The regular account won't have sufficient access to do anything in Device Manager.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:30 PM on October 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

I would just get a regular laptop and disable the wifi, NIC devices in Windows, or remove the drivers.
posted by floam at 10:32 PM on October 20, 2010

This refurbished Thinkpad T42 fits many of your specs, but $180 feels like a lot for an old computer.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:33 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Some (most?) laptops have a sliding switch that enables/disables wifi connectivity. You can just glue that in the "off" position. Getting a laptop without a network card at all is probably going to be a challenge. Depending on your location, there may be stores willing to remove it for a small servicing fee (if you can't do it yourself).
posted by vidur at 10:40 PM on October 20, 2010

You're not going to find a laptop that doesn't have an ethernet port.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:57 PM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm on a mac, but I have the same problem as you: I need to get work done when I'm at work, but using my personal computer just leads to procrastination. I solve the problem by doing pretty much what Rhomboid says above: create separate work and home accounts. In the work account, you can disable anything even remotely distracting. It works for me.
posted by auto-correct at 11:04 PM on October 20, 2010

Not stated in people's reasoning above, but a quite valid reason for all to advise you to use "soft" methods to disable internet access rather than simply not having it is that--as I'm sure you know--you will most likely need to update your software at some point and so access will be handy. Although, I guess if you are spending $180 on an old Thinkpad just to get essential work done, then spending $180-$250 per year (or approximately $20/month) to upgrade by buying another Rent-a-Wreck may be your way to go & do one of the hard removals of the NIC.
posted by beelzbubba at 11:39 PM on October 20, 2010

Pick your computer, and as others have suggested, remove the wireless card. You can usually find howtos online that deal with replacing the card in a given model. Proceed through the removal stage, and then put it back together without a card.

If you're keen to get rid of the ethernet port as well, just squeeze a little superglue in there.
posted by Ahab at 2:19 AM on October 21, 2010

I have a Thinkpad T42. It is a great little computer. The one needs more cowbell links to is twice the speed of mine and for that, I would be willing to pay the $180 listed. I installed Linux on mine and it runs like a champ.
posted by chiefthe at 4:27 AM on October 21, 2010

if you are looking at getting a thinkpad you should look at thinkpad users marketplace forum that is simply the best place to get older IBMs imho on the 'net - especially older ones.

no matter what, if you get a thinkpad you should look there, b/c i am pretty sure you can manually remove the wireless card/disconnect or break the ethernet port...
posted by knockoutking at 8:28 AM on October 21, 2010

Screwdriver the wireless switch until it pops; tip it in the bin. Then Epoxy glue in the port. It's like nuking the site from orbit; the only way to be sure.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 11:38 AM on October 21, 2010

I read an interview with the writer Jonathan Franzen recently where he wanted to find a solution to remove all internet from his laptop. What he did was remove the wifi card from inside the laptop. Then, to disable the ethernet port he superglued a Cat-5 (ethernet) cable into the port and then cut the wire off, leaving the glued end in there.
posted by coolxcool=rad at 4:49 PM on October 21, 2010

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