I need a new laptop yesterday
June 6, 2011 9:25 PM   Subscribe

My laptop died a few days ago. I'm probably starting a new job next week for which I will need a laptop. The deceased was a one-year-old (JUSt out of warranty) Dell Inspiron 1464 whose motherboard got fried from unknown causes (possibly because it was sitting and idling in a hot part of the house with no way to dissipate the heat). It cost me about $500-something and we were a good team. Question: Should I just get another one of those or try for an upgrade within that same price range?

Things I liked about my old laptop:
The weight (4.7 pounds) and form factor
It was decently fast for my needs and had enough storage

I need to decide this as soon as is humanly possible and just wanted some input.

If it matters, I'm planning on keeping the old one around until I can afford to fix it - it seems like a waste to throw it away if it just needs a new part.

Note: I really can't spend more money on the replacement. Srsly.
posted by bleep to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is there a chance you bought your old laptop with a credit card that provides free extended warranty service?
posted by bottlebrushtree at 9:39 PM on June 6, 2011

Response by poster: Looked into that, no dice :(
posted by bleep at 9:45 PM on June 6, 2011

Don't feel bad about the motherboard failing, it wasn't your fault. I owned three Dells or so and the motherboard always fails- it's kind of a running gag.

I don't know how much better you're going to do for $500, but I'd buy just about any brand before I'd buy another Dell. Lenovo and Toshiba have good reps, especially Lenovo, but don't know what they have in your price range.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:27 PM on June 6, 2011

If you need the laptop for the job won't your employer give you one?
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:55 AM on June 7, 2011

I agree with koahiatamadl, if you need a laptop for work purposes then your employer should give or lend you one. That said I use my own $300 HP Mini notebook for portability at work when I'm traveling around and it's a really nice little machine with a 200 gig hard drive, 3 USB ports, 1 gig of RAM and a proper keyboard that's never let me down. I often lend it to people who've spent an hour extolling the benefits of their brand new shiny IPad before realising they actually need to do something.
posted by joannemullen at 2:54 AM on June 7, 2011

(The OP could be free lancing, in which case the employer may not really be interested in giving him a laptop.)

If you have a strong budget constraint, look at the manufacturers' refurb outlets. For example, the Lenovo one is at http://outlet.lenovo.com/ and the Dell one is at http://www.dell.com/outlet/index.htm if you're going with Dell again. With the manufacturer refurbs, the work will be done by the manufacturer, rather than some random third party. In many cases, the refurbs will basically be new machines discounted some 15%, because the original buyer opened the box, decided quickly that it didn't suit their needs, etc., and returned it with nary a scratch. The manufacturer can't sell these as "new", so it goes into the outlet.

If you have a strong time constraint, you may be stuck with whatever the brick and mortar store has in stock. For the stuff you'll see in the store, I kind of loathe HP, and am neither here nor there about modern Dells. I'm indifferent about Toshiba and Sony, though I'm not sure about warranty service for either of these. I've heard reasonably good things about Samsungs, but have no real experience. If it's in your price range, I'd prefer a Lenovo ThinkPad or Panasonic ToughBook.

Since your laptop is for work, I'd look more at the business lines (e.g., ThinkPad, Latitude) rather than the consumer lines (e.g., IdeaPad, Inspiron). All the parts may come from the same factories in China, but they're generally nicer.
posted by chengjih at 3:00 AM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

(I don't know how feasible this is, but...) If it were me and my Dell died at 13 months, I'd be emailing Dell and asking them for at least a break on a new laptop. It's ridiculous if they expect a $500 computer (or whatever) to die just after a year and be ok with that. If they didn't offer me some sort of deal, I'd take my business somewhere else.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:57 AM on June 7, 2011

You get what you pay for. You bought a 500$ laptop with a one-year warranty. You got just that.

If you need a good laptop for work then buy one that is worth it and get a longer warranty.

Outside of that option just buy another 300$-500$ laptop and expect it to die in 13-24 months. It's just like buying a car, if you purchase a 700$ Saturn don't expect it to go far, but if you spend money on something with a good warranty and reputation then you're probably good for 3-4 years.
posted by zombieApoc at 7:05 AM on June 7, 2011

Here's a scorecard for 2011 brands. Reliability does not seem to be a factor on this scorecard however, so be sure to do a bit of research on the side. Also, this is a little dated but might still be useful for some perspective: in 2009 SquareTrade did a 3 year study on laptop reliability and found Asus and Toshiba had the fewest reported issues.
posted by samsara at 7:52 AM on June 7, 2011

(possibly because it was sitting and idling in a hot part of the house with no way to dissipate the heat).

Unless your laptop was sitting under a blanket in a 100-degree room while encoding a video, this probably didn't kill your laptop, so don't worry about doing it in the future. All modern motherboards and processors should have a built-in overheat protection mechanism.
posted by schmod at 9:46 AM on June 7, 2011

Get a business-class laptop. It will last longer, be sturdier, and easier to repair. Get a longer warranty. In fact, Dell might be willing to extend the Inspiron warranty, even with the toasted mobo.
posted by theora55 at 10:55 AM on June 7, 2011

Response by poster: The 1464 "upgrade" is the 14R. Dell claims it is a business-class machine. Is it really foolish to get another dell?
posted by bleep at 1:24 PM on June 7, 2011

Inspiron is not Dell's "business-class" line; note that they show pictures of the laptops with little girls blowing bubbles and gumdrop colored interchangeable lids. Latitude is their business line.
posted by chengjih at 2:01 PM on June 7, 2011

Response by poster: I know it's not their "business line" but it comes up labeled as such in like every narrowing-down search I've done on every site (new egg, dell, etc). oh well, I'll figure something out . Thanks for your help everyone.
posted by bleep at 5:40 PM on June 7, 2011

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