Help with fixing or replacing my laptop.
June 28, 2012 2:15 PM   Subscribe

Is my laptop toast and if so, what should I replace it with?

I have an HP G62 laptop that is totally dead. Bought it just under two years ago. Hard drive failed and was replaced under warranty about eight months after I bought it. Was getting pretty hot the last little while but worked fine. Went to turn it on yesterday morning and it was dead. Nothing. Spent an hour on the phone with HP tech support, went through all he troubleshooting motions and they determined that it was the adapter. Bought a new adapter and it didn't work. HP told me it's probably the motherboard, which is around $250 plus tax and shipping. I paid $500 for it two years ago, so i'm thinking that replacing it is the way to go. Is there anything else I can do?

So this is my third cheapie laptop and I have only gotten 2-2.5 years out of each. If my HP is totally toast, should I try a MacBook Pro? Will it last longer? Keep in mind that my computer usage consists solely of iTunes, Firefox, and Open Office and the computer will rarely leave my house. Suggestions of other decent brands and models welcome too! I'm looking for something decent and under $1500 for my simple needs.
posted by futureisunwritten to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
iTunes, Firefox, and Open Office

Any laptop with "pro" in its name is probably overkill for you. I would buy a macbook air in that position.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 2:28 PM on June 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you consider a MacBook or MBP, or MacBook Air, remember to look for the refurbished ones online -- cheaper than even the educational discount.

I won't say my MBP is perfect these days, but in all but the weirdest situations it's been going strong since I bought it refurbished in March of 2007. I took it to grad school every day and have kept it open on my couch pretty much ever since then. I'm on my second battery and added some memory last year.

And it's STILL better than any PC laptop my husband has had -- of which, over this time period, there have been maybe three.

I will be very sad when I have to give it up (not least because of the money I'll have to shell out), but I will be SO excited to get a MacBook Air.
posted by Madamina at 2:30 PM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am not a fan of where Apple is heading, but I have to say that I've never had a problem with my Mac laptops. I listen to people tell stories like yours and raise an eyebrow because I've been using the same Powerbook since 2004 with absolutely no issues. The only reason I'm giving it up now is the processor chip isn't compatible with anything anymore.

I would figure out what your daily average cost would be and go from there. The Mac gave me a rough cost of $ .68 a day (over almost nine years).
posted by Tchad at 2:31 PM on June 28, 2012

I bought a Sony VAIO a couple of years ago and it's been really great. I liked it so much, I bought two more. Cheap and very good quality.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:39 PM on June 28, 2012

If you want to stay with Windows rather than switching to OSX, I don't think you can do better than Thinkpads for most purposes, certainly not in terms of build quality. They tend to be durable and have good keyboards, unlike most Windows laptops.

If the computer rarely would leave your house then I would recommend something in the 15" or 17" size, depending on how often "rarely" is and whether or not you usually use it in your lap or on a table. (17" laptops are a bit of a pain to use in your lap, in my opinion.)

I myself am seriously lusting after a T520, which starts at $659 and would easily handle all of your needs. There are a lot of options in the under-$1500 bracket, I would be elated to have that much money to spend on a laptop.
posted by Scientist at 2:41 PM on June 28, 2012

I am not a fan of where Apple is heading, but I have to say that I've never had a problem with my Mac laptops.
I've been using Powerbooks since the 1GHz TiBook around 2002, and they have been going downhill in quality ever since. My current 15" 2011 i7 runs way hot if you plug in an external display (because the Intel graphics adapter is no longer connected to external displays!). My previous late '08 was a decent machine except that the low-power graphics card had the flicker glitch. My brother was still using my old TiBook in 2011 when I gave him the '08 machine. I doubt the Intel macs will last as long.

I have Apple Care, but Apple's inability to schedule a repair date for a specific evening ("we'll just hold on to your laptop until we have time to fix it, could be a few days") means that I just live with these frustrations. I need my machine for my day job, so I can't just let Apple hold onto it all week.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:49 PM on June 28, 2012

Macbook Air, just be aware you cannot upgrade the hardware after you buy it. (You can, however, flip it for a ridiculously high percentage of what you paid for it.)
posted by entropicamericana at 2:50 PM on June 28, 2012

My wife and I recently made the switch from Windows laptops to Macs. Like you, we don't do much heavy-duty stuff. The extra cost gets you a well-built, solid machine. Additionally, it's my opinion that things are less likely to go wonky with OSX than with Windows (and I LOVE Windows 7).

Air is a good choice if you don't need a lot of HD space, but if you need a DVD drive (and don't want to use an external drive) and/or need extra HD space, then the Pro will fit your needs. Definitely look at the refurb store on the Apple site...I've been happy with Apple refurb products (iPhone and my wife's Air). Don't be afraid to look at eBay,'s not hard to find a good deal on a machine that is still under warranty or Apple Care.

I can't promise a Mac will last longer (it probably will, though), but the resale value will be greater in 3 years than with a Windows machine.
posted by puritycontrol at 2:51 PM on June 28, 2012

My Dell lasted for 5 years (and is still being used, though it's creaky) - but that was WITH accidental coverage. It was dropped, kicked (shattered monitor, yay!) and had other odd bits replaced. The cost of coverage made it a medium-priced laptop rather than a cheapo (about $1200 CND)

I haven't got a Dell now, as I didn't like the hardware specifications. But both my husband and I have Asus laptops, and they make good hardware (they make hardware for other people, like Dell and Apple). His Eee PC has been very robust, and no problems in 1-2 years of full-size laptops. From, mine cost about $1000 (with a very good chip). An older/less high-performance laptop would be cheaper.

I do recommend newegg for good prices, but only if you know exactly what you want (they have exchange, but no refunds for changing your mind).
posted by jb at 2:55 PM on June 28, 2012

Back on topic - HP has never had a great reputation as a laptop maker. The original HP laptops were ultra portables, and did that job nicely. But they weren't amazing otherwise. When HP acquired Compaq, they just slapped the HP logo on the Compaq parts. Compaq's business model has always been to build the cheapest computers out of the oldest parts they can find, and wrap the whole thing in stylish design. They weren't highly reliable (desktop) machines in the late '80s, late '90s or today.

Dell can be good if you can figure out which machines are intended for corporate buyers, and then configure it appropriately for your needs.

Lenovo is fairly solid, though can be pricy.

Sony often has a mix of crappy budget machines, overpriced jewelry, and then a few solid workhorses. If you can identify the workhorse and delete all the bloatware, you end up with a great machine. (Loved my Sony S360!)

I've heard great things about ASUS' warranty policy recently, but haven't used the machines myself.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:55 PM on June 28, 2012

One last thing - if you do buy an Apple, never buy a new machine within the three months immediately after they are announced. Refurbs are fine if you can get them. But the new machines are always buggy.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:57 PM on June 28, 2012

Good reviews on this Asus - the chip is different from mine (but plenty for your needs), and the case looks identical (great case, so robust, and I am rough on cases). The price is very attractive - about $400 CND.

I haven't had to test the Asus warrenty policy, so maybe that's another good sign.
posted by jb at 3:00 PM on June 28, 2012

If all you do is iTunes, Firefox, and Open Office, any full size machine should do. There is no advantage for an Apple for you. I would still recommend HP - but their ProBook series, which is their business class series - they are better built.

Even so, if you have a local independent computer shop (not a big box chain) which does repairs, you could take yours and your adapters there and see what they can do or recommend. Your machine's symptom sounds like simply no power, and there could be a simple reason and simple fix. It was getting hot? It could be dusty in there, slowing the fan, which blew a 35 cent fuse. Which could cost $30 to open up and replace (if you don't want to try), but this is possible.
posted by caclwmr4 at 3:24 PM on June 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

Once again I'm going to shill for Lenovo, I've been very happy with my Lenovos (laptop & AIO). They usually have some pretty good web specials and they've started rolling out their Ultrabooks. I want one of these...
posted by MikeMc at 6:52 PM on June 28, 2012

I've seen more disappointment caused by HP/Compaq build quality issues than any other manufacturer; best avoided. Also best avoided are Toshiba low-end (under $1000) machines: not too bad on performance and build quality, but absolutely horrible internal design - servicing those things is so not fun. Almost anything else is good.

If your performance demands are not high, and it doesn't sound like they are, you're probably better off with a second-hand high-end laptop than a new cheapie. If you can find a gamer with a four year old machine who is looking to offload it for a faster one, you should easily get another four years out of it. Just make sure it has plenty of RAM, because retrofitting additional older-generation RAM is generally an expensive exercise. Anything built in the last four years will have a SATA disk drive in it and swapping in a bigger one should be cheap and easy.
posted by flabdablet at 7:51 PM on June 28, 2012

my computer usage consists solely of iTunes, Firefox, and Open Office ... something decent and under $1500 for my simple needs

I think you'll be better off buying a series of $400-600 laptops that each last two to four years than a single $1500 machine that lasts 10. Even if it works, a 10 year old laptop is going to be so dog-slow you'll wish you'd replaced it years ago. A series of cheap laptops keeps you more or less current with processors, mobile graphics, and RAM expectations.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:57 PM on June 28, 2012

Even if it works, a 10 year old laptop is going to be so dog-slow you'll wish you'd replaced it years ago

I'm still happily using a Dell Inspiron 8200 I bought new in 2000. I've upgraded the RAM from the original 512MB to 2GB, upgraded the original 60GB disk drive to 320GB, and I run Debian Wheezy on it with XFCE.

With a single-core Pentium 4 Mobile (no hyperthreading) at 1.6GHz it's certainly no speed demon, but it handles web browsing and word processing and spreadsheets and media playback perfectly adequately (it's not so great with Flash video on websites, but downloaded .flv files play very smoothly with VLC).

That machine was very high-end in 2000 (cost me around six grand). And even in 2012 I have yet to see another laptop with a screen as good as its inbuilt 15.4" 1600x1200 Dell Ultrasharp panel, which was the main reason I chose that model in the first place and remains the main reason I have resisted replacing it.

A four year old ex-gaming rig would perform much faster than my old laptop and still cost very little.
posted by flabdablet at 8:43 PM on June 28, 2012

Any laptop with "pro" in its name is probably overkill for you. I would buy a macbook air in that position.

Good point, although the MacBook Air has a pretty small amount of hard drive space and I have a lot of music and this is my only computer. Getting the bigger HD on the Air works out to be more expensive than the lower-end MacBook Pro.

Great suggestion by caclwmr4 as well to get it checked out. My ideal situation here would be to get my existing laptop back into good working order without sinking a bunch of money into it, but even if that's the case, it's nice to have all these options for my next one.

Also, I'm probably aiming a little higher than what I need with the MacBook Pro. I have been wanting to try an Apple computer for years but when I bought my last couple of laptops, they weren't in the budget, and now they are.

Thanks everybody! Lots for me to consider here.
posted by futureisunwritten at 6:21 AM on June 29, 2012

Treated myself to the Macbook Pro, with zero regrets. Thanks for the input everybody!
posted by futureisunwritten at 11:50 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

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