Help with finding an inexpensive laptop
February 26, 2014 4:35 PM   Subscribe

I need a laptop for travel for about 3-4 weeks a year, and up to this point I have always had an old one I can tote around, I recently bought a series of older macbooks through craigslist that did the job for a little while, but both, for various reasons are no longer working and can't be fixed without a lot of cost. I am hesitant to try for another craiglist computer, because of my recent experiences, but I also don't want to lay out the money for a new macbook because of how infrequently it will be used, it just seems, well, wasteful both monetarily and also letting a new computer collect dust. It needs to be able to run Adobe CS 5 or 6, it can either be a mac or pc, though ideally a mac. If no other options present themselves, I would most likely look at Apple refurbished. But are there any other sources that I am overlooking?
posted by nanook to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
One option would be to run the Cloud version of Adobe CS. They spec that it can run in several browsers, including Chrome, so perhaps an inexpensive Chromebook is an option, or a tablet?
posted by at at 4:53 PM on February 26, 2014

What's your budget? I feel like that's pretty important in any recommendations i or anyone else on here would make.
posted by emptythought at 4:53 PM on February 26, 2014

I would go with the refurbished Macbook. I got mine for $1000 (a Macbook Pro, one model old at the time) and it's done nicely.

Knowing how Photoshop treats resources on a computer, I shudder to even contemplate how it would perform in "the cloud." I've tried cheaper laptops like Netbooks and they're not fit to play internet video, let alone do any sort of serious work.

I'm not a Mac evangelist by any means but I like the build quality better than any PC I know of. The only gotcha is that the newer Macbooks have the RAM welded to the board and it can't be upgraded, so make sure to get as much as you need up front, which might be 16GB if you're doing serious Photoshop.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:02 PM on February 26, 2014

One option would be to run the Cloud version of Adobe CS. They spec that it can run in several browsers, including Chrome, so perhaps an inexpensive Chromebook is an option, or a tablet?

Hmm.. I am not sure where at is reading that this is possible. The Creative Cloud (CC) versions of the Adobe apps are still desktop applications that download to the computer. They do not run in the browser. The "Cloud" in this case is for storing and sharing the files these applications produce. The other difference is that they now charge you monthly rather than a one-time cost.

It sounds like you want a Mac. I would go with drjimmy11's recc. and get a refurbished MacBook. I have used the Adobe apps on a Macbook Air and it worked fine for lighter tasks, but I think I would get sick of the small screen size. If you can afford it, I would get the 2012 Macbook Pro that still lets you upgrade the RAM yourself, then buy 3rd-party RAM for much cheaper than Apple will sell it. If you only occasionally run the Adobe apps while traveling, than the cheaper Macbook Air should be fine.
posted by 2ghouls at 5:40 PM on February 26, 2014

I'd get a refurb 11" Macbook Air directly from the Apple Refurb store.
posted by bluecore at 5:52 PM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I got a refurbished Mac laptop through Amazon. Lots of offers, lots of ranges of price. I emailed back and forth with one guy who had what I was looking for at a good price. He was very clear about the limitations of what he was selling, but it was just what I needed. I've used it several times a week for the last year+, and been very happy with it.
posted by kestralwing at 6:23 PM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

The cheapest Apple refurb 13" MacBook Pro right now is $999. The cheapest 15" is $1449, $929 for a 13" Air and $849 for a 11" Air. (Note that the 13" Air's screen is higher-resolution than the 13" Pro's, which might be nicer for CS use.) For what it's worth, I bought an "early 2008" black MacBook about 5 years ago or so and it just won't die and I kinda want a MacBook Air. I use it very sparingly (and it still works, minus the battery) so I haven't felt a need to actually spend the money.

If these are outside your price range, you may want to try a reputable third-party retailer. For example, this is what Small Dog Electronics (who've been selling Apple stuff for ages) has for MacBooks. This is a guide that Low End Macs puts out that lists deals on 15" Pros - there are similar for other sizes and for Airs and regular MacBooks too. (They're also fairly out of date at this point but are still useful for links to resellers.) Note that these will be used systems and therefore may not have any actual Apple warranty or may not be eligible for AppleCare either but that may not matter to you. The upside is that they (should) be checked out by actual techs before they're offered for sale, though you'll want to read carefully to know what they're selling.

If there's a local indie Mac shop in your city, you may be able to find used systems through them too.
posted by mrg at 6:35 PM on February 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

I run Adobe CS 6 including video editing on my i7 lenovo, which was $700 new. Something like this would easily suit your needs. It's not a Mac, but it's up to you whether an extra three hundred bucks or so for a refurb vs. a new computer is worth it, I guess.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:59 PM on February 26, 2014

I just bought a small Toshiba laptop for travelling from an electronics store and it cost around $450 and works great. I think the answer to your question depends on your budget how badly you want a mac.
posted by emd3737 at 7:56 AM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

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