Need a laptop for my new job
July 12, 2006 6:20 PM   Subscribe

I've been given up to $2000 (and change) to buy a PC laptop for my new job. What do you recommend?

I've been given up to $2000 (and change) to buy a PC laptop for my new job. Right now, I'm on the fence between a Thinkpad and a Dell. Does anyone have a fairly newish model from either manufacturer (or another) that they'd strongly recommend?

I'm looking for something not so tiny and light that it can't handle video and whatnot, but not so heavy that I won't mind lugging it home at night every now and then.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks!
posted by mandlebrotz to Computers & Internet (34 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For the love of christ don't bother with a Dell if a Thinkpad is in the budget. The T-series will do everything and more and never fail you.
posted by kcm at 6:21 PM on July 12, 2006

I just bought (three weeks ago) an Inpiron 6400 (think it was around $1500 cnd)

gig of ram, 100 gig hd, 15.something display, core duo processor of some sort..

I love it so far.. The build quality is admittedly a bit pedestrian (plasticky feeling), but nothing that I wasn't expecting for what I paid.

I'd recommend it. I've been hauling it around for school, and it hasn't been terribly bulky or anything.
posted by davey_darling at 6:25 PM on July 12, 2006

Here's a big second on Thinkpad >> Dell. Toshibas also used to the the duck's nuts but I haven't played with a recent one to know if they've kept their quality up.
posted by polyglot at 6:29 PM on July 12, 2006

Thinkpads aren't IBM any more. Is the current owner (Chinese, I believe) still keeping the quality up?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:39 PM on July 12, 2006

Just to parrot what everyone else is saying - if you're going to go with a PC laptop, it's really hard to go wrong with a Thinkpad. I have a T series from my employer, and the thing is rock solid. I've taken it with me all over the place, banged it around pretty good on a few occasions, and have never had any problems.
posted by jcummings1974 at 6:40 PM on July 12, 2006

Not as far as I can tell. My company has a bunch of Z60m's that I inherited when I was hired, and they're crap.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:41 PM on July 12, 2006

That was in response to SDB, btw.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:41 PM on July 12, 2006

In my opinion, avoid Dell and Sony like the plague.

Toshiba laptops were great but lately I have heard that their support is poor. Hopefully someone with recent experience can give us an update. My experience with Toshiba - solid, high-quality machines. I hope things haven't changed much.

IBM built excellent machines but will Lenovo keep up the tradition? Even excellent machines need good support - is Lenovo up to the task? The only problem I had with IBM machines (and this is a nitpick) was that little rubber nib in the middle of the keyboard. Some people prefer it to the touchpads but I am not one of them.

Like CrayDrygu, my experiences with HP have all been great.
posted by cup at 6:57 PM on July 12, 2006

Lenovo is fine from all reports. Apples are manufactured in China, as are most electronic goods, so I'm not sure what nationality has to do with manufacturing or design.

The T-series generally have both the stick and trackpad.
posted by kcm at 7:03 PM on July 12, 2006

The new widescreen thinkpad models (the Z series) that were introduced by Lenovo are crap. Everything else is gold.

They are the only ones that sell a laptop with a 15" 4:3 screen that gets 1600x1200. They've been doing it for years, mostly unnoticed, with great build quality. The prices used to be outrageous, but now they're reasonable.

And the new Trackpoints are fantastic. They're about twice as wide, with a gentle feel.

For god's sake don't buy a Dell or HP, they are piles of crap.
posted by blasdelf at 7:29 PM on July 12, 2006

my old company used ibm t's and they were the dogs tits (good). my new company uses dells and they are the dogs hole (bad). being in i.t. i ended up with a few barely used t42s when old comp was merged to new comp that i am getting rid of for less than $1000, if you are interested email me. they are essentially new, just unboxed and the corporate image was installed, but i reinstalled the factory image. no hard sell, make me an offer.
posted by fumbducker at 7:31 PM on July 12, 2006

I have enjoyed good luck with Dells, but I bought a Thinkpad 6 months ago and I adore it. 6
posted by LarryC at 7:38 PM on July 12, 2006

For $2K you can get a VERY nice MacBook, and run your choice of OS.
posted by griffey at 7:47 PM on July 12, 2006

I just went through this exercise and settled and a heavily loaded Thinkpad T60. It's not too heavy (5.6 pounds) but is quite powerful and has a gaming graphics option.
posted by Nelson at 7:56 PM on July 12, 2006

So, it might help if you mentioned what you want to use the laptop for, what work you do, if you have a desktop at home, if you are a mac or windows person, etc. Context please.

That said, going on no context whatsoever, get a macbook and upgrade the ram to 2 gigs.
posted by rsanheim at 8:18 PM on July 12, 2006

For graduation, I got a Gateway Tablet PC. It came with a dual processor, cd/dvd writer, wifi, media reader, and, of course, a swivel screen and a stylus where you can take notes, draw, and use the stylus as a mouse. It was about $1,700.
posted by daninnj at 8:21 PM on July 12, 2006

Another vote for the Thinkpad. That's all I order for my users at work. They are solid and dependable (and the fingerprint scanner is just cool :)

I would advise against the Macbook - at least until there are proper Windows drivers for the touchpad (supporting tapping for right click, etc the way I do in OSX). I love my MBP and OSX, but when I boot into Windows, life is painful with only one button (external mouse isn't a viable option for me, and using Applemouse to ctrl-click is annoying). In the Windows world, the Thinkpad rules.
posted by zerokey at 8:22 PM on July 12, 2006

(I should have said Office, the service plan, and McAfee wasn't included in the price [Gateway shows about $1,700 with all that stuff]. It was $1,173 not including hardware updates)
posted by daninnj at 8:24 PM on July 12, 2006

I loved my old IBM Tpad, and they are workhorses. Take fumbducker up on that offer, and set some budget aside for repairs if there's no service contract. I have a new-to-me Compaq, or I'd probably make him an offer.
posted by theora55 at 8:30 PM on July 12, 2006

I'd go with a Macbook Pro and a copy of Bootcamp.
posted by JPowers at 9:09 PM on July 12, 2006

Just to be different, thanks to an AskMe question along these lines, I bought a Fujitsu S series Lifebook and absolutely adore it. 4 pounds, a display so bright strangers come up to you in public to ogle, DVD writer and other goodies, and all for 1,400 at New Egg.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:21 PM on July 12, 2006

If you decide to go Dell, do be sure to get a Latitude, and buy it through the small business sales division. Inspirons are generally junk, and buying through small business gives you U.S.-based support. I've been using Latitudes for myself and the attorneys I used to support for nearly ten years and had very good fortune, and Dell tech support has been great (as long as they were based in the U.S.). Be sure to get a bundle with on-site support and Complete Care (we had a user accidentally drive over his year-old Latitude...Dell replaced it with a reconditioned machine no questions asked (and still under the original 3 year warranty).
posted by lhauser at 9:34 PM on July 12, 2006

Dell's 10 days of deals sale is half-way through, and there have regularly been $450 discounts on Latitude laptops. Your money will go very, very far here for the next week.
posted by Jairus at 9:56 PM on July 12, 2006

I have a Fujitsu P1510. Touch screen, convertible to tablet mode... 2.2 pounds. Maybe you don't want something quite that small (the screen's 1024 x 600 and I miss that extra 128 vertical pixels sometimes) but it plays video fine. If you get this machine be sure to get the extended battery, you can get 6 hours out of it.
posted by kindall at 10:16 PM on July 12, 2006

I'd vote for a MacBook. Best of both worlds. The tapping stuff for the trackpad wouldn't bug me (in fact, I disable it) and a USB mouse might be just fine for you. Probably better ergonomically than tapping away on a trackpad all day anyway.

Otherwise, I second the vote for the Thinkpads. We get them at work and they're pretty well built. No problems with any of them so far.
posted by drstein at 10:22 PM on July 12, 2006

I'll nth the Thinkpad recommendations, and add the Panasonic Toughbook series.
posted by box at 11:12 PM on July 12, 2006

Just a word of warning on MacBook (Pro)s and Windows XP. It is not entirely perfect! They keyboard requires remapping to get a similar layout to what you get in OS X and the Trackpad driver is not nearly as good. With the keyboard remapped using InputRemapper and an external USB mouse it's a lot more like using a normal Windows laptop though.

(Also, yes, Thinkpads are cool. The tablet one is quiet fun too.)
posted by public at 6:10 AM on July 13, 2006

Another for the Thinkpad. I have a newer Lenovo manufactured T43 and absolutely love it. I have not had to use their customer service yet, so I don't know how that is, but the computer itself is great. Interestingly, this is the first computer I have ever seen that came with software that I actually wanted to use, rather than worthless trial versions of stuff that I would never use anyway.
posted by Who_Am_I at 6:56 AM on July 13, 2006

Make sure you get a business laptop with XP Pro on it. XP Home comes chock full of trialware, and can't be put on an Active Directory domain.

Right now I'm buying HP nx6125 laptops for our salespeople. They are about 6 pounds, have good displays, and so far are behaving well in the field with users who are not terribly nice to them. There are docking stations for it, which are very nice and not ungodly expensive ($160 for the 6100 series), and if this is going to be your primary work computer I would urge you to get a docking station and a 17" or 19" monitor.

I can get the whole shebang from CDW for about $1500, and then Office is another $400ish but you may not have to buy that out of your budget (ask!). If not, bump up the RAM, get an external drive, and a wireless mouse and keyboard for your docking station. Or a second docking station for home.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:31 AM on July 13, 2006

I would never own a Dell Inspiron. It would take something HUGE to get me to buy anything other than another Dell Latitude. I'm as happy now with my D500 as I was when I got it a little over two years ago, and was happy with the quality of my Latitude CP, Latitude CPiA and Latitude CPiR before that.

The lone issue I ever had with any of them was the initial CP, which had one-site support. They came out the next day and replaced the mainboard. On my coffee table.
posted by phearlez at 1:18 PM on July 13, 2006

another vote for the macintizzle!
posted by weaponsgradecarp at 1:25 PM on July 13, 2006

For the love of Pete, do NOT buy a Dell, unless your budget is under 800 bucks. For 2000 bucks, you could get an awesome T60p or Z60t (if widescreen is your thing) with the Z60t leaving you quite a bit extra left over. Those HP buisness class notebooks are not bad, either.

Note: If you buy an IBM, get the onsite warranty. Solectron (Lenovo's repair vendor of choice) sucks way more than you'd believe.

Steven C. Den Beste: Thus far, Lenovo has not pissed away the IBM Thinkpad credibility yet. It's too soon for that, wait a few years. Until then, enjoy the high quality notebooks they push out.
posted by richter_x at 3:50 PM on July 13, 2006

By the way, the Thinkpads have a very nifty light built into the case, above the screen Fn + whatever key is in the top right corner. Lights the keyboard perfectly on a plane or a poorly lit room. Many Tpad owners are unaware of it, and it's a nice touch.
posted by theora55 at 6:40 PM on July 13, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone for the great advice! In case anyone is curious, I'm going with the Thinkpad T60. Seems like I can't go wrong.
posted by mandlebrotz at 7:01 PM on July 13, 2006

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