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Wow - there are so many kinds out there. Do you want it wireless; and do you need it to network with other computers? Dell makes some good laptops. My husband got an XPS M-140 and it does what it was supposed to - but the initial set-up took some figuring out. We have two other computers to network, plus the wireless hub (we got one with it - using an unsecured one is asking for trouble). You can find it on their site, along with a host of others. I hope that helps, sweetie. My hubby is the teck guru. I've just picked stuff up from years of working around him.

I've been looking into this too...comes down to either a Dell or IBM ThinkPad with the Intel Core Duo processor.

Don't go for a Dell or a Lenovo (IBM), the brand name PC manufacturers use substandard parts to save money, but the average user doesn't know it (until surprise, the computer breaks 2 days after the warantee ends)

Macs are decent, but expensive.

My advice would be to head to a small computer store, and get a custom build Acer or Asus (I prefer Asus) notebook. They come with the same warantees, but they're built by the companies that make the parts, not Dell (for instance) that buys and resells them. Not only will an Acer or Asus be cheaper, but it will last longer and run faster.

And yeah, a Core-Duo is definately a good processor to go with. Just tell them you want a quote for an Acer or Asus laptop with an Intel Core Duo (then tell them what you plan to use it for), they will put together a few options, and you will only have to answer questions like "Do you want to play games like Quake 4?" and "Do you want a DVD-Burner". Other than that, it's pretty easy. Both my girlfriend and I run Asus laptops.

My creds on the subject
Was a Tech at Future Shop for a year (whatever that's worth)
Was a Network Admin (still am at home!)
was a Unix Admin (still am at home!)
I've build a few hundred computers
I run Gentoo and OpenBSD machines exlusively, so I'm a pretty big geek :)

From what I've read so far, Macs have good reliability and tech support. The PCs have better compatibility and price. I have also read that IBM has better tech support than DELL.

This Asus laptop - is it compatible with windows and most PC software? I would have to find a local computer geek to help me. The idea of going into a computer store and asking them to build one for me gets my heart rate up...and not in a very good way.

I really appreciate the advice though because I want to make a good decision on this one :)

Sorry, Asus and Acer are PCs, so fully Windows Compatible. They install Windows for you, it's easy.(Don't buy MS Office, you can download OpenOffice ( for free, and it's what's called a DropIn Replacement, it looks and works exactly like the current version of MS Office).

When you get it from them it will be just like getting it from Dell or IBM, just cheaper for better parts :)

If you are worried about it, you can always try going to a couple of places and asking for quotes, so you find the best deal.

I've never been so happy with a computer as I am with my iBook. And now that they use Intel Core Duo chips and can boot Windows natively, crikey! There go most compatibility problems, except for some specialized hardware users.

I am a bit worried that a Mac won't always be able to run research software, etc.

By biggest concern with the PCs has been what I hear is lack of technical support from big companies like DELL and IBM. Maybe, I will try going to a few computer stores in Calgary and see if I can get a good quote.

It seems people really have different ideas on this one!

I really needed a laptop, but I don't have much money. A friend recently got me a used one from e-bay. It's a Dell Latitude CPi D300XT, and so far, it's doing most of what I ask of it. I am hoping you can afford a new laptop, because even though tech support tends to suck these days (no offense to tech support people, who have helped me over the years: y'all are great, but times are changing and there aren't enough of you, etc.), your new laptop will come with manuals and stuff. Manuals and diagrams really help.

I've managed to download diagrams for mine. Frankly, I've untangled as many problems by searching through on-line forums (not just with the laptop, I'm talking about computers in general) as I have with telephone tech support.

Jeepers, I am not being much help, am I. Well, at least I can second the endorsement of OpenOffice as a perfectly adequate substitute for MSOffice.

Personally.. I think you can get just as good of a laptop (and save a bit of money too) if you buy a Laptop with an AMD CPU in it.. be it with an AMD athlon, or a Sempron, or if you wanna go really high-powered, the AMD 64.

That would exclude the Dell brand, as they stubbornly sell Intel-only.

(Yes, I am a fan of AMD's CPU's.)

Check this page out here.. The site sells all types of laptops.. but these are the AMD-specific ones:

Thanks for the info, Scott. It's tough for us less computer-oriented people though. I almost think I might go with a Dell, because I am intimidated by everything else.

I just bought a Dell with a core duo.It crashed in a week.Tech support was bad.

That's awful.

I think I will go a small computer store and look into it being built and what sort of warantees and tech support they provide. I actually know that IBM is rated higher for tech support than Dell in Consumer Reports.

I hope it works out for you!

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