In One Hand, Out the Other PTII

what laptop image

Buying a new Laptop for all the family is a minefield of choices

After the Part 1 of the family PC saga, I had realised that even with a “make do and mend” repair on t.jnr’s PC it wasn’t enough to have 2 x dodgy desktops in the house I need a least one stable one for work, and with the household now increasingly needing the use of it too for work, homework and socializing it was time to buy a new computer.

So thrift mode  came into play, time to go shopping. I do like to research online but when shopping for large items I do like to see before I buy though I also knew I’d likely get a better deal if I shopped online so first I set about researching what features we’d most like in a new family PC . The first thing voted for was unanimous.. it had to be laptop so that bit was easy.  it can move from room to room as required and although we’ve only rarely wished to be able to take a computer on our travels so far, this might increase so thinking forward a bit too.

But there’s so many, and even for someone that kind of knows their way around computers I was daunted by the sheer choice available.  After a bit of time I decided on a low-to-mid specification with a budget of £350-£400, for that I wanted a fairly solid feel , especially the keyboard, as mr.t doesn’t do the dinky touch typing, actually none of us do so.. then I came down to processor size which if I was lucky I might get a “3rd Generation Intel® Core™ i3 Processor”. As far as I’m led to believe what make your PC go “slower or faster” is the combination of RAM (Random access memory) and the CPU (Central Processing Unit).

As a comparison my “loyal baby” Desktop runs, noisily, but runs with 1GB RAM and a 2.8Ghz processor, it has served me well for over 9 years, glad of that larger processor now, even though I had no idea about them before now. In truth the last 2 years I have been unable to run very many programmes at the same time. I am amazed at the increase in specs for new PC’s but read that 4GB RAM is still more than enough for most family needs and will even run some games and larger resource software like Microsoft Office, Photoshop etc quite well, being as that is 4 times what I have, still working, that seemed like a fair all round appraisal. I had no idea on the size of a processor, but apparently it’s the Processor and RAM together that determine how smoothly a PC runs, (if one out performs the other there can be a bottleneck which I think is what causes programmes to load slow and/or crash) – So there’s no point in having a super dooper spec of one and a low spec of the other, it’s a balance that’s key. To help me decide this one I simply looked at specs of a large range of laptops and saw that along with 4-6GB Ram PC’s, the processors were coming in at 1.6-2.8Ghz in most cases, which seems low, but I presume now the Core size has a bearing, the Dual, 3, Quad and 5 core processors didn’t exist back in the day ;) – So I thought, bearing in mind my existing processor looks to have been the saving grace for my desktop, I’ll go as best I can within that range, and that along with the “3 Core” should manage the RAM fine.

Well that’s the logic, the next thing was the HDD this is the physical Hard Drive, what most of us think of as “memory” now here’s where I may be completely wrong, but I just don’t see the need the for vast quantities of it because who in their right mind would want to store their entire life, photos, documents, spreadsheets, films etc. on one hard drive? To my mind it’s like having “all your eggs in one basket” – In my existing set-up I only ever had 64GB to which was later added another 32Gb (or was it the other way around?) and it’s still not full! I do however use an external HDD now too about 120GB for photos and important other files, again it’s only about half full.. and of course now we have people throwing “Cloud” storage services at us and there are services that offer Free Cloud storage, you might even be using them yourself and not knowing it.. GMail is a cloud storage service for example. so that could be “skimped” on and even if my logic is flawed and this turns out to be a wrong decision – an external HDD should be used anyway!

So with all this in mind I went to PCWorld for the real world “try before buy” test. I really would have liked a Sony Vaio but those specs at that budget was just not going to fit with that Model. I was steering well clear of Dell, I had in mind a Toshiba, but when I saw it and pressed the middle of the keyboard gently with my palms – a review I’d read suggested to do this – it failed the “sturdy keyboard” test, was definitely spongy!!

I read great things about ASUS and I saw a Lenovo both of which I’d never heard of before now.   I was a bit wary about going for a name that I did not know however the Salesman told me that Lenovo is IBM.  The Lenovo they had in PC world matched the physical “solid” feel I was looking for, but the color was atrocious (bright blue) and showed finger prints (looked grubby) like you wouldn’t believe.  I had kinda thought I might like a deep red one, but had also long since decided I didn’t care what it looked like as long as the specs matched up.. yet at the same time I knew I’d never buy the bright blue thing no matter what else.

So off back home  to buy Online, with a new choice of manufacturer to see what other choices were now available,  after a quick Google I found several Lenovo laptops and even a few hot deals, one in particular was that Lenovo were offering CashBack on certain models (quite a few different ones actually)  via a Summer Savings promotion – so that appealed to my thrifty side as The Model I had decided would fit my specs best was one of them. Some online retailers were using the offer to advertise fabulous prices i.e. with the Cashback already taken off, but I’m a firm believer that Cashback should not be a whole reason to buy as it is not guaranteed until it’s in your pocket and I wanted to buy from Amazon as I only really trust them with a larger online purchase.  I had already decided I was happy with the price which at Amazon’s discounted price was £365 (it’s even cheaper now, but appears to no longer qualify for cashback offer?).. and then when I went to Amazon’s page and looked closer I could see the offer for £50 cashback was also noted on their page it was just that you would need to claim it yourself.  I can do that.. though as it turns out I can’t do that until 30 days from date of purchase but like I said even if I do get it it will be an added bonus.

The new laptop was duly ordered and has been in use now for 3 weeks and I’m wondering already how we managed without it! – One more thing, when I ordered it it was advertised as a “Deep Bronze” colour which I thought wasn’t going to look that great, but on arrival I was pleasantly surprised, it looks very subtle, unlike the bright blue model I’d seen in PC World.  It was easy to set up runs quietly and it introduced me to a another free Cloud Storage service “Sugar Sync” which I already have many working documents synced via, meaning I can work on both the Laptop and PC while maintaining one set of documents – perhaps one “against” thing already ..it’s battery seems to have lost some of its time was about 4 hours but already seems to be holding about 3.25hrs already  so better order another, in all honesty it’s very rarely used where it can’t be plugged in  – so that’s not a huge issue for now.