Hari's Corner

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And so my laptop takes another walk

Filed under: Life and Leisure by Hari
Posted on Fri, Jan 1, 2010 at 08:59 IST (last updated: Sat, Jan 2, 2010 @ 22:17 IST)

As I write this, the new year has dawned, but my HP Pavilion laptop is back in the service center for one of its (now) periodic visits. This time, it's the display again. I am growing sick and tired of having these regular malfunctions.

It's just around two years old (purchased July 2007). Luckily the extended warranty is still valid, so I can get it serviced for free.

However, I'm planning to buy a new laptop soon. Hopefully not HP this time. I wouldn't recommend HP any more as I've encountered a few problems with it including fast diminishing battery life (as of now, battery doesn't even provide a back up of 35 minutes).

Could anybody suggest any other reliable brand/model where I can expect to use the laptop without malfunction for at least 3 years?

I am particularly looking for one with
  1. a decent battery life;
  2. reasonably powerful to handle hi-res image manipulation, audio and light video editing;
  3. a few games (not very intensive);
  4. pre-loaded OS is not a requirement.

Edit: This discussion board seems to be a good place to start researching.

Oh, and let me take this opportunity to wish all my friends and readers a happy new decade! :biggrin:

14 comment(s)

  1. I've also heard complaints from my father about his HP laptop constantly being chased after for repairs.

    I've used an Acer as far back as I know (every single laptop we've ever purchased was an acer). The very first Acer lasted 2.5 years fine, got lost for 5 years, was found again and worked for another 1 year then finally died. My brother's Acer Aspire lasted 2.5 years then recently started messing up a bit. My Acer Aspire 4530 has been working fine for a good 1 year+ and no sign of messing up soon. Despite my own record without any breakages apparently many other people on Google find that Acer's break down a lot.

    Despite not breaking down, Acer has terrible battery life (I thought something was wrong with mine for only having 1.5-2 hours until that was actually what was in the specs) and equally terrible airflow (heats up like crazy and not unseen to go up to 90 degrees c on a long compilation - around 50c when idle). Mine didn't come with any preloaded OS (well, Linpus Linux doesn't count), and that saved a few bucks. I'm quite happy in terms of processing as it handles my needs, and if you count playing Nexuiz whilst compiling GCC a need, yep, it can do that (on Fluxbox, not on KDE :P). The design looks good too.

    In the future I think I will have to move away from Acers, the crappy battery life and airflow is definitely a showstopper as I suspect I will be more mobile with my computer in the future (now it stays at home most of the time). I have had Lenovo laptops recommended, apparently they have very good Linux support (thinkpads).

    Dunno how much that helped :)

    Comment by Dion Moult (visitor) on Fri, Jan 1, 2010 @ 11:39 IST #
  2. Thanks a lot, Dion. That helped.

    I was told that Acers aren't exactly reliable and your own experience seems to confirm it. Actually the shopkeeper who sold me the HP earlier now says Sony Vaios receive fewest customer complaints. Lenovo also seems decent, but from what I read of reviews online, it's not the same as what it used to be when IBM was designing them. Actually the dealer said that the HP Compaq models are more reliable than Pavilions.

    Battery life is always a concern. Different types of batteries seem to require different discharge cycles.

    I'm even considering assembling my own laptop, but not sure how feasible or possible that is.

    Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Fri, Jan 1, 2010 @ 11:44 IST #
  3. Why not just go with a desktop and a UPS. It will still be cheaper than most laptops (not counting the netbooks).

    Comment by RT Cunningham (visitor) on Fri, Jan 1, 2010 @ 12:36 IST #
  4. please note that laptop hardware faults can also arise from poor earthing in your building, voltage fluctuations and physical mishandling. Use a surge protector and avoid plugging in directly to wall socket.

    Comment by Shrinidhi Hande (visitor) on Fri, Jan 1, 2010 @ 13:24 IST #
  5. RT, we already use a desktop at home, it's common to everybody, but it's just not a convenient way for me to use a computer these days because I do a lot of work on it including graphics and artwork (for my comics) and need my own workspace. A laptop is much more convenient and I've got much too used to it these days. (I also carry it around sometimes)

    Shrinidhi, I agree. But this fault doesn't seem to arise from any power supply problem. Besides, the laptop's adaptor is fine and hasn't given any problems. I will probably consider connecting the laptop to the UPS plug socket.

    Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Fri, Jan 1, 2010 @ 13:39 IST #
  6. NOTE: This laptop has only been used for half a year now. Nothing bad has happened so far, that isn't to so it won't.

    Laptop - Acer ASPIRE 5536

    Widescreen (1366x768x24) LED backlit, variable brightness
    ATI Radeon GD 3200 (no Intel GMA)
    320gb HD
    4gb memory

    Easily fullfills requirements 2 and 3

    AMD Athlon 64 X2

    DVD & CD 'Multirecorder'
    Optional Blueray drive (costs more)
    HDMI out
    4 USB ports, 2 on left and 2 on right

    Runs Ubuntu perfectly
    No 1366x768 framebuffer support unfortunately
    Needs free (closed-source) graphics driver fglrx

    Battery life is from 4 hours light work to 2 hours heavy. Possibly longer.

    Was $970 AUD (Australian Dollar < American Dollar)

    If you really care it came with Vista

    Comment by William Hales (visitor) on Sat, Jan 2, 2010 @ 09:17 IST #
  7. Hi William, Thanks a lot for your suggestion. :)

    I asked around a few local dealers as well as technicians about Acer and what they told me didn't inspire confidence. However, on the internet I've read nothing but good things about Acer myself. Your view adds to that.

    Right now, I'm thinking of a Dell Studio series laptop as it appears that Dell is one solid brand (though it appears that customer support is a bit dicey). However the home delivery/inhome service and customization options seem attractive to me.

    The biggest common problem with laptops cutting across brands seem to be the NVIDIA chipset. Laptops with the NVIDIA onboard graphics seem to have maximum problems cutting across brand names.

    I would definitely consider Acer myself. I'm still in the process of research... :)

    Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Sat, Jan 2, 2010 @ 09:31 IST #
  8. hari, I think that you've hit upon something there. I've been looking for a laptop lately, despite my current inability to afford one. When I can, I want to be prepared, so I've been watching the market. I've been reasonably impressed with the reviews of Dell machines with Intel graphics. The Studio line looks nice, although the 13" Vostro looks to be nice and thin. I'm not impressed with the operating system choice (well, lack of choice) that we have here in Canada. This time last year, I could have gotten the XPS 1330 with Ubuntu on it. Now, there's a mini 10v and the bottom of the like Vostro with a celeron 900 processor in it - not good. I don't really want to be forced into paying for an OS that I don't have the original CD/license for, so a no-OS option would be so much better.

    Comment by mrcorey (visitor) on Sat, Jan 2, 2010 @ 20:45 IST #
  9. MrCorey, true. Not being able to turn off the OS is a limitation in their "customization" options. It should be a standard practice, in my humble view. M$ Tax sucks, especially for an OS I hardly ever use.

    The problem is most manufacturers/brands offer no OS option only on the lower-end models which don't meet my requirements anyway.

    Another issue with Dell I've read about on online forums is their terrible reputation for customer support. Doesn't inspire much confidence, especially after my dealing with the issues with my HP laptop.

    Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Sat, Jan 2, 2010 @ 21:45 IST #
  10. I've had good luck with my ThinkPad so far. Besides my battery completely dying once (which I'm sure is because of a particularly bad socket I had to plug into once), I haven't had any major problems with it. It's even survived spilling water on the keyboard a few times without even blinking. I get around 3 hours of battery life, 1.5 if I'm doing intensive stuff, and 5 or 6 hours if I'm careful (like turning off wifi, great way to pass time on a long plane or bus trip).

    Comment by tuxdev (visitor) on Mon, Jan 4, 2010 @ 05:10 IST #
  11. Tuxdev, thanks. I heard that since Lenovo started *designing* the thinkpads, the quality is just not the same as it used to be when it was under the IBM brand. Thoughts?

    Also it is my distinct impression that Lenovo's laptops are more targetted at business users. Is that indicative in the performance?

    Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Mon, Jan 4, 2010 @ 08:34 IST #
  12. Hari,

    Buy a thinkpad, customize your options and forget to buy another one or service the one you bought for years to come.
    Buy a Thinkpad and not an ideapad :-)


    Comment by Akhil Pathania (visitor) on Thu, Jan 7, 2010 @ 05:06 IST #
  13. Thanks for the suggestion, Akhil. Yes, I heard that Thinkpads are solid, reliable machines. The only question is whether there is any model that is suited for my needs. Will have to research...

    Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Thu, Jan 7, 2010 @ 08:09 IST #
  14. The Vaios are a better weight but have no real performance in a 15″ size. The promised new Mac technology has been formally now put back way into the future; and the Dells are too heavy.
    All in all a very disappointing show from the technology teams.
    If you can name a model with the performance, weight and size we all need you will be doing a great service to the photographic community.

    Comment by cheap computers (visitor) on Wed, May 12, 2010 @ 21:53 IST #

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