Wednesday, April 01, 2009

New Computer Advice Needed

I’m writing this on Tuesday night since my computer is going to be one of many to explode on Wednesday from the Conficker worm.* Should be fun! Hopefully, the world isn’t going to end and you’re able to read this. Regardless of what happens/happened, my computer has had some type of problem for several months and is D-U-N, done (or close to being done).

So I’m about to start a search for a new computer, and I need your help. My requirements are pretty simple:

- The internet (self-explanatory)
- Word so that I can type my blog posts and see what I misspelled
- Excel to help prepare for fantasy baseball and football drafts (although I haven’t used it yet this year)
- Whatever program you need to download pictures from a digital camera. I have no idea how this works. I take pictures and somehow my wife magically gets them from the camera to the computer.
- iTunes. I don’t use this either but my wife has an iPod.

That’s all I ever do on the computer. I’d also like to be able to watch videos online of TV shows that I may miss (ex. Lost, How I Met Your Mother), but I think this falls under the internet category.

I’d like a laptop rather than a desktop, and I don’t want to spend too much money. I’d even be open to a Mac. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

* Conficker seems like the biggest computer issue since Y2K. I bought my first computer in college in 1995 because I got tired of spending hours in the middle of the night/early morning in the computer lab working on papers. In late December 1999, I called the computer company worried that my computer would be affected by Y2K. The company said that I would be fine as long as I had Windows 95. When I told them that I had Windows 3.1 (one of the less than 2% of computer at the time still with 3.1), the response was "Oh." I don’t think that computer company is still in business. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t get Windows 95 or 98 and my computer was fine.


Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

I suggest taking a look at the Asus Eee PC 1000HE netbook (mini-laptop), which should cost no more than about $350 direct from

This should be fine for your needs, and it's gotten universally good reviews, including the following at Computerworld:

You can read more reviews at places like Cnet, PC World, PC Magazine and Lilliputing (highly recommended). I can't speak from experience using it, but I've done a lot of research into these types of netbooks, and this is the one I plan to buy myself this week or next. For the money, this may be your best bet, even if you choose to load Microsoft Office (for Word and Excel), although you might first give the open-source (free) application OpenOffice a try.

The battery life on the 1000HE is reputedly incredible (up to 9.5 hours), you (or your wife) should be able to upload photos in a snap, and you can easily download and use iTunes directly from Apple's Web site.

Good luck!

Captain Easychord said...

pretty much any computer you're going to get will satisfy your requirements, so the biggest question I'd be asking is where you'll be using the machine and how often... a netbook may be the cheapest way to go, but they're designed for portability... I can't speak from experience, but I can only imagine that the ergonomic factors (tiny keyboard, tiny screen) might be a drawback if you're using the machine frequently and don't need to carry it around everywhere... laptops are somewhat better in this regard, although they tend to be pricier as well...

also, you may want to wait a few months to pick up something new, if possible... microsoft and apple should both be releasing new versions of their respective operating systems in the next few months... probably a bigger step up for the windows crowd, but I'm holding off on picking up a new mac mini until snow leopard comes out...

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

Ditto what Capt. Easychord said, and that's interesting, Captain, what you say about Snow Leopard. I've wanted a MacBook, forever, and was disappointed that Apple didn't introduce its own OSX version of a netbook when it did the Macbook reintroduction last year. That said, I still want a Macbook (and might still buy one, irrespective of my separate purchase of Linux or XP netbook), and I was wondering ... will Snow Leopard be available on Macbooks, as well?

Sean: One thing to keep in mind about fuller-size, conventional laptops is the operating system: Microsoft now allows XP to be installed in netbooks only (not laptops) because it is still trying to push for the widespread adoption of Vista (which ain't ever gonna happen), even while it prepares to release the new Windows 7 operating system later this year (probably). Keep in mind, the reason(s) Microsoft reluctantly continues to offer XP: (1) Consumer demand, because XP is relatively stable and basically works; and (2) XP consumes/requires far less computing power/resource/bandwidth on your computer than Vista; i.e., Vista would render the smaller netbooks virtually inoperable, while also slowing/dragging down lower-powered/lower-priced ($500-$650) conventional laptops with, say, only a 1GB hard drive. Bottom line: If you are going to buy a laptop with Vista, purchase one with at least a 2GB hard drive. For your needs, again, I would recommend taking a close look at a netbook with XP, of which there are a number of excellent choices besides the Asus Eee PC 1000HE ... I've also taken a close look at the MSI Wind and the HP Mini 2140. The newest offerings from Dell (Mini), Samsung and Lenovo are worth a look, too. Naturally, this category keeps changing, fast, with new offerings introduced almost every week. The reason: Netbooks offer a feature set and price point that hits the sweet spot in the consumer market. It's about time. Just keep in mind their fairly limited capabilities, but if you're not planning to do much gaming and other high-bandwith, graphics-intensive work, etc., a netbook should suit your needs. That said, I am no expert. Just offering my ill-informed, two-cent opinion, which is basically what you asked for, right? So, take it with the proverbial grain of salt, do your own research and, again, best of luck.

amy said...

I would recommend the Dell Latitude D630 or the Lenovo ThinkPad X200 (which is what we have at home now).

Sean said...

JPPB & Captain - Thank you very much! You guys certainly lost me, but that's OK.

Amy - That's helpful; thanks!

tiny350Z said...

I just got a Toshiba laptop and installed the Office applications (I need that when I work from home) all for around $400 or $500 (I don't remember).. I had basically the same requirements, and am not very computer savvy.

This thing works wonders for me - for what I need. Yes, it has Vista.. haven't had any problems yet - knock on wood. I'm still getting used to Office 2007... it's not that great, but you get used to that.

Word verification is hessises... That's a lot of s'es.

The Pittsburgh Guy said...

Check out my newest post about Mac vs PCs. If you had a Mac, you wouldn't need to worry about the Conficker Worm =D

i also blog about pittsburgh sports, and whatever else i feel like posting about, so check me out and leave a comment or two!