Wednesday, March 04, 2009

argh!!!

I started booting this effing computer at 6:28 this morning and THIS (21 minutes!!) is how long it took to let me open a browser.

It is six and a half years old, one of those Dell laptops that were recalled because they kept catching on fire. But... but... we've had such a great life together.

Anyone know of any good computer deals (must be a laptop--need to be able to edit at cafes etc) that DONT involve Windows Vista? I'd love a Mac (have one at work) but can't afford one.

(This solicitation for advice excludes my father, who has been patiently sending me computer coupons for... what, Dad, three years? Please, no "I told you so"s--it's just too painful. Sob.)

61 comments:

Steve Brezenoff said...

Aw. My wife has the same laptop, and it too is on the brink of being thrown from the rooftop.

I look forward to hearing what you end up getting; I hate Vista too, and would love to make a nice new Mac Book a gift to my wife. Keep us posted; I know you will.

I_am_Tulsa said...

What can I say...I practically stole my husband's mac.
I can't live without it now...my own is a fujitsu biblo (FMV) and I have NO IDEA if these are still made...but it works pretty well. Still this apple is MINE!
I wish you the best of luck. Sorry I can't help more!

Jen A said...

I think your options at this point are either to get a Mac, get a PC and then have a computer geek friend install XP on it instead of Vista (because it WILL come with Vista), or hold out until later this year (August hopefully?) when computers will be available with Windows 7 which is supposed to be an insane improvement over Vista. Me personally, I just did the same thing 2 months ago, what with the old and crumbling Dell, and I just broke down and got a new Dell with Vista on it. And honestly, it's not so bad. I can see where uber-geeks are upset about it, and my husband's new computer with Vista has had some problems, but I haven't really had any. I do want to upgrade to Windows 7 whenever it's available and we can afford it, but I can think of worse things in the world than living with Vista for a few months or even a year. Like waiting 20 minutes to actually use your computer after booting it...

josephrobertlewis said...

Personally, I have no problem with Vista. It runs fine for normal and high-end applications (we do a lot of graphic design in addition to writing) and once I got used to how everything worked, I liked it. Don't believe the hype!

H. L. Dyer said...

You know, when I was shopping for a laptop last year (my old one rolled over and died in week 6 of 7 weeks pounding out a first draft for my novel), I was anti-Vista as well.

But a supercheap laptop deal made me suck it up and get Vista anyway. I've had absolutely no problems with Vista once I figured out how to change the settings.

I'm personally partial to headlinedeals.com for electronic purchases. They compile online sales and coupon codes there; the only catch is that a lot of the best deals are limited offers, so you have to stalk the site a bit to get them.

Becky Mushko said...

Check the Apple store (http://store.apple.com/us) for a clearance or a refurbished laptop. Sometimes you can get a good deal.

BJ said...

It may be possible to get a laptop with Linux. Simple, stable, and not Vista.

I used a Vista laptop on the job a couple weeks ago. Not impressed.

If you do have to get Vista, make sure the puter has a LOT more memory than their stated minimum. Otherwise it will run slower than the one you have now.

clindsay said...

I got the previous generation of MacBook - a 13 inch - for $899. They are getting rid of them so people will buy the new aluminum MacBooks. I love mine!

Katy Bowman said...

I am a longtime lurker here, but I had to comment on this post. I have never owned anything but a Mac and was in similar straits when the one I had been using for 7 years finally died last fall (I shouldn't say died, it could be fixed, but it would cost more to fix than it's worth). I thought I would have to go with a Dell and switch to Microsoft, but then I found a great deal on a refurbished Mac laptop. I have actually had two refurbished laptops from Apple and have not had a problem with either. I would highly suggest checking it out. Here's the website:
http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/specialdeals/mac?mco=MTE3NjY

Good luck!

writtenwyrdd said...

You can probably still find XP laptops out there if you look around. The longer Vista is out, though, the tougher it will get. I've noticed some Linux/RedHat or other Linux based computers are being offered now, even at places like Staples. That might be the way to go.

Mac is probably your best bet, except for the hideous cost. I have a 3 year old laptop and just getting Microsoft updates slows it down.

But there are numerous extras that Microsoft will default to automatically run. There's a program you can run to shut a lot of that off (which of course I can't think of the name right now) and which is simple to use.

I'll have to try and remember to give you the info when I get home and can look at my laptop.

In the meantime, run a diagnostic to make sure something isn't wrong with the hardware, defrag your hard drive, run at least two different virus and adware scans (Adawre Millenium is really great and FREE for the adware issues), and buy as much RAM as your box can hold. That should speed up your processing a bit and stave off an unwanted purchase!

acpaul said...

Acer Aspire netbook. Runs Windows XP, costs $300 at Walmart. Cute and lightweight.

You can even get it in pink to match your lucky suit.

Sara J. Henry said...

So many people abhor Vista that you can often get a "professional downgrade" to Windows XP - I recently got a new Dell Vostro 1510 with Windows XP for $499, and $80 extra got me a two-year warranty. Sign up for Dell Direct email specials - and act fast when a good price shows up.

Yes, we've all had Dell horror stories, but it's tough to beat the prices and the warranty.

You can live with Vista if you have at least 2 GB of RAM, but it's slower than XP.

ilyakogan said...

I'd recommend ASUS EEE PC.

This is a new generation of tiny notebooks (some companies call them netbooks.) I've been using one for over a year and cannot be happier. It's very light (under three pounds) you get used to a smaller keyboard in about an hour or two and the most attractive thing about them is the price.

This "top of the line" EEE PC is $400 at J&R (well there is $50 mail in rebate that brings it down to $350) Check it out, it's great.

ASUS EPC1000HA-BLK001X Eee PC 1000HA 10" Netbook - Fine Ebony

Justus M. Bowman said...

If you don't need a computer for gaming, video editing and so on, then I suggest going to Dell.com and customizing yourself a laptop.

JES said...

A couple others have mentioned it, too, but I'll add another vote in favor of a laptop running Linux. People often don't know or forget that they're not limited just to PCs and Macs; although I'm a "computer guy" (and haven't convinced The Missus to switch yet!), I think Linux is pretty much at the point where people in your situation (I almost said "condition" - ha!) can feel comfortable with it.

Dell was offering the option to get a new PC with Linux pre-loaded (I guess they still are?). Not sure if that includes laptops, but if not there are certainly other sources.

(A plus: because you're not paying a premium for the operating system license, the machine will often be beefed up in other respects.)

Katherine said...

Dell has Ubunntu Linux laptops starting at $249 for a mini:

http://www.dell.com/content/topics/segtopic.aspx/linux_3x?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs

Ubuntu is free, so you won't pay for it with the machine. Then, if you want to stick with Windows, you can install XP. But only if you want to.

Derek Gentry said...

I'm an IT guy who has been running Vista on a laptop for about a year now, and I think you're right to avoid it. I have a pretty robust system, and it still locks up way too often doing very simple things.

Maybe we could start a "Mac for Moonrat" fund?

JES said...

P.S. Thanks, Katherine, for that Linux-on-Dell-laptops link!

Peg said...

Go to your local MAC store and tell them that you want a refurbished laptop. I did, and I spent a whopping $150 more than a Dell. Well worth it.

Or buy another Dell laptop and have some computer genius install the earlier version of Windows.

MAC is well worth the price, in my opinion. PCs with Vista make me want to slap the fire out of Bill Gates.

Pamala Knight said...

I'm a Mac convert too--joined the dark side about six months ago and can't remember why I lobbied so hard against it. Someone already recommended going into an Apple store or going online to check for refurbished Macs. They have some great deals.

OR, you can try to upgrade the RAM on your Dell and that might alleviate your bootup issues. You can go out to any electronics store site (BestBuy is a good one) and they will help you purchase additional RAM which will speed up your dinosaur. I just did the same thing for my kids' Dell desktop and now they are in Runescape heaven. It cost about $70 which is a good alternative to shelling out a much larger chunk for a new PC/laptop.

David said...

My wife has an Acer Aspire, running XP, and she loves it. You might have to look at a few sources for that (or any) laptop, because some of them come with Vista while some have XP; depends on when the factory spat them out, I suppose.

Macs suck.

Kim Kasch said...

I don't know - but good luck in the search.

Laraine Herring said...

Oh, dear Moonrat -- you must get a Mac. They're new macbook (not the pro with all the graphics bells & whistles), is listed at $999. It of course is wireless & has everything you'd ever need if text is your game. I have been a Mac girl for 20 years. Last summer, I thought I couldn't afford the Macbook when my old one was dying, so I bought a PC piece of crapola -- which it was -- and for what I've spent in trying to fix it (and the mental anguish of being on a PC is too much to bear!) I could have bought a Mac ten times over. You turn it on. It works. It works. It really works. It's worth the money. I'll never cheat again. :-)

Kristy Colley said...

I accidentally knocked my laptop off a chair and broke the screen. Insurance somehow covered me for a brand new laptop (minus deductible of course).
Perhaps you should consider kicking yours down a flight of stairs or accidentally throwing it out the window.

AC said...

Try dealnews.com and click on the "Weekend Laptop Roundup" icon on the right side of the homepage. They search the Web for the best computer deals, so you may be able to get something good.

I've had Vista on my HP laptop for nearly a year and have no problems with it. I even run InDesign, Photoshop, etc and have never had problems and everything is super fast. The new version of Word does take some getting used to, but it's not super scary.

Arianna Skye said...

Kristy,

You do realize insurance fraud is a crime, right? Although I'm often tempted to do that to my own machine...

I'm teetering on the edge of getting a mac now too. Currently have an Acer Aspire with Vista. It actually works decently.

Microsoft is in the beta test of their new operating system, Windows 7. My nephew is currently testing it and says he likes it. So if all else fails, you can download the beta and run that instead of vista, or wait until the official release?

Cheers!
Arianna Sky

Ello said...

Splurge and buy the Mac. My brother in law who is the uber computer guy techie wizard extraordinaire loves them - but if you can't get the Mac - he recommends dell as they have good service record unlike other places. And you can always install the older windows if you can't stand vista.

poor baby...

Stephen Duncan said...

I did the Mac Refurb thing, and couldn't be happier. I've had the same refurbed iMac for 3 years now. Not one problem. I think I paid 1/3rd of the new price, and did it off Apple.com. Check it out!

Kristy Colley said...

Arianna,
I was only joking :D
And my claim wasn't fraud. Just to clear the air

x x x

Josh said...

Here try this link. You should be able to downgrade to Windows Xp from Vista for a little extra.

http://www.dell.com/content/products/category.aspx/vostronb?c=us&cs=04&l=en&s=bsd

Hope that helps!!

Josh

Elle said...

I have no advice, but thank you for posting this and getting all the replies! I'm in a similar spot - six and a half year old Dell laptop, doesn't work with the batteries in it anymore so I have to keep it plugged in at all times, CD drive doesn't work, doesn't like it when I have more than two programs open at once - but I don't have much money for a replacement so I'm just bumping along with it until I can find either a super cheap deal or it finally dies. So I appreciate all the suggestions for alternatives. :)

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

I bought a 12" PowerBook G4 Mac from my sister three years ago. Her hard drive had died, probably from dropping the thing a half dozen times.

My hubby put in a new hard drive and presto! It works fine, although it has a dent in the corner and I could use an OS upgrade.

I use a Dell desktop at work and it became excrutiatingly slow until the IT guy adjusted the virtual memory.

moonrat said...

haha perfect--i asked a bunch of computer people about computers :) this is awesome.

thanks, guys. i have about 15 links open to peruse.

Jo said...

I'm getting a mac as soon as I sell my second book.
I do not recommend a Toshiba laptop. Mine has all sorts of peeves and foibles...

B. Nagel said...

RE: Linux
If you require proprietary software (Microsoft Word, Adobe, namebrand stuff), it can be hard to find Linux-friendly programs. There is all kinds of open-source free stuff available (Open Office, Firefox, etc.), but if you NEED a program for work, you should probably stick with a PC or a Mac. If you go with Dell, get one of the Small Business laptops: more bang for your buck and less pre-loaded programs that you never use. You can even get your Dell with Firefox instead of Explorer.
(I've been shopping recently. Does it show?_

Katiek patrianoceu said...

More than three years ago I switched to the world of Mac. Considering the abuse I give my computers, I am just about flabbergasted at the fact my iBook is still running. (My previous two Microsoft-running guys lasted me 1.5 years and 2 years, and that was pushing it!)

I bought the cheapest mac out there, and it works better than my friends' super-souped-up-fancy PCs. So I say find yourself a cheap refurbished mac with fewer features. It will last you longer, so it will pay for itself. Plus, of course, it's so much cuter.

Anonymous said...

If you're totally talked into the Mac (and I'm not going to be the one to talk you out of it) wait a couple weeks - new stuff comes out and older stuff gets cheaper.

RedHawk said...

As a newly promoted editor, doesn't your boss know how much better you will be with a working computer at home?

You need a laptop at work, that you can bring home. It should be a requirement for your job.

Arianna Skye said...

Kristy,

LOL. I figured you were joking, but just put that disclaimer out there in case there was anyone out there reading who might try that approach :)

Arianna

The Fantastic Mr. Fox said...

I have one of those laptops, too, so I'm buying a Mac this week. Never again, Dell!

Dana said...

My hubby (the software engineer) has had decent luck with Dell. Though they aren't as long lasting, when you're only spending $600 (as opposed to the couple thou for a mac) you can afford to get a new one every few years. I believe you can still get them with XP too. BUT... I too love my Mac, and I would suggest looking on Ebay, Craigslist and searching around online a bit to see if you can find a used one. With so many companies tanking, many of them are liquidating all of their assets, and you might be able to get a decent deal. Or, just buy a new, cheap, PC and plan to get another one in a few years. Good luck!

Ulysses said...

Assuming that your laptop isn't having hardware troubles, you may want to consider simply downloading an Ubuntu Live version, burning it to a CD and giving it a try. If it seems a pleasant enough experience, you can install it onto your hard-drive.

Web browsers, e-mail clients and OpenOffice.org are installed with the OS. OpenOffice will read and write MS Word files in addition to a dozen other popular formats.

Advantage: no money down and no need for new hardware to get a serious performance upgrade.

Merry Monteleone said...

My hubby's a av/computer tech and he swears by mac laptops... though he runs high end stuff to program and run large video LED walls, so he probably needs more than the average word program user.

My pc is a dell and it's great but I think for laptops macs are better... and as others have stated, you can get really great refurbished ones for a rock bottom price, with a warrantee... then again, the hubby can also fix and rebuild our stuff himself so maybe I should shut up now :-)

Good luck, moonie. I'm sure you can find a good deal right now. Terrible economy, but great for finding good prices.

Anonymous said...

Sweetie,

A 6-1/2 year old laptop no longer can keep up with all the updated, upgraded software on the internet or anywhere else. It is straining. A computer even 2 years newer than that is too old.

Dell has lots of great laptops that still have XP. Go to the link below and scroll down to where the left side of the page says "Operating System" and click on "XP Home" or on "Vista with Downgrade to XP". This will bring up only laptops that come loaded with XP. The Vista downgrade *does not* have Vista loaded on it. It just comes with the license in case you want to load it later.

The minis are terrific and very inexpensive, and there are also other bigger laptops available with XP. The Inspiron 15's are fab!


http://www.dell.com/content/products/category.aspx/notebooks?c=us&l=en&s=dhs&cs=19&~ck=mn

Best,
J.F.

Kaz Augustin said...

If you require proprietary software (Microsoft Word, Adobe, namebrand stuff), it can be hard to find Linux-friendly programs. There is all kinds of open-source free stuff available (Open Office, Firefox, etc.), but if you NEED a program for work, you should probably stick with a PC or a Mac.

Not true. I use 2 Linux machines, one running Mandriva on my big machine and my Aspire baby running EasyPeasy (a little Ubuntu). Hubby uses Sabayon and Fedora. I/we have absoluely no problems with formats. One publisher I have has templates in Word. No issue with me using OpenOffice. Switch to PDF? A breeze. Custom animations on a PowerPoint presentation? Again, no problem. And I've heard some very impressive statements on how OpenOffice Calc (the spreadsheet) trounces Excel.

I abhor Apple because everything it does is closed and proprietary. And XP will be desupported by Microsoft when Windows 7 hits the shelves. Don't write off Linux. Best I can suggest is to try before you buy by setting up a dual-boot with your existing machine (Windows and a Linux) and seeing whether you can bear Linux.

Whirlochre said...

You could always hire a geek from the small ads in the back of Computer World Weekly Nirvana Pitstop Custom Tweaker Weekly Computer Custom World and pay him (this isn't sexism) to shop for, and build, something worth twice your available budget on Ebay.

Or train him to use a notebook and pen.

Downgrading to XP is a cost-saving, hair-retaining strategy, though fewer outlets (in the UK at least) seem to offer the option overtly.

As for Macs, I'm probably not the person to ask. They seem OK for making people say 'ooooooh', but so does a goldfish down your pants. And bang for buck, you can get plenty more goldfish for a grand.

Maureen McGowan said...

A refurbished Mac was what I was going to suggest, too.

I can't tell you how it changed my life when I got a laptop that boots from "off" in 30 seconds and from sleeping in 1 or 2 seconds.

My old IBM laptop often took 5-10 minutes from "off" -- and the sleep mode was so flaky I sometimes had to take out the battery to trick it into doing a cold reboot because CTRL ALT DEL wouldn't even work.

I also have a Dell desktop running XP and it takes at least 5 minutes to get going, sometimes more, so I rarely turn it off... wasting tons of electricity, I'm sure.

My Macbook is 3 years old and, except for a few scratches on the case, is as great as the day I bought it.

as meredith said...

I second the recommendation for a netbook, and I don't even have one. But if you're mostly doing word processing, don't run things on your laptop that require heavy processing (online video gaming, editing full-length movies, etc.) and you schlep your laptop around a lot, you can't beat a netbook for portability. Your wrenched shoulder will thank you.

korastoynova said...

I use Sony Vaios that my husband buys second-hand (it sounds a lot worse than it is) from Ebay or Craigslist. I've used HP, Macs, Acers, and Averatecs, dabbled with Tashibo, and have now settled on Vaio. And because I'm always on the go, my Vaio is tiny (onl 2.1 lbs or so) and has a 10" screen, which is just find even for writing since I have little hands. Most of the new Vaios come with Vista, which (although I use it) I do hate, but you can reinstall it with XP without a problem. Anyway, that's my opinion. Still hate Macs. Just don't like them....

Anita Saxena said...

You can buy a refurbished mac on the apple store website. They sometimes have great deals. Also if you look on craigslist for your area, there are often many poor souls who buy an apple, find they can't afford the financing or simply need the cash and they let them go pretty cheap AND sometimes they still have the warranty. Just a suggestion.

Ellen said...

Don't believe what they say about Vista. It's awesome.

Jan Erickson said...

I got a Dell Vostro with XP -- no Vista and like it a lot. I heard that you can still them to load Windows and no Vista. It cost about a thousand bucks, not quite. It's bulkier than a lot of laptops but it has a ton of memory.

ilyakogan said...

First a small disclaimer - I do programming for a living, my love affair with Linux is over ten years in the making. I run OpenOffice on my Windows box at home and I use Gimp for graphics.

Having said all of this I would NOT recommend a Linux box for someone in publishing. OpenOffice is great but it's not 100% percent compatible with Microsoft Word. I had problems with version 2.0 EATING some corrections and comments when converting from MS Word. I don't think this is the way to go for Moonie. She needs MS Word for Mac or Windows and that's final...

pacatrue said...

Well, I haven't read every comment, but a Mac Mini comes to mind. I think they are under a thousand and you already have a monitor to go with it.

I also wonder if your current computer cannot be salvaged in some way. Do you have anyone (like yourself) doing maintenance on it, defrag, scandisk, etc.? You might try having someone reformat the hard drive and then reinstall everything that you really need. That can work wonders (if you have the disks still). Anyway, maintenance might be the way to go for the next few months if you are running the exact same software you've always been running but now it's slow. However, if you are installing newer software that requires more than your machine can offer, then, yeah, something "new" is the way to go.

writtenwyrdd said...

Moonie the program I was referring to that allows you to stop the programs that boot "behind the scenes" is autoruns. It's installed on the computer, you just have to find and run it and then check what's booting. I found several things (like my scanner and camera software) which are simply not needed at start up. Most of the intention for having programs do this automatically was, ironically enough, to make them boot faster. However, it turns out it just hogs all your processing power on start!

Tara Ryan said...

I feel your Vista Pain. You can downgrade to Windows XP for $99 through Dell. Worth every penny!

pacatrue said...

You could also have stuff in your Startup menus that's not needed. More detailed stuff to kill is in a section called Services (start exploring Manage your Computer), but it's often unclear what many things in there are, so it's hard to know whether you can stop them from booting up automatically without research.

Zen of Writing said...

Check out bestbuy.com -- Toshiba laptops for $500-600 and up. They come with Vista, but as others have mentioned, you can change the annoying settings. Toshiba makes great laptops at great prices.

Just google what you want to change and you will find a forum that tells you how.

Stephanie said...

I second ACpaul. I'm writing this on an awesome acer aspire netbook I can take anywhere. And it's light as a feather. Netbooks only run on XP. Besides Acer, HP and Dell also make them and I hear the prices are dropping. Worth looking into.

Gretchen said...

I say treat yourself to a Mac. You're able to write it off.

Whirlochre said...

Update — make sure you get a backlit keyboard.