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Calling all techies! :) Help! Help! - Walking on the Edge
I don't really have a plan...
Calling all techies! :) Help! Help!
OK, so a) I am up for a new phone on my new every two plan from Verizon, and have no idea what to get, and b) after seven faithful years, I think this laptop is really due for replacement. Or a solemn burial. And now, I need adviiiiiice! :) cleolinda gave me some really good tips gleaned from her experience during the Compocalypse '09* (which will hopefully be ending soon when she gets her Dell), but the more info the merrier, considering the last time I laptop shopped was 7 years ago via my law school saying, "Here. Everyone, you get this. It's a Dell. $3,000, please," and the way I generally phone shop is calling up my best friend from home, whose contract typically renews about a month before mine, and going, "Hey, what did you get? Do you like it?" and then getting the same thing. I may do that anyway, but maybe I should step it up a little and actually look around.

So. Here's what I'm looking for (and please don't laugh at me! Yes, I know I taught myself to code in HTML and Javascript and yet I don't know how you tell if the phone I want to buy can get the Internet. Shutup).

a) PHONE. With New Every Two's online discounts, I can pretty much pick any phone up to $150 or so and get it free. So I have A BUNCH of choices. I have the LG enV right now (in army green! It is cute!). To date, I have never not had an LG phone, and they seem to hold up really well; but I'm always interested in hearing other opinions. Before I got the enV I almost never texted, and when I got it I was all, "WOE, it's not a traditional flip phone and it's bigger than my last one b/c of the keyboard!" but now I am spoiled, and I text people a lot (ESPECIALLY PEOPLE IN ENGLAND O HAI THERE BRITISH FRIENDS) so I want my new phone to have the QWERTY board. My current one has a 2.0 megapixel camera/video, so that or better is another thing I want. I like small phones. And I...might want to get a data plan, i.e. The Internet. Is that only practical on a BlackBerry or the like, or are there phones where it's not too annoying to use? Is it really, really expensive? Is it usually a flat rate, or by use? Is it supported on my current phone? I don't even know this. I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING, PEOPLE. MY TECHNOLOGY HAILS FROM THE DARK AGES. ALSO, GET OFF MY LAWN.

I see they have a new enV (enV3), so I could always go with that.** And there's the LG Chocolate, but I have an iPod Classic I don't plan to give up, so I don't know if that's the best choice. And then there's the LG Versa (is that a touch screen one? It looks like it. Not sure how big a fan I am of the touch screens, but I've never really used one...). There's a Motorola Rival with a QWERTY keyboard. In "PDA & Smartphones" I can get either the HTC Ozone or the Samsung Omnia (another touch screen) for free. AND THEN we have the BlackBerrys: BlackBerry Curve 8330, Storm 9530, 8830 World Edition, and 8703e are all free under my contract. DO YOU SEE WHY I AM CONFUSED?

So...um...thoughts on phones?

b) COMPUTER. Since I can only really afford one computer, my new computer is going to be a laptop. And since my Dell has held on (granted, with repairs, but still) for SEVEN YEARS, I am going to start by deciding to get another Dell. I have done *some* research, and have decided, like any sane person after seeing the comparison tests, to go with Windows 7 over Vista. That's as far as I've gotten.

NOW COMES THE HARD PART. You guys, have you looked at the Dell site lately? There's the Latitude (my current laptop is a Latitude D600), the Vostro, the "Precision Mobile Workstation," the Inspiron, the Studio, the XPS, the Studio XPS, the Adamo, and "Gaming Laptops." I don't even know where to start! (I could do what I do with phones, and go, "Hey, Cleo got this one, maybe I'll just go with that since we do a lot of the same computer things!" But I think that is not, perhaps, the best way to decide how to spend upwards of $1000. So. Here's what I want:

1) Speeeeeed. I am SO over having a laptop that is slow as all get-out. Plsgivemenewfastcomputerkthx. I multitask, and I want a computer that can handle the internet, MS Office, Photoshop, Illustrator, iTunes, and a million other things all going at once without either choking or slowing down.

2) Good graphics/strong video card and all that jazz. Because I do graphic-y things a lot, I design websites, I edit photos, I watch movies, and heck, I may even play a game now and again.

3) A CD/DVD player and possibly (if I can afford it) a burner too. What's this I hear about Blu-Ray? How much does that cost?

4) Right now I connect to the internet with a USB thingie. Do they build that stuff in now? I feel like maybe they do. Am I crazy? *shakes cane at the kids on the lawn*

5) Not too heavy, if possible. Also, long-lasting battery. Also, enough USB ports that I can plug in my mouse and my external drive and my camera-thingie and my wireless (if needed). If that is even possible. Also, good customer service and warranty with replacement parts if needed.

6) BIG storage and memory and a kick-ass processor. What's the difference between duo and dual core?

7) What software does a laptop come with these days? I need MS Office, obvs. a browser (Firefox, ho!), Photoshop, and some other stuff. I think I still have my ooooold Photoshop Elements CD somewhere. I THINK. Um.


So...computer advice, pls? :)

*Favorite Compocalypse entry title: "Compocalypse '09: Your Oxen Have Died" HEEE.

**The phones listed here are all the ones I can get free under my plan. No others.

Tags: , , ,
Trixie is at: Typing on my oooold computer
playing in the clubhouse: Nothing I have a headache WOE.

27 clues shared or share a clue
particle_person From: particle_person Date: November 13th, 2009 04:37 am (UTC) (current file)
If you want the internet and a real keyboard, you really ought to consider one of the Blackberries. If you want a touch screen, obviously an iPhone is great, but the new Android phones are also pretty darn good. I believe the Motorola Droid got good reviews. Regarding the price of internet access, on the iPHone it's a flat rate. You'd have to check for the others.

They do build in the WiFi now, so you won't need a USB thingie. You'll have to do some internet research on the battery life, because I don't have any experience with it, but the Latitude line seems like a pretty good one. That's what I'm getting my boss, anyhow. Blu-Ray is probably pretty expensive and is not standard yet.

Regarding speed, Core 2 Duo is much better than Core Duo. However, the processor matters less than having plenty of fast RAM for things you are likely to do. Make sure to get at least 4 GB of RAM. These days, typically the processor does its thing superduperfast, and then it sits around waiting to be fed more data from RAM. So making the processor faster doesn't help much if it's just sitting at its desk with its legs up, waiting for the slow-poke RAM to deliver the next batch of stuff to work on. It's a big help to have lots of fast RAM.

Edited at 2009-11-13 04:40 am (UTC)
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: November 13th, 2009 04:49 am (UTC) (current file)
Awesome tips, thanks! I will make note of them for The Inevitable Computer Decision. :)

I am kind of leaning towards a BlackBerry for the phone, even though I've resisted it for awhile due to Fear of Becoming Addicted.

I thought of the iPhone, but I don't see it offered for free on my plan. They were advertising the Droid, though...don't know if it was free.
coneycat From: coneycat Date: November 13th, 2009 12:24 pm (UTC) (current file)
BlackBerry Storm is a touchscreen, similar to the iPhone. A friend of mine says she's fooled with her husband's iPhone and found the touch screen awkward, although she's sure she'd get used to it.

The EnV is a hinged, opens-like-a-Tickle-Trunk phone?? That is AWESOME!

Incidentally, I didn't know how Internet worked on phones until two weeks before I got my Curve (first cell ever!) but the BlackBerry is easy to learn. Also, it has the camera and video built in, but you need a media card to have enough memory to run them. I got an 8-gig one for twenty-some dollars at the local electronics store.

I am TOTALLY not addicted to my BlackBerry. I just never go anywhere without it!
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: November 18th, 2009 06:25 am (UTC) (current file)
Thanks for the thoughts on this! Yep, the enV is side-hinged. :) I ended up deciding on the new enV3, because the dataplan for a BlackBerry was too much for me.
coneycat From: coneycat Date: November 18th, 2009 12:16 pm (UTC) (current file)
Yeah, depending on the carrier the dataplans can kill you. Mine is pretty reasonable and it's my only Internet bill, otherwise I might not have done it.

That enV3 is a sweet phone. *Very* snazzy!
kahlan_amnell From: kahlan_amnell Date: November 13th, 2009 03:15 pm (UTC) (current file)
I think the Driod is $199 with a two year contract. So if you get $150 for a new phone, it would only be $49. If that is how it works.

I also have Verizon, and my contract is running out soon. I'm hoping to get the Droid to replace my phone. I really do like flip phones though, and I wonder how using a non-flip phone would work for me. All my cell phones have been flip phones.
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: November 18th, 2009 06:26 am (UTC) (current file)
Thanks for your thoughts on this! I ended up deciding on the new enV3, because the data plan for a BlackBerry was too much for me. :)
greyduck From: greyduck Date: November 13th, 2009 05:44 am (UTC) (current file)
Noting, of course, that if you go above 4 GB of RAM, you'll want to be running a 64-bit version of Windows Whatever, otherwise you'll only be able to use a-bit-more-than-3 GB.

Other than that caveat, I can't improve on what's been said here. :-)
particle_person From: particle_person Date: November 13th, 2009 05:49 am (UTC) (current file)
She ought to be running 64 bit Windows anyhow, if she gets the Core 2 Duo.
bktheirregular From: bktheirregular Date: November 13th, 2009 09:47 am (UTC) (current file)
My mom uses a Dell Studio 15 which serves her quite well. There's plenty of options, and it's not too expensive. (15-inch laptops seem to be sort of the trough on the price curve - my theory is that if you go smaller, you're paying more for more precise engineering, and if you go larger, you're paying for fancier stuff or something.)

Wireless networking is generally built in to laptops as a standard thing these days, though you generally get a choice of built-in adapters. (If there's an option that includes "N" or "802.11n", go for it; you'll future-proof yourself that way.) Bluetooth is generally an inexpensive option that I've found to be worthwhile. (I generally use a Bluetooth mouse - it's quite handy.)

DVD burners generally come as standard issue these days - they're basically down to commodity prices from what I can see. A drive that plays Blu-ray discs jacks up your price by a hundred bucks or more.

The Studio 15 may be a bit on the heavy side, unfortunately, but I know it's got four USB ports. Oh, and it's also got a camera built into its screen bezel. Good one, too - good enough for pretty high-quality two-way video chat via Skype.

There's sort of a smörgåsbord of Office options. If you don't need Outlook, then the Home and Student Edition is the most cost-effective. (I needed Outlook for syncing my Pocket PC, so I ended up shopping at the small-business section of the Dell store and got a machine with Office Basic - Outlook, Word, Excel. I didn't need anything more, and it was a cheap option.)

As for processors, the Core 2 Duo's probably the best balance of power and value right now. Look for one with 3 or 6 MB of cache - those are the newer generation, and they're more power-efficient.

...actually, now that I'm looking, I spotted another nice one - the Inspiron 15Z (linky here). I think I might be thinking of that as my next machine, actually...
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: November 18th, 2009 06:26 am (UTC) (current file)
Thanks for all the detailed info! *bookmarking this for this weekend when I will choose a laptop* :)
ashcomp From: ashcomp Date: November 13th, 2009 10:37 am (UTC) (current file)

Being me, this is where I start from. My thoughts on data plans for phones are that (a) they cost more, (b) probably most people who have them are required to by their employers, who pay for them, and (c) web access on a phone is slow and sucky. Websites need to be specially designed for mobile access, and most aren't. Email works reasonably well, if you like answering email with your thumbs.

By all reports, Windows 7 is a much better bet than Vista. I'm still sticking with XP for the meantime, but I'm a dinosaur, and it's getting pretty hard to get XP for a new machine. 64 bit is probably the way to go if you want to be able to use all the extra ram you want with a new machine. I've got 4 Gb of ram in my XP desktop, but only 3 are able to be seen and used by XP.

Note that after 7 years, a lot has changed inside the box. PC cardbus is going away, being replaced by newer, faster slots that do pretty much the same thing. The disk drive in your existing machine won't work (or even have the same plug) in the new one. Not that you'd want to.

Many of the newer laptops (HP, in particular) have slots for your digital camera memory chips, though if the camera has USB, you don't really need to mess with pulling the chip out of the camera.

WiFi is built into pretty much every new laptop, and Bluetooth in many. I've used Bluetooth to move pictures from a phone to a computer, and it is a slooowww way to transfer.

Lots of the newer machines come with several USB ports, though you can get by with fewer if you're willing to use an extender gadget. These let you plug the extender into one port, and blow it out to 4, 6, or 8. They work well, but with one caveat: Some gadgets you plug into a USB port want to draw power from the port--particularly some of the smaller external disk drives. The extenders can't supply that power, unless you use one that has its own power supply.

HP and Dell usually can offer some choice about screen performance, graphic speed, etc. You get what you're willing to pay for.

The software bundled with computers is usually low-end, home or student stuff, with options to pay dearly for professional versions. You may better off bagging all that, and getting your office suite from somebody like Discount Mountain ( http://www.discountmountainsoftware.com/ ). These guys have really good pricing on new Adobe software, too. Note that Office 2007 is starting to be dumped on the market, because M$oft is about to release Office 2010. The 2007 version is where they went to XML based formatting, and rearranged their menus drastically so you'll have to spend some time finding everything. Also, if you want to send a new Word file (.docx) to someone with an older version, you'll have to reformat it to be the .doc they're expecting. Or send them to Microsoft.com to find the patch for older versions of Office which let you process the new formats. It's there, but takes some hunting to find. I have no idea what they're going to add (bloat) to 2010. I still get by with Office 2000 with the patch, but am thinking seriously about the 2007 version, just to be less out of date.
coneycat From: coneycat Date: November 13th, 2009 11:04 am (UTC) (current file)
PHONE--I read this message and am replying on my BlackBerry Curve 8330. It is the cutest device EVER--full QWERTY keyboard, typing shortcuts like you get caps by holding the key down (or there is a cap key), push email works like a flash (as soon as it hits you inbox, it's in your BB) and I find I can manage most Web sites and boards on the phone. I got a standard plan with 500 MB and that's lots.

And you can make your own profile to set notifications and ringtones.

Plus, you can go to Crackberry.com to make wallpapers for your phone, which is why I have the friendly bomb guy from Flashpoint on mine.

I am not very techy but I like my Curve a lot.

COMP--my only comment is, OpenOffice is compatible both ways with Office, especially for word processing. That may be useful for you to know.
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: November 18th, 2009 06:28 am (UTC) (current file)
I really wanted a BlackBerry - but I decided the data plan was too much money. :( I think I'll like the new enV, though. :)
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: November 18th, 2009 06:27 am (UTC) (current file)
Thanks for all the info on this! I ended up going with the enV3 with less minutes but a dataplan - a whole $5/month more than my old plan, which I don't need anymore b/c all the extra minutes were Discworld con planning. :)
prettyh From: prettyh Date: November 13th, 2009 11:48 am (UTC) (current file)

My technology...

All I can offer is my deep fondness for what I currently have, as far as both phones and computers go.

My phone: the newest Samsung Vice.

I absolutely love it. It's not a touch screen, but I was turned off those after having to borrow my cousin's iPhone for a weekend. I hated that damn thing! My Vice is far less complicated and less trouble, IMO.

And, of course, there's the extra fun part, where you can decal it any way you like! I chose Crime Scene Revisited, as my phone is red and white, and it looks AMAZING. People get creeped out when they see me walking around with it, though... o.O

My laptop: a Toshiba Satellite (I think mine is the A500...).
I got it in '07, so obviously there'll be different software now (presumably Windows 7, as opposed to Vista...although I've not had the same issues that I hear a lot of people having with Vista, thank goodness), but it came quite well stocked. Very fast (Centrino Duo, bay-bee), a good sized screen with great resolution, 3 hours of battery life even while running multiple applications, had the whole Microsoft Works package installed already, total no-brainer for setting up wireless, etc. My particular model is pretty high up on the ladder - for whatever reason, TPTB who bought it for me decided to go crazy with the multimedia perks! - but my uncle bought a brand new one a few months ago that's a few rungs down and I'm not even sure it ran him $1000. His runs like a dream, too, so the bells & whistles on mine are clearly just a luxury, not a necessity for the things you'd use yours for.

Just my two cents! In the past, everything I've owned that's been Samsung or Toshiba have been awesome as far as maintenance and operation go (my last Samsung phone lasted nearly 6 years and is still actually functional), so I can speak to their hardiness. :)
prettyh From: prettyh Date: November 13th, 2009 11:59 am (UTC) (current file)

Gah! Ignore the phone stuff!

Oh, bah - I missed the bit about the fact that you're limited to ONLY those phones. :( Ignore my Vice!

Also, re: my Satellite, it has 4 USB ports, isn't heavy at all, came with 100GB hard drive and 1GB of RAM, 32-bit OS... Oh, and I second the person who recommended OpenOffice, too. Free to download and I actually prefer it to MS Office!
coneycat From: coneycat Date: November 13th, 2009 12:26 pm (UTC) (current file)

Re: Gah! Ignore the phone stuff!

Your Vice is awesome, though. Srsly!
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: November 18th, 2009 06:29 am (UTC) (current file)

Re: Gah! Ignore the phone stuff!

Hee, don't worry about it! Your phone looks AWESOME.

Thanks for the computer thoughts. I will come back to them when less tiiiiired :)
praetorianguard From: praetorianguard Date: November 13th, 2009 03:15 pm (UTC) (current file)
Randomly, for what it's worth:

PHONE: I have a Blackberry Pearl, which is NOT a QWERTY keyboard, which I love, and I have friends who have full QWERTY Blackberries, which they also love. Warning: I don't do a thing with this phone except talk, text, e-mail and minimal web surfing. I pay $70/month for unlimited everything except phone (450 anytime minutes), which is okay with me because I use the thing constantly.

COMPUTER: I have a 7-year-old Dell desktop at home that is still going strong; I've only ever upgraded the RAM. Not that you want a desktop. :P I also had a Dell Latitude 600 at work for three years and used nothing but that and that thing was an absolute beast. It never crashed, never died, and the only reason I don't have it anymore is because it only had 250 MG of RAM and when I asked for more, IT was all, "No, no, no, we'll just give you a new computer." :)) My new HP EliteBook 6930p is much faster, but also crashes.
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: November 18th, 2009 06:29 am (UTC) (current file)
Thanks! Yeah, I really thought about a BlackBerry, but the data plan was too expensive.

I'm definitely going for another Dell - just have to narrow it down. :)
narfzz From: narfzz Date: November 13th, 2009 03:26 pm (UTC) (current file)
PHONE: I would definitely recommend the Droid. I've heard so many good things about that phone and would have gotten it by now but that phone is not on my network. :( It may be a little bias since I'm a huge fan of Android.

Blackberry is a very good phone but I wouldn't recommend the Storm. It was their first run on touchscreen and I seriously think it's kind of awkward to use. You should definitely test it out before considering the Storm. The other Blackberries are really good and is quite user friendly. Also surfing the internet on it will be a breeze. I have two friends who are addicted to the curve. Oh and most cell phone network usually have a flat rate for data plans, which network are you on?

COMPUTER: For speed anything with core 2 duo or greater (quad core) with 4gb of ram or more is good for multi-tasking. This is probably the min specs if you want to do everything you've listed. I think investing a fast processor is worth it. Right now the fastest processor is the intel i7, which is in the studio laptop. Go for it! Oh window 7 is a very stable os and might get some use to if you get it. Just giving you a heads up on that. You can youtube some videos to see how it's kind of different. :)

Good luck! Post what you end up deciding on.

Edited at 2009-11-13 03:27 pm (UTC)
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: November 18th, 2009 06:31 am (UTC) (current file)
I didn't want to go with the Droid b/c it's not free, but it does sound neat! :) Ended up choosing the new enV since I can afford the plan better than a BB plan.

I'm coming back to all the computer advice later when I have time to look in detail. :) Thanks!
emmacmf From: emmacmf Date: November 13th, 2009 09:15 pm (UTC) (current file)
I LOVE my ickle BlackBerry Storm, though it's Version 1 and is a little sluggish, and I'm desperate to upgrade it to Version 2, which I've heard has worked out all the bugs.

It's worth getting just for the PIN to PIN BB messenger - you can send pictures, files and video for free to other BB users using your data plan.
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: November 18th, 2009 06:31 am (UTC) (current file)
Aw! Well, if the data plan had been cheaper I'd have gone with that, but I decided on the enV3. :)

Maybe next upgrade! Thanks for the thoughts on this. :)
camella From: camella Date: November 27th, 2009 04:19 pm (UTC) (current file)
I know I rarely comment, but I'm laptop shopping too and I love how many techies gave you great advice here on what to look for! Totally stealing it :) I have had my Dell laptop since 2003 and it's still cranking along so I'm inclined to get another Dell.

Have you purchased your new laptop? What did you decide to get?
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: November 27th, 2009 07:07 pm (UTC) (current file)
Feel free to use any advice gleaned here. :) I haven't gotten mine yet, but I am thinking of going for one of the Studio ones - they seem to have what I want and be customizable as I'd like. Still figuring out the details. :)
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