Short Nerd Chief

Another cheap laptop on the way

Posted by Fred on November 21, 2007

vostronb_1000.jpg

I’m apparently becoming king of Cheap Laptopia.  You’ll recall that I bought the Acer 5315 at Wal-Mart for $348, concluding that it was actually pretty good for everyday use (web, e-mail, office documents).  You wouldn’t want to do any serious image or video editing on it, and I had to spend another $150 to get Vista Home Premium and 2 GB of RAM installed.  But still, decent performance for under $500.  I was going to add a laptop on Black Friday, maybe the $399 Sony that Best Buy supposedly will offer.  That one is a 1.7 GHz Athlon dual-core with 1 GB RAM and a 120 GB hard drive.  But that involves spending the night at Best Buy, so instead I just ordered a Dell Vostro 1000 from Round Rock for $449.  You can actually get it for $399, but moving to $449 gets you Vista Home Premium, which is cheaper than a Windows Anytime Upgrade ($79).

The specs are not half bad:

  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core processor TK-53 (1.7GHz)
  • 15.4 inch Wide Screen XGA LCD Anti-Glare Display
  • 1 GB DDR2 RAM (Dell skimps and uses two 512 MB sticks – boo!)
  • ATI Radeon Xpress 1150 256MB HyperMemory integrated graphics
  • 120 GB 5400 rpm hard drive
  • 8X DVD+/-RW w/Double-layer DVD+R Write Capability
  • Dell Wireless 1390 802.11g Wi-Fi Mini Card

The nice thing about the Vostros is that they come free of trialware and crapware.  No need to uninstall Norton because its not on there to begin with.  I’ll bump the RAM to 2 GB, and use 667 MHz sticks instead of the stock 533.  That will add about $50.  Grand total should still be under $500.  Preliminary ship date is 11/28, so I should be able to compare the Dell and the Acer next week.

In Cheap Laptopia, you can’t do much, but you have more money for beer.

Update (11/26): Changed my mind about the Vostro.  Dell’s already shipped it, but I’m going to return it.  While I still think a basic laptop is good enough for my needs, I’m going to hold out for one that is a bit lighter and has a better processor.  I’d also like to find one with the Intel X3100 chipset instead of the ATI set in the Dell.  I was using a Toshiba with the Radeon Xpress chip, and the Acer with X3100 seemed better on that front.  Maybe I’ll even get a dedicated graphics card.  I struck out on Black Friday, but there’s always Cyber Monday.  Right now I’m tempted by the Gateway MT6916 ($759 at Circuit City) or M-6823 (currently $849 at Best Buy).  Those both come with a Core 2 Duo and X3100 graphics.  The 6916 has a smaller hard drive but more RAM.   The HP Pavilion dv6500t has also gotten good reviews (about $750 with a Core 2 Duo, 120 GB hard drive and 2 GB RAM).

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