Laptop Questions

I want a laptop. I think I need a laptop, but I hesitate to say that I *need* most things. So I want a laptop, and I think it would make life easier for me, especially as a student.

The only branded computer I’ve ever bought was my very first, a Gateway. I’ve worked on many a branded computer—lots and lots of Dells, some HPs, IBMs, Compaqs and WinMachines in particular, then a lot of miscellany. I’ve never noticed any huge benefit to the name brands, to be honest—not enough to offset the price differences between them and generics/self-built PCs.

But it can be easier to get drivers and information and so on, and that is particularly important with laptops since it’s so much harder to service those yourself. And you can get service on branded computers. So I’ve actually looked at the prices on some branded laptops. Woof! Lots of money!

What’s your experience with laptops? What do you have and how happy are you with it? Any lessons you’d share with me? I am all about learning from others’ accumulated experience!

What I know:
1) I’m wary of Dells because of their heat issues. If that has been resolved, I’ll look at them again.
2) If any company is willing to give me a student discount, or an educator’s discount because I’m a homeschooler (I’ve managed that with lots of other stuff), they’ll get a bit of an edge.
3) I want to go ahead and get as much computer as I possibly can, since I don’t count on being able to upgrade a laptop. That means a good display, lots of RAM and hard drive space, CD/DVD writer, and fax/modem/network card or built-in.
4) I want something reasonably light, but since I have that incredibly lovely rolling bag thanks to Sam, weight isn’t as vital as usability.
5) Sturdiness is important. I’ve never dropped one, but the way my hands sometimes just stop working suddenly, I fear doing so.
6) It has to have a decent keyboard. I don’t like the machines that have vast amounts of dead space before you get to the keys. They just don’t feel right.

Oh—if we can manage to get a computer for Katie’s educational use, we’ll do it. She wants a laptop, too.

Oh yeah—I seem to have heard MANY a horror story about people buying laptops through eBay and getting ripped off. Have any of you had a good experience, or do you know someone first-hand who has?

Thank you!

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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