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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