Need help finding basic Laptop for wife!

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My wife would like a laptop for Christmas. She is a high school english teacher and just wants something for surfing the net, email, and entering grades into her online grade book (Via Wifi) It also needs to have microsoft office (word,powerpoint,excel). I'd like to keep the price down ($400 or less)and have been looking and there are way too many options. Not to mention I have no clue what I'm looking at. Do any of you Computer Savy people have any reccomendations? Also, should I purchase a performance plan with the Laptop? Any Links to good buys would be appreciated!
 
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I don't know what you can get for $400 that would have Office on it. Office starter comes with some machines, but its only 30 days or something. I would maybe consider going used and get a nice top of the line model that is a couple years old. But that is just me.
 
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My daughter got a nice HP laptop for under $300. It does not have the Microsoft software package. She downloaded a free word processor.
 
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Originally Posted By: SLCraig
Office starter comes with some machines, but its only 30 days or something.
Office Starter - Word and Excel only - doesn't have a time limit but it does have reduced features. I think the upgrade to basic Office is $100.
 
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buy any laptop then buy office with the education discount. do you have microcenter by you? It does have windows 8 on it. Is that a problem? http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.aspx?sku=948422 299$+100$ for office = 400$ (+tax) The B960 is fast.. much faster than a e-xxx amd processor(e-350,e-300 etc) That most other products in this price segment will have. Intel Pentium B960 Microsoft Windows 8 (64-bit) 4GB DDR3-1066 RAM 500GB 5,400RPM Hard Drive 8X DVD-Super Multi Double-Layer Drive Multi-in-1 Digital Media Card Reader Intel HD 10/100/1000 Network 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 15.6" HD Widescreen Ultrabright LED-backlit Display
 
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RMM

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In that price range I am partial to the Lenovo computers in this current generation (decent keyboard). Get something with at least 4GB of RAM. Obviously we can get into a lot of details but most full-size laptops will work well for what you want to do. I would recommend going to the store and trying out a few computers. Nothing in that price range is going to be built like a Macbook Pro, but you want to look at a few things: 1. Keyboard. How does it feel? 2. Touchpad. How does it feel? Are you OK with the texture? Is it accurate enough for day to day use? 3. Screen hinge. Does it feel solid enough, or is it wobbly and flimsy? If she doesn't get a MS Office license through her school then buy a "education" or "student & teacher" version which is greatly discounted and intended for people such as your wife. On a computer that is under $400 I absolutely would not buy a performance plan. If there is something terribly wrong with the computer you will probably know before the warranty is out (usually 1 year). If something major breaks after that time, you can usually find parts cheap enough online. If it isn't something simple (screen, HD, keyboard, battery, power cord) then it probably isn't worth fixing. Whatever Windows PC you buy, it will come with a bunch of "bloatware" installed. Removing that stuff ASAP will greatly improve the speed of the computer, and reduce your eventual headaches. As a little bit of background, up until about a year ago, I worked as the main electronics purchaser for a chain of rent-to-own stores. It wasn't a large chain, but I usually purchased about $15,000 worth of computers each month. I was also involved in repairing the broken computers. Most of the computers I bought were in the $300-$700 range. As far as long-term reliability goes, my experience in the rent-to-own business has shown me that with the low-end computers you don't quite know what you're getting. Generally, the Toshiba low-end computers seemed to require the most repairs, followed closely by Asus. I'm not saying that they are always the worse (I have an Asus that has been great, but it's not a low-end machine) but in general I saw the most broken parts on those machines. MSI were also bad but those aren't sold in most "big box" stores these days. HP had a few generations that were good, then one generation where almost every single laptop had serious problems. The generation after that was good again; my point being that every manufacturer puts out some good & bad machines. Dells were generally good, as were the Lenovos. That said, I wouldn't hesitate to buy a low-end computer for the type of work that you're wife is planning to do with it. I'm typing this on a Dell Inspiron 1440 that my wife bought 2.5 years ago for $500. It is not a "top of the line" computer but it held up for her through 2 years of school and now a semester's worth of law school with me. I have replaced the keyboard ($18) and one battery ($35) so far. It is a little scratched up but everything is still tight and functioning well enough for me to use it 10+ hours a day, 6 days a week. I don't like the touchpad on this machine but I make it work.
 
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Originally Posted By: Rand
buy any laptop then buy office with the education discount. do you have microcenter by you? It does have windows 8 on it. Is that a problem? http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.aspx?sku=948422 299$+100$ for office = 400$ (+tax) The B960 is fast.. much faster than a e-xxx amd processor(e-350,e-300 etc) That most other products in this price segment will have. Intel Pentium B960 Microsoft Windows 8 (64-bit) 4GB DDR3-1066 RAM 500GB 5,400RPM Hard Drive 8X DVD-Super Multi Double-Layer Drive Multi-in-1 Digital Media Card Reader Intel HD 10/100/1000 Network 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 15.6" HD Widescreen Ultrabright LED-backlit Display
Wow! that looks like an excellent choice! I prefer Intel processors for laptops, IMO they run cooler than AMD. The other reason its a good choice is the size. The smaller lighter laptops are better for women. Easy to carry, many case options, etc. If she needs a larger display plug in a monitor.
 
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the problem with amd processors in laptops is all the lower end ones are DOG slow like.. netbook slow. but decent built in graphics. example the e-350 vs b960 e350 passmark 7xx b960 passmark 18xx my 7 year old gateway Core duo was near 700... The higher end amd processors.. are power hogs but fine and excellent built in graphics. but in this segment its hard to find an A6 or A8 at that price. the e-xxx series by contrast wont even play full screen flash sometimes.. if it isnt graphic card accellerated correctly. AMD A6-3420M has about 2200 and good graphics but those are priced up by the i3's and i5's that are much faster. so avoid amd unless its a killer deal on a a6 or a8 A4 is about 2x as fast as e-series but still slower than b960
 
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JOD

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This would be my suggestion: USED Thinkpad T61 Windows 7 and Office ('03) are already installed (not sure if that version of Office will cut it, but you could always just buy it w/the school discount). It even comes with a (small) SSD. Personally, I think will give you a much higher quality machine than a disposable $400.00 consumer laptop, and for a lot less money.
 

wn1998

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Thanks for the help! I did find that she will get MS Office free from school! So that will help lower the price!
 
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I would recommend against Compaq or HP and I prefer dell. They're worth the extra $$$ spend 400 and it last 2 yrs spend 500 and lasts 5 yrs or so its kinda like cheap car parts vs oem imo
 

JTK

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I haven't had bad luck with any PC I've purchased over the last 15+ years, notebooks or desk tops. I've mail-ordered every one of them aside from my ~$150 Asus Netbook (cheapy from Best-Buy). Every notebook I've mail-ordered has been a refurb unit. Only once did I spend more than ~$400 and I'll never do that again. Just yesterday I mail-ordered a refurbished Toshiba 17" notebook for my MIL. $399 shipped. The only problem was, later in the day I discovered the same one with a quad core AMD processor and 2 more gigs or ram for a whole $5 more on the same site. mad Man I hate that. Joel
 
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$400 with Office is a tall order. But we can come close... $329 for what looks like a decent Samsung laptop from Best Buy: Link to Best Buy page $349 for Lenovo from NewEgg.com Link to NewEgg.com page $129 Microsoft Office 2010 Home & Student, 3 computer edition: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116856 Look around for single license version of the Home & Student office for around $99 or so. Suggestion: buy the box version with a disc & Serial code, it is transferable to another computer. The downloadable versions are not transferable legally under MS licensing terms.
 
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