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The best budget laptop?

Annette C. Hollmann ah690549 at bcm.tmc.edu
Wed Sep 4 06:01:52 EST 1996

In article <50in6i$jhg at knot.queensu.ca> 4klt5 at qlink.queensu.ca (Tetro Kelly L) writes:
>Hi all!!
>I'm looking for some advice in purchasing a laptop computer for my
>Ph.D./career work. The laptop appeals in its portability, as I like to
>work everywhere but home (where a desktop would reside if I bought one).

Being a Mac user, I would suggest buying a Powerbook. I have had a PB140 
since '91 and have not had any problems with it except for the first 6 
months, and that was covered under the warranty.

The two problems I had were:

1. I wore out one of the buttons on the trackball. I called 1-800-SOS-APPL
and they came to my office to replace the trackball :-)

2. I had it on for 63 hours straight, and I had it sitting on my bed 
instead of on a table. The computer still worked fine at the end of the 
take-home exam, but it had warmed up so much that the case warped, two
screws broke off, and the case gapped open at the side. 
Apple sent me a special prepaid UPS box so I could ship the computer to
them, and they had it back to me in 48 hours.
They said if you are running the computer for a long time, you need to 
flip down the two feet at the back and set it on a smooth level surface 
so it can radiate the heat it generates.

>I'm in microbiology and would like to run wordprocessing, spreadsheets,
>database, graphics etc. Nothing too complex. Do you have a favourite
>program that works for Biology? 

Claris Works does everything you need for routine stuff. It handles
word processing

We have Microsoft Office in the lab, but
>Excel sucks as a scientific spreadsheet (IMHO, but you adapt to what ya
>got). Our department is moving into using laptops for lecturing with the
>aid of a projector. Since it will probably be several years (at least 6)
>before I am teaching, should I consider the future or go with what I need
>in the present?

When you need something that Claris won't do, then you might consider getting
academic versions of 
WordPerfect - better than Microsoft word. On the Mac it even reads to you.
Canvas - really hot graphics

If you are writing papers, you need EndNote.

>Also, by budget I mean under $2500 Cdn ($2000 US). Have you bought a
>laptop lately that you absolutely love, or one that you would chuck out
>the window?

I don't know how expensive the new PowerBooks are, but you should be able 
to get a decent one for less than $2500.
If not, you can always buy a used one (sorry, I'm not selling mine until
after the year 2000).

I would get the best PowerBook I can afford, and make do with it for as 
long as possible. Color is nice, but not essential.

>Any advice would be appreciated as I am totally overwhelmed by the many
>options and huge range in pricing, and would like to hear the experiences 
>of real people not salespeople telling me their machine is the best.
>4klt5 at qlink.queensu.ca

I hope this helps.


P.S. If you have to work in a PC-dominated environment, you can save Mac 
files in PC format.

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