Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Solutions: How to buy a laptop

I am looking to buy a notebook and the selections are making me crazy. My needs are simple! I need to be able to load Quickbooks, check my e-mail, get wireless Internet access and burn photos onto discs. I guess pop in a DVD if we were traveling. I looked through the ads and there is an HP 14.1-inch that looks like an okay deal, $629 after rebates. It has 3 GB memory and a 250 GB hard drive. I am confused about AMD or Intel because that seems to cause a slight price difference. I realize you can't recommend brands, but am I on the right path?

AMD and Intel are the two major CPU chipmakers for PCs. The CPU chip is one of the main factors in a PC's performance. The chipmakers have been leap-frogging each other over the years with features and capabilities. It is difficult to get an "apples to apples" comparison since they number their chips differently and have such different architectures. Usually their respective prices will tell you which are in the same ball park. AMD chips are usually a bit less expensive. I've bought and used both, no complaints. Based on your needs, anything you buy will have sufficient processing power, even at the lower price range. Now, with all that said, and all other things being equal: I'd go with an Intel-based laptop. The new Core Duo Intel chips run very cool, an important feature with laptops, which generally do not have the space for large cooling fans and heat sinks. The standard laptop screen is 15.4 inches (my personal choice); 14.1 is considered small but makes for a more portable laptop. Seventeen-inch laptops are among the largest, but for me, it feels like I'm lugging around a desktop. It's a personal choice. Three GB of memory is great, but I would not pay extra for it; 2 GB seems to do just fine for the activities you described. Stick with Windows Vista Home Premium and not Windows Vista Basic. I've also noticed a slight increase in laptop prices lately. I've bought a few in the $550 range this year, but haven't seen anything in that range in the last few weeks. But this seems to be cyclical and I'm sure it won't be long before we see some better deals come around. As far as recommendations, I've bought just about all the major brands, but have had better luck with HP and Compaq.

Send questions to or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.

Solutions: How to buy a laptop 09/19/08 [Last modified: Friday, September 19, 2008 8:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Photo gallery: 20 mugshots of pro athletes arrested in Florida - 1994 to 2017


    In light of today's arrest of Tiger Woods in Jupiter, Florida on DUI charges, here are 20 booking mugs of professional athletes who have been arrested in Florida, from 1994 (Jennifer Capriati) to today (Woods).

    Desmond Bryant - 2005 - Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Desmond Bryant was arrested in Miami on charges of criminal mischief after allegedly "going to a neighbor's house inebriated and causing a commotion." 

  2. For starters: Rays at Rangers, with Erasmo on the mound again


    Coming off Sunday's 6 1/2-hour, 15-inning marathon win over the Twins, the Rays will have the pitcher who finished that game, Erasmo Ramirez, start tonight's game in Texas, first pitch 8:05 Tampa Bay time.

    Ramirez threw only 12 pitches on Sunday so the Rays decided to let him make his planned start tonight, …

  3. Curlew Hills Memory Gardens honors Memorial Day (w/video)


       Curlew Hills Memory Gardens honored those that served during their 31st annual Memorial Day Service on Monday (5/23/17) in Palm Harbor. The event featured guest speakers, live choral performances by the Palm Harbor United Methodist Church choir and live music by Bones South, an area trombone ensemble with …

    Eight-year-old Piper St. Jean, of Tampa, uses a brush to clean the grave of her grandfather, Henry St. Jean, who served with the United States Air Force during the Korean and Vietnam wars. at Curlew Hills Memory Gardens on Monday moments after the conclusion of their 31st annual Memorial Day Service on Monday (5/23/17) in Palm Harbor.
  4. Authorities release name of Tampa woman killed in Temple Terrace apartment fire


    TEMPLE TERRACE — Authorities have released the name of a woman who died in a fire that destroyed a dozen units in an apartment complex here Sunday.

    Firefighters battle an early-morning fire Sunday that claimed the life of 28-year-old Tenecia Renee Brannon and left about 30 others homeless. [Temple Terrace Fire Department]
  5. New Port Richey restaurant worker shoots attacker


    NEW PORT RICHEY — A restaurant kitchen worker shot and injured a man who entered the business and began beating him Saturday, according to New Port Richey Police.

    Vince Angelety, 29, of New Port Richey faces a charge of burglary with simple battery. He remained in the Land O'Lakes Detention Center on Monday, held without bail. [Photo courtesy of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office]