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Solutions: What to look for when buying a laptop

I would like your advice regarding some choices for laptops. Based on your advice several years ago, I bought the Compaq Presario PC for about $300, which was within my budget. The problem is I have a student at the local college who needs to use it. I am clueless about the world of laptops and admit I am intimidated by the decisions it involves. I would like to buy a laptop that is a good fit for a young college student. Do I have to get another phone line? Any help you can give me is greatly appreciated.

I have purchased many "college laptops" over the past eight years. You should be able to purchase a very adequate laptop for less than $600. Just last week I saw some excellent deals in the Sunday paper advertising inserts. Here's what I would look for: A 15.4-inch screen with a Pentium Dual Core processor, at least 2 gigabytes of RAM and the Windows Vista Home Premium operating system. All will come with a built-in wireless network card, but it sounds as if your home access is by phone modem. If that is the case, make sure the laptop also has a modem, which is not always standard equipment anymore. I would recommend you check with your local cable company about some of the lower-priced cable or DSL options they have available — it may not be more than what you're currently paying for modem access and certainly cheaper than adding another phone line.

I read your column about the Shrink To Fit print setting in Internet Explorer. I have Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6. I didn't see this option in Print Preview. How do we get to it?

The Shrink To Fit print capabilities are available only in Internet Explorer Version 7. You should be able to update your version.

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

Solutions: What to look for when buying a laptop

11/07/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 7, 2008 8:50pm]
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