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Old 09-04-2010, 04:57 PM   #1
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looking at new laptop

I'm in best buy, looking to get a new laptop. There are some very small laptops, that look ideal for use when seated behind the steering wheel, and sitting in a parking lot safely. Now the heavy part. There is a card built in to the machine that will allow net surfing. It is a couple of hundred $ off the machine if one signs up for a 2 yr commitment at 60$ (Verizon) or 40$ (Sprint) a month. This machine will then allow one to surf the net and do e-mail without having to be in a wifi hotspot. It does this by using the Verizon or Sprint system just like a cell phone. The money is not a problem, worth it to me if'n it works. The problem is that I don't know anyone who has used this so I have no frame of reference.

My question to ya'll: Has anyone used it and if so, what is your overall evaluation of its performance?
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Old 09-04-2010, 05:39 PM   #2
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I have mobile broadband but mine is and external device that plugs into my USB port. It is pretty fast and reliable...not nearly as fast as cable at home. What your looking at is probably a netbook. Like a laptop-lite. I'm not crazy about them personally...usually the ones I see look cheaply made. If it were me I would get a standard notebook (small) and the external card. You'll get a better laptop this way and the broadband card is an external accessory that can be replaced if it ever breaks. Mine is a Toshibe with a 13" screen adn get about 5-6 hours on a charge.

Just my two-cents...
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Old 09-04-2010, 06:20 PM   #3
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We tried the Verizon card, it did not work where we needed it. Our MacBook can find wi-fi sites all over. Pull into a Safeway, for instance.
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Old 09-04-2010, 06:50 PM   #4
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Netbook without disk drive can be preloaded or you can transfer programs with a flash drive, pia, for the extra bucks mdsilverado summed it up nicely. Plus check the speed of the netbook about half as fast as a medium priced notebook.
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Old 09-04-2010, 07:20 PM   #5
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Netbooks are relatively inexpensive. Be sure you can type on the damn keyboard before committing, as they may not be to your liking. I've tried 2 different netbooks and couldn't really use either one. I am typing this on a Lenovo Edge ThinkPad and while it is smaller than most laptops, it has an excellent keyboard. The Edge has a 13.3" screen but weighs just over 3 lbs.

If you already have a cell phone, you MIGHT be able to "tether" it to a laptop in the times when wi-fi is not available. Or, if you have a smart phone like my Droid X, it can become a wi-fi hotspot for up to 5 devices. I pay $20/mo for that privilege.
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Old 09-04-2010, 09:25 PM   #6
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Might look at an Ipad. I ditched all my windows computers a couple of years ago and would never go back. I take my macbook everywhere and it is easy to find free wifi on the road.
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Old 09-04-2010, 11:22 PM   #7
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There's always a bit of OS religion creeping in when you ask people about what computer to buy. Being a UNIX geek professionally, I really like OSX and its BSD roots. I'm not so fond of the price premium for a Macbook Pro, though they are definitely good machines. I ended up with a business-oriented Dell notebook this time around, purchased from their outlet website (mine's a Latitude E4300, competitive with the ThinkPad mentioned above.... I got a very well-equipped machine for about $650.)

I tried to like netbooks, but I'm too fatfingered for them. I touch-type, and the smaller, cramped keyboards are very hard for me to get used to. If you're a 2-fingered typist, the small overall size will probably overcome the cramped keyboard, but if you touch type you might find that you have trouble getting used to some of the non-standard keyboard layouts, or that you're constantly touching the trackpad accidentally and moving the insert point around (I had this problem a lot with netbooks.)
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Old 09-05-2010, 02:18 AM   #8
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Cosmotini, how fast is the connection on a tethered cell phone? $60 per month for a Verizon "MiFi" is a little much. And, I am concerned that 3G or even 4G will be slow, compared to a wired broadband connection. So, I'm afraid that using a cell phone for a modem might be like going back to dial-up; although, the price sounds much more affordable.

Are you satisfied with the tethered cell phone? How about the bluetooth connection to the Droid? I'd appreciate you opinion, and those of any others who have tried these, as I am about to make the same buying decision.

Thanks, in advance...
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Old 09-05-2010, 08:40 AM   #9
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I just bought an ASUS netbook from Best Buy and use it tethered to my Droid. The 3G connection is as fast as it is on the phone. I'm pleased with it. I certainly don't feel like I'm sitting around waiting for pages to load.
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Old 09-05-2010, 09:10 AM   #10
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I'll add my $.02 here since I have experience with all 3 - ipad, netbook, and tethered laptop use (Verizon).

I am typing this on a netbook and we also just bought an iPad. If I had a choice again today, it would be to buythe iPad over the netbook. The screen resolution on the iPad is incredible and also it works well for viewing movies and playing games/music which can be fun while traveling.

Netbook:
Pros
  • Small form factor
  • Inexpensive price (relative to other laptops)
  • Good for simple use - docs, email, simple web browsing etc.
  • Usually have USB ports for additional add-ons. Can add external keyboard through USB if desired.
Cons
  • Screen is very small which cuts off browsing experience. Have to scroll a lot to see web sites and fill in forms.
  • Keypad is a bit small and cumbersome. I find myself having issue typing/using touchpad and also seem to have issues with hitting the back button inadvertently. This happens enough that I get very annoyed by it.
  • Limited memory/ports. Have to know what accessories you want before purchasing.
  • Screen resolution/display ok (I have a recent Toshiba netbook). Not as clear as iPad when used inside the house.
iPad
Pros
  • Screen resolution/quality great (when inside house)
  • Comes ready to use with wi-fi hotspots (basic model)
  • Great for entertainment - movies/music
  • Ease of use - incredibly simple interface and very intuitive
  • Form factor - nice size for toting around
  • Can attach an optional keyboard
  • Built in mic for recording audio
  • Can buy optional high end version that supports 3G broadband network access
Cons
  • Price - a bit more expensive than netbooks in general
  • Does not support Flash - a very common standard for playing movies and displaying more sophisticated graphics on web site. Can be annoying to click on a video only to be told it requires Adobe Flash.
  • No USB ports for additional devices other than Apple proprietary devices
  • Screen display hard to see outside in bright light.
I have the tethering broadband capability through work - via my blackberry and it is usually quite reliable in many places but the speed is a bit slow compared to normal high speed access via cable/dsl. I have used it to work remotely and it is adequate. The service I use is verizon.

Good luck with your choice!
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Old 09-05-2010, 09:26 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snedwid View Post
...The money is not a problem, worth it to me if'n it works...
this issue imo with true netbooks is their limitations...

TINY TINY track pad, tiny keyboard.

and a limited version of windoz.
_________

the problem with pad is the os isn't OSx.

so inputing data is still tricky and that whole 1 app at a time thing...
_________

the problem with BOTH of these is having limited broadband/internet providers...
_________

tethering a phone works fine and is adequate speed for most basic needs.

but somehow i guess that's MORE than the o.p. wants to deal with...
_________

so get a small mac laptop and purchase a broadband usb/express34 card.

cards do come with some 2 year data plans at lower costs,

or simply purchase the card outright and go month to month on a data plan ...

the key is look very closely at the COVERAGE 3g or 4g for your main travel zone...

broadband is fast, reliable and much better than UNsecured public wifi...

the apple osX is really a great tool for most needs...

a macbook is MORE money than almost all other laptops

but is sometimes LESS money over the long haul and with use/utility/security factored it...

or buy a net book and have osX franken'stalled.

i just don't like the tiny netbook track pads or INTERNAL 3g with the limited service plans.

IF moneys not an issue but WORKING simply/easily/without tweaks is,

get a mac and verizon/sprint/att or WHICHever broadband CARD...



cheers
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Old 09-05-2010, 10:27 AM   #12
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I think Laptops are all a matter of choice and what fits you and the amount of $$$ you have to spend.
There is something new on the market by Virgin (something SORRY) ITS a wiFi hotspot thingy you carry in your pocket and your laptop can connect to it (NO CARD to plug in) Its about $149.00 then the serivce is $40 per month NO LIMIT(Verison is 5 megs per month) .You can also buy blocks of time. NO CONTRACTS and start and stop when ever you like,just by calling an 800 number.
I dont know all the particulars .IT Uses Version sites I guess. Check it out The NO CONTRACTS and the Price caught my attention.
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Old 09-05-2010, 11:07 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phoenix View Post
Cosmotini, how fast is the connection on a tethered cell phone? $60 per month for a Verizon "MiFi" is a little much. And, I am concerned that 3G or even 4G will be slow, compared to a wired broadband connection. So, I'm afraid that using a cell phone for a modem might be like going back to dial-up; although, the price sounds much more affordable.

Are you satisfied with the tethered cell phone? How about the bluetooth connection to the Droid? I'd appreciate you opinion, and those of any others who have tried these, as I am about to make the same buying decision.

Thanks, in advance...
Phoenix,

I never measured the speed difference until now.

Using 3GSpeed- Analyze your WiFi 3G Network I ran the speed test 10 times on each of the networks.

My home network - wireless n - average speed 408.5 kbps

Droid X 3G Mobile Wi-fi - average speed 115 kbps

For browsing, it doesn't seem that much slower. Probably would be noticeable streaming movies or uploading a lot of hi-res photos.

Some day, I'll test watching a movie with Netflix with it.
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Old 09-05-2010, 11:52 AM   #14
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Mikethefixit, reference your comment "There is something new on the market by Virgin (something SORRY)"; do you mean that this device is "sorry", i.e., doesn't work very well, or perhaps that you don't recall the exact name of the device? --Thanks
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