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Old 02-17-2006, 09:33 AM   #1
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Buying a Laptop

My desktop is getting old and tired. I've been entertaining the idea of buying a new computer.

I have also been toying with the idea of getting a laptop and setting it up with a wireless connection for use around the house. (I'm tired of being cooped up in the basement office.)

Do any of you guys have experience you can share about the differences I will experience in performance? Also what are the pros and cons? I have a broadband connection right now and would think twice about switching to a wireless hookup if I was going to lose speed.

Thanks,
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Old 02-17-2006, 11:54 AM   #2
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If you're tired of being cooped up in the basement, then wireless is the way to go. My girlfriend got her freedom from wires about a year ago and says she'd never go back. When I visit her, it is just SO handy to be able to have 'the world' with you regardless of where we are in the house. We often hear something on radio or TV and wonder about some statistic or aspect of what we're hearing. To be able to "look it up" without needing to go to a specific (and usually inconvenient) location in the house is like having an encyclopedia at your fingertips.

Performance has not really been an issue. We don't use it to play games with others over the internet or anything... But, if you do, you would just take that into consideration when you're deciding on your processor. I'm pretty sure that you wouldn't notice the difference.
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Old 02-17-2006, 12:07 PM   #3
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When we set up the LAN in the house we decided to forego the wireless router because my mother works with medical records and information THAT personal cannot be broadcast around even acrosss short distances.

So if Security is a big concern, don't go wireless, or have a Wi-Fi and a Hard Wire PC-MCIA card and switch between them (using the wi-fi when security is not a major concern). There have been many (many) cases of two neighbors getting their routers crossed :) Personally I'm not too hot on wireless setups anyway for this very reason. It's too easy for someone to use your connection without you knowing about it.

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Old 02-17-2006, 12:08 PM   #4
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Can't you password protect access to the network?
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Old 02-17-2006, 12:12 PM   #5
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Get the laptop Andy! I switched from a desktop to a laptop and will never go back. the laptop is so much more convienient. I have it wireless, but I usually use it plugged in still. I only go wireless if I am working on the computer out on my deck. It is great to have the wireless option though.

Pros for the laptop are the size of the thing. You no longer need this tower and monitor with all these wires all over the place. That was a huge plus for me.

You can use your computer where you want. I often times bring it into the kitchen so I can pull up a recipe and work off of that.

Cons:
The laptop is more expensive for a less powerful machine. For less money you can get a faster, more powerful machine with more hard drive space. Is this really an issue? Chances are it is not. unless you are doing things like video editing or gaming then a decent laptop will be plenty fast and powerful enough. Do you need 80 gigs or is 40 enough?

A laptop has limited number or ports like USB for instance. For me that is not an issue. Mine only has two USB ports. I have my track ball plugged into one so that leaves me with one other. I ahve numerous USB devices that I use, but never at the same time. If I need to print something them I plug the printer in. When that is done I unplug it and can plug my card reader in etc.

What exactly will you be using it for other than DC, email and surfing the web? If that is basically it and you have the $ to spend then I would HIGHLY recommend the wireless laptop over a desktop.
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Old 02-17-2006, 12:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M.
Can't you password protect access to the network?
yes and it is easy to do. the problem is most people don't do it. it is as easy and as important as locking your front door when you leave your house.

Can someone still get in? Sure, but unless there is a real reason for them to get in there they won't go through the effort. For your home setup no one is going to try to break in and do anything bad. If they want into a system they will just find an unsecure one.
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Old 02-17-2006, 01:04 PM   #7
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Great advice folks. Thanks a lot.

GB, is the wireless connection as fast as the hardwired one? I have a cable hookup now.

I am not a video gamer. Other than the uses you mentioned - email, DC, surfing, - I would be using MS Office tools to do financial analysis and WP documents.

I'm looking at a Dell XPS 140. They're offering a loaded model with all I need for around $1500. I think a neighbor can get me a deep discount through her company.
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Old 02-17-2006, 01:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M.

GB, is the wireless connection as fast as the hardwired one? I have a cable hookup now.
No it is not as fast, but for most things you probably will not notice much of a difference. If you are streaming video or audio then you would notice it, but for just surfing and emailing it works just fine.

Don't forget though that it is sort of like using a cell phone. Reception can be an issue. If your wireless router is in a good location then your signal will be strong, but if it is somewhere where your computer and the router are seperated by a couple of floors and concrete and distance etc then reception might get spotty.

Just because you have the ability to go wireless though does not mean that you always need to. You can still always plug in and have it be hard wired like you have now.
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Old 02-17-2006, 01:31 PM   #9
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You are very helpful GB. Thanks!
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Old 02-17-2006, 01:32 PM   #10
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802.11g (current wireless standard) is what you want. you wont notice any difference in internet speed. you will however notice a difference when tranfering files between pc's, expecialy large ones. it will only transfer at 34mb / sec as apposed to the 100mb / sec you are used to.

its very easy to secure wireless via encryption. most people use WEP...unfortunatly its as easy to hack as it is to setup (i can get in in less than 60 seconds...but im an experienced hacker). i suggest RADIUS..its a wee bit stronger, but still hackable.

** Raven..you and your mom are wise and its good that you did your research. if she did a wireless lan in her house she would be in direct violation if HIPPA, and coould be subject to HUGE fines is anyone ever found out.
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