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Author Topic: Netbook needed mainly for writing (about $400 or less)  (Read 1182 times)
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Vinda-Lou
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« on: January 25, 2011, 12:42:45 AM »

I am getting back into writing and would like something that I could use in my office at home or bring with me to work, commuting, etc.  Nothing flashy - something like this... In fact maybe this one.  Good battery life not essential, but preferred.  

Any recommendations based on experience?  I would most likely be using it for "Final Draft 8" screenwriting program and the likes.  Movie/music playing ala iTunes would be great too, but playing Crysis is not a necessity!  I really cannot spend too much on it, $400 is the sweet spot.  Your help is most appreciated.

EDIT: Also, is there a good place to order from?  Amazon seems good, but anything else?

EDIT II:  Or am I looking for a netbook?  Off to do some research... opinions still welcome!
« Last Edit: January 28, 2011, 12:55:41 AM by Vinda-Lou » Logged
Blackjack
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« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2011, 10:08:31 PM »

I guess the main question is whether you can be comfortable typing on a touchscreen or not. As much as I talk about the iPad I don't have one or a tablet. I wouldn't get a tablet just cause they're Trendy, or because every hardware maker or his mother is trying to get a slab of the iPad's burgeoning sales. If it really suits what you want to do, and you wouldn't have to glom on 3 different attachments to turn a tablet/iPad into something it's really not, then something like one of those would be fine.

Otherwise, it just sounds like you'd probably want a good, modest size/cost laptop (and other people with more experience can give you better advice). I don't know if you'd want a typical netbook (maybe one of the larger, higher end ones perhaps) because if you're a screenwriter you may not want to be madly scrolling all over an 11-12" screen to read your text. Take a long hard look at battery life if you're a writer who's going to be typing on the road a lot - if you almost always have access to a power plug, it maybe is less of a concern.

I've found Laptop Magazine a good place to do research and look up reviews and videos and such:
http://www.laptopmag.com/
They cover laptops, netbooks, tablets, smartphones, ad nauseaum....  icon_smile

As with any posted question here, just expect 297 different opinions and advice. Nobody here ever, ever agrees on anything. So, be prepared for diversity in recommendations.  icon_smile
« Last Edit: January 27, 2011, 10:11:33 PM by Blackjack » Logged

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Vinda-Lou
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« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2011, 12:55:16 AM »

Thanks Blackjack for the advice.  I am going to use for screenwriting, and I did not even think about having to scroll right and left to see the whole page!  Hopefully Final Draft has a fit to screen option, and that it is not too small.  I am going to have to go to a store and see how big netbooks really are.  Tablet PCs are not what I am looking for, I realized.  This is the netbook I have my eye on.  I just need to see how it works with Final Draft and other word processors.  Time to hit Google!
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wonderpug
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« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2011, 01:52:39 AM »

Are you ok with a smaller keyboard?  If your primary use is real writing and not just casual web browsing and emailing, the crunched keys could possibly drive you insane.  Some people don't mind them at all.
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Tokek
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« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2011, 02:20:12 AM »

I'm with Blackjack on this one. If you do a lot of writing, you'll probably want a keyboard, and maybe even a bigger screen. I'd probably look more into the 13" screens compared to the 10" of the netbooks. If battery is one of the concerns, I'd go with the CULV laptops (I think Intel SU processor series). If you do decide on a netbook, I think the new Intel N550 is a dual-core nano.

I'd check http://www.techbargains.com for daily deals on laptops
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Vinda-Lou
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« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2011, 02:21:34 AM »

From what I've read from a few other websites, some people get used to the smaller keyboards pretty quick.  I'll need to see and try one in person, but I'm sure it won't be a big problem.  I've yet to order Final Draft; I'm going to wait until I get the netbook so that there won't be any adjustment to the smaller screen/keyboard. 

I think the one I'm getting after all is this one at Best Buy.  Two stores near me have it in stock, it's cheaper than the other one I saw on Amazon (linked in my above post), and has pretty much everything I need.  In fact the "weaker" the netbook is, the better - I'm less likely to try and install games on it to distract me from working!  As long as I can type, go online, play music while I type and go online (I'm pretty sure I can install iTunes on it), and maybe watch a movie occasionally, I'll be happy with this cheaper one.

Incidentally, any ideas what games would work on this one? icon_twisted
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Vinda-Lou
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« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2011, 02:23:55 AM »

Quote from: Tokek on January 28, 2011, 02:20:12 AM

I'm with Blackjack on this one. If you do a lot of writing, you'll probably want a keyboard, and maybe even a bigger screen. I'd probably look more into the 13" screens compared to the 10" of the netbooks. If battery is one of the concerns, I'd go with the CULV laptops (I think Intel SU processor series). If you do decide on a netbook, I think the new Intel N550 is a dual-core nano.

I'd check http://www.techbargains.com for daily deals on laptops

I read just before that a few writers were using Final Draft on a 10 incher and they were fine with it.  Like I said, if all I know from using FD8 is on the netbook, I'm sure I'll be fine with it.  I'll check that website. 

And cool website too, Blackjack - it's very informative.  I barely know anything about netbooks.  I've never seen one in person yet!  I'm going to go to BB this weekend.
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Jumangi
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« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2011, 10:21:08 PM »

The new HP DMz1 or whatever its called with the new AMD Zacate cpu/gpu has been getting good reviews as sort of the premium netbook machine. It performs better than any Atom machine even ones with the ION graphics, with good battery life. Its a little higher than Atoms at $450 but seem well worth the cost in the long run.
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walTer
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« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2011, 11:27:42 PM »

I am not sure this link will actually work but:

http://outlet.us.dell.com/ARBOnlineSales/Online/SecondaryInventorySearch.aspx?rn=7716&SC=&c=us&cs=22&l=en&s=dfh

in a nutshell, Dell Refurb Mini 10 for approx 300.00.  I have one- grabbed it with a 6 cell, refurb with a 15% coupon from their twitter page- delivered for 268.00 and I love it.  If you want to type, surf, skype, email ...all that, it is perfect.  The keyboard is 92% I think so after you practice a bit, you should be fine.

You can go new, for a bit more but for limited needs, saving money is always good and even as a refurb, i have had 0 issues in the 18 months I have had this.
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Vinda-Lou
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« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2011, 01:21:26 AM »

The mini looks pretty cool.  I'm torn now...  The netbooks are pretty much what I'm looking for, but having done my research I've unearthed something new to me that I never considered and now I'm corrupted.  I can never go back to my innocence on the topic.

I've discovered the Macbook Air... icon_cry  And goddamn it I want one!  I've never really used a Mac before, and this thing looks sweet.  The 11 inch one... the bottom of the barrel version - simply $999 compared to the others.  But there is no way I have enough money for it.  Everything else looks bland now.  I'm tainted. 

So I'm putting off the purchasing of anything for a bit.  I need to let the Macbook Air envy wear off first.  Sigh...
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wonderpug
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« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2011, 03:44:28 AM »

For what it's worth, I got the 11" Air and it's now my favoritist thing in the world and my bestest friend.  I was tempted by netbooks time and time again but they either seemed too underpowered or had a shitty keyboard or shitty trackpad or shitty something else or were too underpowered.  I love the size of the Air, it's like carrying a long iPad. 

The instant-on feature works as advertised.  If it's only been closed a short while it just takes a moment, and if it's in a deeper sleep mode it takes maybe 3-4 seconds to come on ready to go.  So much nicer than waiting for things to spin up and for Windows to remember what it was doing.

The keyboard feels great, and the trackpad is glorious.  The trackpad is honestly 3x as big as my big boy $1500 HP work laptop.  The gesture system works amazingly well.   Two fingers to scroll around is so natural, and faster, too, since you can do the input wherever your finger is instead of having to move over to the right side of the scrollpad.  My biggest complaint is the lack of home/end/pgup/pgdn buttons, but I'm trying to get used to the alternate keyboard shortcuts that accomplish the same tasks.

Horsepower-wise it's been great.  It doesn't choke with lots of applications up at once, or with things like the "This is fun pt 3" thread. 

My biggest worry about the Air was whether the screen would be too small, but it's been just fine and dandy.  It's bright and clear, and things are perfectly readable when it's on my lap.  If I have it further away on a table or desk, text can seem a little small, but the iPhone-type pinch to zoom quickly remedies things.  The amount of screen real estate can be a bit limiting if I'm trying to compare 2-3 documents at once, but it's still reasonable and that was a known sacrifice when getting the Air over a full-size laptop.

I'll say it again, this is both the netbook I've always wanted and the laptop I've always wanted.  I hate switching over to my work laptop now that I'm so used to the Air. 
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Canuck
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« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2011, 03:59:05 AM »

If you're going to get a netbook then for God's sake get something that has 1024x768 resolution. I really love my Eee PC (couple years old now) but my biggest regret is that it has 1024x600 screen and that sucks for even some of the older games.
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Vinda-Lou
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« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2011, 12:17:09 PM »

Quote from: wonderpug on February 01, 2011, 03:44:28 AM

For what it's worth, I got the 11" Air and it's now my favoritist thing in the world and my bestest friend.  I was tempted by netbooks time and time again but they either seemed too underpowered or had a shitty keyboard or shitty trackpad or shitty something else or were too underpowered.  I love the size of the Air, it's like carrying a long iPad. 

The instant-on feature works as advertised.  If it's only been closed a short while it just takes a moment, and if it's in a deeper sleep mode it takes maybe 3-4 seconds to come on ready to go.  So much nicer than waiting for things to spin up and for Windows to remember what it was doing.

The keyboard feels great, and the trackpad is glorious.  The trackpad is honestly 3x as big as my big boy $1500 HP work laptop.  The gesture system works amazingly well.   Two fingers to scroll around is so natural, and faster, too, since you can do the input wherever your finger is instead of having to move over to the right side of the scrollpad.  My biggest complaint is the lack of home/end/pgup/pgdn buttons, but I'm trying to get used to the alternate keyboard shortcuts that accomplish the same tasks.

Horsepower-wise it's been great.  It doesn't choke with lots of applications up at once, or with things like the "This is fun pt 3" thread. 

My biggest worry about the Air was whether the screen would be too small, but it's been just fine and dandy.  It's bright and clear, and things are perfectly readable when it's on my lap.  If I have it further away on a table or desk, text can seem a little small, but the iPhone-type pinch to zoom quickly remedies things.  The amount of screen real estate can be a bit limiting if I'm trying to compare 2-3 documents at once, but it's still reasonable and that was a known sacrifice when getting the Air over a full-size laptop.

I'll say it again, this is both the netbook I've always wanted and the laptop I've always wanted.  I hate switching over to my work laptop now that I'm so used to the Air. 

Ahhhhhh!  I'm not listening! I'm not listening!   crybaby
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walTer
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« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2011, 06:36:57 PM »

FWIW, the Mac Air is the most awesome laptop ever.

Got one for work- well from work to use.  Yes I love my mini, but that Air...9 seconds to full start up, plays WoW like a champ, faster than a speeding bullet, and a bit more than 400.00 smile
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CeeKay
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« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2011, 07:04:28 PM »

Quote from: Vinda-Lou on February 01, 2011, 12:17:09 PM

Ahhhhhh!  I'm not listening! I'm not listening!   crybaby


it's too late, it's already infected your system.  you may get a lesser system, but in the back of your mind you will always know that it is not a Macbook Air.  You will cry yourself to sleep as you subconscious whispers 'you bought the lesser one, if onkly you had bought the Air'.....
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Vinda-Lou
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« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2011, 01:27:52 AM »

CeeKay, I have played that scenario in my head since the day I first saw it.  If I get an Asus or Dell or even a cool Alienware 11 inch, I will still dream of my MBA that never was.... 

Now how do I convince my wife how necessary it is that I own one... ninja
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rittchard
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« Reply #16 on: February 04, 2011, 07:51:31 PM »

Really a tough one here.  I'd say you really have to evaluate your criteria closely.  Looks like you have:

Price
Performance for writing + music
Portability
Battery Life

How important is each?  Portability is really a big factor here.  If you don't care too much about size/weight, you can just go with a standard size laptop (15" range) and get decent performance with a full-size keyboard in the $400-500 range. 

Once you start going smaller your options get more and more limited (prices start shifting up) until you are willing to go into netbook size range.  However, the one thing I'd recommend against is conventional netbooks if you want to do a lot of typing.  If writing is your primary concern you really want something closer to a full size keyboard.  If it all possible try it out before you buy (at a Best Buy or Fry's if you have them local).  There's nothing worse than getting a cool new unit that has all the features at a great price but the keyboard you just hate.  Even the netbooks with bigger keys I've found were not as comfy to type on if they were squeezed to close together.

If you can stomach the price, though, MBA is really an all around winner.  I've owned notebooks and netbooks of all sizes and shapes, but ultimately the one I use the most is my MBA.  Particularly for typing/writing it's really a great size/form factor with an excellent keyboard.  You might even consider getting an older model if you don't care about the performance.  One thing about the older ones is they have a backlit keyboard which is really sweet.
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