22 April 2009

Laptop of my future?

If and when (God forbid!) I need to get a new laptop, I've decided that it will be this one:

Toshiba Satellite P305-S8904 (link)

I've configured it for the max bang for my mini bucks. . .this configuration is $870.00:
Processor: Intel® Core™2 Duo Processor T6400 (2.00GHz, 2MB L2, 800MHz FSB)
Operating System: Windows Vista® Home Premium (SP1, 32-Bit version), Microsoft® Office Software: Microsoft® Office Ready w/Microsoft Office Pro 2007, 60-day Trial
Memory: 2048MB PC6400 DDR2 800MHz SDRAM (2048MBx1)
Display: 17.0" Diagonal Widescreen WXGA+ TruBrite® display (1440x900)
Graphics Controller: Integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD
Hard Disk Drive: 60GB HDD (5400rpm, Serial-ATA)
Optical Drive: DVD SuperMulti (+/-R double layer) drive
Wireless: Wi-Fi®Intel® WiFi Link 5100AGN (802.11a/g/n)
Battery: Lithium Ion battery (6-Cell, 4000mAh)
Standard Warranty: 1 Year Standard Limited Warranty
Since most of this is complete gibberish to me, I would appreciate comments!

By comparison, what do we think of this one? (Satellite L355)


  1. Anonymous2:16 AM

    2gig of memory is the bare, bare minimum if you're running Vista. (I'd be happier with 4.) As is a 60GB HDD (Vista can run on 8GB, but it likes to have 35GB - it will then use part of your hard drive to run faster, which is something you will like, especially with only 2GB of memory ;) )

    On the other end, are you planning to burn DVDs on a regular basis? If you're not you can exchange your optical drive for a normal DVD player. There's bound to be a DVD writer somewhere in the community. We have entered the age where you trip over such things.

    HDDs aren't very expensive, so I'd up that to 120 or so, and if you can, add some memory. Apart from that I've heard that Toshiba is fine, but as a Mac user I have no experience with it.

  2. Anonymous3:03 AM

    Fr. Phillip,

    Both of those laptops will be perfectly fine for your purposes. I would recommend getting an option of having Windows XP Installed in place of Vista mostly due to how resource hungry Vista is by default. What is nice is the built in Wireless N, It will allow you to pick up wireless N Hotspots which have a far faster transfer rate then the standard Wireless G (300 Mbps vs 54 Mbps)

    Have you given any thought to the Dell Studio 17? http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/laptop_studio_17?c=us&cs=19&l=en&ref=lthp&s=dhs

    The Stats are rather comparable (in fact the vanilla studio 17 has a 250 GB HDD which is more then enough) and the nice thing about Dell is you have access to easily one of the best Tech Support teams around. I usually reccomend my clients either go with Dell if they need a PC or a Mac if they can afford it and dont want to have any hassle.

    Hope this helps!

  3. I would save yourself a couple hundred bucks and use OpenOffice.org rather than Microsoft Office. Open Office is a free download and has nearly every feature that Microsoft does.

  4. So it's true then.

    Boys never think of anything but their toys.

  5. Check out the Dell Factory Outlet online. You can get a refurbished laptop with similar specs for less with a 3-year limited warranty (in the US) if you purchase a business laptop. Looking at 17" Vostro you could get a similar machine for $600 and a pretty souped up machine for $1000 (2 320GB drives, DVD/RW, 4.00GB) Check out outlet.us.dell.com.

    I purchased a refurbished laptop 15 months ago. I had to send it in for service and it was back in less than 1 week. They even shipped it to a secondary address since I was travelling.


  6. If you have the choice to go with XP instead of Vista I would consider it. Vista still has some kinks in it.

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  8. I second Sean's motion -- go with Open Office. Among other neat things -- OO Write (word processor) can change your documents to PDFs at the click of a button, and OO Imagine (the Power Point equivalent) can save your presentations as Flash files -- much smaller than a .ppt file. I've done both of these myself.

    Hilary: A laptop is a working tool for Father P, not a toy.

  9. I would also look at Acer

  10. Flambeaux9:26 AM

    I'll second the voices recommending XP over Vista.

    For word processing and web browsing 2 GB of RAM will be sufficient if you are using XP.

    Mixed feelings on Open Office as I used it for years before throwing in the towel and going back to Word. It was never as complete or intuitive as I wanted it to be.

    But on a cost/benefit basis, OO is superior to Word and just as useful for basic word processing tasks.

    Then I switched wholesale back to Mac a few months ago and went with their proprietary word processor.

    I've had better experiences over the last 10 years with Toshiba laptops vs. Dell laptops, but that's not dispositive.

  11. Father,

    That seems underpowered for the cash.
    I was able to put one together at Dell Small Business with twice the Ram 5x the hard drive space and a 9cell battery and every other spec the same for four dollars more.


    There is a link that should show you the build.

  12. Fr. P,

    Honestly, there's no reason to stick to this or that brand. Almost all laptops are made by two manufacturers in Taiwan, Quanta and Compal. So the differences really come in the quality of what surrounds the core design: chassis, disk and memory.

    In this crisis, some manufacturers are noticeably skimping the quality. Make sure to check the reviews for the laptop that you're interested.

    Having gone through a shopping research last week myself, I found that Dell seems to be having many problems with the disk supplier, Toshiba case quality is not very inspiring, etc. I didn't check Lenovo and Fujitsu because its models are mostly business models, thus commanding a higher price.

    In the end, I went for a Compaq (HP) laptop. But the deal maker was the fact that it was refurbished, making it 30% cheaper than a new one.

    Then again, I'm a fan of buying used, from the house to the cars. As an novice OCDS myself, that's how I figured to live the counsel of poverty in the world. ;-)


  13. The Satellite L355 seems like a better deal for the money. If you want the Toshiba, go with the latter, not the specs of the one you posted.

    I think you'll be able to find a better deal if you go to Best Buy, though. Here is a link to the Dell Studio laptops they sell which has a 17" screen, a T6400 processor by Intel (I assume you don't want AMD), 320 GB HD, and 4GB Ram (which would be better specs than the one you picked and a better price).


  14. Dear Fr.,

    Below is a long version, but for a summary of my opinions:
    - Toshiba is good
    - Keep the DVD Writer; it will be good for backups
    - MS Office is fine
    - MS Windows Vista is only OK. Windows XP would be better.
    - Consider buying after July 1 for a free upgrade to Windows 7 (which is an improvement of Vista).

    Now the long version:


    These laptops look fine, and I think once you made a selection on how much memory, processor power, etc. that you want, it is all a matter of just choosing. One great heuristic is the quality of the machine. Using that I would always to international or IBM. Toshiba and Fujitsu are two of my favorite brands, and I know that IBM makes some quality hardware. For this reason, I think what you have is great.

    While I would generally agree with trying to keep systems simple, I might have to disagree with veniteadoremus: while DVD writers have been a little unnecessary, I would think that the extra capabilities wouldn't hurt. The way how hard disk space is going up, it wouldn't hurt to be able to write more to DVDs. If anything, you can use DVDs for making backups. (I think everyone should make regular backups; it really seems silly to trust all of your data with a feeble little hard drive.)

    As for Office, do realize that the P305 that you have customized will only get a 60-day Trial. I am another who would really like to see others use Open Office, but I would understand if it might be too foreign to really deal with. MS Office is fine, even though I don't like most of their policies.

    And for Windows: XP is definately better than Vista. Microsoft jumped the gun a little with Vista, and forgot to streamline it a little. The extra memory with Vista is really recommended. But if you want XP, you should hurry, because it's availability is extended until May 2009.

    On the flip side, Microsoft's new Windows system will be coming soon. Windows 7, while very much like Vista, is quite an improvement. Microsoft really listened to people's (many) complaints about Vista. What's neat is that according to Tech ARP, if you buy a new copy of Windows Vista Home Premium (or better) after July 1, you are eligible to get Windows 7 for free.

    Sorry for the long message. (I seem to like sending you long messages.) But I hope it's helpful.


  15. Jimmy, thanks for the detailed advice! I know I owe you an email...give me 'til the weekend! I'm on a book deadline.


    The customers reviews for the DELL you linked to are not good. Lots of hardware problems apparently.

  16. I also prefer XP, too, which I have on my desktop (familiarity of it and ease of use, factor high), and I'm begrudgingly getting used to Vista on my laptop.

    I understand that Vista offers greater security and privacy on-line than XP; and that Windows will quit supporting or upgrading XP in early 2011.

  17. oops, I meant early 2010...

  18. Anonymous8:37 PM

    don't dominicans take a vow of poverty?

  19. Agree with many of the suggestions above.

    Open Office is a fine frees substitute for Office and is totally compatible.

    More memory for Vista is a good idea. Memory is cheap enough now so go with 4 gigs - even thought 32bit Vista will only use 3.2gig. 64 bit version can handle it all. Though when Windows 7 comes out later the memory requirements will be better than Vista.

    The specs across brands are quite similar now. Look at usability by customers. Too many PC laptops are crap as far as durability goes and they start to fall apart after 2 years. Though Toshiba has a pretty good reputation.

    The size of the harddrive and speed of processor is rather wimpy by today's standards. Though more than adequate for web and word processing use.

    Make sure you can physically try out the laptop first if you can. How your hands feel on it using the keyboard and the trackpad is a super important part of the user experience and this is partly subjective. I've had laptops I had to use and hated mainly because of the keyboard/trackpad.

    I wish Apple laptops were within your range though. I've had the best experience ever with my MacBook Pro. I've used plenty of PC laptops in my life and nothing compares.

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  21. Anon asks, "Don't Dominicans take a vow of poverty?"

    Strictly speaking, no, we don't. OP's make one vow: obedience. That one vow incorporates the other two evangelical counsels by binding us to the constitutions, which require poverty and chastity.

    For OP's poverty is not about destitution. Unlike the Franciscans, OP's treat poverty as means to one end: preaching. For us, poverty is simply a practical means for achieving an improvement in our better preaching.

    The most common expression of poverty for OP is common ownership of major property...I do not own a house, or a car, nor do I have a saving account, or a checking account...my monthly income when I work goes straight to the priory not me personally, etc....

  22. well, my answer will all depend on one thing..

    what color is it??


  23. Mom,

    Black and white, of course.

  24. DUH! of course!! :-)

  25. The laptop that you referenced in the link (Toshiba P305-S89--) sounds just right. The one from the link had 4GB memory, Vista Home Premium 64-bit, and a 320GB hard drive...now that sounds better than the specs you listed. I have a Toshiba P305D-S8900 with 4GB memory, Vista Home Premium 64-bit, and a 320GB hard drive so I understand. I don't agree with the info on Vista vs. XP as I've been working with Vista for the past 4 years and really like it. As for 64-bit, it's really only a problem if you're a programmer/developer. The choice is good...go for it.

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