Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist
20 May 2005
Filed under:Gadgets,Personal at8:44 am

The hard drive on my lashed-together several-years-old PC desktop has failed for the second time in a year so I have decided to stop trying to revive it and plan to replace it with a laptop that my wife can use commuting as well.

1 Durability
2 Good support (mainly good repair and overall customer service but
telephone tech support might help). Good coverage in Europe/US a plus.
3 light/small and acceptable battery life (3 hrs?)
4 acceptable games performance (don’t tell the wife!). Otherwise will just
get used for word processing etc so don’t need lots of processor power.
5 Not too expensive (< 1000 quid) Mainly on the basis of 1 and 2 I limited myself to Toshiba or IBM and have more or less narrowed down to: Thinkpad T41 or a Portege A200

Should I be considering an HP or other brand as well – if so which? Which
of Tosh and IBM deliver better support these days? Any “gotchas”/tech dead
ends I should look out for when making my decision?

My prejudice tells me the IBM will be the sturdier choice…


  1. In October 2003 the Consumers’ Association (now known as Which?) published a report on “Buying a Computer”. Their conclusions were based a survey of their subscribers; 8,475 responses were received. Here’s an excerpt:

    “The message from readers is clear: independent dealers provide a
    better all-round service than most high-street chains. And three computer manufacturers are clearly ahead of the competition.

    Apple, Sony and Dell are all good brands to choose. According to our
    survey, their computers are among the most reliable, and Apple and Sony’s helpline services are among the best.”

    Hope this is helpful.

    Comment by Kevin Laurence — 20 May 2005 @ 10:21 am

  2. Thanks for commenting. I used to work for Which? and have great respect for their methods but the popularity of Sony just doesn’t tally with what some people have told me about their being poor at tech support and their computers being badly made. Maybe things went downhill since 2003? Or maybe my own impression is out of date?

    Dell may be good with desktops but I’m not so sure about their laptops. I have and like a Mac but we need at least one decent PC in the house…

    Comment by David Brake — 20 May 2005 @ 10:41 am

  3. Just curious 🙂 why do you need a PC in the house? I wouldthink an iBook would be a great coice for £900 at http://www.apple.com/ukstore

    Is thre some Windows-specific app you need to run? Is it something that won’t run under Virtual PC?

    Personally, I only keep PC’s around for two reasons:
    (1) Luisa refuses to go Mac
    (2) gaming

    Ya, until Apple fixes the response of their USB system, I am sticking to PC’s for gaming. But you’ve already said that wasn’t that important. perhaps you were.. understating the need? 😀

    Comment by Reid — 20 May 2005 @ 3:42 pm

  4. Well there are still a few specialist apps that won’t run on a Mac – NVivo, for example. But mainly because my wife works for the NHS which has pretty meagre tech support at the best of times and… well… I do want the games!

    Knowledgeable friends of mine tell me that Dells aren’t as bad at making notebooks as I thought so I might also think about getting a Dell Latitude 410

    Comment by David Brake — 20 May 2005 @ 3:59 pm

  5. In the end I was convinced that Dell does after all do fairly good laptops and we decided that the Latitude D410 would be a good choice (3yr courier warranty, a good spec and lightweight/small for 850 pounds). Stop me if the Tosh Portege A200 is a lot better for some reason!

    Comment by David Brake — 20 May 2005 @ 10:52 pm

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