please empty your brain below

A couple more clicks and you'd have answered your own question.

Windows 7 Drivers for your printer:

Get a ThinkPad. They're expensive but robust and great.

(Athough, I'm not going to beat about the bush, for the sort of things you do, a Mac would be best...)

Can we *all* tell DG to do what he doesn't want to do?

DG, I almost stopped at the parenthesised cross-reference half-way through: but I read the rest, though I don't much care.

Charlie Brooker was quite funny, though...

DG, see the light!


If the cost isn't a huge restriction, and you want a solid laptop to last for years, I second the Lenovo Thinkpad option.

For me, the hardware "interface" is as important as the software.

For example, can the volume control be quickly muted by twisting a dial on the side of the computer, or do I have to use the Windows volume control settings?

Are the USB ports on the side (good if you swap kit around a lot) or on the back and out of sight if you don't want that big USB key staring at you all the time.

Does it have a connector for a spare monitor, or do you need a fancy docking station?

Can you turn off the mousepad when using a conventional mouse?

The final one is almost impossible to get an answer to in a shop, but does the computer get hot where your hands will naturally want to rest on the laptop? Mine does - quite annoying on hot days.

Buy a 500GB replacement drive and max out (3GB?) the memory of your working laptop. Also a case for your old drive to copy your data from. Reinstall XP afresh and you have a 'brand new' machine for £100. Yes it is easy and even you could do it.

If anything is going to fail it will be the hard drive so if you replace it now the laptop will last until Windows 8/2012 Olympics.

With your level of expertise and your desire for something new and shiny you probably would enjoy a Mac (I've heard rumours that one is allowed to own a Mac and a windows machine). I second the ThinkPad as the alternative though.

BTW if you don't already have an external drive that has copies of all your photos and stuff, why not?

Macs = Computers for dummies.

Don't get a cheap Dell, it will physically break. Buy a nice shiny Sony Vaio - great build quality that will last beyond 2012 ...

Absolutely do NOT buy a Mac. They're far too expensive for what they give you, and the fact that they always use substandard hardware more prone to breakdown means that even if under warranty, it'll be spending more time in the shop than you'd like. Great, now I've done my part to drown out the others.

The best way to go with PC laptops, I've found, is to find the manufacturers before they're rebranded. For instance, a company called Compal produces computers for Dell and HP, among others, and it's cheaper to buy those directly from the source.

Anyways, get this:
. It's based on a Clevo (one of those OEM companies), and they've always worked well for me. Add Windows 7 Pro and bump up the CPU to the P8700 Core 2 Duo and you're looking at around £704. It also has a 15" screen, which sounds about right for your needs.

Also keep in mind that if you get 4GB of RAM or more (as comes with this standard), you want to go with Windows 7 64-bit. It won't change the way you do anything; it just makes better use of the system resources and allows you to utilize all 4GB of RAM. Hopefully that helps! And good luck, buying a new computer is never the easiest thing in the world, but it will be entirely worth it.

Oh, and DG. If you're going to start the Windows v. Mac debate (a mac is also a PC, it stands for personal computer folks) then
perhaps tomorrow we could discuss something less contraversial, ooh say ... Israel v. Palestine ...

Macs? Aren't they made by Fisher Price? My First Laptop...

But seriously, buying a new laptop because the hard drive's full is like buying a new car when the old one runs out of petrol. DG, you are famous for your - how shall I put it? - attention to detail, so I'm really surprised if you don't have a regular and systematic back-up and archive routine.

Or just buy a copy of Windows 7 Home Premium (and an external drive to back up your photos and stuff) for that new OS feeling and spend the £500 you'll save on a holiday.

As a special treat buy a 22" monitor and hook that up to your current machine (with a USB mouse and keyboard) via that blue VGA connector (if it has one - check the manual).

If you do decide to get a new machine...

PC Magazine Laptop & Notebook Service & Reliability Survey 2009

Asus seem to be doing well this year.

Feel free to ignore Apple as they are not 'proper' computers and only dummies like Stephen Fry/John Otway/Harry Shearer and others (
) ever use them

You want to do some retail therapy? Buy a good external back up. Do it. Put your feet up and wait for the reviews on touch screen lappies...oh yes you really want touch really do.

Thank you, thank you thank you!
I didn't know that the mouse pad on laptops could be turned off if using a usb mouse and did not even stop to think that it could be an option. It's been a real bugbear since buying my laptop last year as when typing I often accidently touch the pad and it would mess up my input. (BTW it's a Toshiba something and I love it, even more now)

Thanks for all the advice so far!
Please note: I am buying a new laptop, OK?

Funny how we have all these Mac experts who know all about them even though they don't own one and have never used one. Perhaps Windows increases brain power or makes them telepathic. That would be a reason to switch.

Or perhaps they are just parroting what the Windows PC magazines tell them (c'mon boys and girls, of course the Windows magazines are going to say that Macs are rubbish, if you buy a Mac, you might stop buying their magazines and buy Mac ones instead. Computer journalists with vested interests? Never!).


Talk to me about Costco once you've decided what you want. Very good Value and most have at least 3 years free warranty.

Wait 'till after Christmas. You're suffering from new-computeritis. Just as they recommend going to the supermarket on a full stomach, buy a PC a few months after a new OS release. Stick with what you are happy with, Sony, and get the latest model in your price range. Go for 64 bit Windows 7 (Home Premium is fine) and 4GB (or greater) memory and 500GB disk. If you can afford it get a Solid State Drive(SSD) - it's like a big flash drive so it boots and loads very fast but is 10x the price per GB.

For Max Roberts - let's see what PCMag has to say about Apple : "When it comes to the overall satisfaction users have with their computers, Apple once again reigns supreme". What PCWorld has to say about the new iMac : "This is not only a spectacularly performing machine that is loaded to the teeth with features, it is also the best looking computer out there". It's easy to see how this anti-Mac propaganda can poison people. Kudos for giving 'Mac fanbois' a bad name though. It's like you channeled the Charlie Brooker column.

I recommend one of these to solve all your computer problems.

Disclaimer: Got a Computer Science degree and am a Professional Member of the British Computer Society. That alone should be reason to ignore the following:

I get a Lenovo (used to be IBM) from work and it's indestructible... gets used and abused 6+ days per week but you do pay the price for them.

Recommended an Acer to a friend who wanted cheap as chips recently and she is delighted with it.

But I choose a Mac at home - no annoying interruptions from Windows and no time ever sorting out drivers / rebooting etc.

But somehow I suspect you're too stubborn to take all the good advice

Well there's not only Win & Mac.
You can stay with a PC and use other stuff (i.e. Linux based like Ubuntu) that will not give you any trouble. Those are less hungry for PC specs, runs smoother, faster and most of the time have better support for I/O than expected. Ubuntu flavour being one of the easiest.
But more than anything don't stop to blog!

It depends if you *really* want to splash out on a new machine.

If your current laptop is doing you fine otherwise, I'd be tempted to simply buy a new hard driver for the existing machine and put a clean install of Windows 7 on it.

You can run the Windows 7 upgrade advisor to check how well the hardware will cope

Worst comes to worst you may find that the graphics card lacks sufficient oomph to support the full translucent-windows-and-and animation effects.

You can buy a cheap little drive enclosure that will take your old hard-drive - so you can just plug it in externally and have access to all your old data files.

I've been playing with Windows 7 thoughout the beta and it's very nice.

Still sticking with my Mac though

I was referring to the more peurile end of the spectrum, PC format magazine and that sort of thing. A lot of the more highbrow PC magazines such as PC Pro ostensibly are not dedicated to Windows. Anyway, a lot of the virulent anti-mac prejudice dates from years ago, from OS 8/9 days, and it seems to have stuck. Even though OsX is completely different.

Anyway dg, I'm disappointed with you. One of the reasons why I love your blog is the razor sharp insightful way in which you cut through bad arguments and rubbish lazy journalsm. Except when it comes to computers apparently.

At home I have a Mac, my partner has a PC, and when we are doing a joint piece of work, the number of times we start on the PC, and give up and switch to the Mac you would not believe. It's just easier and more likely to manage to do exactly what we want. Boots up and shuts down in 1/4 of the time too.

You can own and use any artifact without subscribing to the 'users' club' that goes with it. My toes curl up every time I walk into an Apple store. MacUser/MacFormat/MacWorld magazines are awful. I don't own an iPhone or an iPod. OsX is very clever but I hate it, bad Unix kludge, and whoever invented the Dock should die. BUT for anyone who depends on their computer working reliably and not doing weird stuff too often, and doesn't really want to know about the arcane stuff, it is the best choice.

Thanks for all the yet more advice!

Please note: I am buying a new laptop.
I am not doing an upgrade of my old one.
I am not buying a Mac.

How long till Windows 7 Service Pack 1???

Asus are cheap rubbish.
I'm sure thinkpads are robust, but they're not cheap, and they are ugly.
With a Sony, you pay an extra £500 for the logo. If you're into paying for the logo, you might as well buy a Mac!

The trouble with SSD is that they are still incredibly expensive compared to traditional disks - I'd advise going for the largest traditional disk you can afford. And if you're not backing your data up, you're going to have a very upsetting day sooner or later.

I have two Dell laptops (a Inspiron and a Studio) - the cheaper Inspiron takes an inordinate amount of abuse (say 12 hours a day, minimum). Our Studio has a built in blu-ray drive so we link it up to the TV to watch blu-ray DVDs. I have no complaints about either (nor the previous Dell laptops I have owned). I bought them both from the Dell Outlet ( - where prices ex VAT, and Windows 7 isn't yet available, but you save 20-30\\%...

In your position, from the information you've given about your usage (web browsing, photos), I'd go for a Dell Inspiron 17 N0075007, with 3 year care package, office home, Windows 7 Home Premium, 4Gb of RAM and 500GB hard disk... speced on the Dell site, it comes to just under £900. (Roughly the same price as the bottom of the range MacBook)... YMMV.

Alternately, if you want something you can try out before buying, I'd look at Toshiba.

Incidentally, for all the evangelism of Mac owners, how come every mac owner I see on the train is using their expensive Macbook to run Windows XP? I'm tempted to ask, but I'm wary how religious fundamentalist react when their beliefs are challenged!

Ps. There's always something better just around the corner.

I'd wait before getting a Windows 7 machine. "They" (the mysterious "They" who know everything), recommend waiting at least a year, unless you want to be constantly downloading service packs & updates.

Talk to someone who works for an IT company and use their employee discount?

I don't know about waiting, actually. I've been running the RTM Release Candidate since August now, and with the exception of a few patches that were auto-downloaded around then, I've had to download literally NOTHING. I'm blown away at how few bugs there are, and how rock-solid the OS feels.

As for drivers, I only have one device that I can't get to work in Windows 7, and that's this goofy little DJ control surface by Behringer. Behringer being a rather cheap option, I doubt they'll ever release a new driver, but I'm not that worried about it. Everything else has worked flawlessly. It doesn't really seem like the few issues that exist are Microsoft's fault, and so with Windows 7, I really don't see a reason to hold off.

Max - im a Win user at home and was forced to use a Mac at work for six months, every day to do video editing.

I hated it.

I convinced the powers that be to switch me to a windows machine instead, and I horny work done more quickly and happier too!
Macs just don't do it for me. They are not for everyone.

I've joined the ThinkPad fan club too. I got an X301 a couple of months ago and - Vodafone mobile broadband free trial aside - I really like it.

Just get yourself a Mac.

I had an Acer laptop, and after an apartment fire grabbed an Acer netbook as a quick replacement. They're great in most respects, but they both have AWFUL touchpads. I removed most of the functionality on the touchpads for each machine, and use a wireless mouse at home. test it out if you are considering one of them.

Did I say Asus were cheap rubbish. I meant Acer. The one's you get in tesco.


How long ago was this, and what did you hate about it?


sooo - any decision??? i too am in a very similar position (although my problem is the power cable no longer wishes to connect unless held in place)...

If you're moving from XP to 7, you'll be learning new ways of doing things anyway so why not seize the opportunity and move to Ubuntu? No, really. It's easy to try. Go to, download a LiveCD, burn the file to a CD, and boot with it. Ignore the brown color -- you can change that -- and look around. Plug in your printer and chances are it'll just work. No messing about with drivers. No viruses. Runs faster, which is especially nice when you're doing photos. There are no screens of death of any color. Honestly, just try it. And if you decide to install, keeping your Windows XP or 7 install and making a dual boot setup is one of the options on the LiveCD.

Possibly best of all: next time the monkish clones come around tell them you like your *nix real. (Macs run on OpenBSD, a unix variant, with the gussied up front end.)

As for hardware, I'm with the Lenovo Thinkpad group. Best thing out there.

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