Author Topic: Mustachian Computer Replacement Problem  (Read 8922 times)

onemorebike

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 328
Mustachian Computer Replacement Problem
« on: February 26, 2013, 07:11:21 AM »
Hey all, I'm sort of a techy but thought I'd float to the community and see what you all thought:

Our family laptop just died, it would cost $200 to replace the motherboard (parts only, I would do the work) but apparently with this type of motherboard it is likely the problem would reoccur. Boo. I'm wondering if we should replace it with another laptop, a desktop or at all. Here is the sitch:

1) Both my wife and I have work laptops at home and can use these to jump on for larger tasks.

2) I own an Ipad 2 that I received for father's day before I really dove into mustachianism - so i do light reading and email checking on that.

3) We both have smart phones (on monthtly 4g with tmobile), tho I've been wanting to downgrade to a flipphone to help prevent me from wasting my life by overusing the functions of a smart phone.

That's a lot of computers. Even with the laptop gone. And I get pretty irritated by the amount of electronics in the house but recognize the benefits of having them - at times.

So the question for you all, is should i get a cheap laptop and risk a repeat of this problem, buy a decent desktop so I can more easily and affordably repair any issues, or forgoe replacement altogether? My guess is we could do without I'm just a little hesitant about using work laptops more. (although, I work from home.)

Thoughts from the mustachian community?


Khao

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 185
  • Age: 29
  • Location: Montreal - Canada
Re: Mustachian Computer Replacement Problem
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2013, 07:23:42 AM »
I'm a huge tech geek and I have to say I own more devices than I should. All these were bought in my pre-mustachian era so I'm making a note of not buying anything new for a couple years.

That aside, I have to suggest getting a Chromebook : http://www.samsung.com/us/computer/chromebook

I have one big-ass laptop for gaming and work.
One iPad for light browsing, light gaming and maybe netflix.
A first-gen chromebook which my gf and I always fight to use because it's the device we love the most.

It's incredibly light, super fast (it's on the moment you open the lid), does everything web surprisingly well,(in 2013 how many Windows/Mac apps do you really need that you couldn't use a web-based app instead?) and has a battery life that is.. well.. it's impossible to kill it. We charge it at night and we can use it for 2-3 days straight without plugging it in, a couple hours every evening. My girlfriend uses it when she's cooking, I use it to check mint and do spreadsheets on Google Drive, we do basically everything with it. If I didn't have to work using Visual Studio I'd get rid completely of the big laptop since being web-only on the Chromebook is now how I use my personal computer 95% of the time.

Sparafusile

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 334
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Indiana, USA
Re: Mustachian Computer Replacement Problem
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2013, 07:37:33 AM »
If I didn't have to work using Visual Studio I'd get rid completely of the big laptop since being web-only on the Chromebook is now how I use my personal computer 95% of the time.

Came in to say this. Put VS on the web (is that even possible?) and I'll happily consider a Chromebook.

Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4053
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
Re: Mustachian Computer Replacement Problem
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2013, 08:03:59 AM »
On one hand, I'd suggest avoiding replacement entirely and just do without. On the other hand, I'm unsure of what your work policy is regarding personal usage of corporate IT resources... and without those work laptops, you have no real computers at home.

Doesn't sound like the laptop is worth pouring more money into given the model's proclivity for failure, especially given the price of things these days in the electronics market... but it's a tough sell spending any money on another machine in a house spilling over with equipment already. If you do use the work laptops and you're permitted personal usage, it might be worth it to work out of a Linux live environment running off a USB drive instead. Technically, those machines aren't yours, and I'd be cautious doing personal stuff on machines that I didn't own and explicitly control.

The $200 Acer Chromebook is an excellent little beater machine for the money if you're cool with ChromeOS or loading Ubuntu on the thing. It's x86 hardware, so no ARM stupid tricks for stuff like Flash support. Or you can go with the linked Samsung ARM system and do likewise with either OS excluding a few minor proprietary multimedia software bits. That said, you can't beat the price of a refurbished desktop for the money if you've already got a monitor and keyboard kicking around, and it makes for easier repairs at the cost of losing portability. Smartphones with WiFi can still be modified for tiny portable terminal use around the house as well even without service as well.

There's my two cents.



Happy birthday, Spara!

onemorebike

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 328
Re: Mustachian Computer Replacement Problem
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2013, 01:47:55 PM »
Thanks for the input! (IP, I've followed your communications guide to save about $100 a month on just our cell phones, I'm glad to have stalked you. ;) )

As for using company laptops, there isn't really a policy, nor has anything been said randomly off the books - I hesitate to ask as I would hate to be responsible for the creation of a policy.

I have been thinking about this today, and like the Chromebook suggestion (I run an external hd off our router as a sort of "server") for its quick load and ability to work on most docs/surf the web/watch netflix. What are the major downsides to these?

Otherwise, I'm leaning toward not getting anything at all (its been down for about a month without too much hassle on our end - as long as we can/do use our work laptops). Also, the desktop calls to me here and there - but I worry if I left my current job about portability etc... though I don't know if that would realistically happen, I often try to be planful of the possibility.

So, pretty much...I guess... I haven't gotten anywhere in this decision making process. :)

On one hand, I'd suggest avoiding replacement entirely and just do without. On the other hand, I'm unsure of what your work policy is regarding personal usage of corporate IT resources... and without those work laptops, you have no real computers at home.

Doesn't sound like the laptop is worth pouring more money into given the model's proclivity for failure, especially given the price of things these days in the electronics market... but it's a tough sell spending any money on another machine in a house spilling over with equipment already. If you do use the work laptops and you're permitted personal usage, it might be worth it to work out of a Linux live environment running off a USB drive instead. Technically, those machines aren't yours, and I'd be cautious doing personal stuff on machines that I didn't own and explicitly control.

The $200 Acer Chromebook is an excellent little beater machine for the money if you're cool with ChromeOS or loading Ubuntu on the thing. It's x86 hardware, so no ARM stupid tricks for stuff like Flash support. Or you can go with the linked Samsung ARM system and do likewise with either OS excluding a few minor proprietary multimedia software bits. That said, you can't beat the price of a refurbished desktop for the money if you've already got a monitor and keyboard kicking around, and it makes for easier repairs at the cost of losing portability. Smartphones with WiFi can still be modified for tiny portable terminal use around the house as well even without service as well.

There's my two cents.



Happy birthday, Spara!

Khao

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 185
  • Age: 29
  • Location: Montreal - Canada
Re: Mustachian Computer Replacement Problem
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2013, 02:11:09 PM »
I have been thinking about this today, and like the Chromebook suggestion (I run an external hd off our router as a sort of "server") for its quick load and ability to work on most docs/surf the web/watch netflix. What are the major downsides to these?

Holy crap I just learned that Chromebooks support Netflix, even the ARM-based Chromebooks will support Netflix soon.
http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57567605-93/netflix-support-coming-to-arm-based-chromebooks/

There are no major downsides that I can think of. Basically think of opening your computer and only running Chrome/Firefox/IE whatever browser you prefer. Absolutely nothing else can run. If that's enough for you at a $249 price tag, then I'd say go for it. Eventually, you will find out a bunch of web-based alternatives to software you used to run on Windows (hello pixlr.com for quick image touch-ups!)

The only downside for me on the Chromebook is that Flash games and ads don't run quite well and can make the whole thing slow, but luckily newer web sites use Flash less and less because it's a buggy and slow plugin. Also, you can enable chrome's "Click-to-play" which blocks plugins like Flash from being loaded unless you click on them.

I thought the ARM-based Chromebooks wouldn't run Flash at all, but after a quick google search it seems like they do run Flash and like I experience on my older x86-based Chromebook, it makes the whole OS really slow.
http://betanews.com/2012/10/21/googles-249-arm-chromebook-isnt-for-everyone-but-could-be-for-you-first-impressions-review/

Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4053
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
Re: Mustachian Computer Replacement Problem
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2013, 02:14:50 PM »
Glad to hear on the savings there, and always glad to help!

I know you're worried about creating a policy that isn't there, but not saying anything at all could be hazardous to your employment as well if you get caught and terminated for doing so. This one's a judgment call.

I have been thinking about this today, and like the Chromebook suggestion (I run an external hd off our router as a sort of "server") for its quick load and ability to work on most docs/surf the web/watch netflix. What are the major downsides to these?

The major downsides are two-fold:

1) Build quality. Don't kid yourself, these are $200 machines, and manufacturers feel compelled to cheap out on components to maximize profit. They're basically designed to be disposable, but the ChromeOS platform's pretty bulletproof as it's pretty much a glorified appliance.

2) ChromeOS... this is not a real operating system with real applications, but a web browser sitting atop a Linux kernel. It will limit you in what you can do with it to nearly the same level as your iPad.

Realistically, $250 is both a good and bad price point for hardware these days... it keeps overall lifetime ownership costs low for the money spent, but there's no true long-term tool status with the device. Even refurbished, you won't get much more life out of a machine at this price point than you would a new one, and the performance is more than adequate for most tasks for the hardware procured. The problem, then, boils down to what you can't do with the machine for the money.

If you want a laptop, want to spend about $200-300ish, and want a great deal of flexibility and freedom with software and operating systems and replaceable/repairable parts, get a refurbished Lenovo Thinkpad T61. If you just want something cheap and simple that will just work at what it does best until it breaks, go with a Chromebook. It just boils down to what your needs are specifically in a computer with a real keyboard and reasonably sized screen.

onemorebike

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 328
Re: Mustachian Computer Replacement Problem
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2013, 02:21:41 PM »
IP, what do you like about the Lenovo Thinkpad that make it shine above the rest? They are pretty cheap on NewEgg right now: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&DEPA=0&Order=BESTMATCH&N=-1&isNodeId=1&Description=Lenovo+Thinkpad+T61&x=16&y=19

Glad to hear on the savings there, and always glad to help!

I know you're worried about creating a policy that isn't there, but not saying anything at all could be hazardous to your employment as well if you get caught and terminated for doing so. This one's a judgment call.

I have been thinking about this today, and like the Chromebook suggestion (I run an external hd off our router as a sort of "server") for its quick load and ability to work on most docs/surf the web/watch netflix. What are the major downsides to these?

The major downsides are two-fold:

1) Build quality. Don't kid yourself, these are $200 machines, and manufacturers feel compelled to cheap out on components to maximize profit. They're basically designed to be disposable, but the ChromeOS platform's pretty bulletproof as it's pretty much a glorified appliance.

2) ChromeOS... this is not a real operating system with real applications, but a web browser sitting atop a Linux kernel. It will limit you in what you can do with it to nearly the same level as your iPad.

Realistically, $250 is both a good and bad price point for hardware these days... it keeps overall lifetime ownership costs low for the money spent, but there's no true long-term tool status with the device. Even refurbished, you won't get much more life out of a machine at this price point than you would a new one, and the performance is more than adequate for most tasks for the hardware procured. The problem, then, boils down to what you can't do with the machine for the money.

If you want a laptop, want to spend about $200-300ish, and want a great deal of flexibility and freedom with software and operating systems and replaceable/repairable parts, get a refurbished Lenovo Thinkpad T61. If you just want something cheap and simple that will just work at what it does best until it breaks, go with a Chromebook. It just boils down to what your needs are specifically in a computer with a real keyboard and reasonably sized screen.

onemorebike

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 328
Re: Mustachian Computer Replacement Problem
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2013, 02:24:37 PM »
Khao,

So you are limited to the google docs enviro? I have to say that I probably use word and excel at a level that would leave me frustrated with just the equivalent of the Ipad version of GApps. Though the idea of a solid state drive quickstart and something that met "around the house" needs is pretty tempting!

-Dave

I have been thinking about this today, and like the Chromebook suggestion (I run an external hd off our router as a sort of "server") for its quick load and ability to work on most docs/surf the web/watch netflix. What are the major downsides to these?

Holy crap I just learned that Chromebooks support Netflix, even the ARM-based Chromebooks will support Netflix soon.
http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57567605-93/netflix-support-coming-to-arm-based-chromebooks/

There are no major downsides that I can think of. Basically think of opening your computer and only running Chrome/Firefox/IE whatever browser you prefer. Absolutely nothing else can run. If that's enough for you at a $249 price tag, then I'd say go for it. Eventually, you will find out a bunch of web-based alternatives to software you used to run on Windows (hello pixlr.com for quick image touch-ups!)

The only downside for me on the Chromebook is that Flash games and ads don't run quite well and can make the whole thing slow, but luckily newer web sites use Flash less and less because it's a buggy and slow plugin. Also, you can enable chrome's "Click-to-play" which blocks plugins like Flash from being loaded unless you click on them.

I thought the ARM-based Chromebooks wouldn't run Flash at all, but after a quick google search it seems like they do run Flash and like I experience on my older x86-based Chromebook, it makes the whole OS really slow.
http://betanews.com/2012/10/21/googles-249-arm-chromebook-isnt-for-everyone-but-could-be-for-you-first-impressions-review/

Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4053
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
Re: Mustachian Computer Replacement Problem
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2013, 02:31:35 PM »
IP, what do you like about the Lenovo Thinkpad that make it shine above the rest? They are pretty cheap on NewEgg right now: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&DEPA=0&Order=BESTMATCH&N=-1&isNodeId=1&Description=Lenovo+Thinkpad+T61&x=16&y=19

Extremely rugged, durable, good performance, cheap and easy to repair, and has well supported hardware under Linux (if you're inclined). I've frequently seen 'em off Ebay and Amazon for well under $200. That and the X61 are two of the nearly legendary modern enterprise sector business laptops produced for those in the know... kind of like the Nokia e7x series cellphones. Even here in the forums, you'll find a great deal of respect for these machines from several programmers, engineers, etc.

Khao

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 185
  • Age: 29
  • Location: Montreal - Canada
Re: Mustachian Computer Replacement Problem
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2013, 02:42:02 PM »
Khao,

So you are limited to the google docs enviro? I have to say that I probably use word and excel at a level that would leave me frustrated with just the equivalent of the Ipad version of GApps. Though the idea of a solid state drive quickstart and something that met "around the house" needs is pretty tempting!

-Dave

If google docs is not your thing, windows has free web apps for Words, Excel, OneNote and Powerpoint on SkyDrive : https://skydrive.live.com

If you want more features than those web apps provide, I believe Office365 at $99/yr is still a decent option but it's still cheaper to just use your work computers when you need a real office app.

Edit :

Just wanted to add that, like I said earlier, you get to know all kinds of new web apps from using a Chromebook as your main computer. I had absolutely no idea I'd fall in love for that cheap laptop at first and now I wouldn't function without it. When you use it as your main computer and you find something that you can't do (like edit pictures or word documents), you fire up Google and search "chromebook alternative for picture editing" or "image editing web app" and you learn about a whole bunch of new apps. You adapt really quickly to that web OS thingy.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2013, 02:53:17 PM by Khao »

igthebold

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 470
  • Age: 41
  • Location: NC Piedmont
Re: Mustachian Computer Replacement Problem
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2013, 03:17:43 PM »
Just popping to ditto IPDaley's comment on build quality. We had an Acer Chromebook for a whole 1 year before it busted. Not impressive.

When I replaced it (it's my wife's computer) I ended up buying a Google Nexus 7, which is better quality and can be plugged into a keyboard in a pinch. So far so good (been about 3 mos).

chucklesmcgee

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 613
Re: Mustachian Computer Replacement Problem
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2013, 03:23:02 PM »
IP, what do you like about the Lenovo Thinkpad that make it shine above the rest? They are pretty cheap on NewEgg right now: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&DEPA=0&Order=BESTMATCH&N=-1&isNodeId=1&Description=Lenovo+Thinkpad+T61&x=16&y=19

Extremely rugged, durable, good performance, cheap and easy to repair, and has well supported hardware under Linux (if you're inclined). I've frequently seen 'em off Ebay and Amazon for well under $200. That and the X61 are two of the nearly legendary modern enterprise sector business laptops produced for those in the know... kind of like the Nokia e7x series cellphones. Even here in the forums, you'll find a great deal of respect for these machines from several programmers, engineers, etc.

Ditto on that. I had an X61 tablet for about 5 years, have been using a big-boy T520 since. Lenovo's pretty solid on its build quality and price, though things have gotten a little flimsier since IBM sold them off to China.

Honestly though, if work will let you use your computers for personal work, which I'd imagine they would so long as you don't do it during work time or do something silly, I'd just forget about another laptop. You're going to use your laptop to do what, browse the web, watch videos of cats, Facebook, Netflix, etc. right? Seems like they should be able to do everything.

onemorebike

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 328
Re: Mustachian Computer Replacement Problem
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2013, 07:17:32 AM »
Chucklesmcgee,

Yep, that was pretty much what i thought until IPDaley started talking about internal policies. I am now certain that my org doesn't have one but my wife says she is okay to use it at home but if it goes kaput at home we pay the tab. Seems like an odd one to me.

Anyway, something like the Lenovo seems like a solid around the house laptop - IPDaley do you have similar suggestions for anything one or two hundred dollars more? Something in me is really hesitant about buying a laptop speced at the same level as a laptop we owned almost five years ago but maybe that is just my "upgrade" gene talking?


IP, what do you like about the Lenovo Thinkpad that make it shine above the rest? They are pretty cheap on NewEgg right now: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&DEPA=0&Order=BESTMATCH&N=-1&isNodeId=1&Description=Lenovo+Thinkpad+T61&x=16&y=19

Extremely rugged, durable, good performance, cheap and easy to repair, and has well supported hardware under Linux (if you're inclined). I've frequently seen 'em off Ebay and Amazon for well under $200. That and the X61 are two of the nearly legendary modern enterprise sector business laptops produced for those in the know... kind of like the Nokia e7x series cellphones. Even here in the forums, you'll find a great deal of respect for these machines from several programmers, engineers, etc.

Ditto on that. I had an X61 tablet for about 5 years, have been using a big-boy T520 since. Lenovo's pretty solid on its build quality and price, though things have gotten a little flimsier since IBM sold them off to China.

Honestly though, if work will let you use your computers for personal work, which I'd imagine they would so long as you don't do it during work time or do something silly, I'd just forget about another laptop. You're going to use your laptop to do what, browse the web, watch videos of cats, Facebook, Netflix, etc. right? Seems like they should be able to do everything.

Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4053
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
Re: Mustachian Computer Replacement Problem
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2013, 07:53:51 AM »
Anyway, something like the Lenovo seems like a solid around the house laptop - IPDaley do you have similar suggestions for anything one or two hundred dollars more? Something in me is really hesitant about buying a laptop speced at the same level as a laptop we owned almost five years ago but maybe that is just my "upgrade" gene talking?

It's partly your upgrade gene talking, honestly... the only real advantage of newer machines is slightly better power management and battery life, maybe slightly better LCD screen depending on the exact configuration. As for your question regarding higher-end laptops in that price point, check out the Lenovo Outlet for factory refurbs on their T series Thinkpads. You might get lucky at that price point after watching long enough, their stock changes daily, but they're still a solid investment if you can justify it at around $500-600 straight from Lenovo. Overall, the T420/430/520/530 series are still good, solid current generation machines without necessarily splurging on something like a Panasonic Toughbook.

All that said, it sounds like your wife's laptop is fine for home usage by the employer. Be gentile with it, and I think you'll be fine. Don't use your machine if you don't want to pull the trigger on the home usage question with your employer and don't waste the money.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2013, 07:55:50 AM by I.P. Daley »

the fixer

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1035
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Mustachian Computer Replacement Problem
« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2013, 06:10:50 PM »
You might want to try looking on Craigslist for someone willing to trade their laptop for your iPad. Then you end up with a more useful device and no extra electronics at home.

jawisco

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 194
Re: Mustachian Computer Replacement Problem
« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2013, 06:59:24 PM »
I think the best value going is a used lenovo T400 with LED display (T61 is good as well) with a solid state harddrive to really speed things up - all for around $300 on ebay.