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Best value Laptop/Tablet - Laptop reviews


#1

I’m looking for a laptop/tablet for my teenager, he loves youtube, & some of those shooting games. Our price range is up to $350.00>. For this price are we better off just going for a tap top ? Maybe a tablet at later time .
Thanks Glenda


#2

Hi @grali7, I’m sure there are some Community members that will be able to add some personal experiences to help you decide. You might also like to check out our laptop buying guide, and we also reviewed budget laptops (member content).


#3

I bought a cheap laptop ($350), and got what I paid for. I bought a good brand (Toshiba), it looked good in the shop, but proved to be very slow, very flimsy, and blew a hard drive one week after the warranty ran out. $350 and now in the rubbish bin - would have cost me more than $200 to repair. My suggestion. Pay a little more and get a better product.


#4

if you can stretch your budget to $399 . Look at on of these . The Centrecom group has them

ASUS VivoBook X502SA 15.6" HD Intel Dual-Core Celeron Laptop .Has a 15.6 inch screen , 500gig H/D Windows 10 etc


#5

I have had a toshiba top of the line, 2 x terabyte hard drives 16gig ram and it is slower than an old Mitec laptop running win 98. Very disappointed, I have use a secondhand laptop with win 7 to be able to save publisher documents to PDF.


#6

If you are looking high end, I recommend Metabox. Been trouble free for nearly 3 years and it is well designed.


#7

Bought Samsung Tab A8 for son earlier this year - and another for son 2 for upcoming Christmas (sssshhhh!!). Well within your price range - and is most definitely a Tablet!! Should be just perfect for the design brief you describe.

Despite being harsh critics, we are at a loss to fault this machine. Hope this helps!!

…Michael & Kirsty…


#8

Thank you to everyone that gave advice , I will be checking out some of them at the shops . Will let you know how we went & if we are happy with our final choice


#9

A lot of places don’t like to tell you the clock speed of the computers they sell. If it’s 1.6ghz or less then expect a slow computer. I’d never buy anything under 2ghz when it comes to CPU speed.

Beware of SSD (Solid State Drives) as well. A lot of SSD equipped computers have a very small drive size which means you’ll need to purchase an external hard drive to compensate for it, which could cost an extra $100 or more. Try and get a minimum SSD or HDD size of 500gb. Just remember, a tb (terabyte) is 1024 times bigger than a gb (Gigabyte), so the 32gb SSD is only a fraction of the storage capacity of a 1tb HDD. The bigger numbers aren’t always the best option if you’re comparing gb storage to tb storage.

One final point, beware of the new desktop computers that come with a brick style laptop power supply cord. They’re actually big empty cases with a very small motherboard inside that can’t be improved or expanded. If you decide to upgrade the graphics card for any reason, it just can’t be done on these pretend desktops. You’re stuck with the specs it comes with. They’re basically laptops that aren’t portable because you have to have a monitor, keyboard and mouse plugged in to use them as well as some desk space to sit it on. If the graphics chip gives out, you can’t simply plug in a new graphics card like you can on proper desktop computers. The easiest way to tell is to look at the power socket on the back of the desktop case. If it’s a big plug socket with two or three pins in it, you’re getting the real deal. If it’s just a small hole, then you’re paying for a laptop in disguise that doesn’t come with the benefits of owning a laptop.


#10

Just a brief (and rather pedantic) correction, NubglummerySnr.

While most of the computing world counts upon binary, hard drive manufacturers decided a decade or so ago that they could cheat. A terabyte in the rest of the civilised world is 1,024 gb, but to hard drives it is ‘metric’ - 1,000 gb.

Your operating system will see that ‘2 tb’ hard drive you just bought and report it as being 1.8-ish tb (thanks Yahoo Answers - which saves me doing the calculations).

ZDNet published an article in 2006, indicating that Western Digital (WD) was being sued because of this misreporting. That article indicates that the lawsuit was settled with people who bought WD hard drives since March 2001, implying that the change came in then. Unfortunately that lawsuit and WD’s settlement did not resolve the issue, and hard drive manufacturers have continued to understate the capacity of their products when considered in standard computer measurement jargon.

I suspect that ‘Marketing’ had a big role to play in this deceptive little game.

One other comment about potential deception. A CPU’s clock speed is not necessarily a single number in modern computers. In this situation I do not think the intent is to deceive - it is a case of saving power. Modern CPUs generally have a number of ‘cores’, and can run some or all of the cores at a greater or lesser speed depending on the demands that are being placed on the machine by the user and their software.

A quick check of the machine upon which I am writing this shows the CPU speed ranging from 1.94GHz to 3.71GHz. (It also states the ‘maximum speed’ as 3.4GHz). This is to save power when it can be saved, but the CPU can also run faster than the ‘maximum speed’ in short bursts to deal with high demand. I am clearly highly demanding.

So don’t just ask for the GPU speed. Ask for its ‘stated maximum’, or ‘range’. In fact, even these won’t help a lot - as I mentioned, CPUs now have multiple cores so if you have a lot of things open at once this may be more important than the CPU speed.

Okay, that’s enough nerdery for now.


#11

For teenages I really recommend a tablet, particularly if it needs to be portable. Far more robust: less part to break: Hinges,keyboards,brittle plastic bits. Battery life 8-10 hrs vs 4 hrs. I’d invest in a suvivor case and if necessary a bluethooth keyboard. If the budget won’t stretch … Gumtree. I work in a school with 800 portable device. iPad for me.


#12

I got a Samsung Galaxy Tab S on a plan but I don’t remember the total cost but I am extremely happy with it. It’s really good/great. I’ve even showed it to my computer teacher and he himself went and got one that week.


#13

Hi Grali!

I’m a bit of a gaming nerd and the family tech support guy, I type to you now on my second screen, with “Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor” open on the other.

First - Ask yourself if portability is important. I’ve seen lots of my family buy laptops and then never take them anywhere. The batteries age and die, and then they become immobile without a replacement. Laptops are designed and built to be compact and portable, and are priced to reflect that. Ensure it is an important feature of the computer you buy. Otherwise, you might consider a desktop or tower PC, which can give better performance, better value, and better upgrade-ability so you don’t have to throw the whole thing out when it’s old. Although it is a pain to move.

Second - Consider the different systems. Laptops usually run “Windows”, or “OS X” if you have a Mac from Apple. Tablets usually run on “Android”, “iOS” or “Windows Mobile” depending on who manufactured it. YouTube is a very big and important service, and is a website, so it is available on all of these systems. But, you should ask your resident teenager about which system the shooting games they like already run on. Just like Microsoft “Xbox” games don’t work on Sony “Playstation” consoles, and aren’t always available in both formats, other games may not be available on all systems.

Thirdly and finally - It’s a bit scary, and the savings come at the cost of customer service, help and information, but online-oriented stores like umart.com.au and msy.com.au may have better deals. I’ve seen quite commonly that department stores like Harvey Norman charge prices of which computers are not worthy. They can take advantage of the fact that many people aren’t computer savvy, especially when it comes to specifications.

I’ll happily answer any questions, but overall good luck with your choice! If your child is tech-savvy, it may be worth consulting. I can’t think computers would ever be inconsiderable investments!

DISCLAIMER: I run a tech support business that engages in consulting on computers - but we don’t retail them.


#14

You really meant high-end. I just looked them up.

Their Alpha series, is described as:

“Affordable, but powerful - Great power, fully customisable. All at a price that is familiar to the everyday consumer.”

The starting price? A mere $1,379.00. Christ on a pancake.


#15

Most teens want a tablet. That means either Android or Apple operating systems (O/S). With your budget you are stuck with Android. That is not a bad thing as there are a lot of Android tablets to look at. Personally the Nexus 7 or a noticable bigger Nexus 9. These seem to be the stayers, there is also Samsung, but I do not thing they are as robust. Get as much storage as you can afford. The attraction with tablets are the very cheap games with some being free with in game purchases that can be a trap. What ever you buy in a tablet, you need a good case and a screen protector so include those in your purchase.


#16

We recently updated our budget laptops review and tablets review (member content). If you have any questions or comments, please keep adding to this thread :+1:


#17

If you want free apps, Android is the place to be. App writers assume that Apple owners can afford more for a given app, and so will charge more for apps on the iOS* platform.

*Not to be confused with IOS - Cisco’s Internetwork Operating System that is used in many of Cisco’s routers and switches… or with IOS - the Wii’s firmware.

Don’t leave Microsoft out of the running either - its store is growing, and while MS-made hardware is expensive there are plenty of less expensive tablets and laptops.

Finally, there is another Googlewalker… I mean, Google operating system (it’s the nerd in me, coming out). The company has been putting a lot of effort into aligning its ChromeOS (chromebooks) with Android, to the point where many or most Android apps can run under ChromeOS. This is A Good Thing ™.

Do not forget that if it’s free then you are the product. Free apps (and some paid ones, annoyingly) will have ads. Some of the naughty ones will want permissions they don’t need, in order to learn more about you. And never use a ‘free’ VPN!


#18

We’ve updated our tablet review (member content) and laptop review (member content) in case anyone is looking at a last-minute purchase before Christmas. We also have a tablet buying guide and laptop buying guide to help consumers understand the features and funcitonality of tablet computers.


#19

Another update to our laptop reviews (member content) for those interested.


#20

Windows on ARM seems to be alive and well, but not yet at consumer price points. I was never a fan of CISC and look forward to a resurgence of RISC architectures, currently embodied in ARM. It would be fabulous if Choice could sneak a review of at least one ARM product with Windows into a future update.