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Old May 29, 2009, 02:29 AM
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Default I have a few questions about notebooks for college

I'm looking for cheap notebook that I cold use for college and I would like to have some advice please.

What I was looking for what like a cheap and a bit old laptop that I could by refurbished from a store or from someone.

After a couple of tips from someone from this forum (not sure of his nickname here) I was pointed toward the Lenovo thinkpad series and I have been looking at older models of lenovo and found quite a few at that site : Refurbished Lenovo laptops, ultraportables and tablet PC :: Portafixe (which is from a store not really far from where I live)

The one I have been looking at and that seemed perfect for me specs wise was the Lenovo ThinkPad T40 :: Portafixe

For me I don't need that much power since I am going to run a linux or BSD distro (OpenBSD probably) with no GUI for taking notes and do a bit of programing (C mostly).
I mean the laptop is going to be used 95% of the time in either screwing around the OS or writing stuff in pico so that's why I would need something like the T40.

Here's my questions and thoughts and where I got a bit confused...

Can I get something even cheaper and less powerfull than the T40? Because the workstation at home that I use the most is a P3 with 256MB of ram and I have no trouble running openbsd on it and I wouldn't need much more power than that for the laptop... but would getting something 'lower' than the T40 just be looking for troubles?

I mean a laptop with like 1-1.5GHz single core cpu, 256MB-512MB of ram, a 20GB HDD, 12-14" in size, cd or cd/dvd reader, 10/100 lan and wireless nic, 3-4 hours of battery life would be the ideal in my case.

My second problem is that I write on a Dvorak keyboard all the time and I didn't find one company selling their laptops with an option to have that layout instead of qwerty.
I can write with a qwerty keyboard but I personally hate it.
So can I buy a laptop and pop the keys to rearange them in the Dvorak layout or that's something near impossible because of the mechanism of the keys?

The third thing I was wondering is since I have quite low standards for my laptop, should I simply get a cheap 3-6cells netbook and attach a small full sized keyboard to it that I would have rearranged the keys in the dvorak layout (I mean a full size keaboard without a numpad so it would be small).
The idea I had with that little config is that first, the hardware would be new, it wouldn't cost much, it would be small (even if I have an extra keyboard), I would have a drovark keyboard, and I would have a machine with specs that would more than enough for what I want to do with it.


So in your opnion what should I do and what should I go for?
Any hint, tip, advice, etc would be greatly appreciated.


PS: I'm not that used to HWC forums so tell me if I did something wrong... but please don't tell me to go with windows because I will not
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Old May 29, 2009, 10:25 AM
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Netbook sounds like your best bet. I don't think moving keys around on laptops is the best idea, and well personally I wouldn't buy a refurbished/used laptop if you're looking for battery life. I'd guess and say they don't put in new batteries so your runtime will probably be less than it should be.

Only issue with netbooks is the screen size is a bit lacking for your requirements nor do they have an optical drive.
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Old May 29, 2009, 10:48 AM
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I also agree that moving the keys around on a laptop keyboard is a bad idea. Most laptops two a "twin-scissor" type mechanism to hold down the keys that is very, very difficult to reconnect. Try going on Ebay and either looking for Dvorak keyboard stickers (and change your keyboard language to dvorak in windows) or look for a full replacement keyboard for your laptop of choice ( most only use 2-4 screws and one ribbon cable for attachment, which is easy to replace).
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Old May 29, 2009, 05:49 PM
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Thanks for the replies!

I saw those stickers but I have the feeling that they will unstick after a few days/weeks of typing. (I know that I can buy more but I'm sure you get the idea).
Anyone who has experience with those little sticker who could assure me that they stick well?

And the replacement keyboard is not a bad idea. I haven't thought of it.

I tried contacting a few company about the layout but (of course) they won't reply. Only Dell replied telling me that there was only qwerty available.


Now for the netbooks, which brand and model should I look into? Again I got pointed towards the Lenovo series but after looking them up they were a bit more expensive than most netbooks I saw.
So what would be the best 6 cells netbook available?

I don't really care about the size of the screen because since I'm not going to use X and the terminal uses a pretty low res.

So I would guess (unless someone tells me that I can' be more wrong) that a 8.9" aspire one for example could do the trick pretty well.
I would simply get a small keyboard (and change it to dvorak) to avoid writing on the laptop keyboard.
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Old May 29, 2009, 11:58 PM
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How about the Mini 10?
Dell Inspiron Mini 10 & Mini 10v Netbook Product Details

Take the cheapest model, and get the 6-cell battery (+$30). Then you're set. Ends up costing you $359 + tax.
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Old May 30, 2009, 05:50 AM
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I looked up the Dell netbook you linked and the price is not bad at all.
Personally I don't like at all how it looks but that's a slight detail hehe...

I found that on ncix NCIX.com - Buy ASUS Eee PC900 Galaxy Black Intel Mobile 1GB 16GB 8.9IN 1024X600 WLAN LAN Webcam Linux Notebook - EEEPC900-BK041 In Canada. and I was wondering if that could do the job?

Specs wise (I don't even know if that is a valid english term ) it looks exactly like what I am looking for and the price is not bad at all.

Atom cpu... 1GB of ram (I can create a bunch of vnode device nodes and have fun)... 16GBHDD which is enough... small (8.9")... a few useful ports and 4 cell battery.

It seems perfect to me. Is it?

I found also this one NCIX.com - Buy ASUS Eee PC 900HA Shiny Black Intel Atom 1GB 160GB 8.9IN 1024X600 802.11B/G Webcam XP 4CELL Notebook - EPC900HA-BLK006X In Canada.

It looks like the other I linked above but with a 160GB hdd, a faster cpu and XP (which I wouldn't use anyway).
The problem here is that this one (which seems overall better than the first I linked) is 70$ cheaper than the first I linked o_O

Am I mireading or missing something somewhere by thinking that the 900HA wight be the best that I could buy right now at 310$?


PS: (I am using my own keyboard... not the one on the laptop so even if the keyboard on it crap it won't affect my choice)
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Old May 30, 2009, 02:38 PM
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I think you'd want a 6-cell battery but I guess even with a 4-cell you should get 3 hours out of it.

The 16GB is an SSD so that could be why it's more costly. And well they aren't even good SSDs used so it could be problematic in the future.

The 900HA should be fine though.
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Old May 30, 2009, 10:48 PM
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At that price I am extremely interested by the 900HA.

I will just have to put a nice openbsd sticker on it to cover the weird eee sign and I should be very happy with it

Any reason why I shouldn't go with the 900HA? Because I'm tempted to buy it in the next few hours.


I found a small keyboard to go with it too so I am sure to get the dvorak layout.
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