#1 Posted by Spoonman671 (4694 posts) -

My mother needs a new laptop, and while I could certainly build her a sweet gaming PC, I kind of don't have a clue when it comes to laptops. She needs to have Excel for work, but other than that she mostly just browses the web. I'm sure she would like to be able to video chat with her grandchildren. Her previous laptop was a 15" and she said she was happy with that size. She said she was ok with spending $400-$500, but I thought she could probably get a quality computer that would suit her needs for cheaper than that.

What does Giant Bomb recommend?

#2 Posted by Duder_Me (307 posts) -

All I can say is that in terms of build quality, I don't like laptops with glossy plastic and flimsy hinges, but it depends on the environment that the laptop will be used in. Asus makes some good quality laptops for that price range you mentioned, but I'm not sure about the webcams in them though.

#3 Posted by Cameron (603 posts) -

Normally I'd say check out The Wirecutter, but their recommendation is very outdated for the budget laptop category. $400-$500 is pretty much as low as you'd want to go before you start making serious hardware compromises. Nothing is as bad as the old netbooks, but they still make some pretty horrendous low-end laptops. At that price range it's probably best to go to a Best Buy and just try some out. You can always try to find a better deal online once you have narrowed down what you're looking for.

#4 Posted by audioBusting (1616 posts) -

Maybe consider a Chromebook? They're cheap and depending on what features your mother needs on Excel it can be serviceable.

#5 Posted by mikey87144 (1797 posts) -

HP and ASUS make some excellent laptops in that range. I'm also constantly seeing sales on Tigerdirect and newegg for laptops in that range. Look at the specs and try not to make a big compromise.

#6 Posted by jdh5153 (1034 posts) -

I was going to say MacBook Air but on that budget I'd say go with an ipad. Office is coming soon

#7 Posted by IrrelevantJohn (1083 posts) -

Lenovo has a pretty good reputation for a sturdy laptop.

#8 Posted by RonGalaxy (3221 posts) -

http://reviews.cnet.com/8334-7273_7-57596579/the-great-$500-laptop-challenge/

#9 Edited by Andorski (5342 posts) -

Check out the business outlet sites of Lenovo, Dell, and HP and get a refurbished laptop. Unless she is doing heavy data crunching in Excel, almost any business laptop that was released within the last couple of years will do. The only thing I recommend is you try to find a laptop with a display that has 1080p; at the very least 900p. Using a low resolution display means that she can view less data at once without scrolling. At my lab I have to review ~10,000 sample data a day and it is a pain in the ass when I have to use one of the PCs that are hooked up to some small ass screen.

#10 Posted by MonetaryDread (2070 posts) -

Lenovo has a pretty good reputation for a sturdy laptop.

Lenovo has the most durable laptops and, by far, the best keyboards.

#11 Posted by jayjonesjunior (1090 posts) -

Whatever you buy, make sure it has a decent GPU, at that price range the Intel options really suck, the CPU is alright, but if the GPU is weak the entire experience will suck, you can't even watch 720p videos on some cases. So i've bought for my mom a netbook with the cheapest/slowest APU, a C-50, but since the integrated GPU was good, she was able to watch 1080p videos and even play some 3d games like Minecraft.

Atoms gave Netbooks a bad name because of the practically nonexistent graphics performance.

#12 Posted by Spoonman671 (4694 posts) -

I've now been told that at some point in the past my father had replaced the screen in my mother's laptop himself and that might have something to do with it refusing to display. Tomorrow I'll be taking it apart and seeing how badly it was ballsed up. Hopefully it's an easy fix.

Just the same, I'd like to thank everybody for their input. Laptop shopping may be the worst consumer electronics purchasing process imaginable, so the bit of guidance I received here was greatly appreciated. Please don't hesitate to add further thoughts on the topic, since there's no telling if my mother's computer can be salvaged yet.