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Laptops: Thinkpad Edge E420s v Dell Vostro 3550

Can't decide between a Thinkpad Edge E420s and a Dell Vostro 3550. Anyone got any recommendations?


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Depends on your personal habits/needs

Depends in part on your personal preferences and what you're going to be using it for. If you want a few alternative suggestions, have a look at Jon Wilcox's guide to summer bargain laptops.

A similar thread popped up over on UK Business Forums. To narrow down the selection, "LicencedToTrade" asked the following questions:

What tasks will be doing on a day to day basis (always), and what are the most demanding tasks you will be doing infrequentlyDo you have an idea of how much RAM you need? 2GB, 4GB, 8GB?Do you have an idea of what processor speed you need? <2.0GHz/ >2.0GHz/ >3.0GHz?Do you need a single core processor (for high demand individual applications) or dual/quad core processor (for mid-high demand applications running in tandem)?Do you need a separate Graphics Card (ie do you want to run games or design/photography software )?Is weight an issue? Will you be travelling with it much? What about battery life?

Their recommendation was for a Samsung RV511 - at £500, a bit more expensive than Jon's selections, but also more powerful with a 15.6in LED screen, 6GB RAM, 2.53 GHz Intel Core i3 processor, nVidia graphics unit and 640GB hard drive. More than capable for most accounting tasks, I would suggest.

The Dell Vostro 3550 you mention is the same size, but looks like it won't spec up to the same level of RAM and hard drive as the Samsung. The 14in Lenovo is smaller and more expensive, weighing 1.9kg as opposed to 2.5kg for the Dell. I've been using Dell laptops for more than a decade, but dare I say it have grown a bit tired of the brick-like form of my Inspiron 6100 and less than perfect reliability. Our IT people have noted this too and wonder if it's a result of Dell shifting production to China... Coincidentally, that's where Lenovo Thinkpads come from.

It all comes down to personal preference. I'd like a light, small and fast laptop with a good keyboard - perhaps like one of Toshiba's Portégé R700 machines (starting price £725 - or perhaps one with solid state hard drive, which would cost even more). But then you might like a bigger machine, perhaps with an integrated numeric keypad for accounting work. A couple of years ago, I spent an afternoon with a Lenovo Edge 13 and was very impressed. If I was choosing a machine for myself based on your original suggestions, I would veer towards the Lenovo - but there will always be better/faster/cheaper machines out there... that's one of the joys of dealing with modern technology.

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By chatman
19th Aug 2011 14:32

Thanks John for such a detailed response. I like Dells too (this is my second one) but can't stand having to deal with them on the phone. Also, I like the idea of the Thinkpad because I hate track pads (well, the one on this Vostro 1500 anyway); it seems to spontaneously take control of my cursor, whisking it away to the farthest corner of my screen at the least opportune moment.

I am not a gamer and do not do any design work or photo editing but I do tend to have lots of programmes, lots of browser windows and a virtual machine open all at the same time.

I will have a look at the links in your response before making my decision.

Looks like I might have to get rid of my old non-64-bit old scanner and printer.

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By chatman
19th Aug 2011 15:43

Integrated Numeric Keypad

I don't actually do much inputting of numbers. I can't help thinking none of us accountants should in this day and age.

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19th Aug 2011 18:50

Don't forget

That i5 processors are affordable now and i7 is already out.  I would ALWAYS go for the most up-to-date versions available if affordable.

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By chatman
22nd Aug 2011 10:44

@Richard Willis

Thanks Richard. Went for an i5 in the end.

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Which model & why?

Interested to know which one grabbed your heart, chatman - and why? And, dare I ask, how much did you pay?

Would you laptop shopping experience confirm our suspicion that there's a bit of a laptop glut, and that retailers and manufacturers are discounting prices to shift inventory?

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By chatman
24th Aug 2011 14:14

Thinkpad E520 with Intel Core i5-2410M, RAM 4GB, HDD 500GB

Seemed better value for money than the E420.  I started off on Dell's web site as I liked the Dells I had had before. This was helpful because it mentioned the different chips available; each time I come to renew my laptop chip, technology has changed completely and any previous knowledge I had is completely redundant. I googled the difference between the i5 and the i7.

Based on my budget and preferences the Vostro 3550 looked the best so I looked up reviews of it. compared it to the Thinkpad E420 so I looked up the Thinkpad, which got a slightly better review so I looked at Thinkpads (I also wanted try the red trackpoint). I think the E520 is similar to the E420, but crammed into a smaller unit so a bit more expensive.

Cost me £465 + VAT and delivery (£5).

I like the idea of a solid-state hard drive. Maybe next time.

If anyone knows of a better one I could have bought, please do not tell me.

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25th Aug 2011 12:13

Lenovo Thinkpad

the thinkpad was built on IBM technology. IBM sold its PC division to Chinese company LENOVO back in 2005. the Laptops were built in China before then anyway and the thinkpad was already the Laptop existing brand. so probably no major difference from being IBM to LENOVO. I worked for IBM for a while when the sale was going through.

most of the manufacturers get things made in the far east or in the likes of Hungary by sub contractors.

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By chatman
25th Aug 2011 12:41


Sorry John - forgot to respond to the rest of your question about the laptop market. I buy a laptop about once every four years, and in the mean time I forget everything I found out about them the previous time, so I have no idea about the state of the market I'm afraid.

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By chatman
04th Sep 2011 15:32

No Microphone jack in Thinkpad

Just discovered a problem with the Thinkpad: there is no microphone jack. There is a combined jack which works with earphones, but there is nowhere to plug in a microphone. The instructions say you can use a headset with a single combined headset/microphone but these seem impossible to find. Lenovo support do not seem to be aware of such a headset. In fact, the help line did not seem to know much about the product at all.

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By chatman
04th Sep 2011 15:50

More Thinkpad problems.

Some of the keys (PgUp, PgDn, Insert, Delete, Home, End, Fns) are only half size and the function keys have all been assigned different main functions, with the usual functions having been relegated to secondary (i.e. by pressing and holding another key first).

This seems to have been done to be able to fit in a numeric key pad, which I do not really have much use for, not  doing much inputting of numbers.

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By chatman
26th Oct 2011 23:26

Definitely disappointed with the Thinkpad. The red button just gets in the way and stops the G, H and B buttons being  properly pressed sometimes. The button that is the equivalent of the right click is not there, and you need to press the Fn key to get any of the function buttons to work. On top of that Alt+Tab doesn't work properly.

But worst of  all is that I can't get Skype to work properly with this PC. I have tried it on three different internet connections and  the other side always has trouble hearing me. My girlfriend has no problem on her PC with the same internet connections, even calling mobiles.

Oh yeah, I forgot, the help line tells me there is no room for additional RAM.

Much though I hate Dell, I am going back to them next time.

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