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Minimum spec for laptop/notebook

Minimum spec for laptop/notebook

After 8 years of hard use I think it is time to buy a new laptop. !!!

I use Taxcalc Pro, Moneysoft and VT software.

I would appreciate any advice or comments on the minumum spec that I need. Prices vary so much I am confused.

Also is there any real difference between a Notebook and a laptop.

Many thanks.


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30th Jun 2011 15:38

No difference between a notebook and a laptop

 both are just different names referring to the same product. Not to be confused however, with a netbook, which is basically a minature version of a laptop!

With regard to the spec required for a new laptop, I would imagine that pretty much any new machine would be of a high enough spec to adequately cope with what you throw at it. You need to ensure that there is sufficient RAM, 4gb would be my suggestion. I would look for one with a decent screen size - a 15.6" screen would be my minimum requirement. The tendancy these days seems to be for smaller sizes, which makes the machine more portable, but makes it less easy to work on.

I hope this helps in some way.

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By Tosie
30th Jun 2011 16:48

many thanks

Thanks for advice most grateful

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05th Jul 2011 17:01

It really does depend on your preference - and budget

You've raised a nice question for a leisurely summer laptop review. I'll see if I can help things along with a few observations of my own and hope that other members come forward to offer more help and advice.

First, well done for making your existing machine last eight years - that's a sign of a good computer, and you've certainly got a good return for your investment from it. What make and model is it, and what do you like about it?

When I've had a good technology experience, I tend to stick with what I know. Ask the people who sold you the last one what they're recommended replacement machine would be - and whether they'll give you a good deal on a new one. Also use a straight replacement model for what you've got as a price benchmark, and then decide if you're willing to pay more for a few extras, or if there's an opportunity to save a bit of cash by trimming them out of your specification.

Do you have any frustrations with the PC, or are there any features you are particularly looking for? For laptops, it really does boil down to what you use it for and what you want from a computer.

My guess with he software you're running is that you want a "desktop replacement" model. And as an accountant, you might benefit from the presence of a built-in numeric keypad (which reduces your choices). But even if you do use the PC as your main workhorse, you may not want to lug a heavy 15in machine around with you. If you have a smaller machine attached to a keyboard and large format screen (or screens) at your main desk, you can still enjoy the benefits of lighter weight and manoeuverability while you're out and about. You could even go for a dock arrangement to keep things tidy and convenient.

To illustrate my point, I'm a writer and am particularly keen on keyboard quality and running multiple windows. A powerful processor isn't quite as important to me as lots of RAM. Lenovo and Toshiba laptops have impressed me in the past. For work, however, I use a chunky Dell Inspiron 6100 with 2MB of RAM. However the keyboard is irritatingly loud when I type in meetings and the weight puts me off taking it on hectic journeys. It's also a lot less reliable than previous Dell models and I've had a couple of disk corruptions in the 3-4 years I've had it.

I understand that Hewlett-Packard have some very interesting models around, and they're offering cash for trade-ins - so try taking a look at their UK site. Or if you've got money to burn and want to be brave like Paul Scholes and Nigel Harris, you could take a look at a MacBook.

If I were shopping for a replacement, I'd keep an eye out for an Intel i3 or i5 processor, 3-4MB of RAM; minimum 320Gb hard-drive. Good luck with your hunt!

Here are a few other information sources that may help your quest:

The top 10 notebook PCs recommended by and for accountantsAnatomy of a laptop
How to buy a laptop
More laptop coverage on


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By Tosie
05th Jul 2011 18:52

Hi John

Many thanks for your detailed advice. I actually purchased a laptop on Saturday off Ideal World of all places.

I followed the advice of the first respondent and It is a Toshiba 15.5 320 4 g so close to your recommendations.

It cost £313. It has  a numeric pad.

My "old" machine was a Toshiba I paid around £1600 for it which was the price then for  a reasonable machine. I think that the price included office 2003.

After I had had it for four years it developed a problem I rang Toshiba for advice and they said they would send somebody to collect it and that they would repair it free of charge !!! It has worked great since although I have only ever run Excel on it.

Eight years ago there were still clients who did not have computers in their offices so I had to take it with me.

Now ofcourse most clients have computers on site but I still prefer to use my own.

I appreciate your advice my next move is to up-date my scanner and hope that my new stuff is as good as the old.

Thanks again.


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By Kryton
06th Jul 2011 21:23

Good Choice

Good choice - Toshiba get good ratings for reliability. I would always recommend one of their business models over the consumer models because they tend to come with better build quality. But there again at just over £300 you are getting a machine that will easily cope with accountancy / office software.


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07th Jul 2011 11:06

I'll second that

That's quite a good chunk of computer for a very good price. I'm amazed at how much bang for your buck you can buy these days - which is one reason I'm a bit sniffy about the whole Apple cult (where the same specs would cost you more than twice as much, I suspect).

Maybe if you'd waited for another year or so, you could have got something *really* impressive for your £313!

But there's no point looking back now - enjoy your new laptop and I hope it gives you 8 more years of reliable service.

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07th Jul 2011 12:44

Enjoy it for 30 days, if you don't enjoy it you can send it back.

Now you've bought it, I would just recommend that you get yourself a seperate monitor, mouse and full size keyboard for when you're using it on your desk at home. The mouse will let you work more quickly as will the "proper" keyboard and the extra monitor will let you have multiple spreadsheets and other things such as Outlook open givin gyou greater flexibility as was discussed on another thread recently.

Roger Neale
Perkeo Computer Systems Ltd.

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By robby10
07th Jul 2011 13:37

Acer Laptop?

I'm just about to purchase a laptop too, so an interesting and timely discussion - thanks for the advice.

Tosh and Dell have been mentioned here, does anyone have experience of Acers, I get the impression they're not highly-rated but our IT company have recommended one to me - full description is Acer Aspire 5742 Core i3 CPU 750GB HDD 4GB RAM.

Any thoughts before I accept??


Thanks in advance


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07th Jul 2011 14:26

Specs look good, Rob...

...but what about the price? I suspect it'll be a bit more than £313, but hopefully not too much.

I used an Acer years ago and found it acceptable, but there were a few grumbles on AccountingWEB a year or so ago about the reliability of its Netbooks. I can't find the specifics, but with things like hard drives and component failures, you're into manufacturing quality, which can only be assessed in terms of statistical probabilities. If you like the feel of the deal, I'd probably go with it.

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07th Jul 2011 15:31


Don't forget to check your software's compatibility with the operating system.  Our newer Windows 7 machines caused some havoc initially.


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By tarman
07th Jul 2011 16:22

After 8 years of hard use I think it is time to buy a new laptop

 Any laptops these are of good quality. Theproblem arises when it comes to software.I understand the original query mentioned use of VT software!

Most of the laptops these days come with 64bit processing as opposed 32bits otr less.

The old version of VT is not operable in these new laptops.

I understand that there are laptop available that can down graded to XP version from Windows 7.

So this factor need to be considered as part of the purchase decision.


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07th Jul 2011 16:58

Definitely not Windows 7!!

I have a windows 7 laptop, and knowing no better didn't ask for a downgrade. Only then to discover that I have 64 bit (well over my head really) and things like Flash and many websites do not function on it. Nor do I like it either.

I have had to download a 32 bit version of Explorer so that when it won't work I can change to a lower version where Flash does work.

Having said that I have just discovered that the Windows XP recovery disc which came with my previous Toshiba will work on this one so this weekends task will be to downgrade back to normal.

You are welcome to a loan of the cd if you didn't get one with the laptop

-- Marion

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By Tosie
07th Jul 2011 20:04

Thank you

Thanks for all advice and interest. Did not realise difference between 32 and 64. and problem with VT.

Thanks Marion I appreciate your offer and will pm if I get in a mess (or should that be when I get into a mess)

Thanks all.

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07th Jul 2011 23:54


Have used Dell for 20+ years and whilst more a bit expensive have always found them to be more reliable and good service. I frequently have calls from clients with problems with HP and Toshiba. I use it in a port replicator set up with a keyboard and mouse and two large screen monitors enabling me to move things from one screen to another, open last year whilst working on this year and compare at the same time or work on two documents or spreadsheets at the same time. Whatever manufacturer you go for, make sure you have two screens as it increases productivity hugely.

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31st Dec 2015 17:33

Che ci crediate o no, una gran parte del peso sul vostro computer portatile è dallo schermo. Prova questo - andare al negozio e prendere un portatile con uno schermo da 17 pollici, e poi prendere un portatile con uno schermo da 14.1 pollici.

schermo samsung


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