1. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Warning: put your HANDS on a new laptop before you buy it

    Discussion in 'Software' started by Tea@3, Mar 6, 2016.

    I know this is about hardware, not software, but I thought it may be the best place to put this. Downside: fewer people will see it here than in the general writing thread. :(


    I have bought two new laptops in the last 12 months, one Toshiba and one HP. I notice a disturbing change in the manufacturing which I want to share to save others from making a bad purchase.

    The keys are very stiff and inflexible now. This greatly affects how you type, in speed and accuracy, which will likely become an instant impediment to your work habits/productivity. Also the touchpad is very rough like that spray-on bedliner material for pickup trucks; not smooth like glass the way they used to be.

    The keys on the new machines have to be pressed very HARD and do not respond to a light touch. This causes you to miss certain letters or characters and have to constantly backtrack to fix errors.


    I have owned many machines and used many others at my job, and I have never seen computer keyboards as stiff as the ones they are making today. Never. You can barely feel the key depress when you press on it. It feels no different from pressing down on the hard plastic on the laptop body. And there's no clicking sound, and no 'reflexive' motion to feel the key rise again. (I always use an external keyboard when writing, but still I am disappointed by the manufacturers forcing this bad quality on us.)

    This has got to be a decision by the designing powers-that-be to save money somehow. In any case, I see a huge difference between these two new machines and my 2006-2008 era laptops. (advances are being made in processors graphics etc yes but I say they are going backwards in ergonomics and tactile quality, etc)


    Unaware, I bought my new Toshiba in January of 2015 and immediately noticed the stiff keys, but since that one sits on my desk I always use an external keyboard and mouse, treating it like a desktop. So I didn't worry too much, but made a mental note to never buy a Toshiba again.

    Then last week I bought a new HP from bestbuy online and it has the SAME stiff keys and 'alligator' rough touchpad as the Toshiba, which tells me this is industry-wide now, confirmed by a visit to the computer store.

    All'z I'm sayen is, PUT YOUR HANDS ON THE ONE YOU INTEND TO BUY to make sure the keys feel right, and that there's nothing weird about it like the number pad is reversed or the volume button is missing etc. Don't do like I did and order online making assumptions. DRIVE TO THE STORE and actually touch the model you like, to see if it feels okay.

    I'm trying to help you guys out here! :) :) :) :) :) :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2016
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  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It is important to research your machines. Agreed.

    I live on Apple Island, but that doesn't make me immune to these kinds of negative changes. My main desktop machine is a 2012 model Mac Mini. I love it. Best thing since sliced bread. I upgraded the hard drive to a terabyte and its running over-clocked on 16 gb of ram. I see zero need to get into a new machine any time soon, and I'm so happy that's the case because when Apple released the latest Mac Mini, it's got some issues that made Mac customers very unhappy. They issued the new Mac Mini with a lot of fanfare about a price drop, which was true to an extent, as regards the price-point of the off-the-shelf model. What wasn't advertised to people as that the new off-the-shelf model is also a lesser machine than it's predecessor, and if you want it at the same specs as the prior model, you can absolutely order it from Apple with those specs, at pretty much the same price as the older model. So.... that's pretty devious. Also - and much more concerning as a consumer - the new Minis are no longer upgradable by the average Joe. Everything is soldered into place, so you can forget buying less expensive ram on eBay and doing it yourself.

    I know that many people who don't like Apple feel the way they feel because of Apple's business model, and that's fine. I'm not going to engage anyone in a platform war. Clearly the point of this thread is to remind people to be smart consumers and spend their hard-earned money wisely. I know who I am as a consumer. I know my needs and wants. For me, my needs, my wants, Apple is the way to go. Me. But this little move on Apple's part with the Mac Mini is a worrisome move away from the reason's I like these machines.
     
  3. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Wreybies that's sad to hear. That's just the sort of thing I see going on elsewhere.

    Regarding research, I second that. But as an avid 'due-diligence' researcher from way back I got blindsided by this 'literally touch it with your hands' issue since I had looked hard at everything else but only made assumptions that the casing-keys etc would never change. I could only have seen that coming had I gone and physically touched machines at the store, which I didn't do because I am so comfortable buying online.

    But never again! lol

    They won't sting me again. At least, not on this issue. Of course they are probably working on a new 'blind side' for me right now... :cry:
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I have a new Toshiba with a very soft key press. I like how responsive the keys are on it. There were other Toshiba models that were quite different. These things will vary by model within a manufacturer, so yes go to a store where you can actually play with a laptop.
     
  5. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Interesting. Do you mind giving me the model number of the one you have so I can look at it?
     
  6. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Since we're on the topic (or I should speak for myself lol since I started it) buyers should also be aware how the new trend of chrome books and 'light duty' windows machines (basically a windows version of a chrome book) are not really full-fledged laptops, but just pared down versions mainly for use surfing the internet. They won't always run the same programs as a full-duty laptop (EDIT unless you make adjustments such as steerpike mentions below; but those adjustments are probably a stretch for the average user) and don't come with disc drives though you can use one externally; but many non-techies may not realize this and could get lured into a purchase of something they thought was something else.

    OTOH I like the keys and tactile quality of the light duty machines much better than the stiff alligator keys I mentioned in the OP..
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2016
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Mine is a Satellite E45-B4200.

    I also have a Toshiba Chromebook, and it is a great little machine. I can basically do anything on it that I do on my other laptop. They're both good computers.
     
  8. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    You can load Word and PowerPoint onto a chromebook? I thought the chrome OS kinda controlled what programs you could run.
     
  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    You can run the online versions, or use Google Docs, or put Linux on the Chromebook with crouton and then run desktop versions of OpenOffice or LibreOffice, etc. Most of the time, I find Google Docs works fine and doesn't cause a problem when I move back and forth between MSWord at work. But I do also use LibreOffice. It is also compatible with the Microsoft products.
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    One nice thing about a Chromebook for writing is the incredibly long battery life. I can take mine and sit somewhere all day if I want to.
     
  11. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    I think I'm the only human on the planet who doesn't care for Google docs. :)
     
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  12. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    I like em too and I wish I had bought one of those instead of the $500 I spent (needlessly) on this stiff HP. <sigh>

    But I'd probably get a windows 10 version like the little HP streaming machine I got for a friend this week. (they're under $200 now) I kicked myself the whole time I was unboxing hers, wishing I had looked harder before I bought mine recently.
     
  13. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I know some others who don't like it. Microsoft's online products aren't as robust, but I really do like LibreOffice. I can even run Scrivener on my Chromebook, in Linux.
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Hope you find one you like. I hate working on a computer that I don't like. I've had some with keyboards and track pads I really hated.
     
  15. HelloImRex
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    I don't deny a keyboard can be bad, but I feel like its one of those things your brain adjusts to even if its terrible. Sometimes focusing on how something is a hindrance exacerbates the situation. This might sound like an odd comparison, but a lot of times with phone games that work off of score it matters how well you do on the first level. If you do it right you are set up for a better final score but if you do it wrong you are set up worse later. if you focus on this there is no reason not to quit if you botch the first level. However, when I do this I find myself botching the first level over and over and getting frustrated whereas if I don't focus on it I find myself getting high final scores on attempts where the first level went terribly even though if I had had a good first level the final score would be even higher. That's an odd analogy if you aren't familiar with games like this, but I think the same still applies. Its nice to be able to sit down and write in any environment without worrying about how effective your keyboard or surroundings make your writing. Sure, you might be a little slower, but the act of not thinking about it will let you get more done in the long run. In this case it might save a few hundred bucks on a new laptop. Compulsively striving for an ideal starting point can waste time. I bought my laptop online and the keyboard is a little bit annoying, but the more I focus on things like that the less I write.
     
  16. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You just have to do enough research and read reviews before buying the machine. You would've known about the stiff keys if you'd googled, I'm sure, since it sounds like it would be a rather common problem.

    It's not necessary to put your hands on the machine before purchase, really, but you do need good IT knowledge on the specifications and model of the laptop, in accordance to what you want to use your laptop for (gaming, simply writing, video editing, or something else etc, for personal use, for work, to use when travelling etc) because the importance of different parts of the hardware should be taken into consideration.

    My husband (who admittedly works in IT) has bought me 3 second-hand laptops and I've used each one for 2-3 years, and usually got another one because small niggles start coming up (I mean, it was second-hand after all) and my husband thought it's time for a change, and not because the laptop I was using had stopped working. He buys from ebay, I believe, and it's honestly been fine.

    In your case, it might be worth looking into changing the keyboard? I don't know if that's possible, considering I don't know if all laptop keyboards for your brand and model suffer the same problem.

    Personally we use Dell - not had any problems really. Right now my husband is actually looking for a keyboard that does not make the clicking noise you speak of, because sometimes the baby's asleep and the typing sounds wake her! :dry:
     
  17. Guttersnipe
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    Guttersnipe Member

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    Putting your hands on the machine can tell you things you might not otherwise think to (or be able to) check on. For instance, some Toshiba laptops have really tiny, dinky left-shift keys that I continually miss with my pinky.
     
  18. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I was buying my laptop last summer, I tried to do this and found that the ones I wanted to try out weren't available in local stores. For this reason—as well as budget—I had to move on to my 'second level' choices.

    I ended up with an MSI GT72 with a Steelseries keyboard—not what I really wanted—so I'm doing the same as you, typing on an external keyboard. I can only justify my purchase by telling myself the keyboard is (at least) better than most.

    What I really wanted was an MSI GT80 which has a full-on Cherry keyboard (exactly the same as the external one I already use) but there were two things going against it: 1) it was $1000 more than the one I got, and 2) the number pad was also the touchpad (faked keys) and its orientation was 90 degrees to what it should have been.

    But the other thing that's missing from laptops for writers is a proper screen. Landscape orientation is fine if we're talking about a 4:3 or 16:10 ratio, but these 16:9 ratio screens are just too cramped top to bottom... unless your eyesight is perfect.

    As a result of these two factors (keyboard and screen) I have my Samsung T240 (1920x1200) screen and my Cherry keyboard both plugged into the laptop. It's fine for desktop use, but I don't know if I'll like it much if I ever have to go on the road... or into the other room.
     
  19. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Even though I live in a so-called First World country (Canada) Internet service is dicey, so using online services of any kind isn't reliable. I'd hate to find myself sitting down to write and not be able to connect.
    I was looking at LO for a while because my version of MS Office is 13 years old, but I was never able to find the answer to one question:

    Is LibreOffice's change-tracking system compatible with Microsoft's?

    I'd heard that all editors send notes/edits using MS Word's change-tracking (whatever it's called) and that LO as well as OpenOffice aren't 100% compatible.
     
  20. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Let's start a club! :)
     
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  21. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    The keyboards you speak of are bilingual, something we kind of have to live with here in Canada. I always try to find something with a US keyboard where that's not an issue.

    I found that gaming laptops, although more expensive, almost always have full-size keys, I guess because manufacturers believe their market is all south of the border. :)
     
  22. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @Sack-a-Doo! you don't have to have an internet connection to use Google Docs with a Chromebook. I've used mine without internet access a number of times.
     
  23. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Thank you!!!!

    This is exactly what I mean.
     
  24. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I stand corrected.
     

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