1. U.G. Ridley
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    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid Supporter

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    What is the best laptop for writing?

    Discussion in 'Software' started by U.G. Ridley, Aug 27, 2016.

    Not sure if this is the right place for this topic, or if it has already been talked about, so moderators: feel free to move it to its correct place or point me in the right direction:D

    I'm in the market for a new laptop. I've had this old Lenovo Thinkpad for nearly four years, but it's starting to work really slowly. I use Scrivener for my writing, and my laptop just can't keep up sometimes, taking several dozen seconds just to switch tabs on occasion, and I've even had a few crashes that luckily didn't kill too much of my progress.

    I love the Lenovo keyboard, and the keyboard is definitely the most important factor for me after performance. I'm really curious about getting a Macbook, particularly since Scrivener is primarily made for them, so I'd love to hear your opinion on Macbooks if you have one.
     
  2. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    I'm using a Macbook Pro right now, and I love it! There are a lot of good writing apps (Scrivener, Ulysses, and a lot of Markdown-based editors like iA Writer). The quality of the hardware is really good. I'm not talking about memory and CPU, but rather the make of the laptop. The laptops themselves are made of real metal rather than plastic, which gives them a much more authentic feel. The screen quality is excellent, particularly with Retina Display Macbooks. The backlit keyboard is very nice, and the touchpad is much easier to use than most laptops in my opinion. Macbooks are pretty expensive though, so keep that in mind. They're definitely not for everyone, but I love mine.
     
  3. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Ditto, also Macbook Pro.

    I might add that I hate the screen, yes I do! It reflects too much, if even a slight lightsource is behind me it distracts my eyes from the actual content shown on the screen. [unfortunately there is no alternative]

    After 10 months the battery-power has gone substantially down - and if I am not on external I always dial the screenlight down to just about readable. It's not (yet) pissing me off, but it will be in about a year, if the time I can use the laptop without external power keeps dropping at the same rate. [I might buy an external battery pack, but I will cross this road if it comes]

    Scrivener runs stable, without a single hiccup. I've had some troubles with the mac-version of VLC (my preferred video/music player). And I hate Apple-policy! But this is not the thread to get worked up over something I tacidly agreed to when I bought this macbook.

    I think you could do a whole lot worse. Despite my misgivings - and right now my headlamp reflects from the screen - it is a stable system and is easy to maintain.

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2016
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  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I also expect to be in the market for a new laptop soon. When I bought my Toshiba several years ago, I was sold on the battery life, 6 hours. The price I paid was extra weight. These days, a full charge only lasts about 3 1/2hours. Not worth the muscle fatigue. I'm hoping bsttery technology has improved since then. If not, I'll settle for shorter life in exchange for less weight.
     
  5. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    Batteries don't last very long in most laptops, particularly if you frequently let it get low (instead of keeping it at 100% most of the time, which ironically defeats the purpose of having a battery). You may be able to have it replaced, although other things such as the hard-drive will also fail with time, so sometimes it's best just to get a new one.
     
  6. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    That's what I figured. Just looking for the longest life at the lightest weight.
     
  7. U.G. Ridley
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    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid Supporter

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    Lenovo has a lot of good options for powerful laptops that are both super light and have long battery lives, but I'm not sure if I want to buy from them again. I actually bought one of their laptops a few months ago, but within the first week it started turning itself off by itself with a little popping noise, which caused me to lose progress in my writing every time it happened, and their customer service is literally so bad that I haven't been able to get my money back yet.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Macbook Pro. It's far more stable than the PC laptop that I have to use at work. Mine is from "late 2013" and it's nice and fast with lots of applications open, though none of those applications are cycle hogs like games or, I dunno, 3D rendering.
     
  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    @EdFromNY - We bought a MacBook Air (13" screen) back in November (2015.)

    I hate writing on a laptop (dislike flat keyboards) but my husband uses it for stuff like watching movies, etc. The battery is supposed to last up to 12 hours on this model.

    From the Apple site regarding MacBook Air:
    I know we've never had a problem with the battery running out, although he does charge it up frequently, just to keep it ready. It's got everything you'd need to write, can use any wordprocessing programme (and bridge between them, if need be) and is fast and powerful. The MacBook Air is cheaper than any other Mac laptop AND it's VERY slim and lightweight. The 13" model also has two USB ports, one on each side, so if you like to use a mouse and also input data from a flash drive, you can do both at once. The charger/mains cable plugs in to a different socket.

    If I traveled anywhere and wanted to write while I was gone, this would be ideal.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2016
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  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Is that one of those Retina screens you're using? I've not tried one. I've never had any trouble with my MacBook Air screen, and you do have some control over the brightness etc. I don't know if the Retina screens are different in that regard.

    Edited: I just did some research on the Retina screen, looking at glare-reduction screen protectors. There are many of them out there with mixed reviews. However, digging a bit further, I ran across some really damaging reports on the Retina screen itself. I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole, to tell the truth. Plain old Apple screens are fine for me.


    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.ph
    p?t=1856462
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2016
  11. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    I also have a MacBook Air with a thirteen-inch screen. I purchased it, I think the winter of 2014. It works fabulously. Never had a problem with the battery life, never had a crash, no malfunctions whatsoever.

    I honestly couldn't be happier with my computer. This thing is fantastic. When it does take a dump on me, I'll promptly replace it with another MacBook.
     
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  12. U.G. Ridley
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    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid Supporter

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    Seems like Macbook is a pretty big favorite here. I hope Apple will come with a 2016 version of the Pro, though, since the current Pro is getting a bit dated. Not a big fan of super small laptops myself so I definitely want the Pro rather than the Air or standard Mac.
     
  13. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    @jannert : Yes, it is Retina. Could you tell me, did you stumble over error-reports, or something else?
     
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  14. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Something small and fast.
     
  15. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    This isn't caused by age. It's highly likely your laptop's hard drive needs defragmenting. Also, if you have a lot of software installed, that can slow things down, too. A lot of companies add things to your start-up and the more of those you have running and taking up CPU cycles, the slower your machine will be.

    Since the ThinkPad keyboard has been redesigned now—and not for the better, from what I've read—you might want to consider keeping it and you can get that speed back. It's just a matter of maintaining your computer with a few free tools... unless you really have your heart set on a new laptop (which I wouldn't blame you for; I love getting new technology).

    Here's an article on speeding things back up again if you decide to at least try this before spending money.

    But in case you do decide to buy another, most new laptops have chiclet keyboards which, I'm assuming, you won't like. I wanted to get an MSI GT80 for its Cherry MX Brown keyboard, a full-scale mechanical keyboard, but had to settle for one of the GT72 models. And I solved the keyboard problem by plugging in a Cherry MX Brown I already had. It's a bit cumbersome for hauling around, but since I don't actually leave the house with it, it's no big deal.
     
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  16. Earp
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    Earp Active Member

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    I agree with @Sack-a-Doo! about trying to speed up the one you have first, and about the chiclet keyboards. I can't afford Apple products, so if I were in the market for a new laptop (to replace my eight-year-old Dell) I'd consider a Chromebook. assuming I had fast-ish, reliable internet access (I do) and mostly wanted to use it for writing.
     
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  17. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd read something different in the research I did on laptops. A significant number of sources I found said a laptop battery lasts longest if it's kept in the range of 70% to 90% charge. But, who's to say which is right? It would take proper experimentation to determine and who's gonna do that? Getting all those companies to cooperate or buying all the laptops needed to make a determination...?

    Battery replacement used to be an option as you said and my local computer store still sells replacements, but laptops built in the last three years make it much harder to replace them which means most people will either want to take it to a service tech or just replace the laptop altogether.

    I keep mine plugged into the wall anyway and when the not-meant-to-be-replaced battery goes, if I can't find a replacement, I'll just do what everyone else does and replace the whole thing.
     
  18. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think there's some irony in the fact that there are currently no laptops designed specifically with writers in mind. Two features I'd like to see:
    • once you open the screen, it rotates 90 degrees to give a portrait view (so you can see an entire page at once without ruining your posture), and
    • a built-in keyboard with a good amount of key-throw to give reasonable feedback while typing (like the MSI GT80),
    And I don't really need that thinness feature so much touted today. Sure, keep the weight down, but does it really need to fit through a mail slot? :)
     
  19. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks, Jan. My only concern about MacBook is that I write in WORD on my PC, and I'd be concerned about document compatibility.
     
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  20. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    You may find this article of some comfort in that regard.
     
  21. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. Apparently the glare you mention is strong enough that there are lots of 'glare-free' protective screen covers out there, specifically for the Retina MacBook. (See Amazon.) However, they have mixed reviews. And this link is disappointing: http://forums.macrumors.com/threads/retina-macbook-pro-users-complain-of-anti-reflective-display-coating-wearing-off.1856462/

    Apparently the screen isn't as wonderful as people were led to believe. I personally wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. You might want to look into the screen protectors, though. But be aware they can peel off the coating if you try to remove them. But the coating can come off anyway....

    Nothing wrong with the ordinary screens on the MacBook Air, though.
     
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  22. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I believe there is no compatibility issue. I can read what you send me, and I don't even HAVE Word for Mac installed. If you get Word for Mac, that should be no problem.

    If you have questions, and you live in NY, just take a trip to the nearest Apple store to discuss them with one of the tecchies. They are really good at what they do, and will cheerfully answer all your questions in person. And you can test-drive any of the devices that catch your eye. Because it's such an industry standard, I'd be surprised if they don't have Word installed on some of their display Macs, so you can try it out then and there.
     
  23. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    With the direction Apple has gone recently, doing away with the possibility of upgrading at a later date, I'm going to agree wholeheartedly with this. I did some research last year before upgrading and I was fully willing to go Mac until I realized I'd be stuck with whatever machine I bought with no option to upgrade as more money came along.
     
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  24. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks. Will do.
     
  25. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I worry a little bit about that as well. However, I'm using a 2012 Mac Mini, and just upgraded it to the latest version of the OS no bother. I'm still using a Formac Oxygen flat screen I bought back in 2005, and it's still working fine. Ditto my printer.

    My husband has an iMac of the same vintage, and he's also had no problems. I do think with Macs you get what you pay for, at least most of the time. We've both had Macs since 1994, and have had separate Macs since he bought a G3 in 1995. We have never had to retire a Mac for any reason other than incompatibility with upgraded operating systems and peripherals—which happens eventually, no matter what machine you use. We've always got around 7-8 years' worth of use out of our machines before this happens. You break today's price down year by year, and that works out to around £120 per year for a fantastic iMac machine. For me, with my mini, that works out to less than £40 per year. I'm happy to pay that.

    And if something goes faulty, I'm pretty amazed at the service the Apple store offers. I was just in to the Glasgow branch a few months ago getting my Mini upgraded by them ...just because I didn't want the hassle. They not only did it willingly, they didn't charge me a cent for the service (which was a pleasant surprise, as I had been prepared to pay for it.) Standing next to me in the queue was an older couple who were really upset because their iPad had quit working properly. It was long out of warranty, and they didn't have Apple Care. The guy waiting on them tried out lots of stuff that didn't work, then asked them to wait while he went off to speak to his manager. He came back carrying a brand new iPad, and gave it to them for free...then helped them get it set up. The woman had been complaining a lot, but she went very quiet after that. You really can't beat their service.

    The issue that @Lifeline was having seems to be with the type of screen that comes on some of the newer Macs ...the Retina display. Fortunately the non-Retina screens are still standard on many of the Macs. I suspect Apple may be re-thinking this screen, as they've not made it standard on all their models, even the newest releases.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2016

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