Netbook recommendation

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Knight of Death
My Sony Vaio has chosen a great time to have its hard disc drive presumably die on me or something as I've "Operating system not found" whenever I boot up the laptop. It comes as a time when I'm writing long essays and a dissertation (which I've backed up, but not recent enough to be any less of a painful setback), which is perhaps the worst possible time to occur especially when the library resources are already in such horrifically high demand.

So at the moment I have to make do with university library computers. Problem is, they're short enough on desktop workstations as usual without a large influx of other finalists using the facilities for their dissertations. And when I'm not in the library I only have my iPad Mini, which is only good for casual browsing and Facebook. It's far from sufficient as an effective supplement until I decide to fully replace my Sony.

Soooo...what shall I get? I'm not too keen on Windows 8, and I'm being talked into a MacBook Pro with Retina. Apple can offer discounts for higher education - however negligible the discounts are - but MacBooks are horrendously expensive for very, very unpromising specs (128GB of flash memory as opposed to cheaper HDD?) and to pick one up along with Office for Mac Home and Student would come at a considerable expense to me.

Now I suppose I can just consult Google, friends and associates but I'm using this thread also as a subliminal excuse to see what machines the rest of you use and to gauge Windows 8 machines versus Apple ones. The fact that in lectures I see oceans of Apple logos on the aluminium back of screens suggests that Apple must be doing something right in terms of excellent laptop engineering, reliability and longevity. My Sony in contrast has a horrid, bendy plastic construction that probably provides little to no protection of the internal components, especially the hard drive. I fear that simply resting my wrists against it after a while caused it to malfunction. It's like the equivalent of a knight entering a bloody battlefield armed only with leather protection while others are decked with steel.

Of course, I will strive to restore my Sony eventually. Not ready to totally give up my modest Steam library just yet and whatever else can be salvaged. Hopefully.

For some reason I'm the reaper of laptops. Can't possibly break something like a MacBook so easily, right?


UFFSite Veteran
Site Staff
Jul 29, 2013
I would say that Lenovo has some great, cheap Haswell laptops. I would recommend those. Either that or a Chromebook as they're cheap and efficient.
I was also going to suggest a Chromebook if you're looking for something cheap for web browsing and some word processing (though you're limited to Google Docs). However, if you're looking for a more dedicated laptop, don't fall into the Apple hype. They're good, pretty computers, there's no doubt about that, but they are ridiculously priced and Windows laptops are catching up in terms of looks. The reason you see a sea of Apple logos in class is brand recognition. It's the same reason people pay for Coach pocketbooks -- they're good pocketbooks but the advantage in usage or appearance they might offer simply do not justify the cost. Retina displays are overrated, in my opinion, too.

Windows 8 really isn't bad so I wouldn't use that as your primary reason to avoid Windows laptops. People over-exaggerate the issues with it. The start screen is actually pretty great and as long as you avoid the W8 apps, it's essentially a service pack to Windows 7. I have a year old HP laptop with an AMD A10 which is great. Lenovo ones also get good reviews, their ultrabooks are hella pretty but pretty expensive.


Network Boss-man
UFFSite Veteran
Site Staff
Jul 25, 2013
Solihull, UK
Windows 8 is not the disaster it once was. It's really fine now, IMO - you can boot right to desktop, you don't need to ever see that start menu with the tiles unless you want to. Don't be scared of it. Apple are definitely better if you're a creative and if you've got the money to spend on top of the machine cost on propriety software - adobe packages etcetera - but if not, Windows will serve you well, if not better, IMO. It also offers up vaguely expanded gaming options, too.

In terms of manufacturers, I can't recommend Dell enough. Spend the extra £100 or so to get three years' accidental and breakdown recovery - they send a tech to your house within 24 hours - and you'll be golden. Really a great experience being a Dell customer, at least in my case.