Laptop + mobile broadband: recs/idiot's guide pls

Discussion in 'computers, web and general tech' started by iona, Jul 21, 2018.

  1. iona

    iona makes George Orwell look like a dalek

    Assume I know nothing about any of this :oops: Any advice appreciated; specific product recommendations or just suggesting things I might want to/not've thought to consider...

    There's no phone lines where I live (getting one put in isn't an option). Is a 4G dongle/router thing my best bet or have I not considered something?

    Looking at EE (who my mobile contract's with), they do pay monthly mobile broadband with anything from 5GB to 300GB per month, and I get either 10% off or 5GB extra mobile data (depending on which I get) as I'm already a customer.

    How much data would I want? Atm I get 7GB per month on my phone, which I use almost all of—it runs out early if I watch a few hours of video. Wouldn't be downloading loads, but heavyish internet use + some Netflix/iplayer type stuff..

    Budget: around £300-400, willing to spend slightly more for something noticeably better

    Use: mostly general browsing, emails, typing stuff up etc. I do some very basic design stuff (posters, leaflets etc) for work and would like to learn to do more/use specific programs rather than the free website I use now. Don't really do music/TV/films atm but I want to be able to watch stuff on Netflix/iplayer etc.

    Don't need a huge screen but don't want something tiny. Needs to be fairly tough as I'm bound to drop it/drop something on it occasionally. Preferably light enough to carry around in my rucksack, though for work I could store stuff online and use the staff laptop there. Not sure if I'd use those convertible laptop/tablet things. Definitely want something that should last a while. All the numbers and stats mean nothing to me: what should I be looking for?

    I'm aware of chromebooks but not sure what differences I need to consider, other than they store stuff mostly online. (Can I use an external hard drive with one and if so do I need a certain type, like some say they'll only work with windows or mac?)

    Oh and the casing should ideally be black. Dark grey is acceptable, silver possibly tolerable, white/gold/red/blue etc completely out of the question (I know :rolleyes:)

  2. iona

    iona makes George Orwell look like a dalek


  3. UnderAnOpenSky

    UnderAnOpenSky baseline neural therapy

    Internet wise, I'd ask if you need a seperate dongle thing or can you just tether to your phone.

    I love my Chromebook, but I've also got a windows machine. They certainly tick the box for being light and the battery life is great, but maybe less good if you are planning on learning to use certain programs. You can use external drives with them, although they are geared up so everything is stored online.

    Thread for windows machines.

    Affordable laptop recommendations: budget £350-£450


    Chromebooks - latest news and discussion
    yield likes this.
  4. iona

    iona makes George Orwell look like a dalek

    Thanks :)
    I already use all the data on my phone contract. Buying more when I run out costs a bit more than a mobile broadband plan would, and I imagine I'd want quite a lot more data to watch series/films semi-regularly? Also I kind of have it in my head that browsing proper desktop versions of websites from a laptop is gonna use more data than the mobile versions of websites do on my phone?

    I have seen those threads but I'm lost with all the talk about RAM and whatever and I was trying to avoid having the same convo on both :oops:
  5. UnderAnOpenSky

    UnderAnOpenSky baseline neural therapy

    You'll need to do the sums of course, but you'll normally find that your phone company will be only to happy to move you to a contract that costs you more per month, but gives you a lot more data and without extending the length of the contract. This may end up a similar cost then a separate mobile data and you won't end up with another contract.

    Best thing to decide at this stage is Chrome OS for you? Think about what other software you need etc? How important is portability to you? I'll go out on a limb and say that most windows machines in your price bracket it be a choice between portability and grunt. Chromebooks typically use less resources, so its a bit easier to have you cake and eat it. Can you go somewhere like currys and get a feel for it and what sort of size you can put up with.
  6. mrs quoad

    mrs quoad Well-Known Member

    Yes. A few hours of tv / streaming = easily 7gb. Netflix itself on data:


    Erm. I think of hd films as 2-3gb, but it’s been ages since I DLed one. Turning off HD would be sensible, if sites allow.

    Might also be looking beyond EE. Idk, but back when I was buying data for my iPad, 3 were doing by far the best PAYG offers (and then, only in store). 10% off wouldn’t have touched the sides of the benefits of going with them. Back then. That is.
  7. iona

    iona makes George Orwell look like a dalek

    Exactly, I know watching stuff is gonna use lots of data and I'm not sure how much more I can even get added to my phone contract. I will ask, just to see.

    Looking at EE was just coz I'm with them already and know I get a good signal, I'm not set on staying with them.

    3 seem to only do a 40GB plan (or a few <15GB mobile wifi ones) rather than the range EE has. Not that much difference in price: £27-29 + £29-59 setup fee for 40GB with 3, compared to £36-45 and no setup fee for 50GB with EE.
    3 also has "go binge" which doesn't count Netflix and some other stuff (not inc iplayer though which I like for documentaries) towards your data allowance.
  8. UnderAnOpenSky

    UnderAnOpenSky baseline neural therapy

    A lot to be said for sticking with someone you know gives you good signal, but watching a lot of stuff on Netflix via a mobile can be expensive business, so that offer seems very good. Could you get a PAYG sim from them and test it?

    Also a complete wild card I may consider if I was in your position, but accept may not be what your after. Rent a small seedbox and torrent to that. Take your laptop to places you can get free wifi and download the finished torrents to your laptop for watching at home later.
  9. yield

    yield zero

  10. iona

    iona makes George Orwell look like a dalek

    Yeah, I will do to at least get an idea of what screen size and weight I'd be happy with.

    Can't think of any programs I use now & couldn't manage without—fine using docs instead of word etc—I'm more worried there's stuff I've not thought of or I'll want to use something in future and not be able to iyswim.

    What, a payg sim from 3 to see what their signal's like here? I could but I'd have to buy something to put it in; pretty sure my phone's gonna be locked to EE..

    Idk what a seedbox is
    Idk how to torrent stuff
    I'd still need to internet for home so I don't have to go to work to do everything like I am now
    Cheers though :D
  11. iona

    iona makes George Orwell look like a dalek

    Thanks, I'll have a look at that.

    This is the stuff I don't know about. What's a 128gb ssd and why do I want one? Which of all the other numbers in those long stats lists should I be bothered about and what should I be looking for?
  12. UnderAnOpenSky

    UnderAnOpenSky baseline neural therapy

    Personaly I'd be worried that's not much power for a Windows machine. Plenty for a Chromebook, but Windows has a habit of slowing down with age. I think in that price range there is a compromise on windows machines for portablity vs performance.

    An SSD makes the machine faster and more responsive as opposed to a conventional hard disk. The trade off is that they are not as big.

    Getting an idea of what size and portablity you want is a great first step. If you want windows the best value in your price range is undoubtedly in the 15" catagory, which is great if you want to watch films on it, less so if it needs to go everywhere with you.

    They may unlock it cheaply (or even free if you've been in contract a while), worth an ask.
    yield and iona like this.
  13. iona

    iona makes George Orwell look like a dalek

    Ok, I've just accidentally'd some more voluntary work (for a charity I'm a client of) doing their quarterly newsletter and possibly redesigning some leaflets. Atm they use google docs for the newsletter and publisher for the flyers. Newsletter at my main voluntary job is done in publisher too but currently the only thing I contribute is a page or less of text which can be written in word or docs or anything and c&p'd in.

    Assuming publisher means I need a laptop with Windows(?), how much more would I have to spend to get something that's not compromising on power / portability? (And what numbers should I be looking at to knowledge something's decent in terms of power/memory/whatever else is important? I really need a shopping list of which stats today check and a minimum I want for each...)

    Alternatively, what can I use on a chromebook that's like publisher?

    E2a and how do I even get publisher/chromebook alternative anyway, assume you have to buy them or something? Is it something you could put on another laptop if you'd bought it for one (thinking work might have a product key(?) or something I could use)?
  14. yield

    yield zero

    As UnderAnOpenSky said first have a think about what size laptop you need.

    You won't need an expensive machine to do the things you've asked about so far.

    For Windows Libreoffice is a good free alternative for something like Publisher.

    For Chrome Google have G Suite – Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar and More for Business subscription based though.
    UnderAnOpenSky and iona like this.
  15. iona

    iona makes George Orwell look like a dalek


    I'm gonna go pc world or somewhere tomorrow to get an idea of what weight and screen size I want.

    We just got a email address sorted through google (see work frustrations thread...) so we might have a g suite subscription already, don't know how well any of those work as a replacement for publisher though? Think with a chromebook I'd prob be limited to online stuff like I use now (canva) or whatever apps are decent and properly compatible?
  16. iona

    iona makes George Orwell look like a dalek

    I'm gonna go with a 3 HomeFi thingy: 40GB + unlimited streaming on Netflix (and some other stuff I prob won't use) for £29 upfront +£28/month on a 12 month contract.
    A longer contract with 3 or 50GB plan with EE or Vodafone works out cheaper per gb, but I reckon not counting Netflix will leave me more data for other stuff than if it was included in a slightly bigger allowance.

    Looking at these atm, mostly based on a couple of reviews and vague feelings and predictably above my original budget :rolleyes:

    ACER Chromebook R 13 CB5-312T 2-in-1 - Silver

    ASUS Flip C302 2 in 1 Chromebook - Silver
    Don't really want such a small screen though

    ThinkPad 13 Chromebook | 13.3" Chromebook for Business and Education | Lenovo UK
    Less memory than the other chromebooks and it's not clear if the more expensive one is touchscreen

    ACER Swift 3 SF314-52G 14" Laptop - Silver

    Any thoughts / better suggestions?
  17. UnderAnOpenSky

    UnderAnOpenSky baseline neural therapy

  18. Chz

    Chz Stark Raving Sane

    I was actually looking for a new Chromebook over in the pinned CB thread, and after looking high and low I can report that the best value for money is the Acer 14" above. Generally £280-£300. I was looking at Costco's £300 bundle that includes a case, wireless mouse, and a warranty extension to 2 years.

    Its only downside is not having a touchscreen, which would only impact a couple of Android apps. No impact on actual productivity.
    UnderAnOpenSky likes this.

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