What computer to buy for snowbird

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Hayden
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What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by Hayden » Sun May 12, 2019 10:38 am

My Surface Pro just died, so I need to replace it. I need help figuring out what to buy.

I always have the computer plugged in to 2 large monitors and a full-size keyboard. But, I am a snowbird, and will move the computer with me.

I am taking online courses in cybersecurity and machine learning. So, I will be running Linux and Windows, and need enough power to play with deep learning. Ultimately I would like to create an AI app, but right now I am just learning.

Question 1: any reason to buy a laptop? Or does it make sense to get a small machine I can carry on the airplane when I go back and forth?

Question 2: Does it make sense to buy a computer that can be expanded later? There is a local company that builds machines to order. Then they could add more GPUs etc if it turns out I need that in the future.

I'm just a beginner at this - please advise.

rgs92
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by rgs92 » Sun May 12, 2019 10:45 am


bondsr4me
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by bondsr4me » Sun May 12, 2019 10:52 am

Why not replace it with a SP6?

I just traded my SP4 for the SP6 at Best Buy.

Very portable for someone like you.

Chip
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by Chip » Sun May 12, 2019 1:08 pm

How did the SP4 die? I'm curious since I own one.

skierrex
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by skierrex » Sun May 12, 2019 1:38 pm

https://www.costco.com/Lenovo-ThinkPad- ... 5Mhh17JF5A

Costco Concierge doubles the warranty to 2 years.

Buying with Costco VISA card doubles the warranty to 4 years!

Top of the line, I7, 16G of ram, 512G SSD, 4 year warranty!

iasw
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by iasw » Sun May 12, 2019 1:58 pm

A laptop will be more portable of course through an airport ; I can't imagine wanting to haul a tower even in a box. You can use an external keyboard and mouse if that is your preference

btenny
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by btenny » Sun May 12, 2019 1:59 pm

I am a snow bird too. I like the HP Spectre 13 inch with the high resolution touch screen. I have one and so does my wife. Mine is 3.5 years old and hers is 2.5 years old. Both work great. It is a very nice 2 in 1 portable laptop. I use mine as a stand alone laptop when we travel and with a big 26 inch screen and external full keyboard at home.

https://www.google.com/search?q=hp+spec ... e&ie=UTF-8

tibbitts
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by tibbitts » Sun May 12, 2019 2:27 pm

Hayden wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 10:38 am
My Surface Pro just died, so I need to replace it. I need help figuring out what to buy.

I always have the computer plugged in to 2 large monitors and a full-size keyboard. But, I am a snowbird, and will move the computer with me.

I am taking online courses in cybersecurity and machine learning. So, I will be running Linux and Windows, and need enough power to play with deep learning. Ultimately I would like to create an AI app, but right now I am just learning.

Question 1: any reason to buy a laptop? Or does it make sense to get a small machine I can carry on the airplane when I go back and forth?

Question 2: Does it make sense to buy a computer that can be expanded later? There is a local company that builds machines to order. Then they could add more GPUs etc if it turns out I need that in the future.

I'm just a beginner at this - please advise.
What are the course requirements? My guess is a high-end laptop.

inbox788
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by inbox788 » Sun May 12, 2019 2:38 pm

Hayden wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 10:38 am
Question 1: any reason to buy a laptop? Or does it make sense to get a small machine I can carry on the airplane when I go back and forth?

Question 2: Does it make sense to buy a computer that can be expanded later? There is a local company that builds machines to order. Then they could add more GPUs etc if it turns out I need that in the future.

I'm just a beginner at this - please advise.
What is your background? How fast will you progress along your plan? Chances are technology will go through 3 generations by the time you catch up to it. Take things one step at a time. Get what you need to use now and in the next year or two. Don't worry about future proofing, since it's not going to be cost effective for what you have planned.

A laptop is perfect. Why do you need more? Small machines can be as expensive it not more, while big machines that can be expanded later are not very portable. Build to order sounds expensive and unnecessary.

Why do you need GPUs at all? This Surface would be nice, but expensive: https://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Surfac ... B076HZCP5H
How do the specifications meet your needs? Gaming laptops are very cheap in comparison (and less when they go on sale or lower specs; there are half a dozen brands to choose from) and will perform similarly (though weigh twice as much when you're carrying them around).

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Legion-Y7000 ... /541345084

flyingcows
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by flyingcows » Sun May 12, 2019 2:55 pm

Why not just run your workloads on AWS? https://aws.amazon.com/

That frees you to get a highly portable laptop instead of a massive brick

cookiez
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by cookiez » Tue May 14, 2019 1:54 am

An AWS P2/G3 might cause you $2/hour - depending on which size you use. For 300 days x 2 hours/day, that's $1,200 a year. In the long run (3+ years), it might pay to just buy a high-end laptop since you need a workstation anyway.

FireSekr
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by FireSekr » Tue May 14, 2019 1:59 am

flyingcows wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 2:55 pm
Why not just run your workloads on AWS? https://aws.amazon.com/

That frees you to get a highly portable laptop instead of a massive brick
+1

Unless your processing massive datasets, pretty much any MacBook Pro will be fine to run jobs locally. I work in data science/analytics and most of the time we are using AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud Platform to do the heavy lifting.

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RickBoglehead
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by RickBoglehead » Tue May 14, 2019 5:23 am

Chip wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 1:08 pm
How did the SP4 die? I'm curious since I own one.
This ^^^

I am using a Thinkpad T400, purchased a decade ago. Replaced fan under warranty, backlight, and put in an SSD. Runs great.

Most things can be fixed.
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.

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Hayden
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by Hayden » Mon May 20, 2019 10:53 am

Chip wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 1:08 pm
How did the SP4 die? I'm curious since I own one.
No idea. It was less than 4 years old. I took it to a Microsoft store. They said, sorry, it's dead. And offered to sell me a new one. They had no idea what went wrong. They seemed to think this was not unusual, I shouldn't expect to get 4 years out of a computer.

aqan
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by aqan » Mon May 20, 2019 10:55 am

Surface Book 2 with 16gb ram should work great for you.

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Hayden
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by Hayden » Mon May 20, 2019 10:58 am

skierrex wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 1:38 pm
https://www.costco.com/Lenovo-ThinkPad- ... 5Mhh17JF5A

Costco Concierge doubles the warranty to 2 years.

Buying with Costco VISA card doubles the warranty to 4 years!

Top of the line, I7, 16G of ram, 512G SSD, 4 year warranty!
I bought the computer at Costco using the Costco credit card (which was AMEX at the time). Called Costco Concierge, they said they cant help me. They told me to call AMEX.

I thought I'd be covered by AMEX because the computer is less than 4 years old. But AMEX insisted that their warranty runs concurrently with Costco's warranty. It is not additional time. So, total warranty is 2 years.

Dottie57
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by Dottie57 » Mon May 20, 2019 11:09 am

Hayden wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 10:53 am
Chip wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 1:08 pm
How did the SP4 die? I'm curious since I own one.
No idea. It was less than 4 years old. I took it to a Microsoft store. They said, sorry, it's dead. And offered to sell me a new one. They had no idea what went wrong. They seemed to think this was not unusual, I shouldn't expect to get 4 years out of a computer.
😢

That is crazy.

Chip
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by Chip » Mon May 20, 2019 11:52 am

Hayden wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 10:53 am
No idea. It was less than 4 years old. I took it to a Microsoft store. They said, sorry, it's dead. And offered to sell me a new one. They had no idea what went wrong. They seemed to think this was not unusual, I shouldn't expect to get 4 years out of a computer.
Well that is a sad story. I hope ours makes it bit longer.

deikel
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by deikel » Mon May 20, 2019 3:14 pm

I don't quite understand though....you said you have it plugged into two monitors and a large keyboard - presumably at both locations (winter/summer) ? Do you have this set-up in both locations and just hand carry the processor around or do the monitors somehow move as well ?

If you have the same set-up in two places anyway, why not also get two new PCs ? Do you need something portable for other uses (probably not since you suggested a small tower as alternative). You can probably get a small desktop with high end components for the price of one laptop you carry around....
Everything you read in this post is my personal opinion. If you disagree with this disclaimer, please un-read the text immediately and destroy any copy or remembrance of it.

bloom2708
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by bloom2708 » Mon May 20, 2019 3:17 pm

https://www.ebay.com/itm/HP-Elite-X2-10 ... SwzVBc3eq0

Surface like, but better specs, perhaps more robust. This is my work laptop and we have 2 from this eBay seller for home.

Pair any laptop/2 in 1 with an Anker USB 3.0 Docking Station.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Anker-Black-AK ... Sw3bxa-Z7Q
Last edited by bloom2708 on Mon May 20, 2019 3:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Dottie57
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by Dottie57 » Mon May 20, 2019 3:31 pm

How about a new Mac mini? You already have screens - do you really want a portable screen? Lots of connectivity. Supports two screens.

oxothuk
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by oxothuk » Tue May 21, 2019 1:26 pm

RickBoglehead wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 5:23 am
Chip wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 1:08 pm
How did the SP4 die? I'm curious since I own one.
This ^^^

I am using a Thinkpad T400, purchased a decade ago. Replaced fan under warranty, backlight, and put in an SSD. Runs great.

Most things can be fixed.
Same here, T400 upgraded to SSD. It's the only Windows computer I have any more.

quantAndHold
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by quantAndHold » Tue May 21, 2019 1:53 pm

Are you planning on going to Mexico, by chance? I had a friend whose desktop computer got held at the border when he tried to take it into Mexico on a tourist visa. Apparently tourist and desktop computer don’t go together. He was able to pick it up on his way out of the country, but he could have avoided the problem with a laptop.

quantAndHold
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by quantAndHold » Tue May 21, 2019 1:54 pm

Hayden wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 10:53 am
Chip wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 1:08 pm
How did the SP4 die? I'm curious since I own one.
No idea. It was less than 4 years old. I took it to a Microsoft store. They said, sorry, it's dead. And offered to sell me a new one. They had no idea what went wrong. They seemed to think this was not unusual, I shouldn't expect to get 4 years out of a computer.
If you want four years, you need a Mac.

KyleAAA
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by KyleAAA » Tue May 21, 2019 2:07 pm

A Linux kernel will soon be shipped with Windows 10. If you like the Surface, I'd stick with that if only because you don't have to deal with any bloatware if you buy directly from MSFT.

https://devblogs.microsoft.com/commandl ... h-windows/
Last edited by KyleAAA on Tue May 21, 2019 5:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Chip
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by Chip » Tue May 21, 2019 4:07 pm

quantAndHold wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 1:54 pm
If you want four years, you need a Mac.
Yeah, right. Tell that to my 13 year old HP laptop, still going strong. Or my 9 year old home built Windows desktop, still going strong.

inbox788
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by inbox788 » Tue May 21, 2019 6:28 pm

Chip wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 4:07 pm
quantAndHold wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 1:54 pm
If you want four years, you need a Mac.
Yeah, right. Tell that to my 13 year old HP laptop, still going strong. Or my 9 year old home built Windows desktop, still going strong.
Specs?

What do you do with them?

What version of windows are running on these older systems?

Windows Solitaire inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame
https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2019/05/ ... l-of-fame/

The latest Mac OS is officially supported on some models as far back as 2010 (Mac Pro), and many 2012 and later models.

https://www.apple.com/macos/how-to-upgr ... quirements

And unofficially you can go as far back as some 2008 models.

http://dosdude1.com/mojave/#requirements

Seriously, it's impressive that these really old systems are still running at all, but practically you've got to balance the cost and performance, and with todays constantly updating threats and evolutionary changes, it's hard to resist getting back on the treadmill.

And even if an older system can run modern software, it may not run it well.

https://www.netsurf-browser.org/

quantAndHold
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by quantAndHold » Tue May 21, 2019 6:56 pm

Chip wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 4:07 pm
quantAndHold wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 1:54 pm
If you want four years, you need a Mac.
Yeah, right. Tell that to my 13 year old HP laptop, still going strong. Or my 9 year old home built Windows desktop, still going strong.
You owning an outlier doesn’t make my point any less valid. Four years is common for MacBooks, not so common for a consumer grade windows laptop, especially if it’s been used as a laptop, and not just left plugged in on a desk somewhere. OP’s experience is more typical than not.

Desktops last longer than laptops, so a four year old desktop is a reasonable expectation.

Chip
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by Chip » Wed May 22, 2019 5:51 am

inbox788 wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 6:28 pm
Specs?
Laptop: Intel T2050, 250 GB HDD, 2 GB memory. Have replaced battery, HDD, and screen after they failed.
Desktop: AMD Sempron 140, 3 GB memory, 1 TB HDD, DVD burner. Have replaced HDD.

What do you do with them? Laptop was used for all home uses before being replaced by the Surface ~3 years ago. Now it's only used for AARP tax prep (via a browser) during the tax season. Desktop is used for all home uses - browsing, email, Excel, Word, tax prep, photo editing, music rip/burn, music server.
What version of windows are running on these older systems?
Windows 7.

Chip
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by Chip » Wed May 22, 2019 5:53 am

quantAndHold wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 6:56 pm
You owning an outlier doesn’t make my point any less valid. Four years is common for MacBooks, not so common for a consumer grade windows laptop, especially if it’s been used as a laptop, and not just left plugged in on a desk somewhere. OP’s experience is more typical than not.
You didn't like my anecdotes so you provided your own unsupported "data"?

Freefun
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by Freefun » Wed May 22, 2019 6:00 am

I purchased several MacBook pros used on eBay. Very pleased to get good technology much cheaper than new (and I’m not a fan of the new models anyway). They work great.
Remember when you wanted what you currently have?

inbox788
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by inbox788 » Wed May 22, 2019 1:51 pm

Chip wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 5:51 am
inbox788 wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 6:28 pm
Specs?
Laptop: Intel T2050, 250 GB HDD, 2 GB memory. Have replaced battery, HDD, and screen after they failed.
Desktop: AMD Sempron 140, 3 GB memory, 1 TB HDD, DVD burner. Have replaced HDD.

What do you do with them? Laptop was used for all home uses before being replaced by the Surface ~3 years ago. Now it's only used for AARP tax prep (via a browser) during the tax season. Desktop is used for all home uses - browsing, email, Excel, Word, tax prep, photo editing, music rip/burn, music server.
What version of windows are running on these older systems?
Windows 7.
That's great that you've been able to keep them going that long. I've got an old laptop, but newer than yours, but both are slower than any Chromebook for web usage. It's not that the old computers have slowed down, but the web and other programs have gotten so bloated. And it's not just the bloatware installed. Every web page has more "stuff" going on. Anyway, compared to previous ancient Windows XP computers, those vintage Windows 7 systems were state of the art and great for "browsing, email, Excel, Word, tax prep, photo editing, music rip/burn, music server".

Unfortunately, we live in a brave new world.

It’s not just WhatsApp, most messaging apps likely have security vulnerabilities
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/22/whatsap ... ility.html

Computers have gotten 1000 times faster, but they're only a little bit better. Well, ok, a lot more portable, much longer battery life, and much better connected.

Older systems will just not be secure in todays environment, and while the aging hardware isn't killing it, losing Windows 7 support and modern apps will.

https://youtu.be/_b3_-pPzDVk?t=80

Anyway, most developers (except the likes of these folks: https://lubuntu.net/, https://www.netsurf-browser.org/ ) aren't working on the the last 4 years let alone last 10 years hardware, but next 4 years and beyond.

Whatever you buy now, expect more change.

OP, have you figured out what to do yet or do you have an option you're considering? A short list?

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Ricchan
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by Ricchan » Wed May 22, 2019 7:40 pm

ThinkPad X1 Carbon.
Lightweight, typing feels good for a laptop, anti-glare screen

quantAndHold
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by quantAndHold » Wed May 22, 2019 8:12 pm

Chip wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 5:53 am
quantAndHold wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 6:56 pm
You owning an outlier doesn’t make my point any less valid. Four years is common for MacBooks, not so common for a consumer grade windows laptop, especially if it’s been used as a laptop, and not just left plugged in on a desk somewhere. OP’s experience is more typical than not.
You didn't like my anecdotes so you provided your own unsupported "data"?
Here ya go.

Chip
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by Chip » Thu May 23, 2019 9:47 am

Okay, so the more expensive Mac laptops have been more reliable than the average, less expensive, Windows laptop. While CR, in an email to the zdnet author, states that price didn't necessarily equate with reliability, there's no significant analysis of that relationship. Just an anecdote about the HP Envy vs the HP Pavilion (an inappropriate comparison in my opinion).

After reading all that I still don't understand how you came up with "if you want 4 years you need a Mac". The only thing that article discussed was a survey of readers about what they considered serious problems in the first three years of ownership. Macs at 17% problems, Windows machines around 30%. If you take that at face value it means that you had a 1 in 5 chance of the Mac not making to 3 years and a one in 3 chance of the Windows computer not making it.

Hardly a guarantee for a Mac making it four years. Or a guarantee that a Windows machine won't.

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kramer
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by kramer » Thu May 23, 2019 10:17 am

Just a quick note, Surface Pros had a bad reputation for reliability, presumably from trying to pack so much into so small of a form factor, way more so than an ordinary laptop (at some point a number got out of the percentage returned for defects and it was high --- they have improved since then). I wouldn't equate this to Windows laptops (or any laptops) in general.

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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by jlawrence01 » Thu May 23, 2019 11:05 am

When I retired, my employees gave me a MS Surface as a gift. I used the device less than three years when it died. I took it to the Microsoft store and they wanted MORE money to fix it than it was purchased for. Of course, they were would have been very happy to sell me a new one for twice the price of the original (and without the MS Office package which came standard with the original).

I purchased a Samsung Chromebook 500C for $199. From day one, the Chromebook worked a lot better than the Surface and for accessing the internet, it is certainly much quicker. In general, I get 8-12 hours per battery charge which far exceeds any computer that I have had. In addition, it is very light.

ohai
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Re: What computer to buy for snowbird

Post by ohai » Thu May 23, 2019 11:42 am

OP, it is ridiculous to think about moving around a full size PC rather than a laptop, even if it is a few times a year. Think about how you will be able to move around a laptop while travelling on vacation or other trips also.

Assuming you get some kind of laptop, they are mostly all good. Even if you don't get the truly optimal model, you'll still be happy. I'd advise you to pay particular attention to two attributes though:

1) Keyboard feel. Sounds weird, but some keyboards are a pleasure to use, and others are so so. To me, Lenovo keyboards are the best by far, but you should go to Best Buy or somewhere to play with a few different brands (presumably, before buying the computer online, to their dismay).
2) Monitor resolution and glossy/non glossy. Monitor is arguably the most important part of a laptop. I always recommend getting the best possible screen.

Apple has nice build quality, but in my opinion, is not worth the money given the weakened specs relative to Windows PC of the same price. If money is not a constraint though, one of my favorite setups is to run Windows on Mac hardware.

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