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Which is the best LAPTOP brand to use for home use

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gechurch

If you'd have asked me 10 years ago I would have reeled off some good and bad brands. The landscape has changed now though. Pretty much all the brands now have models that compete on price, and many brands also have better quality machines that compete on other considerations.

If you can possibly do it, avoid buying something that is built to a price, regardless of brand. I always recommend corporate-grade laptops to anyone that asks, even if they will only be using it at home. I used to do laptop repair work and I just saw too much junk come in a matter of months after it was purchased. A lot of the time it wasn't worth fixing. A $400 bargain isn't such a bargain when you have to pay that much again in 6 months time.

There are ways to tell which are corporate machines and which are cheapies. Price is an obvious one. Here in Australia I find that most models under around $900 are probably home ones. Once you get over the $900-$1000 price mark you are probably looking at a business-grade machine. The version of the OS is another give-away - anything with Windows Pro/Business is aiming at the business market. A better way to tell is to research models on the Internet and read reviews.

I will mention a few of the main brands. Everyone's experience will be different, but here is mine:
* Every Acer I've seen in the past 7+ years has been crap, or at least partially so. I find their wireless cards to be the least compatible, the keyboards are normally very springy and cheap feeling, so too with their housing. In my time fixing laptops I also found their hard drives would fail more often than others (this is just anecdotal of course - they use the same brands as other laptops). They use cheap RAM too.
* I really like HP. We sell their corporate computers exclusively. Out of maybe 500 HP computers our clients use, we might see 2-3 issues per year. The process for warranties on their consumer gear is apparently crap, but their business support has been excellent in my experience.
* Dell I've found to be hit and miss in the past. I don't know their gear well and they have a good reputation though so I suspect their corporate models are good and their consumer models are not so much. Keep an eye out for their specials if you do buy a Dell - they often have some real bargains.
* Asus - I haven't had a huge amount to do with them, but they have an excellent reputation. We used to sell them and with the exception of a 17" model that had issues, we never had any come back.
* Toshiba I used to rate highly. Again I don't have a lot to do with them since we sell exclusively HP, but I've been finding that even their corporate models feel a bit cheaper and more plasticy than they used to. The only new one I've sold in the past two years I had to warranty.
* Sony - you may end up looking here since they do some small models. I've only had one experience which was several years ago with a laptop I owned personally. It was very heavy but I liked it a lot until it dies when I dropped a remote control on it from around 30cm high. I wasn't impressed - it shouldn't have died from that. To my mind the build quality didn't warrant the extra expense.
* Compaq - now owned by HP. Anything labelled Compaq is a consumer model. Again I've had limited contact with them, but the one I sold two years ago hasn't come back to me. Still - I'd recommend getting a corporate machine.
* Lenovo - They sell their own (cheaper) models, and also make (or at least used to make) ThinkPads when IBM stopped manufacturing hardware. We used to sell the Lenovo Thinkpads where I worked and would talk up their quality but to be honest we had far more than I would have liked to have seen come back. I'm not convinced they were that good. (This experience was about three years ago).

So my recommendation is to first look at HP corporate machines (I don't think you'll find anything cheap in the 11" size though - you'd need to move up to 13") or an Asus. If nothing suits, maybe look at Sony.