Saturday, June 5, 2010

New Laptop Advice Sought---Windows 7? 64 or 32 bit? XP Mode Necessary?

My current laptop is on life support.  I had to buy a docking station because the port to plug in the power cord to is shot.  Which required a base to put on my lap for balance.  The battery life is exactly 16 seconds.  It runs so hot the fans sound like jet engines.  My replacement HD is only 80 gig.  It's a 2004 laptop.  Bottom line, time for a new laptop.

I'm looking at some on, which seems to have the best bang for the buck.  I'll never go with HP/Compaq, and Dells are overpriced.  Alas, I can't afford a good mac. Price range is like 700-900 bucks. 

I'm definitely going to get the I3 or I5 Pentium, with at least 4 gig RAM, and at least a 320 gig HD.  The real problem I'm facing coes down to the software/OS side.  I still run XP, so I'd be jumping the whole era of Vista, which from what I've heard is not such a bad thing.  Windows 7 seems to have a lot more fans. 

Now the question I have is to go 64 or 32 bit.  I hear some basic 32 bit apps don't run on Win7.  Even Firefox seems to have had issues.  My protection right now is Avira, Zonealarm, and Spybot, along with Ad-Aware, all the free versions. Will I have problems with those?

Next, the other programs I commonly use---Pidgin as a universal chat interface, Shareaza, Bit Tyrant for torrents, Thunderbird, Firefox, MS Word 2007, older version of WordPerfect.  I'm hoping those all have editions which will run on 64 bit, or even under Win7 in general.

Then there's the list of programs I have that I use once in a while, but are handy utility programs nonetheless.  Things like programs to convert .lit formatted files to .pdf. 

I guess overall my question is, is Win7 worth it?   Should I stick with XP?  How much am I giving up? 

Then, the question of XP mode which comes on more expensive versions of Win7.  In other words, versions which don't come pre-loaded on the pc.  I've sort of resigned myself to the fact that I'm going to buy the full OS anyhow, because I loathe how they don't give original CD's anymore with the pc.  Dell was the last holdout which used to do that, but since they stopped that practice, I'm not buying from them. Not worth the price.  Plus I don't want to have to a reinstall with all the bloatware.  There's about a $100 difference between Win7 Home and Win7 Pro, which has XP mode.  Is it worth the 100 bucks?

The hardware side of things seems to be the least of my worries, ironically.  Hardware specs, chipsets, etc, are pretty straightforward.  The software side seems to be driving the price up.  What are your experiences with newer laptops running Win7 with the latest Pentiums? 

Any advice is greatly appreciated.