questionsgwintner's laptop

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Incidentally, because the deal was through eBay, I was able to get back about $30 via eBay Bucks and Mr. Rebates. So, may as well say the price was $550. Thanks to the deal hunters who have gone before me and made me wise in the ways of cash back.

Also, due to my recent laptop experience, I'd consider purchasing an extended warranty for this one. If anyone has thoughts on the usefulness of those or how/where to get one for less, would appreciate it.

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I think you did excellent.

Personally what I do when I get a new anything from a PC manufacturer is wipe the hard drive and reinstall Windows to sweep all the crapware away. That is my solution for optimizing. However I tend to be extreme, a simpler solution, what I did with my GF's system is unistall and use CC Cleaner to sweep away the remnants.

Since you'll be using the Blu-ray drive to watch movies(you will be using that feature, won't you, seems silly to have the drive and not use it's full functionality) and there is no free blu-ray plugin for WMP or any media player, I recommend giving ArcSoft's TotalMedia Theatre 3 Platinum a try.
For regular video viewing, I recommend the Shark 007 Codec Packages, shark007.net .

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What else...

I always uncheck most of the unneeded updaters and such from the startup tab in msconfig. Lowers startup time dramatically and reduces the amount of memory consumed during idle.

PDF Reader: I use Foxit Reader. The only bit of Adobe's software I use is Flash and Photoshop. Reader has gotten very bloated.

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@gwintner: Not much time to respond right now, but I saw the same deal, and immediately sent a recommendation to a family member who's in the market for laptops... It looks like a fabulous deal, actually. For the price, the CPU is great, the RAM is good, Blu-ray is the schizz (pardon the language, but I love my HiDef stuff), and overall looks like a great machine.

Many of my other comments will probably echo @catbertthegreat's, so I'll hold off until I have a moment to make sure that I'm not just repeating things. From where I'm standing, it looks like you done well, kid!

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@gwintner: Well, with some more in-depth review, I still stand by saying that it looks like you really got yourself a sweet deal.

As to advice on a warranty on a refurb/recertified lappy, probably the best you could do is with Squartrade. I'm not very experienced with them though, so I'm not your source on a "how-to" in this case.

However, knowing what I do about computers, Catbert's got the right idea here. First things first, I'd wipe as much of the machine clean as I possibly could with uninstalls, and registry cleaning. Then update everything else - Antivirus, Windows components, drivers, etc. That may be especially important for your blu-ray experience, and whatever gaming you intend to do. Your discrete GPU is definitely a decent card, but still not the most recent, so make sure that it's running on an up-to-date driver. Most people's bad experiences with machines come from not maintaining them properly, and that means cleaning up the bloat/crapware, in addition to updates.

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@catbertthegreat & @arosiriak: Thanks for the encouragement and advice on how to get the lappy up and running! Wasn't aware of some of the applications CTG mentioned, much appreciated. Any particular recommendations for antivirus software? Sometimes I see great deals for the ones that you have to pay for (Kaspersky, Norton, etc) but then hear people say those are bloated and not worth anything. If they are the most ideal, do you have an intermediate recommendation for something free to use while waiting for a deal on one of those?

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@gwintner: Typically when people say that paid services for antivirus software are bloated, there's truth to it. And I would have been one of the first to agree for the past few years, especially with Norton. They've had very good ratings as to effectiveness, but were a bit of a powerhog for system resources - However, and this is a big however, as of this year's release, I will recommend them again. I got a great deal on it, and am pleased with the performance.

If you're looking for good freeware options, either for the long-run, or just as a temporary fix for now, I'd use a combination of one active-time protection system, and one to run just for scans whenever you feel like it's necessary. For those, I'd suggest either Microsoft Security Essentials (they've really cracked down and made a very decent suite this time around), AVG, or Avast as the real-time protection - then Malwarebytes Anti-Malware as your backup. Make sure that whichever option you choose, it stays updated.

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DO you have comcast cable service? IF so, they offer it for free, just go to their website. There are other ISP's that also provide free virus/internet firewalls and software. There are also free anti virus programs and internet software firewalls available on the internet. Be careful that it comes from a legit source, as alot of the freebies have spyware/bloatware/crapware in them.

I have no recommendation to give you on your laptop, I don't own one. I have a desktop and an netbook, plus the junk at work.

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@gwintner: I'd echo what you've already been told, and add in a vote for AVG+Malwarebytes. Common sense is your very best protection, however. Best to never need those items because you don't encounter anything bad.

One hint about windows (which may or may not apply to whichever version you are running with); any time you patch, any time you install something new, anytime you uninstall something (yes, even then), please go check the settings on your host-based firewall. Applications are fond of opening up holes for themselves that you might prefer they didn't. Follow Shrdlu's number one rule. Trust nothing.

For XP, the settings may be reached via the Control Panel->Security Center. At the bottom of the page, it will say "Manage security settings for:" and "Windows Firewall" will be one of the choices. My preference is to allow nothing, but that's just me. Old and cynical.

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@ecriscit & @shrdlu: Thanks for the advice! Wasn't aware of either tip, much appreciated! Laptop is scheduled to arrive tomorrow!