New Laptop Advice please!

Hi Folks,

So, I need a new laptop. Old HP G70 is dead - suspected mb failure, and thus probably not economic to fix.

Three main issues for me:-

  1. Must have a large screen - 17.3" or larger ( poor eyesight due disability ) ( seems to take refurbs or second hand out of the equation )

  2. Must have a proper keyboard, NOT a chiclet style “thing” ( poor fine motor control due disability (!) )

  3. Must run linux (!!) - the HP was running Ubuntu 10:04 LTS without issue. I presume, to avoid unity, I will have to change to another flavour, probably Peppermint6.

For the avoidance of doubt, (sorry, but…) the above are not negotiable.

Point 1 doesn’t seem to be too much of an issue - but point 2 is a major PITA because every laptop we have looked at, bar the expensive Dell Precisions have a chiclet.

I would be grateful for any assistance - many thanks in advance.


Can I pry into your issue with a “chiclet” keyboard? Is it the “border” around the keys, or the tactile nature? Because, I don’t think I’ve used a laptop that doesn’t have that style of keypress (where movement is very short, and feedback quite soft).

I know this would affect portability (although with a 17" screen, it’s somewhat compromised anyway), but could you use an external keyboard?

The MSI GT80 has a full mechanical keyboard with an 18+" screen - it’s only £2600 from Scan!! :stuck_out_tongue:

Ignore the fact it says 5.6Ghz … it’s a dual core 2.8Ghz ::slight_smile:

The nvidia 340 drivers cover the Quadro FX2700M

or maybe

Most of the eliteboooks from that era will have “proper” keyboards … and can be picked up quite cheaply.

you might also look into some of the 17" hinkpads from a couple of years ago

or must it be new ? … if so, you’re gonna have difficulty with non chicklet (as you’ve noticed) … I have no idea what the facination with chiklet is these days, I’m not a fan either.

First, thanks for your reply. no probs expanding on the issues…

Chiclet “keyboards” are useless due the 1) non-standard spacing and 2) the fact that the actuation point of the key is the same as the bottoming out point.

  1. means that, as i touch type, I cannot switch between keyboards. I could possibly get used to them, but what use is that when…
  2. neuropathy associated with MD makes them (very) painful to use

I could use an external keyboard, but the problem would be finding one which is any good - I have an old IBM “battleship” attached this desktop - but they appear to be hens teeth now… and I have enough problems using this !! I had wondered about a barebones unit on the rear of a monitor and losing the battery powered bit of a laptop - and, really its only the availability of a decent keyboard that stops me doing so…

I have seen the MSI machines - they are a bit out of my reach, sadly - Euromillions keeps letting us down !! :slight_smile:

Thanks very much for the links Mark. knowing what to search for is most of the battle. The second HP looks the business. ( for a laptop )

We have looked all over for a non-chiclet, but have essentially failed until we spend £2K, which is a bit OTT ( Ok, read, WAAAYYYY OTT !!)

Doesn’t have to be new - just decent condition, and decent spec, less the HDD which would be binned in favour of SSD anyway… that second HP really looks good… would I have any issues getting it from the states, do you think??


Keyboard markings will probably be US … you can use the GB layout, but the marking will be wrong (or you could just use the US keyboard layout but then some of the keys wouldn’t be where you’d expect)

You “might” also need a UK power supply … I’m not sure about this.


A quick “Google” suggests most power bricks can handle 100 - 240 volt, so would only need the plug side adapter changing … but if you buy it, check it before you plug it in.
(or ask the guy on ebay)

The whole “key actuation point” was what I was trying to describe with regard to tactility - sounds like you are indeed after a mechanical keyboard. I haven’t used a mechanical keyboard for nearly 25 years, to the point where I can’t even recall what they feel like. I’ve NEVER used a laptop that doesn’t have the “flat” feel (can’t describe it better, it feels different from a £10 desktop keyboard, which feels difference again from a £60-100 mechanical keyboard), and that’s in over 15 years of computing.

Just how critical is portability? If you can handle a desktop (or all-in-one, where the base unit is inside the monitor), then the mechanical keyboard issue goes away as they’re easy to get hold of (for a bit more of an outlay). In terms of the battery power issue, you could always get a UPS, but it’s more cost and even less portability.

@chemicalfan:- thanks again.

The thing with a laptop is (keyboard permitting), that it sort of works for me - and it works here too, in that Mrs Sim can just shift it, if it’s in the way or whatever. Which is where the all in one or barebones on the back of a monitor loses out, at least in our minds… plus, as you say, they are reasonably portable…

I’m currently thinking a refurb like the ones Mark linked to are a good immediate solution… and not bad value either - sure I would like something better…

If the thing only lasts long enough for chiclets to go out of fashion, then it will do… failing that I guess we’ll just have to keep doing the lottery !!!

I know what you mean, I’ve ended with a laptop for the last few years simply because of social circumstances. I’d love a desktop, but make do with a laptop, it does what I need it to do and that’s all that matters really.

In searching for answers for this topic I came across this

Now whilst this ISN’T about chiklet/island keyboards, in my eyes it makes a perfect title for my feelings towards them…

It does however highlight another problem … STOP F***ING WITH DEFAULT LAYOUT STANDARDS too

@Chemicalfan - thanks.

I couldn’t agree more - We’ve invented the wheel, thank you… ::slight_smile: ( its really good too, this wheel thingy !! )

I had seen that article, and many others like it, predominantly from /by “normal” people - all with the same opinion. Google provided a mass of results, and I was heartened to see it wasn’t just me !! ;D

I have found this:-

seems to have a proper keyboard. I know its dear, but the spec, if linux compatible, will be pretty future proof !!

Any opinions ? ( apart from the obvious windross Tax nonsense!!)

( off to peruse the HCL’s… )

Edit: seems UEFI was a major issue - found one report on the peppermint forum of a guy running P6 without issues… mmmm…

And another on notebook review (historic) running Mint13…


UEFI and Secureboot is no longer a problem:

Mint also now supports UEFI/Secureboot as do most recent distros.


I downloaded the re-spin a few days ago, booted it on this desktop ( Zoostorm i7 with SSD). … it runs very well. Particularly like the DE, and the customisation options - very nice - thanks for that too!! ( also that it could “see” my S4 “out of the box” - which Ubuntu 14:04 can’t :o )

The HP’s on the bay of e had sold out by the time we got that far… but there are a few dell inspirons on there ATM… so the question is £920 for a new i7 Sammy, or £200 for a “refurb” Core 2 Duo Dell 1720 ??? - I know they are not really comparable - but the keyboard is the issue - both have one !! ( I.E. NOT a chiclet :-X thing ) shame there isn’t anything in the middle ! :-\

How much RAM does the core 2 machine have? The Core 2 Duo isn’t a bad chip even nowadays, certainly more capable that an Atom or E class AMD chip

Most have 4Gb - there are some with only 3. What you thinking? Upgrade it ??

Agreed re the C2D - old G70 had one, and it was Ok…

As stated, a core2duo is still a perfectly serviceable CPU particularly in Linux (as is 4GB RAM)… unless you do anything that requires an i7 you might as well save yourself the money and spend a small amount of it on an SSD.

Unlimited budget?

you might want to spend a little time browsing this page

Well, with thanks to everyone for their help in this, we actually bought the Samsung. I am typing this on it now - it was expensive, but, it should hopefully be completely future proof; the keyboard is also pretty good - certainly as good as the old HP. I put Peppermint 6 on it without any real issue - the only bugbear is the known issue of certain kernels not recognising Android devices - I will boot the older Kernel when I get that far… but of course that means i will have to reboot the thing, which is hardly ever necessary under Linux!!

I also upgraded one of the HDD’s to an SSD, and set up the partitions to give the OS its own.

I love P6 - it is so customizable, and of course on this monster is very fast, and with the SSD, even more so - resume from suspend is essentially instant = fantastic. IIRC, cold boot is less than 10 secs !! Try that with M$ rubbish !!

I might add a different video player, and I might add an additional file manager - some of the stuff I do would benefit from more information on screen than the default provides, but I love the screen layout, and the ease with which things can be added - when I get round to it, I am gonna put P6 on my desktop too - its currently running Ubuntu 14.04LTS, which, IMHO, is inferior.


(edited for spelling!!)