What are solid picks for laptop with number pad on side?

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I’m looking for a new laptop for my wife to use.

She only uses Windows for the OS side and uses mostly Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), Google Chrome (with lots of tabs open all the time), and iTunes on top of the OS (Excel and Chrome being her top two). She is really good at Excel and historically has used the number pad on the right side a lot (her new laptop at work is a 12-inch ThinkPad and she seems to like it). She has lots of USB-A style devices (mostly plugs in drives when transferring files or charging smartwatch/phone/headphones) and I have no desire to inflict dongle life on her. She mostly uses it at home on her lap, not a desk. She should probably have near or actual mil-spec gear (cracked 3 iPhone screens in roughly the last year alone)

Most of my career has been on the Apple macOS side, but have switched over to Windows 10 (due to Apple exiting the desktop pro market in 2013 and the laptop pro market in 2016) and my IT career is focused on software, not hardware, so I do not have first hand knowledge (such as deploying thousands of laptops in an enterprise) of who really makes legit laptops now. The last time I consistently bought Windows based PCs was the late 90’s / early 00’s when Windows 2000 was the most sane way to do productivity in Windows, but overall WinTel was a train wreck that was unreliable and required way too much maintenance (hence the switch to Mac at the time).

I got her a year ago a small business Dell Laptop (Latitude 3560) since I hoped the business lines of Windows PCs would be better vs. random consumer lines. It was fine at first but around the time of the Intel meltdown/spectre bugs being found and patched it started blue screening. I’m planning on reinstalling Windows, but am assuming the drivers/patches for the CPU bugs will likely permanently mess up the PC and I don’t want to run unpatched software on it.

So, who makes a laptop that can handle the above and can run Windows in a stable way and avoid all the drama Windows laptops tend to have? Such as blue screens, lousy keyboards and trackpads, bad quality displays, case falling apart or being really creaky, etc… For example, I’ve met countless people who love Lenovo keyboards, the only laptop I ever had was an old T series from 4-5 years ago that unfortunately had a worthless trackpad.

It would probably be OK to go with modest specs, like an i3 – i5 CPU and 8 GB RAM, any price premium should go toward the thing working smoothly.

I’m thinking maybe recommending a lower end or refurbished ThinkPad. If she was willing to give up on having a number pad, I was thinking possibly the Surface Laptop over a small ThinkPad since it has an USB-A port, the 3:2 PixelSense display + nice keyboard + nice trackpad combo, and Paul seems to think it is argueably the best ultrabook right now.

Thoughts?

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