Nov 04

What should I buy?

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-confused-cartoon-question-mark-hands-image24084245That question is often asked of me countless times over the years. The question is referring to, of course, technology. What computer should I buy? Should I buy a desktop or a laptop? What desktop should I buy. What laptop should I buy? What brand should I select? Do I need a tablet? What tablet should I buy. This litany of questions goes on and on and the answer is always the same, a vague “it depends”. It depends on what you want to do with your technology. It depends on your proficiency, and it depends on your budget. I think the most often asked question is that of laptop or desktop.

Not too many years back a desktop computer was the best purchase due to cost. Laptops were traditionally several hundred dollars more and laptops were limited in memory and hard drive space. That has drastically changed of late and laptops can now be purchased with plenty of memory and a large hard drive for several hundred less than a desktop. But that does not mean that the answer is automatically going to be to buy a laptop. In fact, the trend towards tablets is gaining popularity and tablets are becoming the technology of choice for many. There are some limitations with tablets that needs consideration, and I will discuss that in a minute. With regards to the desktop/laptop controversy the answer for a lot of people is a hybrid setup. To do this one uses there laptop as their desktop computer by docking the laptop and connecting desktop peripherals such as keyboard, mouse, and monitor. In this fashion the laptop can act as a full-fledged desktop and still provide the mobility of a laptop simply by undocking. Gone are the days when syncing your laptop and desktop are a concern as the laptop serves as both. Unless you have need of some very specialized components such as mirrored hard drives or water-cooled video cards the desktop/laptop hybrid is a choice I would recommend for your consideration.

A device more recently added to the mix is the tablet. Tablets come in a variety of sizes and configurations. Typically a tablet will have between 16 gigabytes to 128 gigabytes of solid state storage available. This is very small considering the large amount of storage typical on desktops and laptops, but with the introduction of cheap cloud storage, this becomes less of a concern. Tablets typically can be purchased in seven to twelve inches usable screen space. The tablets can be accessorized with blue tooth keyboards that will make the device act as a small laptop. Additionally, the device can be docked to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse and used as a desktop computer. This would be the ultimate desktop/laptop/tablet hybrid computer giving one the best of all worlds. Tablets do not have quite the processing power as desktops and laptops, but that too is quickly changing with advancement in technology. However, if you are a standard user who typically accesses the internet, uses standard software such as a word processor or spreadsheet, and checks email, then this may be the perfect choice for you.

As you can see, one size does not fit all. There are many choices due to prices, configuration, and capacity. You know best how you will use the technology and I hope this article will provide a beacon when making your choice. It is your choice and only you know what will work best for you. So that is why my answer, when, asked, is a vague “it depends”.

Thank you for patronizing the Townehouse Technologies Blog. I hope you find this information useful. If you have any questions about this article please use the comment form below. Remember, if you wish your question to be private, you can also use the feed back form. Happy computing!

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    • Dan McDonald on November 4, 2014 at 9:47 am
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    For graphics (gaming) and sound (music production and modification as well as playback – I need midi compatibility to input music through my bass for manipulation) a Desktop is still the only choice right? My system is about ready for replacement as the processor and memory are becoming outdated and I am struggling with this right now. I liked the old days where you could go to Gateways sight and configure your own system but now everything appears ready packaged with little options. Can you point me in the right direction Tom?

  1. Dan,

    In your case I would you go to Microcenter to the custom built PC section. The people there are very knowledgeable and can help you select the right components for what you need to do. Also, you can have them do the build for a nominal cost. That is how I had my last PC done and I am very satisfied with the results. Good luck.

    • Dan McDonald on November 4, 2014 at 10:07 am
    • Reply

    Thanks very much Tom. I knew I could count on you.

    • Scott Ladrigan on November 4, 2014 at 11:48 am
    • Reply

    My purchases used to be pc gaming related. not anymore, too damn expsenive to build a machine to game on. I really like tablets, just cant seem to fins a need that my phone doesnt fill. We will be purchasing a couple of new laptops with income tax refund money next year. time to upgrade those. Whats best AMD or INTEL?!

    1. That is a tough question to answer Scott. With approximately 600 variations available for both vendors it is a moving target. Both are good and I have owned both. AMD is somewhat cheaper but i think Intel has better performance, particularly on Windows. Bottom line is this, the performance differences are probably not humanly distinguishable. I say go for the best price with the most cores.

    • Dan McDonald on November 4, 2014 at 1:22 pm
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    I am a chip snob and always stay with Intel. I ‘love’ the Intel Inside Logo on the front of any machine. LOL With that said, I have heard and read nothing but good things about AMD’s upper end chips.

  2. I have completely gotten out of the desktop game. My wife and I have laptops. I purchased laptops for the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society. The convenience (including doing 100+ hours of work each month sitting in my recliner) is incredible. My desk at the Museum now only takes up three feet of space in a cramped office. My desk at home is now a digitizing station. One caution – to really replace a desktop, you need to get a laptop with a full keyboard (including number set on the side) and a mouse.

Feel free to comment, why should I have the last word.

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