Computer Shopping

ComputerI can hardly believe it but I’ve now owned my latest laptop — a Dell Inspiron — for nearly three years. When first purchased, it was all sparkly and new and fast and well, just about everything I wanted. It’s still pretty darn fast and the hard drive has gobs of space on it, but it’s starting to show its age with periodic crashes and freezes. And most annoying, the wifi routinely requires tinkering. And the stupid thing weighs a ton (well, not really, but it feels that way when stuffed in a bag or pack along with everything else I need to carry).

I have no desire to be without a computer should this one crash permanently. In fact I can’t be without as I frequently need to connect to my work computer from home in the evenings and weekends. So I have begun looking at replacements. Despite being a longtime PC user, I’ve lusted after a MacBook Air ever since I wandered into an Apple store over two years ago. But the price just makes me cringe. Fast forward two years and there are now so many ultrabooks out there it makes my head spin.

I read a recent PCMag article that lists the editors’ choices for the top 10 ultrabooks. Now I’m even more confused. Is 4.4 pounds too heavy? Is 2.9 pounds substantially lighter? Not sure. Do I want a touchscreen on my laptop or is the traditional keyboard sufficient? Is 4 gb of ram enough or should I go for 8 gb?

Making my decision even more confusing is the fact that I routinely access the web on the tiny, tiny screen of my iPhone, which weighs next to nothing. Now I’m beginning to wonder if I truly need an ultrabook. And then this winter I purchased an iPad mini which gives me another lightweight option for accessing the web. Even better, since several of my fellow AAR staffers suggested that I get Pages for my iPad, I’m able to take notes while reading on my iPad. And no ultrabook is going to beat my IPad for weight.

I’m conflicted. I used to travel a lot for work which made a laptop essential. Now I rarely make business trips, meaning the portability is really a personal rather than professional issue. While I do a lot of work from home, just about any laptop will suffice. And because I like to work in various rooms in my home, a desktop won’t work. So, I’m wondering if the better route might be to simply buy another, heavier, but really cheap laptop to use at home, and use my iPad for portability?

What do you use? Desktop? Laptop? Ultrabook? Smartphone? Or a combination of these? And when you need to buy a new computer, where do you go for information?


7 thoughts on “Computer Shopping

  1. LeeB.

    I have a desktop at home but will have to think about putting Windows 8 on it as Microsoft is discontinuing updates for XP next April. And, yes, my computer is way older than yours. ;) And I have a netbook I use when traveling.

    Fortunately we have two IT people at work who are always happy to provide computer shopping info and a former co-worker makes house calls if I need work done (he added a new hard drive last year).

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  2. VictoriaS

    I have a desktop also, and it is fine for my needs. I have a niece who is graduating this month and one of the things I was thinking of getting her was a new laptop for college, (she too, has an old one, that while works, weighs the proverbial ton). I too started researching laptops, and am now more confused than ever before! Is an Ultrabook the same as a Notebook ,Netbook or Laptop? Big screen, smaller screen? Windows7, Windows 8?
    I would like to be somewhat informed before I go into the computer store, and the sales staff starts to salivate at the prospect of fresh, confused, credit-card holding, willing-to-be-talked-into-upgrade meat :-/

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  3. MissieLee

    All the choice can make it so confusing. My laptop has been acting persnickety, so hubby and I snagged one on that popped up as a good deal and have it on stand-by.

    I don’t travel much for work, but do sometimes travel/get out and about and, as I don’t want to access the web from my cell phone (I have no need for a fancy cell phone with lots of services — I just need my cell to be able to text/call when I’m away from the house), I was thrilled a few years ago when I could pick up an HP Mini — affordable, lightweight, small but still an easy enough keyboard to type on (I’m not a big touch-screen gal, myself)…it looks as though it should be on the deck of the Starship Enterprise :-) (TNG, of course, with Sir Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard.)

    Good luck!

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  4. Nathalie

    I have a Macbook Pro 13″ and it’s not lightweight. It works well and I have no complaints. My old computer was a HP and I think it spent more time being fixed than me actually using it.

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    1. AARJenna

      I also have a MacBook Pro 13 and I wouldn’t trade it for the world! I’m a firm Mac user because you simply don’t have all of the problems with viruses and the like that always manage to turn PCs – laptops and desktops – into gigantic paperweights. For me, it’s worth the extra price up front because I know I will get at least a good solid 4-5 years out of it before I even need to think about upgrading. I also am not ready to give up my laptop for a tablet or my phone. I write a lot and I need the real keyboard and a full-size screen to work properly. Also, I do a lot of graphics work, so I need to power of a laptop’s processor.

      Good luck with your hunt.

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  5. Audrey

    I feel for you. We are starting to look at and learn about what’s all out there now, as both our phones and also our laptop are getting quite aged. Our lifestyle is changing as well so whereas we used to be pretty close to home when we bought this stuff, now we’re at a vacation home up to six months a years and driving back and forth to it. Plus spending way more time at kids’ houses, instead of them always coming to us. I think I know more what I don’t want. Our go-to people are our son-in-law Simon, an IT guy who keeps on top of this sort of thing and gives really good advice, and our kids and their friends in general who buy stuff before we do and can tell us how it actually works, not how the commercial says it does. :)

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