Tools Toys and Technology

About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

Tools Toys and Technology - About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

Is a New Computer on Your Holiday Shopping List?

If it’s been a while since your last computer purchase, you’ll find the marketplace has undergone a sea change in the last few years. You’ll have a bewildering number of choices and receive conflicting advice. For SaddleBrooke residents, your first computer was almost certainly a desktop or laptop that came with a Microsoft or Apple operating system. Often shared with the whole family, it was usually located on a desk in a quiet area. Remember those “Are you a Mac or a PC?” commercials circa 2007?

Most business offices continue to regard desktops as standard equipment. Desktop computers remain the go-to computers for serious image editing and software development. Desktops are still preferred by advanced gamers and longtime tech hobbyists; they provide the best value for those who need powerful, highly customizable systems.

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The personal computer has been redefined over the last 10 years. It has become truly personal. It goes everywhere with you all day, every day in your pocket or purse. In an ever increasing number of households, everyone in the family over the age of 12 has one. By far, the most common personal computer purchased today is a smartphone or a tablet running either Android or Apple’s iOS. They are ideally suited for travelers. If all you really need are internet access and a few simple programs for email, entertainment and saving information, you may well find that a smaller, easily portable touch screen device is all you really need.

Bear in mind that Android, Apple and Microsoft operating systems are all revised at least annually; you’ll have a learning curve to overcome even if you stay within the same system. Once you have focused your interest on a particular form factor (size and shape), you can find lots of websites offering shopping advice. Take a look at buying guides on consumerreports.org or komando.com for informed, impartial information.

Here are a few tips that may help a bit. Lenovo and Asus laptops have the best reliability records; Samsung and Microsoft trail the field according to Laptop magazine. For smartphones, Apple products are the most reliable, Samsung is the least reliable. If you are shopping for a smartphone, your service provider selection should be your first choice to consider – it’s the most expensive part of your purchase. Desktop computer reliability shows only a slight difference between the best (Apple) and worst (Acer) ratings.

Lithium batteries now power almost all portable electronic devices. These usually fail after about 3 years, even if never used. If product longevity is important to you, make sure the battery is user replaceable. Replacements can require professional tools or returning the product to a factory repair facility. Even worse, some current devices simply cannot be opened for battery replacement or repairs at all. The manufacturer will replace these if still under warranty, but you could find yourself discarding a $2500 laptop in 3 years just because the battery failed!