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

A Modern Never Ending Story

My laptop computer already has a completely dead battery, even though it has seen infrequent use. Originally priced at $650, it is now worth $160 in good working condition on eBay. A replacement battery is $65 and requires professional installation for an additional $100; replacing it now makes more sense than repairing. The lifespan of a laptop battery varies depending on how it’s used, but averages between 18 and 24 months. This is planned obsolescence at its finest, especially since a user replaceable battery is now a rare commodity!

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Laptop purchases are outpacing tablets and desktop computers this year and are expected to do even better next year. This is still the best available configuration if you need a portable, capable work computer; casual users may well find that a tablet configuration is sufficient.  If you will be mostly working at home, you will often find that a desktop computer gives you the best “bang for the buck”.

Newer laptops may feature better graphics and performance, higher energy efficiency, wireless charging, slimmer bodies and bezel-less screens. 2-in-1 laptops are designed to offer the touchscreen capabilities of a tablet and the traditional keyboard and trackpad functions of a laptop. Business grade laptops will be more expensive but usually boast sturdier components, superior support and longer warranties than consumer products.

Reviewers seem enthusiastic about Always Connected PCs, a new type of affordable Windows 2-in-1 laptop powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 (usually found in smartphones) rather than a traditional processor. Models from Lenovo, HP and Asus should be available by the end of summer. Offering both Wi-Fi and LTE mobile data internet access along with up to 20 hours of battery life, these small laptops may become popular.  Sprint is currently offering a free unlimited data plan for Always Connected Windows PCs until December 31st, 2018.

Who makes the most reliable laptops? Virtually all the laptops in the world are manufactured by seven original design manufacturers (ODMs) with factories in mainland China and headquarters in Taiwan or Singapore following designs and specifications from recognizable brands. The two largest ODMs are Compal and Quanta, but you won’t see their labels on the final product. Laptop magazine (laptopmag.com) rates Lenovo, HP, Dell, Acer and Asus as the top five laptop brands for 2018, with Apple falling to seventh place.

With more than 1200 laptop models available, priced from $150 to $6700+, it’s difficult to sort through all of the choices. Finding shopping advice on line is straightforward; finding reliable free information on line is not so easy! My usual go to sources include Laptop Magazine, PC World, PC Magazine, Consumer Reports and others. If you’re just beginning to shop, I would recommend starting with thewirecutter.com published on line by the New York Times for comprehensive impartial analysis.

No matter what type of laptop you want, you are likely to get the best prices in either the back-to-school (June – August) or holiday (Mid-October – December) periods.