I do not consider myself a member of the technoratti. I don’t eat, sleep and breathe tech. But I do have a lot of people seek out my advice on technology and I can offer a unique perspective in that I may zag while the crowd zigs.
I offer this example: I just bought a new PC. Not very remarkable except I have been a Mac administrator for the last 15 years. So while Apple is gaining market share, presumably from users switching from PCs, I’m switching from the Mac.
Several times over the past few years, I have been grateful for avoiding Windows Hell when I witness driver conflicts, virus issues or disagreements with IT departments. I have always been able to do exactly what I needed on my trusty Mac.
But Windows 7 has won me over. It’s clean, simple and powerful. It still irks me to see DOS peek from behind the curtain once in a while, but I can learn to live with it.
I opted for a PC for the same reason many people do. It cost less. Yes, a lot less. No, I didn’t get iMovie or Garage Band, but like many working fathers, I don’t have time to play with those much.
What I did look for was a decent screen, fast hard drive, a good graphics card and a processor that was fast enough.
I was glad to find a Sony that fit the bill. They make good laptops with great screens. The keyboard feels just like what I’m used to from Apple. The 16.4-inch, 1600×900 pixel screen is bigger than what I would want to carry around much, but as a “desktop replacement” for home, it’s great. Half a gig of dedicated video memory (2.2GB shared video ram) is plenty for Starcraft II on high quality.
I was happy to “settle” for a 340GB hard drive spinning at 7,200 rpm instead of the typical 500GB drive at 5,400 rpm. It’s smaller, but faster. I’d rather have the performance.
The processor is last year’s model which is why it was such a deal. Intel Core 2 Duo at 2.2GHz instead of one of the new i-series chips. There is very little that a home user will do that would show off the difference. Much of what I could find on-line suggested that an i5 processor would be roughly 15 percent faster than the Core 2 Duo, yet the cost of the new chips add $200-$300 to the price of a laptop.
This brings me a soapbox moment. For years I’ve heard people say “spend as much on a computer as you can afford because it will stay current longer and you will buy greater longevity.”
I think this logic is completely upside down. Computers are even less of an “investment” than a car. They depreciate faster and the performance of the new models improves at a much greater pace.
Spend as little money as you can on a computer that meets your needs today. Three years from now you may have different needs and, if that happens, you should have a few hundred more dollars lying around than the guy who blew his entire wad on what will still be an obsolete computer.
So far, I’m very happy with my new PC. I’ve often described the difference between Macs and PCs as similar to the differences of a Mercedes and a Volkswagen. They will both get you there, but the Mac is generally a more pleasant experience. I may drive the Mercedes someday, but for now, I’m getting pretty comfortable with my Volkswagen.