A not so serious look at technology!

This is a subject that I hear talked about a lot. Being in the computer education business, at least once a week someone asks me what computer they should buy.

My advice usually shocks people. However I have over 30 years of experience in the computer industry and I know what I am talking about!

If you go to the store to buy a new TV and the store has two models that seem to have the same features, and the same price, the only difference is the brand name. One is a household name such as Sony, and the other is some generic brand, you would buy the Sony. It has a great brand reputation, and should something bad happen you can rely on the guarantee.

This purchasing theory works for almost all home electronics. Buy what you know!

Unfortunately this is not true when it comes to desktop computers.

The biggest fallacy that people have is their need for speed. If you want to surf the Web, write letters, or make spreadsheets you will notice no difference between an old 500mz beater and a 4ghz top of the line $3000 screamer!

I run a wide variety of computers at home, and they are all junk! They are all obsolete, and yet they all perform the tasks that I need. If one breaks, I just build another one from my junk pile! I can listen to music, I can play movies, I can surf the web, basically every thing that I need to do. The only time you need speed is if you are a gamer, computer games love speed!

The second mistake people make is branding. My advice to anyone buying a computer is to walk down the computer aisle and if you recognize the name on the front, keep walking! The name brands tend to make computers that contain proprietary items. If two year old Johnny stuffs his Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich in your floppy drive and you have a nice generic computer, it will cost you about $10 to replace it. Unfortunately with a name brand you may well discover that a generic drive does not work, it will not fit! You are forced to buy the $40 proprietary drive instead. 

The other issue with brand name computers is the ability to upgrade them. Many brand name machines are maxed out, your ability to add memory, or a faster processor is severely limited.

My advice is to find a local computer store (one that has been around for a few years) and buy a generic system. You will not pay substantially more, and you will have the freedom to upgrade at will. Better still if something does go wrong you can get it fixed locally rather than sending it to somewhere in Nebraska!

Even better, just build your own, you can truly personalize them. Good examples are the BeerBox, the Plastic Canvas PC, and the Pizza Box.

Have a great boxing day!

Simon Barrett


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