Scott asked: “I am in line to get a new computer. I have had a desktop for about 5 years. I’m thinking about upgrading. Not sure what’s out there, if a desktop is a good deal, or if I should look for a laptop. If you could just steer me in the right direction – what’s good, what’s not. I don’t have a lot of money, but maybe something mid-range.”
This one’s always a doozy, Scott, because everyone uses their computers for different activities. What’s good for your neighbor who does video editing isn’t good for the little old lady across the street that writes emails to her grandchildren. So, let’s talk in terms of day-to-day computer use like internet, word processing, maybe a little casual gaming, and enjoying media.
First, let’s take a look at the desktop vs. laptop question. Is portability important to you? Is your space limited? Are you tired of the clutter that comes with owning a desktop? Or, perhaps you’re more comfortable with a desktop’s large screen and keyboard? And the ability to upgrade, which is much easier with a desktop in lieu of a laptop. Think about location, location, location. This is not a question anyone but Scott can answer.
Next … understand that a $500 desktop PC will often outperform a $500 PC laptop, so mid-range doesn’t always mean mid-priced and this may be the issue that aims you toward a desktop.
We suggest you take a look at the “all in one” offerings from DELL and HP. These are desktops that wrap up the guts of a tower PC into the monitor. It’s a compromise, really — you get the clean environment of a laptop with the power and expandability of a desktop. It’s even portable — somewhat — so you don’t have to unplug a thousand cables if you decide to move the computer from your living room into a den. Many all-in-ones include a touch-screen these days, which arguably are far easier to use on their large monitors than a laptop.
Take a look at the DELL INSPIRON series of machines or HP PAVILION family. Don’t even bother worrying about the CPU specs or other confusing technobabble — go for the machine priced as high as your budget can accommodate. And one final tip — even if you buy your next machine online, take a close look at them at a Best Buy. Why? Not all built-in monitors are equal! You don’t want to be stuck with a computer that came with a great price tag but a crummy screen!