Published: October 23rd, 2015
So you need a new computer. Maybe what you have is too old. Maybe it finally clunked out. Maybe you accidentally through it off the roof of your house because it was infuriating slow at opening Microsoft Word. We all have our reasons for wanting a new PC. The question is which one to get in a market saturated with options. Do you go for the glitz and glamour or the tried and true? The high-end or low-end? The familiar or the new? Hopefully this little guide will help you sort out which machine will take you to the next level.
The best thing to do is to start with your criteria and add desired features until you have what you want. Computers can have amazing battery life or a low resolutions screen or that weird new screen-flipping thing where it looks like you broke it. Disregard all of those features and start with what you need most. The most important things for you may be long battery life, sleek design, and compatibility with other devices. For someone else, it may simply need to be cheap, reliable, and future-proof. As you develop your wish list, you’ll see more objectively what you need, which will make the decision a little easier.
Laptops are the most varied out of all the types of computers we’re exploring, so know that no two are the same. Each device can be wildly different from another, so do you research on each product. For our purposes, we’ll explore Windows machines, Macbooks, and Chromebooks.
A Windows laptop can be almost anything, so the biggest thing to be aware of is the operating system itself. It’s the most popular OS out their; most programs are compatible with it. You’re probably already familiar with it. If it comes with Windows 7 or 10, the user experience will be dependable and easy to navigate, but if it’s Windows 8, steer clear. That version of the OS was a disaster. Besides that, most computers that come with Windows are good, though stick with higher end manufacturers such as Asus, HP, Toshiba, and Samsung. Lower end manufacturers like Acer can be cheaper, but it can show in the product you buy.
Macbooks are fantastic machines… especially if you’re into the whole Apple ecosystem. It integrates with anything Apple makes everything, be it an app, program, service, or other device. They work really hard to make sure everything is compatible, and it shows. If you want easy syncing across devices that look and work great Apple is your best bet. This quality comes at a price, though, with the cheapest model of Macbooks costing around $999. The computers are good, and their features do vary across the different lines, but keep in mind that there is not getting past the high price point.
Chromebooks are kind of the opposite of Macbooks, designed to be as cheap as possible and do as much as it can on the Web instead of locally. The design philosophy is predicated on the utility of the Internet. Basically, it’s a computer that only has Chrome on it, but because of that, the machine runs much more smoothly than a similar PC running Windows or Mac OSX. Furthermore, the activities most people do on their computers can be done online, which makes depending on cloud services like Google Drive a logical option. Keep in mind that you are severely limited if you ever lose Internet connection because you can’t access any of you’re information except whatever you happened to have downloaded. However, for the low starting price of about $170, Chromebooks are easily a viable option for many who want the best they can get on a budget.
Much of what we see in laptops can be said on desktops. They also carry Windows, Mac OS, or even Chrome OS like Chromebooks. The main concern is the lack of mobility. Why get a desktop if I can get a laptop? Well, a desktop can do everything a laptop can do, but better. It has the extra space for larger components, and because it isn’t regularly moved, it’s more focused on performing better than being compact. If you need something with serious processing power for editing photography or video editing, a desktop is your best bet. And if you need something mobile, you can always complement it with a tablet or even a Chromebook (since they’re so affordable)
Or you can build a PC. This option is not for the faint of heart. If you don’t know much about computers and don’t have a friend who knows enough, I suggest you steer clear of this entirely. However, if you happen to have the enthusiasm and sense of risk to build a “rig” you can get an amazing PC for a much lower total price tag than if you bought it, and it’ll be exactly what you want it to be.
While most wouldn’t consider tablet computers to really be able to replace laptops or desktops, they can be especially handy. If you already have an iPhone or a Mac, it’ll be easier for you to get an iPad. Everything will work nicely together. There are also the Microsoft Surface tablets, but they can be very costly and are more like computers than tablets like the iPad. A good in between option is an Android tablet, with a healthy volume of apps and a well-design OS to keep it all together. A tablet should make the information you want easily accessible in just the way you want it to be, so be sure to check out each device carefully.
At the end of the day, while any device you choose will get the job done, you want to buy something that works well with how you work. If that means buying an amazing $2,000 Windows PC that can play 5 video games at once, so be it. If you want something a little more modest that just gets the job done, by all means. The important thing it to get what works for you.
Good luck in finding what works best!