I need a new laptop…what the hell do I buy?

Since I purchased my iPad in April of 2010, I had found myself using my laptop less an less. Well, over the Christmas holiday of 2010, my laptops pretty much crapped out on me and I was left with my iPad and desktops. That was fine. I had a Bluetooth keyboard for my iPad and was doing little with the laptops anyway. Rather than purchasing a new laptop for myself, I bought one for my son and one for my fiancé. Funny thing, though…I find myself wanting, nay, needing, a laptop more and more.

Don’t get me wrong, I use the iPad quite a bit still, but I find the need to create content and write is more and more necessary than I had previously thought. You cannot do either very well on the iPad. The kicker, however, was my upgrade woes with iOS 5. Because the upgrade process was not that great, I ended up losing everything on the iPad. The backup process did not work either, so I had a clean iPad. In some ways, this is nice. Starting out fresh. Buuuut….I lost some content that I was working on and have to start anew.

So. I have two laptops, both of them are HP’s. One is an older, 15 inch laptop that I absolutely love. I have pretty much rebuilt it and it was working well until about three months ago. It started to not want to boot and, now, the on-board Wi-Fi is dead, I have to use Ethernet (yes, a wired connection.) The other laptop is a 17 inch behemoth which works for about two hours at a time. I’m tired of messing with them and just want to replace them with one that just works.

The question is which should I buy? Do I go inexpensive and get one that will probably work for years but be underpowered or do I spend a few extra dollars and get a power machine but one that may not last that long. Do I go with Dell or Asus? Do I get Acer or Toshiba? There are a daunting number of decent machines out there. I’m not really sure any one brand is better than another. I’ve had four lemon HP laptops but two HP desktops that are great machines. I have an old Toshiba lappy from 1995 and it still boots and runs just fine. You know, that reminds me, Windows 98 boots up really fast. I remember thinking back then that it was SLOW. It was not.

So, brand aside, I have to decide how big do I want to go. Anything under 15 inches is going to be too small. Anything over 15 inches is probably too big. But, I don’t want a 15 incher. So, I am going to probably get a 15 incher. Make sense?

The actual technical specs are not that important these days. The rule of thumb is: the most memory and hard drive you can get in the price range you want. That will mean 4GB RAM and 320gb to 500gb hard disk. Processor will be dual or quad core. This means my price range is going to be in the $300 to $500 range. Windows 7 64 bit is the OS of choice.

Now, this may seem like a simple task. I pretty much know what I want, just want to get it in the price range I want. The problem is, though, that I don’t know what I want, really. I THINK I do, but…probably not. Why am I saying this? Well, I hate to spend money on things like this. I will start looking for a machine like I’ve outlined about and then, see one a little less featured but costs a lot less money and be tempted. This is the big mistake. For most, buying a computer is like buying a car. You are going to use this thing a long time and will probably abuse it just as you do your car. So, do not skimp.

I am going to force myself to stay in the price range I know I can afford and stick to the features that I will need. If I get MORE for the money, great, but I am not going to settle for less.

And that is the best advice: do not ‘settle’ for less. Unless you are just hurting for money, do not skimp on features just to save fifty bucks. Spend the extra money and get what you need or want. Two years from now, your machine will still be useful. Settling for a lesser machine may work in the immediate time frame, but in two years, it could be like driving a four cylinder Toyota in the Daytona 500. You will get around the track, but only barely.

One final note about buying a laptop: STAY AWAY FROM NETBOOKS. These things are useless, underpowered and just a waste of money.

Now, where did I put my iPad?

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