Happy Holidays everyone! Once again it is that time of year, and I am always asked what I think are good tech gifts for Christmas and what kind of things to buy. This year, tablets are hot! From the new Amazon Fire, to some really nice new Android tablets, to the every present iPads. One thing to remember, Tablets are designed as consumption devices, they are great to browse the web, read emails, play games on, but they are not a replacement for a computer, nor are they generally very good for creation (writing a long letter, or trying to update a spreadsheet are not really enjoyable or easy on a tablet). If you simply Must have an iPad, take consolation that as soon as you (or whoever you give it to) get it set up and get your apps paid for that the iPad 3 will be coming out. If you are going the mobile data route, then iPad’s are no competition for the new 4G enabled Android tablets which give you blazing fast internet speeds, and full Flash so you can actually view pretty much all websites out there (something Apple mobile devices will never be able to do). The iPads do have their uses, and they are well made devices, but they are pricey and are in reality not much more than a stretched out iPod. I personally prefer the Android tablets as there is much more choice in devices, and I find they have more and better features that I want. Also, if you happen across a cheap HP Touchpad, you can fairly easily install CyanogenMod Android ROM on it, thus making it a truly worthy tablet – the Touchpad is an awesome device in terms of harware and quality of its build, however the stock WebOS leaves a bit to be desired. At the prices they have been going for though, it is certainly worth a look. Tablets are growing in popularity, and are certainly something that has many different uses and they make a great gift. I would be hesitant about dropping $500+ on a tablet for a child to play games on though as one drop and it’s game over for good!
For computers, Laptops are all the rage, but be careful, you often get what you pay for in terms of quality. I prefer the new iCore series of processors from intel i3, i5, and i7, as they generally have the best power/performance and in my experience usually run better than many of the AMD’s. Stay away from Celeron, Atom, etc unless you are looking for long battery life at the expense of performance. As always, more RAM is better, and just as important is the quality of graphics – the higher end nVidia and ATI graphics are needed if you plan on any serious gaming or graphic/video editing. Also make sure you check out the screen resolution and how they look in real lighting – there is a HUGE difference in screen quality out there, and the only real way to tell is by direct observation!
In the end, what you choose is up to you, but it always pays to do a bit of research first: check online, talk to friends, ask your neighborhood geek – whatever you do though, don’t ever count on or listen to the sales people at your local BestBuy/OfficeDepot etc. While some of them may be knowledgable, in my experience, most of them have no idea what they are talking about, and often give totally false or misleading information (if they really knew that much about technology, would they be working at one of these retail outlets?) – whatever you do, don’t fall prey to the upsell of basically worthless extended warranty service (you can often get extended warranties direct for the manufacturers), nor should you buy any of the offered security products or add on services they offer (why should you pay them to take off the same crap they themselves put on your computer in the first place!).
As always if you have any questions, need some help with new techology setup, or need computer service or repair here in Pensacola Florida, feel free to contact us at http://pensacolacomputers.com
In my last post, I spoke about different kind’s of processors (CPU’s) that are in the majority of the new computers for sale, but after speaking to a number of people, I found that I probably didn’t include enough details for comparison. Most people today don’t really care about the technology behind things, they just want technology that works!
There is certainly a wide variety of computers to choose from, and the terms that are associated with them can be so confusing, especially when it comes to the computer brains aka processors. We have Pentium, Pentium D, Pentium M, Core 2, Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad, Core i3, i5, i7, Turion, Athlon, Atom, Celeron, Sempron, Neo, Phenom, Phenom II, Athlon X2 – and if that isn’t confusing enough, each of these usually also have a number associated with them, n270, T4400, E4500, P8700, Q6600, X4 965, and on and on.
So how do you really compare what each processor can do? There are a number of companies that make benchmarking software that test different computer components, and these are usually a good place to start. On of the most widely used is Passmark which uses CPU Mark to test out and assign a numeric rating to processors. They have a great website where you can see the graphs of the benchmark results which really put things into perspective – Visit the CPU Benchmarks Page
To give you a rough comparison of current Intel Processors - that cute little netbook with the Atom Processor has a Passmark rating of just about 300, a Pentium Dual core E200 comes in at 1247, a Core 2 Duo E8500 at 2320, a Core 2 Quad Q8300 at 3552, and the new Core i7 860 at a whopping 5526!
As you can see, there is quite a big difference in the passmark scores which generally equates into an equally big difference in how these processors perform and what they will handle, so make sure you take a bit of time and research before you buy. It is much better to spend the few extra $$ to get something that will handle what you want it to do, rather than spending money on something that will just end up frustrating you with its lack of performance. If you are shopping for a new computer in Pensacola FL, or anywhere else for that matter, please research before you buy and remember that the salespeople at the stores are trying to sell you what they have, which is not necessarily what you want or need!
I have spoken to quite a few people recently who have purchased new computer’s, and it seems that many have been somewhat surprised to find that their brand new computer just doesn’t perform as they thought it would. Today, the major retailers are really pushing the entry-level low priced computers, and their advertisements focus on things like hard drive capacity and battery life. Unfortunately, most of these computers come with bargain CPU’s and just aren’t made for any kind of multitasking or even mid-range computer usage.
Sempron, Celeron, Atom, Neo – these are all names of Processors (CPU’s) that are designed to be low power usage (which equates to long battery life in laptops), but they are also low in performance. These processors will balk at multitasking (when you have multiple programs or windows open), and are very slow compared to the newer and much faster multi-core high performance processors which can be found in the mid to higher end computers at prices that really are not that much higher.
Many people tell me that they want a computer that is simply for web browsing, so they don’t need a performance computer. While a computer that is ‘simply’ for web browsing certainly does not need to be a top of the line gaming type machine, many people do not realize that simple web browsing today is much more demanding on a computer than it was even a couple of years ago. Many web sites today rely on multiple technologies to serve up their web pages. When you visit a website, you are not only using the browser, but you are often using many browser plugins (separate programs) such as Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, Java, Quicktime, and others that help deliver the rich media content that we are fast become used to. In order to be able to effectively deliver all this content, you need a processor that is capable of handling it, as well as a good amount of memory (RAM).
So if you are considering a new computer, be aware that the small amount you may save going for the ‘bargain’ machines, will soon be lost in frustration and wasted time. Personally, I would stick with the newer Core 2 Duo/Quad processors, or the brand new i3, i5, and i7 processors for the best experience.
Here in Pensacola Florida, you can often find the best local deals at stores like Best Buy and Office Depot, however the best ‘advertised’ deals (cheapest) are often not the best deals for you. Despite what the seemingly knowing salesperson may say, (never listen to them), you really want a computer that isn’t going to end up frustrating you. The best thing to do is to do a bit of research first and go to the store already knowing what you want.Also, be aware that the retail stores are counting on you wasting money on things like their ‘optimization’ services and security software which is pretty much worthless crap, and the optimization is usually just simple things like removing the trial garbage software and doing the first set of Windows Updates (something you can do for yourself, and should do anyhow, that takes only a few minutes). There is also a newer practice of bundling security software and other things into the base price of the computer (stay away from Nortons, Mcafee etc). Always ask what the price of the computer is Without all the extra garbage!