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
The other day, I was at a local electronics super store here in Pensacola FL, and I couldn’t help overhearing a salesperson talking to a couple about a computer they were looking to buy. This ‘kid’, who was probably 18-20 had absolutley no idea what he was talking about, although the couple he was trying to sell a computer to had no idea that the majority of what he was telling them was utter BS. I always advise people to spend a little time researching before they go out to buy a computer, and to never ever listen to the salespeople in the stores. Not that some of the salespeople aren’t somewhat informed, but seriously, if they knew that much about computers, they wouldn’t be working on the salesfloor. In this case, the couple almost bought a computer based upon information that was totally wrong, all because the employee at this store sounded like he knew what he was talking about, when in reality he knew a few computer ‘words’ without having any idea what they really meant.
For the ‘kid’ who was working there, a few bits of ‘correct’ information so the next time you try to sell someone a computer, you have the right info: an intel Core i3 processor is a dual core processor, NOT a quad core – http://www.intel.com/consumer/products/processors/corei3-specs.htm. Also, 6 GB of DDR3 RAM is NOT equal to 12 GB of DDR2 RAM in terms of speed or performance of the computer, in fact in many benchmarks there is little if any noticeable difference in speed between most consumer DDR2 and DDR3 RAM because while DDR3 RAM runs at a higher speed, it also has higher latency: http://www.breakitdownblog.com/ddr2-800-vs-ddr3-1333-does-speed-matter/.
One other important thing to note if you are buying a computer from a retail store – when you buy certain brand names, like Dell from a retailer, be very careful and wary about what they tell you about the warranty. In most cases, the warranty is handed off to the retail store and is NOT the same as the warranty you would get if you bought the computer direct from the manufacturer. In many cases, if your computer breaks, you have to take it to the retail store for service and are at their mercy and the repairs can often take days to weeks (unlike most normal Dell warranties where they will have a new part shipped, or have a technician to you by the next business day).
If you are in the market for a new computer, check out: Computer Buying Guide at PensacolaComputers.com
Black Friday Sales – all touting super cheap computer deals – but how to tell what is really a deal? Unfortunately, retailers have pulled out all the stops in trying to sell their computers, and along with it, they often pull out some of the important specs. Right now, one of the best processors for comsumer systems is the Intel Core 2 Duo, however this is where it can get confusing. While a Core 2 Duo IS an intel processor, it is NOT a Core 2, nor is it the same as what advertisers tout as an Intel Dual Core, nor is it a Pentium D Dual Core, or Pentium Dual Core.
Advertisers also tout the amount of RAM that a computer has, but often neglect to tell you the actual speed of the RAM, ie: PC-5400 is slower than PC-6400 – they also tout the amount of Video memory, which in reality is nowhere near as important as the type of card – ie: a 1 GB 9200 is magnitudes of order slower than a 512 MB 9800. Generally if a computer has really good specs, they will announce it in all it’s glory : Intel Core 2 Duo – 4 GB DDR3 1066 RAM, 512 MB 9800 GT Video Card, Dual 7200 RMP 5000 GB SATA II Hard Drives etc, as compared to: Dual Core Computer, 2 GB RAM 256 MB Video, 250 GB Hard Drive.
Always, ALWAYS check the full specs on a computer before buying – often you have to get the model number and go to the manufacturers website – don’t rely on the best buy kind of websites to supply the full information as they often neglect to fully mention the specifications.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t some really good deals out there – heck a $200 computer that is just going to be used to surf the internet and basic word processing is still a good deal regardless of the kind of parts it has (as long as it’s new and comes with a one year warranty)