Should I buy a desktop or a laptop for my next computer? To further complicate this question, choose between laptops, note books, net books and tablets. All these options have their place depending on your wants, needs and wallet. But for this column I’ll focus on the laptop versus desktop question by first saying that maybe you want/need both. You can buy one of each today for what you paid for a just a desktop five years ago.
Let’s begin with how you use your computer(s) and what you expect. If you do word processing, spreadsheets, picture editing and the like, you’ll be better served with a desktop. Prices are down substantially for desktops and the cost of really big and eye pleasing monitors continues to drop. Picture editing or any kind of graphics work just works better on a big screen with really good resolution. If you are big into graphics, splurge on a powerful graphics card for your desktop and on your monitor. If you are doing what I call work at a computer, you’ll want a comfortable work space and chair and good lighting to go along with that desktop.
The portability of a laptop is wonderful, one of the main selling points. My wife often surfs the Web on her laptop while I’m reading a book at the end of a day. You can check your email and surf while you’re watching the news. If you are doing real work on a laptop, I still recommend finding a comfortable work space and even adding a keyboard and mouse if it makes you more productive.
Just remember to get portability you need a WiFi network, which requires adding a router. You will still receive your Internet signal through a modem (usually DSL or Cable) which connects to your router, then sends the WiFi to your wireless devices as well as provides direct cable connection to your desktop. Go ahead and spring for the router if you are able. You’ll be able to use a wireless printer with it, read from a Kindle and play with your kids’ iPad.
If you only read emails and surf the web, a laptop may be ideal for you. If you are on the go a lot, then one of the more portable solutions like a tablet may be your cup of tea. iPads are wonderful devices, but at $499 and up you may want to consider whether this is a fashion or a practical purchase. For most households, a tablet or even a notebook would be an add-on, maybe a second or third computing device.
As I’m writing this column, I noticed our kitten has found the top of our router to be toasty warm. He is curled up with his head and paws sleeping in quiet contentment. Seems he was attracted by the flashing lights, but enjoys the heat. One of those serendipitous by-products of modern technology I guess. In the old days our kitties loved to curl up on the top of an old CRT type monitor; the flat screens took that favored perch away.
Prices are good right now, go ahead and buy that new computer.