In the market for a computer? Plenty of options [Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA)]
(Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Question: Dear PropellerHeads, I need a computing makeover. Can you make me feel pretty?
Answer: Despite being weirded-out by your question, I think we can help you find just the right thing to make you feel, um, pretty.
In the good old days, buying a computer involved choosing a brand of desktop that you trusted, selecting a handful of options and breaking out the credit card.
Today's computing market is much different. Do you go for a desktop, laptop, tablet or dare I say "phablet?"
Desktop PCs are seen as the dinosaur of computing by many, but offer a lot when it comes to affordability, versatility and power. A consumer on a budget can find a machine that will take care of virtually any work you throw at it.
Desktops allow for a high level of customization for DIY-ers who wish to go after the best video cards, peripherals, etc. This means a longer overall shelf life for these products compared to the other items in this article.
While certain PC upgrades can get pricey, you tend to get more bang for your buck with these machines. The downside of desktops is the obvious lack of portability, which is a trade-off many casual users aren't willing to make.
Desktops tend to work well for hardcore gamers, graphic designers, programmers or households looking for an inexpensive machine that's easy to upgrade.
Laptops solve the portability problem. They come in a variety of sizes and are becoming thinner and lighter to the point that even the largest ones aren't that burdensome to carry.
Netbooks became popular during the last decade or so because of their small footprint and light weight, but have largely disappeared because they were too small for normal productivity use and the introduction of tablets into the market.
A majority of laptops have around a 15-inch to 17-inch screen to handle business uses as well as media. Most laptops are capable of handling the same heavy lifting as desktops, but are more prone to obsolescence due to the difficulty in upgrading them.
Other than expanding memory and installing a larger hard drive, most of the DIY activity can be complicated.
Additionally, powerful laptop upgrades, like advanced graphics cards for gaming, tend to be expensive.
Laptops work best for those that need real computing power but place a premium on portability. If you work from home, are a student or don't have a lot of room for a dedicated desktop PC, a laptop might be right for you.
The new kid on the block is the tablet PC. Tablets introduced a more intuitive way to navigate computers.
Both the very young and elderly have adopted this technology for online browsing, social networking and media. In most households this makes up a majority of PC use, and because tablets are geared toward making access to these functions simple, it's no surprise they've taken off so quickly.
Thanks to competition, prices have gotten to the point that they're competitive to most laptop and desktop PCs.
That lower price tag does come with some drawbacks. Other than software updates, there's no real option for upgrades, which means a higher risk of obsolescence.
Also, while there are some great productivity apps out there for managing documents, graphic design and other more advanced computing, this is an area that requires a lot of development.
You can get by with the right apps and a little patience, but your efficiency will suffer, making it an unsuitable replacement for a PC.
Another option is the recently booming phablet market.
Phablets are small tablets (or large smart phones) that make the already portable tablet even easier to carry.
The smaller footprint and lighter weight make it easier to use without a stand for extended periods.
Tablets and phablets are best suited for those who want maintenance-free, easy access to the Web, social media and all other electronic media for viewing/listening.
They are not recommended as a primary PC for people who have more need for document creation, graphic design or programming.
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