So You’d Like to Buy a New Computer?

I originally posted this as a note on facebook, but then I thought that jesush could use the content. The computer I link to is no longer available, but deals of its ilk–fairly powerful refurbed machines–show up on a woot site at least once a month lately.

Some of my friends have been in the market for a new computer.

I recommend you go get a Gateway Media Center PC with Intel Core 2 Quad Processor right now. Here is a solid post outlining the reasons why. Then go visit 23″ LCD Computer Monitor, Logitech Wireless Keyboard/Mouse and buy that too.

When you get the computer screw around with it for as much as you can for a week. If something breaks, return it. If nothing has broken by then, your machine should essentially match the reliability of a brand-new machine over its life. For $650 you have a very future-proofed machine with premium monitor and wireless keyboard/mouse. Delete all the stupid crap the manufacturer puts on the system, install avg free for antivirus, upgrade to windows 7 (this machine may qualify for a free license–I’m not clear on that) when available, and don’t do anything dumb like run Microsoft communication products and you’re golden. If you decide you want to game, the upgrade path to gaming rig is a better power supply and a recent video card. Both are simple to install and have many reasonably-priced options to choose from at any time.

If you are a Linux Bigot, you are my spiritual brother (or sister) but I think it’s time to admit the configuration and operation of a Linux machine for desktop use is not an efficient use of the average person’s time.

The Windows UI is better, and it’s also much more widely known. There’s a ton of built-in familiarity with the Windows interface in the market and those people shouldn’t learn how another OS works if they don’t have the native interest to do so. They’ll be wasting their time deciphering the differences in behaviour from what they’ve been conditioned to expect with Windows when they’re not scouring the net for drivers.

As far as I can tell, Linux is not an efficient use of my time either. I am a computer geek who uses Unix and Linux most of the time at the day job. I recently had to re-install the latest build of Ubuntu five times on a machine before it ran stably. I would expect a more sensible computer user would have considered the value of their time and decided to stop wasting hours and drop a hundred bucks on a Windows license by that point.

There’s a lot of good free or cheap software on Windows these days. I don’t have a penny of Microsoft product on this machine other than the OS.

Alternately, you could spend a lot more and buy a mac.

4 thoughts on “So You’d Like to Buy a New Computer?”

  1. I’ve bought 5 HP NC6220’s for myself and friends by now. Wireless G, DVD burner. Small solid, low spec machine. Average price $220 with shipping.

  2. Any advice for a laptop that will be primarily used for Internet access and watching videos? Owner would be a spunky but very low-tech Vietnamese mom. (No, it’s not for me)!

  3. Andres, laptop computers are what people use when real computers are unavailable.

    Vivan, I’ve had fairly good luck with cheapo Dell laptops. Michelle and I have thinkpads at the office. They’re very nice but more expensive.

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