Limbo

Coming from a world with 300 baud modems, I appreciate every technological speed improvement that comes along. Each time I have replaced a computer, PDA or phone, the expectation has always been that it will be faster than it’s predecessor. While my financial situation has changed somewhat, I still try to purchase the best I can afford, knowing that I will be rewarded with increased speed, better performance, and typically a longer life cycle/resale value. My new 3rd gen, i7 desktop for example, meets all of the above criteria (for now at least).

As many that have purchased a new Windows 8 machine, or upgraded an existing computer to Windows 8 Pro already know, this new OS is lean. My Pentium 4 – 3GHz office PC went from being “barely tolerable” to “more than acceptable” with a Win 8 upgrade. So I was a bit disappointed last week when a co-worker brought in her spanking new Toshiba C855D 15.6” Windows 8 Laptop and I spent more time waiting than doing in the few hours with the machine. You see, this is an entry level laptop, with a 1.4GHz AMD E1 Dual-Core Processor and 4GB of DDR3 RAM. Sure, you can watch a video on Netflix or browse the Web, but don’t open more than a few applications, or allow Windows to try and update your machine, while you try to do something else. Anything else actually. Loading an application suite like Office, or even updating Windows Defender, and you better plug in the charger cause it’s going to take a while. I was hoping that Windows 8 would not offer any of these poor experiences, but as the OEMs fight for the cellar, I guess these bargain machines will always be around. Reality is though rather than rating PC selections as; Good, Better, Best, a more appropriate reference would be; Unbearable, Better, Best. And the other reality is while being perceived as offering affordable computers, these low end machines actually give Windows a bad rap, with comments like; slow, laggy, freezes up, etc. Something that Apple never has to deal with.

Here is what the Toshiba C855D-S5340 1.4GHz scores:

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And here is my Asus S200e VivoBook 1.8GHz (3rd Gen i3) score;

Asus_Score

Amazing what 0.4GHz can do for your processor. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the i7 desktop scores an 8.1. But that’s a whole different league.

Having had an accountant for an older brother I usually depreciate pretty much everything I buy; an 8 pack of paper towels for example that I might use over a four week period. And yes, computers and other tech stuff. Looking at this C855D compared to a more tolerable Toshiba L955S5360 with a 3rd Gen i3 – 1.8Ghz Processor, same 4GB of RAM, screen size and a slightly larger HD, the price difference is $160 ($389 vs. $549). Assuming a two year life, which is all I can expect from the bargain machine, that difference in price comes out to $0.22 per day, or a tad over $1.50 a week, to enjoy a significant performance improvement, and most likely a longer usable life and a higher resale value. I realize that $160 can make a big difference in some people’s lives (mine included), but if you can’t swing the extra bucks right now for a proper PC, maybe buying a used machine for $75, or living with what you have a little longer, would be a better plan than going for one of these bottom dwellers.

And if you simply can’t justify that new Windows 8 PC right now, try this for inspiration; $549 PC, with an expected resale value of $100 after 3 years. $549 – $100 = $449. Break that down into 3 years and you are looking at $0.41 a day, or $2.87 a week, for cost of ownership. Less than the price of that bag of chips in the company vending machine, right? And healthier. Of course, you get what you pay for (usually), so a power user with a $549 laptop will be disappointed sooner or later. The focus here though is on entry level, light/moderate use machines.

ChristmasWonder2

If you already have one of these underperformers wrapped and ready to go, I urge you to exchange it rather than making excuses for it on Christmas Day. And if you are lucky enough (depending on how you look at it) to get one of these from Grandma or sweet Aunt Lucy, adore them with hugs and kisses, but make sure to GET THE RECEIPT, and save the packaging materials. You know, just in case there is a problem. Throw in some extra cash and pick up a proper machine the next day. No one will ever know.

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