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What’s the definition of insanity again?


Oh, that’s right.

Last week a reporter from The Verge shared a personal dilemma with her readers. Her parents had gone through three (sub-$400) Windows laptops over the past two years that broke down for one reason or another. She was looking for a replacement that would meet Mom’s needs. Like with most Moms, the device would need to; browse the Web, login to Facebook, send/receive email and maybe work with documents. Not much more than that. One absolute requirement though was that the replacement could not cost more than $400. The reporter happened to have a Toshiba Satellite NB15T Netbook and Toshiba Chromebook for review and decided to do a bit of a showdown. It should be noted the the reporter admitted; she uses a MacBook, and she was very familiar with all the Google services. Being a Verge story, I don’t need to go any further. By now Mom is working through the Chromebook learning curve. Good luck with that.

Toshiba NB15TToshiba Chromebook

Now, what the loving daughter should have done was stop the insanity after the second laptop failure, and replaced it with something expected to last more than a year. Aside from the ASUS notebook I picked up on a whim, all of my laptops and notebooks, including my first; a Toshiba in 1995, cost in excess of $2000. And aside from routine hard drive replacements, they all lasted from 4 to 10 years, and still had value when I parted with them. Even that beasty 1.5” thick Toshiba. None ever need service. You get what you pay for.

Noting the temporary insanity after the second failure, Mom would have been better served this time around with maybe a Yoga 11S, despite her insisting that she did not want a tablet. Touch screen, maybe 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and an i5 or i7 4th Gen Processor. And a subscription to Webroot for sure. Mom would have been in PC heaven (figuratively only) for the next three years. And when she did warm up to the idea of a tablet, she would already have one. I know, $800 vs. $400. But this is a pay me now or pay me later thing, isn’t it. Already spent $1000-$1200 in the past two years and the Chromebook was going to add another $299. Right? Said daughter could have convinced Mom that it was a review model she got discounted through the office. That would have been a nice thing, and the right thing, to do.

With that said, and without going too far off topic, why is Microsoft always the bad guy when talking about these sub-$300/$400 laptops? It’s the OEMs who make this crap, that gives Windows a bad reputation. Microsoft could raise the minimum standards for PCs but OEMs would never tolerate that. They like selling you a new machine a few weeks after the warranty expires on the last one. To them, that’s good business. And they wonder why PC sales are down. And why iPad sales went through the roof. And why Chromebooks are beginning to garner some interest. What I want to know is how Home Depot can get away with selling you a Ryobi Reciprocating Saw for $89, when down the block you can buy a Porter Cable TigerSaw for about $179. They both work. By that I mean with the Ryobi, you can struggle, teeth chattering,  cutting through your work, like Smyth with his Web Apps, or Simmons with his Chromebooks. Or you can let the TigerSaw do the work for you, like cutting butter with a hot knife. And 10 or 20 years from now, that TigerSaw will still be out in your garage, ready to do its job. Time to stop the insanity.

Poter Cable Tiger SawRyobi Saw

I think this sums it up.