Today’s post is written a 9″ Acer Aspire One netbook (remember those?) that is probably about 4 years old. I bought it as a travel computer and it’s come in handy more than few times, but never more so than in the last 24 hours. If you notice some words missing a “c” it’s because most of the time it doesn’t register the first 3 times I type it.
Yesterday my main computer, a Dell 16XPS died on me. By dying, the computer gave me beep codes which I hadn’t heard of before. That’s the computer’s way of saying, “Things are so bad, that I can’t even put an error on the screen.” I took it to GeekSquad and they gave me an option of sending it out to get a quote on repair and getting a new computer. I wonder if anyone really answers with, “Yeah, I don’t need a computer or access to all the data that was on there for week or two. Why don’t you take it and then tell me that it will cost me 50% of a new computer to fix this outdated computer?” I’m guessing not too many.
So today, I bought a new computer to replace that one that is probably between 2 to 2.5 years old. Every time I’ve bought a new computer, I always was able to upgrade thanks to Moore’s Law. I’ve usually saved myself a little money too. This purchase feels a little different. My old computer had the following improvements over my new one:
- A spacious 16″ screen vs. a cramped 13.3 inch screen
- 4GB of extra memory
- 200GB of hard drive space
- An Intel i7-core processor vs. an Intel i5-core processor
- A $999 price tag vs. a $1100 one
- A DVD-RW drive vs. no optical drive at all
So two years later I managed to downgrade a number of critical components and spend more money. Good job Lazy Man, right?
Well, the new computer has a few things going for it. It’s an Asus U31Xa (rolls right off the tongue) Ultrabook. Despite all those minuses above, it has a super fast SSD hard drive, USB 3.0, a really long battery life (6+ hours according to most), and a weight of 3 pounds, which isn’t too far off what HP Touchpad tablet weighs with its case. Oh and that i5-core processor today is about 3 times faster than the i7 that I had before according to Passmark benchmarks.
The biggest downside is that I got the bad luck of the draw with the much slower Sandisk SSD vs. the Adata SSD. It will still be faster than what I had previously.
I would have paid extra for 8GB of memory and an i7, but while Asus claims to make it on their website, they aren’t available in any store online that I could find. In fact no one seems to make all that with a touch screen. The Acer S7 is pretty close with almost everything that I want, except that the cover is glass, which just doesn’t seem durable. It’s also another $500 or so. Vizio makes some good 14 and 15″ “thin and light” computers that seem impressive, but I’ve read bad things about the touchpad and keyboard.
Manufacturers are just starting to come out with touchscreens to work with Windows 8. Also, SSD prices are expected to drop dramatically this year. Until that happens computer makers are going with hybrid drives where the operating system is on a fast SSD, but the data is on slower old fashioned hard drives. In an attempt to keep costs low, they are also going with 4GB of memory instead of 8GB.
All of this adds up to why I didn’t want to buy a computer at this time. There’s really never a good time to buy a computer and be future-proofed, but this is a particularly poor time. Maybe for back to school or Black Friday this year, you’ll start seeing cheaper prices on several components hit the stores.
I’m off to think about getting a big SD card for the slot to work as a second drive. Hit me up in the comments with what I should tell my wife when the 14″, i7, 256GB SSD, 8GB memory, 3.2lb Ultrabook goes on sale for $999 later this year.