Monday, October 24, 2016

Cheap Computer Options: Laptop vs. Tablet vs. 2-in-1 vs. Chromebook

What To Do About A Slow Computer

Here I am waiting for the screen to update on my ancient computer...

Skeleton using a slow computer
My Computer is So Slow...
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

My first dilemma was figuring out how to spell "dilemma"...

But the real dilemma I am facing is what to do about my aging laptop computer.  I bought it in 2008, or maybe 2007.  It was so long ago that I don't remember.  It sports an Intel Centrino processor and runs Windows Vista.  I don't think runs is the right word, it is limping Windows Vista.  I have kept it going for so long by keeping the hard disk optimized, cleaning up the Windows registry, sweeping for malware, and keeping my anti-virus software up-to-date.

Recently I started getting warnings from my Chrome browser that Windows Vista is no longer supported and Chrome will no longer be updated.  This means that any newly discovered security vulnerabilities will not be fixed.

Even before this news about Vista no longer being supported, I was thinking about getting a different computer.  It takes almost forever to scroll down a page.  I sometimes get out my phone and read articles while waiting for the browser page on my laptop to scroll down.  I replaced the battery about 5 years ago, but this battery is now down to about 5 minutes of capacity after unplugging.

I mentioned that I look at web pages on my Android phone because it is a lot faster than my computer.  I even bought a $20 Bluetooth keyboard so I could use my phone as a sort of home-made Chromebook.  I have written several blog posts and even one of my articles on Wise Bread using my phone.  I like the portability and long battery life of my phone, but the screen is quite small.

Here are some options I am considering to solve my computer dilemma:

Option 1: Do nothing.  Sometimes not expending time and effort is the best option.  I have gotten this far with my old computer, why change now?  This option would cost nothing, but I would be left trudging along with a very old computer (see photo above).

Option 2: Switch to my phone.  I mentioned that my $20 Bluetooth keyboard with my Android phone works pretty well, except for the small screen.  I could just stop using my computer and use my phone/keyboard combo instead.  This is another zero cost option since I already have the keyboard.  But the screen on my phone is so small that I think my productivity would take a hit.

Details about how I made a "Chromebook" for $20.

Option 3: Get a Chromebook.  A Chromebook is a laptop that runs Android operating system.  It is basically like a tablet with a permanent keyboard.  Chromebooks have a small solid state memory rather than a spinning hard drive.  This makes Chromebooks better able to survive being dropped, but the storage capacity is much less than with a hard drive. The cost is under $200.

Chromebooks are also known as "netbooks" because they use cloud storage and apps running from the Internet in a Chrome browser window rather than having everything installed locally.  If you are interested in basic e-mail and web surfing, this may be the lowest cost option.

Option 4: Get an Android tablet.  For around $150, I could get a 10 inch tablet that would be a lot bigger than the screen on my phone.  I could use my existing Bluetooth keyboard with the new tablet.  My biggest concern with this option is that the relatively low memory and processing capability of an inexpensive tablet would quickly become obsolete.  My very cheap 7 inch Android tablet that I bought a few years ago ended up hanging on the wall of my garage running a clock app because it was too slow for much else.  It makes a nice clock, though...

Android Tablet Wall Clock
My Android Tablet Wall Clock
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Option 5: Get a 2-in-1.  What's a 2-in-1?  This is a relatively new computer form factor that is essentially a laptop computer with a touch screen that allow it to function as a tablet computer too.  You can use it like a laptop, or you can flip the screen completely flat against the back of the keyboard and use it like a thick tablet.  Some models have detachable keyboards- Microsoft Surface is one such model.

Many of these 2-in-1 machines have powerful processors, abundant RAM, and run Windows 10.  I like the idea of being able to run the same types of software that I can run on my laptop now, but the price tag runs $500 to over $1,000 depending on the processor, memory, and screen quality.  The surface has a stylus so you can write on the screen which is cool, but I am not sure how much I would really use that feature.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Option 6: Get a newer Windows laptop.  I could skip the touch screen and just get a simple Windows 10 laptop with plenty of memory and processing power for what I do for around $500.

So what is the best option to replace an outdated computer?

I haven't made up my mind about my computer dilemma yet.  As I was typing this on my old laptop, I wanted to open up one of my articles to find a picture, but gave up after 5 minutes of waiting for the screen to load.  Option 1 isn't looking good...

Since I do make income blogging with my computer, I wouldn't feel too bad about spending a little money to boost productivity.  Stay tuned to find out how I resolve my computer dilemma!

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1 comment:

  1. Unless you're staring down the barrel at a motherboard issue, the most likely scenario is that your computer just needs better software. You could replace Windows with Ubuntu Linux for free, and easily get another few years out of your computer. If you can follow a recipe, you can install Linux, and that'll allow you to pinch a few more pennies!


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