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BEACON Senior News

Buying a new computer should be more like dating than marriage

May 01, 2018 05:32AM ● By Adam Cochran

Computers are constantly evolving, but in 20 years, my advice for buying a new computer or tech gadget hasn’t changed much.

Adam Cochran of Talking Digital

It’s quite possible that people assume dialing my number is like a Magic 8-Ball for computer questions. They ask a question and the answer magically appears on their phone. The funny thing is the sender rarely identifies him/herself, but I receive these questions so frequently that I rarely inquire about it.

Rather than publish my cell number, read on for my evergreen answer to a frequently asked question: “I need a new computer. What should I buy?”

I stopped thinking about brand, gigahertz, terabytes, RAM and processors a long time ago. Now, I generally classify the elements of a computer in four categories: response speed, thinking speed, storage and pleasantness.

If you’re in the market for a new computer, you’re probably searching for one that’s more responsive when you’re playing games or opening programs, or less laggy when you’re editing photos or movies. Or, perhaps, you need one with more storage for photos and music, or offers amenities you don’t currently have, such as support for a 4K monitor.

My advice for buying a computer can be broken down into three parts

  1. Brand doesn’t matter. Almost all computers you buy off the shelf contain motherboards, RAM, processors and hard drives made by the same manufacturers. A $600 Dell is going to be virtually identical component-wise to a $600 Lenovo.
  2. Almost all computers offer more storage than you will need. Additional hard drive space is very cheap, so don’t buy a new computer because your old one is getting full.
  3. Buy ’em cheap and buy ’em often. Spending more money on a cutting-edge computer will not future-proof your computer. Most computers don’t go obsolete because of age, they go obsolete because technology takes a shift that previous-generation computers can’t keep up with. HDMI, USB-C, DisplayPort, etc. are recent examples of technology that was adopted suddenly and changed the game for everything that was currently on the shelf.

Buying a computer or other tech device should be more like dating than marriage. Rather than buy a more expensive computer you hope will last, buy a lower-end model and plan on replacing it sooner. This advice also applies to tablets, smartphones and most other gadgets.

The purpose of buying a new gadget is to teach you everything you need in the next gadget. In five years, you’ll be shopping for a replacement, so don’t overthink the bells and whistles. Get a machine that will do the job for the price you want to pay and don’t look back.