Welcome back from the long break, loyal readers! I thought today I would answer a question I get asked all the time, “What is the best kind of computer to buy?” A lot of times people are torn between brand names and form factors, so its worth going over.
Desktop Computers are the traditional Personal Computer with a tower and a monitor with a keyboard and mouse connected. The brains of the computer are stored in the case, which is sometimes small enough to fit under your monitor. Other times, its big enough to sit on the floor next to your computer. I’ve heard this called a desktop computer, a PC, a computer, a workstation, or a tower. I like this form factor for more stationary computer users. The case gives you some room to grow with upgrades and also allows you to add new internal devices. You usually get more USB ports and more options on a stand-alone computer. You can change out the monitor from a small LCD screen to an HDTV if you like, so these make nice Home Theater computers. These are the types of computers I build, so I might be kind of biased, but I like to build a machine that is upgradable, or future-proof, so the user gets a longer-lasting computer. I’ve got some of these in the field that have been in production for 6 years and still run like a champ. Desktop computers pack the most punch for the money.
The downside of a Desktop PC is that it is not portable, which makes it harder to move around. You have the hassle of rounding up all the wires and moving them to the new location. You also have to make sure the new location is online accessible, with an ethernet port for Internet access. Also, you have to find a place on or next to your desk to keep the computer which takes up more space. Then there are the cords running across your desktop that you have to deal with. A desktop can seriously trigger some anxiety in people that can’t stand cables or wires, so I try to cable tie them and do cable management as much as possible.
A new kind of computer folks are buying now is the All-In-One PC. This is where you have a nice big LCD monitor and that’s it! You plug in the keyboard and mouse into the screen and start surfing the Internet or watching YouTube. The upside is that you probably don’t have as many cables and wires stretching across your desk. Sometimes these are touchscreen, like with the HP Touchsmart. Other times, they may be totally wireless, even with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, like Apple’s new iMac.
The downside of this kind of computer is that they are essentially laptops shoved into a monitor, so you don’t get as much processing power, hard disk read and write speed, or room to grow. Plus, the upgrading will be a lot more labor intensive, since it requires some disassembly. This will probably discourage your average techie user, who likes to upgrade his own hardware. It could also lead to thermal problems, if the system isn’t maintained properly, since the unit resides in one space. It could get hot and cause major problems for the components inside, since computers don’t like to be hot. That being said, I think the All-In-One computers are pretty cool, look very futuristic, and are probably the way the computer market is going for desktops. This is a great computer for a college student who doesn’t have much room in their dorm.
The last kind of computer I’m going to mention is the laptop. These have been around since the 1990′s and have gotten a lot more powerful. The battery life for laptops has gotten much better lately, with battery life being stretched to up to 8 hours now. The screens look great and are very bright and I’ve not heard of any batteries melting or blowing up lately, so that’s good. Laptops are the traditional mobile PC. They go with you, so they’re good for mobile offices that have to work on the road. AT&T and Verizon both have good wireless usb cards that give you internet anywhere, so you office can now be literally anywhere you have signal, should you need internet to work. The best thing about laptops is that you can sit and watch TV while surfing the web. As a kid of the 80′s and 90′s I can’t get enough visual stimulation, and a laptop while watching TV is plenty. You can also use your house’s wireless network to get online anywhere in your house, which is very convenient and eliminates having to pull wires through your house for internet access (you can make a desktop wireless too, but that’s a different blog post).
The down side of laptops is the same downside of All-In-One’s: they are pretty much what they are when you get them. They might have some small room for upgrade, but laptops generally have a shorter lifespan than desktops. They are often jostled around a lot, especially if they are frequently moved. This is bad for the hard drive and can cause data loss, so backup is still critical. Its hard to schedule midnight backups on a computer that is mobile too, since its usually off if no one is using it. Also, laptops are more prone to thermal issues, because they may be used on a bed or even the occasional lap, so they get hot and can burn up and stop working. Despite all this, its still nice to have the option of using a computer on the road and, next to your smart phone, your only option.
- If you’re stationary, get a Desktop PC.
- If you’re mobile, get a Laptop.
- If you can’t stand cables or tangled wires, get an All-In-One PC
We can help you make this decision and also help you find the best deal. Plus once you get it, we can clean off all the gunk and marketing campaigns that come on most new computers. We can fix all three types of these computers, Apple or PC. Rest assured, whatever type of computer you buy, GetMorePC can help fix it or upgrade it in the future.
Daniel Buchanan is a local IT Consultant and runs GetMorePC. He writes blog posts and articles that he hopes are helpful to his present and potential customers, as well as anyone affected by computer technology. Daniel Buchanan has 16 years experiencing fixing computers and networking. GetMorePC was started in 2004 in Knoxville, TN and now has two offices, one in Fountain City and one in downtown Knoxville.