Byte Me Article 404 – Consumer beware

Another article in the A-Z of computer purchase, today we look at some design pitfalls that should be dodged.  First and foremost are the range of sometimes called hybrid or 2-in-one laptops that offer a screen that is detachable from the base of the laptop.  These devices proport to offer the features of a laptop when together and the convenience of a tablet when separated.  In truth they are a disaster.

Separating the screen from the base in the above devices also separates the main storage from the screen.  If you have pointed the user libraries to the main storage, then Windows will have a fit and you are also separating yourself from all your normal documents and photos – these are not a good solution for this reason.  

Along the same lines as the above we often see laptop devices and some desktops that offer a small fast SSD as the primary drive and a larger mechanical drive as a secondary main storage device.  In these cases, the user libraries are always still pointed to the small primary.  We see it time and again that this small primary drive has filled up and yet the secondary has simply just been along for the ride and is still completely empty.

Having multiple internal drives or even multiple partitions is more for advanced users or for computers that are initially setup by an IT professional.  As a result, we prefer to recommend a single hard drive for most users and preferably a SSD drive.  It also makes more sense to be keeping your important data on an SSD drive which is also 10 times more reliable than a mechanical drive.

Another buyer trap is being talked into the purchase of a laptop or desktop with a dedicated video card, when the intended use is nothing to do with gaming.  Dedicated video cards will help do rendering on a very few select photo editors and will help heaps with shoot-em-up games.  They will not help even 1% with Internet browsing, YouTube watching, DVD watching, emails, Word, Excel or even viewing photos.

In the above situation a dedicated video card will only add expense and another point of failure, extra power consumption and extra heat production in a desktop or laptop as well as adding extra weight and shorter battery life in a laptop.  Again, a salesperson can have a field day telling you that you must have one of these when in fact it can only hamper from every aspect!

I have also noticed some manufacturers advertising 20GB of system memory in budget systems.  Again, this is very misleading as it consists of only 4GB of RAM and 16GB of Intel Optane memory.  These are not the same and are not an effective replacement for 8GB of proper RAM.  The ideal is 8GB of RAM and an SSD in which case the Optane memory is of no use.  If you must have a mechanical HDD, then you still need 8GB of RAM but also having the Optane memory will then help with speeds.

The last but probably most important thing to consider is warranty and this is where it can get complicated.  Most consumer grade devices offer a 12-month warranty whereby you have to box it up and send it away to Brisbane or Sydney and wait 4 to 8 weeks for a repair.  Prior to sending you should also get a complete backup of your files – something that can be difficult when the device has stopped working!  We will look at warranties in more detail next week.  Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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