Laptops and computers for the end of 2017

At the heels of the end of the year, we can surely appreciate that we had a lot of great sales. So many indeed, that when I checked right after Christmas most places have sold out, but mainly the cheap laptops, from $200 to $500.

There is a few things to consider here.

  1. The reason why there were so many great deals: This has 2 main reasons for the push
    1. Laptops and computer sale have been declining in the last few years
    2. Intel and AMD have both released new CPUs that are much faster than current model, and vendors need to clear inventory for the new product coming
  2. Most people don’t do much with the computer so anything basic will work.

Ok, so for the first point, I won’t go much into the first point. Tons of journalist have been prognosticating the doom of the computer, which is absolutely bonkers if you ask me, but what do I know? I just work with the things ;).

The NEW CPUs, AMD Ryzen and Intel Core ix 8th Generation. For the Intel part, it mainly adds more cores, so Core i3 will be quad core instead of dual core on most laptops. That alone will give a big boost to laptops performance. AMD Ryzen also packs a lot of cores, in a different way from Intel, and depending on the workload it can be better than Intel. For sure they are cheaper though.

The way Intel CPUs mainly work, is that Intel Core i7-8700 replaces Intel Core i7-7000 for almost the same price (the 8th gen are like $10 more), so for consumers, and OEM it makes more sense to use the new and faster CPU since it costs the same. however it will require new motherboard, which for laptops means working from the ground up pretty much. But the new laptops are coming nonetheless.

This is a bit technical, and I doubt we will see new CPUs in the $300 range in laptops for quite a while, but it did affect how OEM (Dell, Asus, Lenovo, HP) were trying hard to sell everything.

This will have a bigger impact on gaming laptops. They are forced to use the power hungry quad cores with HQ definition, it would stand to reason that now they could use lower power, and price CPU to power the same video card.

All of this is nice and good to know, but the most interesting part is the second point, which is mixed a little with 1.a.

Most people think basic needs requires a basic computer. And while this is generally speaking right, it is not accurate. It depends on what you define as basic.

For example, there is nothing basic about Facebook, YouTube, Netflix, Pandora and other content streaming, or high updates. Even news websites are becoming increasingly complex and heavy. Because computers get faster, websites content has increased, and how we use the computer has also increased.

So, what is basic usage. Mainly it would be business like use, and only that. Remote Access to programs and computers (RDP, Citrix, etc), internal portals and webapps, some of the email usage (not all, some is also increasing with added chat, and other functions to it), an accounting program or Point of sale.

The problem is that most business use also Facebook, some people stream Pandora or Spotify, they might watch Netflix on a break or downtime.

I have seen Facebook use as much as 6GB of memory on Chrome on my desktop. Gmail also will use a few GB after a few days opened.

So, now how do we define basic? Well, I would say you can use a basic computer if you turn it on, work on it for an hour or two and then turn it off.

For example, you turn it on to check your email, or write an email response using a keyboard (instead of trying to reply from your phone), or do a web call (even with video), check a recipe, or just watch a movie. Basically, use the computer for a single task at a moment, and then turn it off.

At this point you might be puzzled on why would you need a computer for that. Well, you can use a tablet, and that is the point. Laptops are now at the same price as tablets, but after more versatile, and in some cases faster. IF YOU LIMIT HOW YOU USE IT!!

You can’t buy a $200 laptop thinking you will use it for Facebook here or there, or Netflix and then have a tab with Facebook, another with Netflix, and your Gmail running in the background, and have it all day running.

The Operative System (OS) in your tablet and phone, works with 1 task at a time, often putting the other task to sleep, or using minimal resources (Edge, Firefox 52+ and Chrome, now do something similar when possible). It is a simple concept, but one I see a lot of people that fail to comprehend and then get frustrated with their new cheap laptop rather quickly.

If the idea sounds confusing and complicated, then you are honestly better served if you have a tablet, and a more expensive computer. When I say more expensive I mean in the $1000+.

That is one of the reasons why people think MacBook are better. The cheapest MacBook Pro starts at $2000 (only Pro have quad core), and the cheapest MacBook Air starts at $999 (for dual core).

Quite honestly, there isn’t a lot of margin for Apple in the hardware sale, so to have the same computer in Windows it costs the same or more. So most people miss the point when they compare a Windows laptop with a MacBook because they compare a $600 Windows laptop to a $2000 MacBook.

If you insist in comparing, then you need to look at the Microsoft Surface line. It is aimed for that, with the Surface Laptop 2 competing against the MacBook Pro, and the Surface Pro compering against the MacBook (not the air).

If you think a Surface Pro is too much money, then a Apple is too much money too.

These expensive devices will do anything “basic” that you want to run (except for storage), so that is not the problem. It is only a problem when you go too basic with the computer, but not with your limitations.

I use a Surface Pro 3, with a Core i5 4th Gen. It is a bit older than 3 years, but it works excellent, but I also use a Dell Venue Pro tablet, and a Lenovo Lynx tablet (with the docking keyboard). Both were found to be unacceptable by the people that used them before me. However, that was because they were asking too much from the device. With the limitations in mind, they work perfectly for me. I use the Lynx to have my email always open. Instead of dedicating a monitor to email, I dedicate a whole Hybrid tablet. The Dell Venue Pro, I use to look up stuff online, or Facebook (I don’t like Facebook on my desktop because it is a black whole where I can waste hours).

It went a little longer than I originally intended, but the reason is that it is hard to go over concepts that are in the peoples mind, and it is not standardized. If I were writing only for IT people I can make it short, or if I was writing only for users I could remove other technical parts. But I intended both, and hopefully I get at least 1 person to re-think the next purchase.

2017 closed with a lot of deals, and they were awesome deals, none that I would personally recommend to anyone though, because most people don’t understand how they will use their computers and more powerful computers are coming soon. Buyers, buy with care, and be honest about what you want, otherwise you might be a computer that in less than a year will be gathering dust somewhere in your house.

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