I have seen a dramatic difference in the types of computer that I repair in the past couple of years. It used to be that I would work on a couple laptops a month, and that was about it. Now about a third of the computers I work on are laptops or notebooks.
I know this is due to the convenience of laptops, and the biggest reason is the price has come way down on laptops and notebooks and many people have been buying them in the past couple of years. It used to be common to pay $1500 for a good laptop, and now you can get the same laptop for $800 or less.
The industry used to talk about the sub $1,000 PC market, then the sub $500 market, now full sized home PCs can be found for a couple hundred bucks.
The problem with both laptops and PCs are that for the cheap price, the computers are cheaply made. They are skimping on parts and not only cheap parts, but many lack any upgradeability. They really do become disposable products that last a year or two and then they are done.
There are some newer models on the market that you will soon be seeing, if you have not already. They have their positives and their negatives.
These little tykes have been around for a while, but they are starting to hit the market heavy, and watch out, they are coming your way.
These are little computers, smaller than the size of a laptop, and a screen attached, and some even have the keyboard attached. There have been these all-in-One computers since the 70′s, and there is always some people that buy them, but it seems they are pushing them hard now.
The new line of All-in-Ones use the Intel Atom processor, which is an interesting chip. The computer really does not have a lot of power, and is not really made to run a bunch of software. It is made to use on the Internet. Browsing the internet, watching Youtube, sending email, and maybe a game of solitaire. They usually include USB ports and wireless.
For some people, this is all they need. But beware that they are not made to run any kind of graphic intense software, and some will not run much more than surfing and emailing.
Some of these machines do not even have CD/DVD Roms included with them. The systems are what you get out of the box, and that is pretty much it. If you want to install your super fun game, good luck.
Another thing some of the makers of these computers are doing is using more of a memory chip or a hard drive without moving parts. The drives are much smaller, and you really can’t store much on these machines. Some are still sporting good old fashioned hard drives, but usually smaller in size like 160GB.
Notice I said NETbooks and not NOTEbooks. Netbooks are very small compact computers using much the same type of inexpensive make-up of the All-in-Ones, where you get what you get, and you cannot upgrade them.
They are made for surfing and emailing. But they are tiny, nice to carry in a backpack or big purse or toss in the car. They have very small screens, very small keyboards, and are lightweight. These usually have wireless built in and several USB Ports also.
Some of these netbooks are as low as $299. But you do have to be careful. Some come with Linux Installed. Linux is really cool, but you do have to know a bit more, and one usually has to do more things manually and look for new drivers for everything. Linux can be a hassle and intimidating for the average user.
Some of the models are available with XP, since it does not hog up a bunch of memory like the newer Vista does.
I think that both of these will fill important needs, especially for those who only want to do a little Surfing and emailing and not much else.
Shades of Web TV
This is a lot like the old days of the WEB TV. This was intended for the older crowd so you could surf and email from your TV. There were a lot of problems with it, including back then the dial up speed, but also everything had to be sized special for WebTVs smaller screen size.
Even though it was a cool idea, it really never took off. Using the TV as your computer screen is still not too popular amongst the average computer user, but it still has a lot of cool advantages.
The death of the PC as we know it?
One article I read recently was titled, “Death of the PC?” and I had to laugh. It may be changing, but it is not going away as we know it. There are billions of PCs in homes, and they are here to stay for a while, and I do not see an instant change. Maybe over time computers will all be disposable, but I don’t see it happening for years.
I worked at Diamond Multimedia in Albany, formerly Supra. We made Dial up modems. When I started they still made 14400 baud modems (ok, That makes me old) but over time it went to 28800, and 33.6 and then 56k.
Back around 2000 they kept predicting that the dial up modem would be dead in a year or two. Everyone want broadband is what the marketing experts said. Well, they are still alive and kicking, and they are making the same ones 10 years later – Click here to see.
When I worked with Valnet and Peak Internet, I was shocked at how many people still use dial-up. Some people are just stuck out on rural areas, especially where we live, and just do not have much choice. But that goes to show you, the “experts” are not always right.
I think these cheap, basic computers have their place and work great for some people. But the good ol’ configurable, changeable, upgradable PC is still alive, and not going anywhere soon.
Don’t put your PC in the closet yet, it still has a few years of service left!