Everyday Computing Options
The most common question in tech support is what’s the best budget device for everyday computing. However, today’s market offers some compelling options that go beyond a humble, basic Windows PC or laptop.
Most users need 5 main things from their portable device…
- Internet Browsing and Social Networking
- Photo management
Read on for a review of some current options.
Budget Windows laptops [under $800] have significant compromises. Basic processors and mechanical hard drives reduce the cost of the device, but offer performance lower than what is seen in a modern mobile phone. Specifications that should be avoided include…
- Intel Celeron, Pentium and Core M3
- AMD E1, A4 and A6
- Mechanical 5400 or 7200 rpm HDD [generally 1TB or 2TB]
- 4GB RAM
When looking at a budget laptop, aim for a previous year model that’s on sale, as you’ll generally get better performance for a lower price than the current year models. For reliable, fast every day use, keep these minimum specs in mind…
- Intel i5 processor
- 8GB RAM
- 256GB SSD
Budget laptops generally offer poor battery life, poor build quality and larger 15.6” screens. The bulky designs also offer poor portability. Thinner designs, minimum specifications as listed above, and portable 13” screen options are reserved for more upmarket choices, closer to $1000 dollars. It’s money well spent to meet these minimum specs, as you’ll have a laptop that shouldn’t become slow and outdated too quickly.
For everyday computing needs there may be better options than budget laptops. Many users actually have no real need for a full operating system environment such as Windows. Unless you set it up properly, a budget laptop can soon become filled with trial software expiration warnings and other related software issues. Most everyday computing needs can actually be filled by other types of devices.
The popular Apple iPad comes in a range of sizes and styles, and are very portable. The newly released iPad Pro models are spectacular, however, the normal iPad range arguably offers a faster, easier everyday computing experience than a budget laptop.
The types of tasks that people demand of budget laptops are the tasks that the iPad really excels at. Email, games, apps, social networking, web browsing and light productivity tasks are quickly performed on the iPad. In addition, the front and rear facing cameras generally offer quite good photos, and the screen/speaker combination offers an excellent platform for watching streaming videos and YouTube.
Apple iPads are very secure with a locked-down approach to the operating system, and the blocking of application installation from outside of the App Store. The use of Apple iCloud means that photos can be easily shared and viewed from your phone, and your data is easily recovered if the device is lost, stolen or damaged. Pages, Numbers and Keynote are free productivity offerings available in the App Store. In addition, Apple generally offers software updates for many years, with batteries and parts are readily available.
Best choice for an Apple iPhone user looking for everyday computing.
The Google Chromebooks have come a long way in the last 12 months. Up to date processors, fast SSD storage, great battery life, backlit keyboards and the security of a closed operating system all make for excellent everyday computing devices. In general, Google Chromebooks perform much faster than budget Windows 10 PCs with the same specifications.
Google Chrome offers arguably the best browser experience today. Google’s free, cloud-based productivity suite offers the easiest word processing, spreadsheet and presentation creation options available. The security offered by Play Protect and applications checked by the Google Play Store means the device is hardened to security issues. Google Photos offers free, limitless cloud based photo backup for Android phone users with a free Gmail account.
Acer, Asus, Samsung, HP and Google themselves all offer a range of Chromebooks. Designs generally range from 11” to 14” screens, and all offer fast start up, background updating and easy backup to a Google Gmail account. Many popular applications are available via the Google Chrome browser, or the popular Google Play Store.
Best choice for an Android user looking for everyday computing.