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Your Approach to Computer Purchases
Old 09-22-2008, 04:59 AM   #1
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Your Approach to Computer Purchases

My approach on computers is to buy the lowest cost model (a reliable brand) that meets our needs. Buy the high end is a waste because of Moore's Law ( can always get the high-end computer as a cheapy next year)...

Once I buy my cheap computer, I may do some minor upgrades (like memory)... and ride it until it drops.... then buy another.

The most years I got out of a computer has been about 6 on a desktop. I had it for longer than that, but it was functionally obsolete.

Current laptop is a little over 2 years old. I hope it keeps working for another 2 or 3 years.

How long has your laptop lasted?
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Old 09-22-2008, 05:09 AM   #2
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My approach is about the same. This year I bought DW a somewhat nicer Dell desktop, but mainly because it was a last chance to get one with Windows XP and I got a good steer from CFB. Normally I buy from the Sunday sale papers.

I've had my Toshiba laptop for about 4 years and it is doing okay. The fan was making noise a while back, but it has stopped now (the noise, not the fan).

I take my laptop on the road a lot, I'm surprised it has lasted this long. I don't expect a laptop to have the longevity of a desktop due to the bumping around and mostly because it's so hard to replace components. Unlike a desktop, if the keyboard, monitor, or even the fan on a 3 YO laptop crumps out, I'd probably replace the whole thing. With a desktop, just get a new monitor or keyboard and you are back in business for cheap.

A few weeks ago I found my receipt for a desktop we bought about 12 years ago. I bought it by mail from an ad in Computer Shopper (remember when that "magazine" was 1" thick?!) and it was over $1200. And, it was worth it. Computers today are a tremendous bargain.
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Old 09-22-2008, 06:22 AM   #3
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I use a desktop and I buy mid level $. I usually keep mine about 5 years. I bought a nice big monitor in 2003, so I'll continue to use it. Also keeping old speakers to save $.
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Old 09-22-2008, 07:16 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chinaco View Post
My approach on computers is to buy the lowest cost model (a reliable brand) that meets our needs. Buy the high end is a waste because of Moore's Law ( can always get the high-end computer as a cheapy next year)...

Once I buy my cheap computer, I may do some minor upgrades (like memory)... and ride it until it drops.... then buy another.
My approach is somewhat similar, though I don't bother with upgrades. I don't need great specs any more now that I am no longer working in research. I bought my present laptop when Vista was pretty new. At that time you could get Vista laptops with either 512 MB or 1 GB RAM, so I got the latter on sale since I knew Vista was a memory hog.

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Originally Posted by chinaco View Post
The most years I got out of a computer has been about 6 on a desktop. I had it for longer than that, but it was functionally obsolete.

Current laptop is a little over 2 years old. I hope it keeps working for another 2 or 3 years.

How long has your laptop lasted?
Mine usually seem to last about 3-4 years. By that time they are getting pretty obsolete anyway. My desktops usually seem to last a year or two longer, for whatever reasons.

I admit that there is some consumerism and desire in the decision to buy a new computer, for whatever reasons. However, about half the time it seems like computers cooperate with my greedy instincts in very timely fashion, and come up with some PITA problem that I choose not to deal with.
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Old 09-22-2008, 07:18 AM   #5
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I have had 5 or 6 laptops for work in the past 9 years. The most recent is dying now, at 2yrs old. Mine typically travel about 200k miles per year with me, so I guess that affects their longevity. I bought a Sony Vaio laptop for my wife about 4 yrs ago...it died a year ago, so I bought her a new one, and it died (hard disk failure) after one year. It was still under warranty, so the HDD was replaced free of charge. I just bought a personal laptop 3 months ago (specs are higher than what I bought for DW last year, and half the price), BUT it is way too big and way too heavy, so I may pick up a little EeePC for email and web browsing on the road. I had been using a desktop Vaio since Dec 2001, but DD has pretty much taken it over. It runs great for the most part, but DD has so much music and photos on it that the C partition of the HDD is full (and she hasn't figured out how to put stuff on the D part of the HDD).

HINTS: don't get too large of a laptop if you want to use it as a laptop. If you are gonna go large, get a desktop and complement it with an EeePC or similar if you need to stay connected while travelling. The desktop/miniPC combi will probably cost about the same as a good mid to med-high end laptop. (Wifey's laptop last year was over $2K, mine this year was $900 - incl MSOffice Home version on each PC, mine is big screen screeming fast, hers is relatively fast, mid-sized but very lite).

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Old 09-22-2008, 07:32 AM   #6
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Mine is the same strategy as Want2Retire.
My software is getting really old and the next move is coming in a year or so.
I am dreading it.

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Old 09-22-2008, 07:35 AM   #7
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MS allows MS Office to be on 1 Laptop and 1 Desktop that are yours. No need to pay for 2 copies if you need it on both computers. OS is only allowed on 1 machine.
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Old 09-22-2008, 07:44 AM   #8
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MS allows MS Office to be on 1 Laptop and 1 Desktop that are yours. No need to pay for 2 copies if you need it on both computers. OS is only allowed on 1 machine.
DW's is Japanese version, mine is English. I need to get DD a laptop for college pretty soon. Can I use one copy of Office on two laptops?

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Old 09-22-2008, 07:51 AM   #9
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DW's is Japanese version, mine is English. I need to get DD a laptop for college pretty soon. Can I use one copy of Office on two laptops?

R
Have not tried that recently. But I did get it on two desktops (legally) when it was Office 2000. I would give the MS 800 # a call and ask (hypothetically).
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Old 09-22-2008, 08:15 AM   #10
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Regarding question: "DW's is Japanese version, mine is English. I need to get DD a laptop for college pretty soon. Can I use one copy of Office on two laptops?"

It depends on the version you have. I have the educational version and can install on 1 Laptop and 1 Desktop only.
IIRC the regular MS Office Home version can be installed on any 3 computers in the same household. But there are many more versions around.
Reading the fine print of your software should reveal how many installs are allowed.
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Old 09-22-2008, 08:50 AM   #11
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I buy a desktop one or two steps back from leading edge, then keep it until it shows signs of aging and upgrade. The current one is sort of like still having my grandfather's axe - it's only had three new handles and two new heads.

Probably all that's still original is the case. I have just upgraded components to remove whatever the current bottleneck is. Now thinking about just chucking it all and buying a whole new one.
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Old 09-22-2008, 10:29 AM   #12
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Good rule of thumb is to buy a machine that you'll still feel is a good one 2-3 years down the road. Then you wont be annoyed with it for a year or two past that. And get something good, because someone WILL buy it from you on craigslist for a silly price.

When its time to change I decide the general characteristics of what I want and then keep an eye on Dells deals and closeouts/clearance items from the office supply and electronics stores. My last couple of laptops came from Staples/Office Depot, and my current desktop came from circuit city.

I usually change up when a new operating system is out. Its a lot better to buy a new machine with all new parts and higher performance and get the OS for free.
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Old 09-22-2008, 11:51 PM   #13
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CFB - good tips - and I will be using those.....
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Old 09-23-2008, 12:02 AM   #14
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....I usually change up when a new operating system is out. Its a lot better to buy a new machine with all new parts and higher performance and get the OS for free.

I usually do something similar (but managed to dodge the ME bullet).

I try to buy the most road worthy laptop I can and then get as much ram as is available. Often getting a model that is being phased out but is still supported has paid off. However, in the last 7 years, I've had 2 laptops stolen and one dropped and then stepped on by the lovely and accommodating folks at the airport (security thugs R us) so maybe cheapest would be best?

The last desk top I got was a Dell 690 workstation that was in the scratch and dent bin. So far so good.
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Old 09-23-2008, 12:22 AM   #15
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I don't have a set schedule for hardware upgrades. My last desktop lasted me about 6 years and was replaced in January when the penryn dual core was released. I acquired components from November-January via various EPPs, slickdeals.net, and newegg.com as items went on sale, waiting until January only for the 45nm cpu to be released in the US. However, I likely spend more time on an ancient P-III toshiba laptop in the living room (where I am typing this now while the SO watches the start of another 'Dancing with the Stars' series... ) than on that desktop.

computer pr0n stats:
Vista Ultimate x64 SP1
24" Wide-screen LCD (2ms GTG)
Intel Core 2 Duo 3.00GHz CPU (45nm, 6MB L2 Cache, Penryn)
eVGA 8800GTX
8.0GB RAM (A-DATA DDR2-800)
320GB Seagate HDD
dvd-rw drive
620W Corsair HX620W Power Supply
Lian-Li Black Aluminum Micro-ATX Case (Model: PC-A01B)
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Old 09-23-2008, 04:31 AM   #16
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..
I usually change up when a new operating system is out. Its a lot better to buy a new machine with all new parts and higher performance and get the OS for free.
Yes, I learned that lesson years ago myself.. upgrading the OS is costly. Plus each new version of windows requires more resources so the old computer may need a boost in memory (or CPU).
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Old 09-23-2008, 05:12 AM   #17
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in the last 7 years, I've had 2 laptops stolen and one dropped and then stepped on by the lovely and accommodating folks at the airport (security thugs R us) so maybe cheapest would be best?
My laptop is one of those cheap Toshiba Satellites from Office Depot. I think it was around $500, give or take $50, a year or two ago (when Vista was brand new, whenever that was). Nobody has ever bothered trying to steal it. Vista, 1 GB RAM, 110 GB hard drive and it has never given me any problems. I travel with it all the time, even though it probably weighs six and a half pounds. My laptop/overnight case has wheels so weight doesn't really matter to me.

I haven't had trouble with security dropping it, but while rushing through security, taking my shoes off, and juggling multiple trays plus my carry-on I managed to drop it. It was in a bin on that shiny metallic surface just prior to going through the x-ray, I pushed it too hard, and the whole bin went over the edge. Picture the tray and laptop sailing through the air in slow motion. Naturally, I was horrified. (This was not my best day.)

To my great relief, there was no damage. Score one for Toshiba.

You know, like CFB suggests I do tend to get either a new laptop or new desktop when new operating systems come out but in my case it is because I love playing with them. A new OS seems to come out every 3 years or so and to me it is like a new toy - - lots to discover and play with. I got Win95 on the first day of public release, then Win98, Windows 2000, Windows ME, XP, and Vista all pretty early. But I don't always or even usually have the same OS on both computers. I had XP on my desktop (an old Compaq) until a few weeks ago when I replaced it with a cheap Dell from Best Buy, with Vista.
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Old 09-23-2008, 05:36 AM   #18
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I never look at the cheapest, because they are already at the lower limits of what many software packages or even OSs demand.. I want to postpone a new purchase as long as possible, so I usually go with a second-tier sort of model.. one that was "the top" of the previous product cycle. Sort of like buying a car that's been a dealer's model, lightly-treated lease, or a model from the outgoing year.
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Old 09-23-2008, 10:26 AM   #19
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One thing to note with Intel's Tick-Tock release cycle is that it creates opportunities where buying the latest technology will be cheaper than buying previous generation technology when you are willing to wait for the right part of the cycle. Specifically, when the latest processors released are part of Intel's Tick cycle then a clock-speed to clock-speed comparison of the latest Ticks to the previous Tocks shows the Ticks are about 5% faster and 15-20% cheaper.

A real world example of this was the 3.0GHz 45nm dual core w/ 6MB L2 Wolfdale E8400 (Tick) compared to the previous generation 3.0GHz 65nm dual core w/ 4MB L2 Conroe E6850 (Tock).
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Old 09-23-2008, 10:32 AM   #20
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Them Intel guys are pretty smart...
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