Tag: computer purchasing

Intel Skylake gives you a break for cheaper computers

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook

Make hay while the sun shines when you purchase your next laptop now

Intel has just premiered their new Skylake desktop and mobile CPU range which is leading to increased performance even for battery-operated devices. It also has led to newer connectivity options like USB 3.1 Type-C and Intel Thunderbolt connections to improve how you connect these computers to external devices. As well, most of these computers will come pre-delivered with Windows 10 as their operating system.

This is leading to computer manufacturers refreshing their computer lineups with equipment based on these new technologies and their will be an impetus on the manufacturers, distributors and retailers to clear out just-superseded equipment based on prior technologies. For example in Australia, JB Hi-FI is offering 15% off the ticketed price for most of the laptops on sale at most of their stores

If you are considering a computer purchase whether to upgrade existing equipment, or as an additional unit like a travel laptop or a secondary computer used in the kitchen, it may be a good time to check the specials out. For some of you, it may be a chance to move off the iPad as your only computing device and move towards a “grown up” computer system.

But here are some points worth considering:

  • If you are buying Windows-based equipment, the computer may come pre-delivered with Windows 8.1 but you can upgrade this operating system to Windows 10 for free. This is another saving for you when you want to be sure you are running the latest operating system for your Windows-based computer.
  • If you are upgrading your main computer, make sure you buy the system with as much RAM and storage as you can afford. As well, look for discrete graphics and powerful processors if you are using it frequently for graphics, games and multimedia.
  • You may get by with the Intel Atom, Celeron or Pentium processors and 2Gb RAM for your secondary laptop that is primarily for Web browsing, email and word-processing. These will probably limit you to up to 2 or 3 windows or browser tabs open at at time. The Core M, i3 and i5 processors and 4Gb RAM may allow you to be a bit more productive with these machines.
  • Solid-state may be the way to go for your ultraportable but you could eek out more storage through the use of a USB 3.0 external hard disk which you could bargain in to the purchase. This drive can earn its keep with large photo or video collections that you may be downloading from your camera or camcorder.
  • You may also be in a position to use the savings to purchase a newer printer or home-network equipment which you could also bargain in to the deal.

If you express doubts about a purchase, please don’t hesitate to contact me using the Contact Form on this site.

Why it is important to think of value when buying equipment

A small church that runs on a hairline budget

A small church that runs on a hairline budget

A situation that comes across any small organisation, including non-profit organisations, is the need to purchase capital equipment such as computer equipment. This happens typically at the start of the organisation’s life, when the organisation is embarking on a newer effort or as the time comes to replace older tired equipment.

There is a great risk of buying the cheapest equipment around and finding that the equipment may not do the job adequately through its service life. In a lot of situations, you may find that the equipment won’t satisfy newer requirements like newer connectivity types or newer versions of the same software. The worst case is when you deal with equipment that fails too early thus requiring you to consider replacing it with newer equipment too soon.

Economy data projector with VGA input sockets

A typical low-end data projector used by a small church – only has VGA for advanced video connections and uses 4:3 as native aspect ratio

Just lately, I had moved to a newer church congregation and the pastor asked me for assistance regarding specifying a newer computer to replace the existing unit that was being used to show song lyrics and other video material during services. This happened quite a few months after another church pastor whom I know very well approached me for assistance to confirm he was on the right track when purchasing a colour LED printer. He also approached me again regarding the purchase of a newer projector for the church because the existing projector was at the end of its useful life.

I have previously covered this issue in a few articles about the availability of hardware and software that answers these organisations’ needs at a price they can afford as well as being easy to operate. One of these was about low-end data projectors that didn’t come with HDMI connectivity even though most current-issue video peripherals implement this connectivity while another was about the availability of AV playout software that answers the needs of these organisations at a price they can afford.

It is so tempting for organisations that run on hairline budgets like both these congregations to buy just on the cheapest price without factoring in the right specifications for the equipment or the equipment’s durability. This leads you to buying equipment that falls short of your current or future usage requirements or, at worst, purchasing equipment that won’t last for the long haul.

Determining the specification

Sony VAIO Fit 15e on dining table

Choosing the right equipment at the right price can yield benefits over the long haul

Firstly, you have to determine what kind of equipment should be used for your task. Here, you identify the task you are putting the equipment to and skew the specifications accordingly. For example, a computer doing video-based tasks like video playout or video editing should work with a discrete display subsystem so it performs properly at these tasks.

As well, you place weight on specifications and standards that promote flexibility and avoid rapid obsolescence. These include use of hardware and software interfaces that are accepted for the product’s type. For example, I place weight on HDMI connectivity for display projectors so that they can be used not just with computers but with any video peripheral that is on the market nowadays,

This is also the time you approach others in your community who are knowledgeable about the kind of equipment you are after and ask them for their advice. It is preferable to approach those who aren’t in the position of selling the equipment themselves but who may be involved in a support, media or advisory role such as company IT staff. This is because they aren’t under pressure to sell particular equipment.

In both cases, I looked for and specified up-to-date equipment that is to serve their needs properly for a long time so that the equipment is cheaper to run over the long haul. The factors that I thought of as being important was the ability to work not just with existing equipment but with newer equipment and to newer specifications. For example, in my congregation, I pushed for the computer to have HDMI connectivity and a graphics subsystem that can work at 1080p resolution. This is due to the fact that newer projectors offered at price ranges affordable to small businesses and community organisations will support these standards by the time the existing projector is due to be replaced.

A bit of homework now can save you money and sustain you for the future

Obtaining multiple quotes

Working from the same minimum specification that you have determined for your equipment, you then also identify a budget that you can afford but allows you to obtain reasonable-standard equipment. Then you go about obtaining price quotes from different vendors.

I obtained two quotes for the equipment with the same specification and passed the cheapest one of these on to my pastor who also obtained another quote for similarly-specified equipment. The idea behind having the many quotes allows for him to “haggle over” the right deal which is focused on value when it comes to purchasing the right equipment. You may also find that the just-superseded model that is being offered for clearance may become the option to go for as a way of saving money. This will typically happen as newer models are just being launched and the shopkeepers have to get rid of the older-model inventory to make way for the new models.

Sony MDS-JE520 MiniDisc deck working as an audio playout deck for a church

Sony MDS-JE520 MiniDisc deck working as an audio playout deck for a church

In some cases, you may find that particular vendors are consistently offering the right level of functionality and reliability for the right price. This may apply all across their product range or to a particular model in their product range and its successor models. Two examples that come to mind for me are the Sony MDS-JE520 MiniDisc deck and the Sony BDP-S390 Blu-Ray Disc player. Both of these units had the right functionality for their tasks with the MiniDisc deck being a reliable affordably-priced well-built unit having a comprehensive display and “auto-pause” which increased its appeal as an audio playout deck for churches, drama groups, community radio and the like; and the Blu-Ray player having full DLNA and Internet video functionality along with reliable Blu-Ray playback at an affordable price.

Sony BDP-S390 Blu-Ray Disc Player

Sony BDP-S390 Network Blu-Ray Player – a Blu-Ray player that adds DLNA to an existing TV

It is infact a better practice to spend more time going about the process of purchasing the equipment than responding immediately to the first cheap offer you come across. Firstly, you are able to determine the specification that suits your needs, including the ability to call a minimum specification that you won’t go below. Here, once you have determined the specification, then you obtain different and competitive quotes for equipment of that specification.

As well, this kind of specification and purchasing encourages suppliers to answer the call by these organisations to supply equipment and software that fits these needs at a price they can afford. For that matter, if you have questions about purchasing the right equipment for your needs, please don’t hesitate to contact me by using the Contact Form on this site.

Laptops still the preferred computing hardware in the UK


Laptops dominate UK speinding in personal computing kit ! RegHardware (UK)

HP Envy 15-3000 Series laptop

HP Envy 15-3000 Series full-size laptop

Relevant Links

Product Reviews – Laptops, Notebook and Netbook Computers

Buyer’s Guide – Buying a laptop or notebook computer

My Comments

It has been so easy to say that the tablet computer, especially the Apple iPad, has become the preferred computing device to buy. But latest figures from the UK have shown up that the laptop computer still hangs on as the main computing device to use.

There are some key reasons behind these figures realised by GTK who measure the equipment sold to the customers rather than boxes moved out of warehouses. One is the ability to create content on a lightweight machine that can be shifted around the house very easily.

This is more so as most of urban Britain lives in smaller houses like terraces or semi-detached houses as well as an increased number of flats.This kind of living is very receptive to the New Computing Environment which is central to portable computing.to

Toshiba Satellite L730 consuimer ultraportable

Toshiba Satellite L730 ultraportable notebook

As well, the typical 13”-17” laptop computer, including the new Ultrabooks uses a regular full-size keyboard that is conducive to full-bore touch-typing and most 15”-17” laptops also implement a proper numeric keypad that benefits very-quick numeric=data entry. You also have RAM sizes and secondary-storage sizes that accommodate most computing activities. I have even seen some people connect up regular desktop keyboards, mice and displays to these laptops to use them as “stationary one moment, portable the next” computers.

Unless you use the Android-driven Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime, you need to kit out a tablet computer with Bluetooth keyboards and mice to use them properly for content creation.

What this is really saying that the 13”-17” laptop computer is being preferred by the British as a regular-use computer because of its flexibility and portability and the tablets are being purchased and positioned as auxiliary casual-use computing devices.