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January 15, 2018

2018 Technology Buyer’s Guide

Filed under: Main — Tags: , , — admin @ 12:01 am

The decisions remain difficult, but the choices and options are thin these days. Still, new technology is necessary every so often. Here are my humble words of advice for those times you need to seek out a new or replacement gizmo in 2018.

Time to Replace

Before thinking about new technology, know how old your existing technology has become. Yes, age is a bad thing for computers and especially mobile devices.

• If you have a phone or tablet, it’s useless after two years. Yes, you could try to get 3 or 4 years of life out of it, but that’s pushing the technology. Expect to get a new phone or tablet every two years, which is conveniently how long cellular subscription plans run. Weird.

• Computers were once victims to the two-year cycle, but today a PC can last 10 years or more. I don’t recommend pushing that limit. My upgrade cycle is between 5 and 8 years. The hardware is just so stable and, frankly, the new stuff isn’t much better than the old, it’s just newer!

I get a new phone every two years. My son, who’s had a Galaxy Note 3 forever, badly needs a new phone. That sucker is 5-years-plus old. That’s too long, and the technology shows it: The battery life is low, the capabilities are limited, and it hasn’t had a security update in three years.

My PC is only a couple of years old, so it has some life left in it. The Mac comes out of its 3-year warranty this year. It’s probably good for another two years.

Bottom line: Don’t push your computer’s age! After about 5 or 7 years, you really must consider getting new hardware. Or, determine whether you really need a computer or can get by with only a mobile device.

Laptops are unique beasts that generally die young. My current crop of laptops, however, has held on as solidly as the desktops. My $200 laptop runs well after 5 years. The old IBM Thinkpad runs fine, though Windows 7 died and the system now runs Linux.

What to Buy

Most PCs sold today come in boxes, pre-assembled, with all the options set for you. If you want to choose the processor, memory, storage capacity, and other features, you must either figure out the online PC shopping sites or visit a mom-and-pop store in the real world. My recommendation is the mom-and-pop store. That’s where I buy my PCs.

The key issue is service. When you buy local, they fix local. My Mac must visit and Apple store and the closest location is one state over. It’s not a terrible drive, but compared to getting the PC fixed just down the road, it’s a haul.

I could get specific on which parts to get or what the cool kids want as far as technology is concerned, but the options are limited. For gamers, if you’re serious, the memory and graphics are important. You can have a decent game system built for about $1200, but if you pay $8000 or up, you get to see what the developer sees. For most people, however, a good mid-range PC runs about $1000, laptops the same.

And, as always, get the extended warranty, especially for laptops. A great term for a warranty is 3-years. Ensure that it’s the manufacturer’s warranty and not some “buyer protection plan,” which isn’t worth squat.


  1. I must admit I have a dislike foe extended warrenty plans, comes from paying for one and then when the item died and I tried to claim on it and thanks to some careful wording I couldn’t. Now when ever that is offered I say no thank you.

    Comment by glennp — January 16, 2018 @ 11:02 am

  2. They’re becoming less relevant as the technology stabilizes. I make two exceptions:

    My iMac, which has no user-serviceable parts inside. I’ve gotten my $$ out of the warranty for a number of reasons.

    Laptops, which have lots of tiny things that can break. Though my new Dell laptop has only a one-year warranty. The other one they offered was a “service plan” and not a warranty. So I passed.

    Comment by admin — January 16, 2018 @ 11:53 am

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