Jan 052013

My clients sometimes ask me what computers I have. In short – nothing special. Nevertheless, I thought I’d indulge myself by telling you

My main machine is a Samsung RF511 15 inch laptop

Samsung RF511 Laptop

Samsung RF511 Laptop

Bought in late 2011 for about £700, this has 8gb RAM and 1tb hard drive (1tb = 1 terabyte = 1000gb = 1000 gigabytes). It has the middle-of-the-range Intel i5 processor (better spec than the i3, but lower than the i7).

This is my third Samsung laptop. They have all been solid and reliable. It does everything I need and is well up to the job. I would only crave a higher specification if I started editing video files. If I was thinking of changing this machine at the moment I would look first at Samsung “Ultrabooks”


 

My Samsung NC10 netbook still provides excellent service

When I bought my first tablet last year I tried to see if it could replace the netbook that I always carried with me when visiting my computer clients. The answer is “no”. The lack of a proper keyboard definitely hampers a tablet if you are going to do a lot of typing (such as writing a blog post or a business proposal or something of that nature). Also, if I am with a client and need my own machine to fetch something off the internet for transfer to the client’s machine, there is too much fiddling about working out how to achieve it with a tablet (whose connectivity is somewhat challenged).

Nevertheless, the netbook is at least twice as large and heavy as a tablet, so now I tend to think carefully beforehand about what I’m likely to need on any particular client visit. I used to think this decision-making was a bit of a nuisance (and rather challenging early in the morning), but that’s the wrong way to look at it. The need to make a decision between them proves that they are doing different jobs: they are not perfect substitutes for each other. So, if you are thinking about buying one machine for carrying around with you, it really does pay to think carefully about exactly what you want it for. I wrote a blog post on Tablet vs Netbook a few months ago.

I love my new iPad Mini

I’m still new to this, but some aspects of the iPad Mini really stand out:

  • Superb build and finish
  • Perfect balance between size/weight and usability
  • Ease and smoothness of use

I chose to buy the mid size of storage – 32gb. I’m already thinking that maybe the 64gb would have been better for me. This is because I like seeing my photos on the iPad, and I’ve finally started downloading from BBC iPlayer (thanks to the Christmas TV schedules reaching a new level of dreadfulness this year). I have been astonished at just how smooth the whole process of downloading and viewing TV programs from BBC iPlayer to the iPad has been. This led me to thinking about connecting the iPad to my (old but fantastic) Sony Bravia TV. I know I should have got used to Apple by now, but I still get enjoyment from being outraged at their prices. In this case, the outrage was caused by finding that an official Apple connector from the iPad to an HDMI lead costs £39.

So where does that leave my Sony Android tablet?

Sony Tablet S

Sony Tablet S

I think this has now become the most expensive digital photo frame I could have bought. For anyone wanting to avoid Apple and buy an Android-based tablet, this is probably still a perfectly reasonable machine. For myself, though, I now find the disparate bits of software on the Android clunky and messy. This tablet is just no fun any more, after experiencing the iPad for a couple of weeks. I’m trying not to feel guilty about buying the Sony tablet. Actually, it’s not such a bad situation for me as I needed to have an Android machine to provide support to my clients. For anyone else contemplating buying a tablet, I would suggest that the first question might be “Am I prepared to consider Apple and the price of an iPad?” If the answer to that is “yes”, then look seriously at the iPad before looking at anything else.

My Samsung Q35 notebook is still going strong

This was my “main machine” for five years. It has behaved absolutely perfectly, except that the display is now starting to go darker. I could always overcome this by connecting an external display, of course, but it’s not necessary as this machine is now semi-retired: it just hosts Windows Vista, so that I can provide support for that operating system as needed.

My Compaq Desktop also looks set to work until the end of time

Goodness knows how old this machine is – eight years at least. It now has two hard drives as its day job is to host data backups from my other machines. It’s also the only machine I now have that hosts Windows XP. Definitely still needed as there are plenty of people out there who still look for support for Windows XP. Remember, though, that Microsoft will stop providing all support for XP – even security updates – next year.

Nearly forgot my Mac Mini

As most of my regular clients know, I’ve never been a big fan of Mac OSx machines. I’m trying to change that now – partly because an increasing number of my computer support clients want me to, and partly because I’m slowly being won over to all things Apple – seduced as I have been by the iPhone and the iPad. At the moment, though, my Mac serves mainly as a rather expensive music player and as a tool for helping me to support my Mac clients. The machine is now three years old and I’ve never had a single problem with the hardware – despite my pulling it apart to double the RAM and install a larger drive.

Mission Control

Mission Control – but not in Clapham!

Now that I look at this list of hardware, it doesn’t seem too ridiculously self-indulgent for a Computer Support Consultant. I reckon the 7 machines I’ve listed here have given me a total of 24 years service. That’s an average of about 3.5 years each. I think most home users and individual professionals keep their computers for 3-5 years.

Hmm, does that mean I can soon have a Microsoft Surface?

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Computer Support in London
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