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Now browsing: Hometown News > Computer/Technology > Sean McCarthy

When choosing a new PC, should you look at a desktop or laptop?
Rating: 2.25 / 5 (8 votes)  
Posted: 2014 Jan 10 - 08:53

When someone is in the market for a new computer and they come to me looking for advice, sometimes they are surprised to find out that a laptop can be just as powerful as a desktop. I don't know if it's the size of the machine that throws people, but just because a laptop is a lot smaller than a desktop doesn't mean it's any less capable.

There are several reasons why I would recommend a laptop over a desktop and the power of the machine (to me anyways) has little to do with it. If you had two machines side by side, a desktop and a laptop, and they both had the same processor, memory and hard drive space I would choose the laptop every time and not just because a laptop is portable.

I know what most of the usual objections are, I hear them all the time. "I don't take my machine anywhere so I don't need a laptop" is one common objection, "I like to use my full size monitor" is another and "I'll need something much more powerful than that" is probably the most often heard reason for choosing a desktop that I hear.

Well, we've already covered power - laptops are capable of doing everything a similarly equipped desktop can do so we won't spend any more time on that one so let's go over some of the other reasons I lean toward the laptop.

One of the main reasons I choose the laptop is that everything that someone would need is already included without having to buy anything else. When you buy a laptop it's going to come standard with parts that often get forgotten when buying a similar machine in desktop form. Keyboard, mouse, monitor, Wi-Fi, webcam and battery are all standard parts in even the cheapest of today's laptops. Not so with a desktop. I don't know how many times I've gotten a call from someone with a new machine (desktop) and they are surprised when they cannot connect to their wireless service because they didn't get a wireless adapter. Same thing with the webcam - they get the desktop home and go to connect with Skype and have to run back out to get a webcam (or both webcam and network adapter). But probably my biggest reason for choosing the laptop over the desktop is the battery. You see a laptop, with its built in battery, already has its own UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply). I don't know of any desktop that comes with a battery backup as standard equipment and a UPS is one of those parts that can really save the day when the power is dropping in and out as it often does here in Florida.

"I can't type on that tiny keyboard" or "I hate using that touchpad, I need a regular mouse" and "I want to use my full size monitor" are three pretty reasonable objections and often people are surprised to learn that a laptop can easily be plugged into your existing keyboard, mouse and monitor effectively turning it into a desktop machine and eliminating the need to rely on a smaller screen, finicky touch pad or tiny keyboard. Just plug your monitor into the back, plug your mouse and keyboard into ports on the side and you can't even tell that you're using a laptop instead of a desktop. It really is that easy and now, if you do need to go somewhere, you can quickly unplug four wires and be on your way.

Perhaps the most common complaint that I hear about laptops is the touchpad at the bottom of the keyboard. If you're switching from a mouse to a laptop's touch pad it can be a pain to get the hang of it. And to make matters worse when typing on a laptop's keyboard sometimes the mouse will jump all over the place as you type causing you to quickly lose track of where you're typing. What's happening is the touch pad is sensing your hand as you type and it thinks you want to move the cursor when you actually don't want to move the mouse at all. Add a regular "normal" mouse to the system and it gets even more confusing because you're not even using the touchpad! Why is it jumping all over the place? Well the answer to that one is easy but most people don't realize you can turn the touchpad off when typing and sometimes that's all it takes to cure the "wandering mouse" syndrome.

Sean McCarthy fixes computers. He can be reached at (888) 752-9049 or help@ComputeThisOnline.com (no hyphens).

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