Computer Purchase Recommendation
Offered by Gerry Sprengle, August 2018.
I always find it difficult to recommend a computer for other people. It seems to be a very personal choice... especially between the different flavors of operating systems: Macintosh, Windows, and Chromebook. I can’t make that choice for you.
I've included my computer recommendations. It is mostly directed toward laptops, but is similar for desktop computers as well. I thought it might be useful for all.
There are sooooo many options… and models change by the day. Here are some things to consider.
Apple Mac OS or Microsoft Windows?
This is the first consideration. There are Mac people, and there are Windows people (and now even Chromebook people). They seldom crossover. It’s a personal preference. Also, some schools and worksites may emphasize one or the other. That may need to be considered in your purchase.
Desktop or Laptop or Convertible/Hybrid
Some people like a desktop model: CPU, monitor, keyboard, mouse. They can get a really big monitor or really power processor for gaming or design. Desktops must stay in place – not portable.
Others prefer a laptop/notebook. Self-contained… portable. Laptops can still can have plenty of power.
Desktops and laptops can both come with touch screens if you want to go with the latest technology… for a price.
Then there are convertible/hybrid devices. They are laptops that fold back and become a tablet. They are usually touch screen. Sometimes the entire keyboard can be removed.
Lots of manufacturers: (desktops, laptops, convertibles/hybrids)
All of these manufacturers have really good devices and some not-so-good devices. Gotta research or take your chances.
Everyone will offer their opinion about what they like. For students entering into a specific school and/or program, I suggest researching what the institution or program/department uses and go in that direction. For example, you are pursuing the Adobe or AutoCAD program, I would not recommend a Chromebook. It can't install or run those types of programs. Windows would be better. If you were pursuing the animation program at Ringling College, then a Macintosh might be more appropriate.
For Brevard Public Schools, we are nearly all Windows PC, with only two schools using Macs (Stone Middle and Surfside Elementary). When new systems are purchased or developed, our district seldom considers how (or if) they work with the Macintosh OS. We are a Windows-based district.
Don’t be deterred by a “leftover” model with an older operating system. Both Apple and Microsoft sometimes offer free upgrades to their newest OS. For example, if you buy a computer with Windows 8, you can connect it to the internet and upgrade it to Windows 10… for free (if the offer is still available).
Your choice depends on the intended use and the user’s preference. Every manufacturer has really good models and some that are not so good. The models change constantly. It’s impossible to know what is the most current and best model at any time.
Next, there are “consumer” grade and “business” grade computers. The business grade devices generally cost more, but are often more durable and made with consistent parts. Many consumer grade devices can still be very good quality, but can sometimes include inferior parts.
Example: Laptop Hinges (the lid that opens and closes many times over the lifetime of the device)
Consumer: usually made of plastic – can break if not treated carefully
Business: often made of metal – much more durable
Specifications are an important detail to look at. Get as much RAM (also called memory) as you can. More is always better when it comes to memory. I would not recommend less than 4GB. You may find many models with 2GB. Yes they will work, but they will work better with 4GB. If the computer is for someone who is a gamer or who works with video and graphics, or powerful programs like AutoCAD, they may require more than 4GB. All hard drive space is important. If you intend to save lots of pictures, videos, etc. onto the computer, you will need lots of disk space. Hard drive prices have really dropped. Get as much as you can… 500GB and up. A computer can only do what it has the “power” to do. The processor provides the power. Get a processor with a higher speed (as you compare models). There are also various families of processors which come and go with the wind. Intel is the top brand of processor. You will also find AMD processors. Lastly, your laptop needs ports to connect it to various devices. USB, VGA, HDMI, Ethernet, etc. Your needs will determine these features.
I always recommend a quick bit of research right before the decision to purchase.
Best Laptops: https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#newwindow=1&safe=strict&q=best+laptop+2018
Best Convertible/Hybrid Laptop: https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#newwindow=1&safe=strict&q=best+convertible+laptop+2018
Best Desktop: https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#newwindow=1&safe=strict&q=best+desktop+2018
These “Reviews” can be handy to settle on a model. I read MANY of them before a purchase. Read the recommendations.
I no longer have a desktop computer at home. We have a variety of laptops. Maryanne and I each have an Apple MacBook Pro laptop. A few years ago, I purchased a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 as my only Windows computer. We also have an iPad tablet. These work very well for me.
Finally, I only buy “reburbished”. Most of the manufacturers offer refurbished items. They are usually equal or better than the regular retail items. They go through extensive testing that the retail items don’t. There is often a significant discount and they usually come in nice packaging.
And finally, they usually include the same full warranty as new retail items.
Refurbished, Outlet, and Clearance.
Be sure to go online and check for “Educator” discounts too. Many manufacturers offer these as well.
Finally, our BPS technology “partner/vendor” offers discounts and matches district pricing to our school community (teachers, staff, students, parents, etc.). Just go to the “Connection.com” (formerly GovConnection) website, create an account, then login with your account. You should now see your discounted pricing.
Create an account as a First Time User
Sorry, I am never able to offer a specific computer models for people to purchase. Too many variables/preferences and I never know what is current. Changes happen too often. Hopefully, some of this info can help with your decision.