08 July 2013

Computer in a Box

Jan Grape by Jan Grape

Do you over research things? I do. Especially when I'm going to spend some money. I've been trying to decide on what computer to buy for over two months. Okay, I haven't spent everyday on it, but every few days and at least twice a week. Do you have any idea how many different laptops there are? Seems every company in the electronic businesss makes a laptop. Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Panasonic, Lovoto, Lenovo, Toshiba, Samsung, and of course Apple's MacBooks and their iMac. I'm sure I've left out a half dozen more. There are laptops and notebooks and Idea Books and something called Twist and Shout, I kid you not.

So my idea was to find a lightweight machine with a bit of fast power, a fair amount of HD memory and a price I could handle. I determined a reasonable amount that I could afford and my top figure was five hundred dollars. I knew when I added tax and product insurance protection and perhaps some tech support insurance, that $500 would quickly run up to seven, eight hundred. And I'd still have to get software programs. Most don't come with software installed anymore, except perhaps anti-virus.

Now there're things like i3, i5 and i7 Intel processors. There's 5 GB this and 740 GB that and touch and no-touch and other things with strings of letters and numbers for CDs and DVD and ways you can burn those and USB ports galore and gaming whatevers and HD webcams with dual tone microphones. Not to even mention Windows 8 which people say is so hard to use and a few computer which still use Windows 7.

Before long my head was spinning like that girl in The Exorcist. Surely you can understand why I couldn't research every day because it was absolutely confusing, One day this past week, I managed to chat with a Question and Answer person at Dell who after two hours helped me decide which of their laptop would be just exactly what I needed. I then tried to order it and had trouble getting shipping address set up. One of the main reasons I thought I'd go with Dell is I've had 3 Dell laptops and before that a Dell desktop. I've had excellent luck with all of them and the tech support has been wonderful. But after another hour online and I couldn't get a laptop ordered I got tired of the whole thing and gave up for that session.

Then a funny thing happened this morning after a late night conversation with my Nashville daughter, and she kept bragging about her Toshiba laptop, I got an e-mail from one of those big box stores, telling about a sale they were having. As luck would a very nice Toshiba laptop that fit all my criteria was on sale within my price range. Even better we have one of those stores in our town of Marble Falls which made their geek guys readily available. I drove over there about 5 pm and about an hour later I drove back home with a computer in a fairly small box.

I'm excited although I know the learning curve will take me twice as long since I'm computer challenged. Yet soon I will be ankle deep in Windows 8 alligators trying to understand exactly what to do.

To make this all more or less on topic of writing, I'll have you know that I've got the third in my Zoe Barrow policewoman series about half-way through its first draft and I came up with an idea for a short story this week and was just waiting for the new laptop to get involved with either project.

It's probably okay to research like crazy if you're planning to spend a chunk of money, but when you're researching for your book or story, don't get too carried away. If you fall in love with your research you'll have a hard time going cold turkey. And if you use too much of your research in your story you can get bogged down. Just do the necessary research and then use it sparingly.

Now off to open this new computer in a box.


  1. I got an ASUS laptop last week, Jan. I have never had a laptop without its share of eccentricities and this seems no different.

  2. Congratulations Jan on your new work and your new laptop. Good writing and research advice, too.

    Rob, a friend tried out the Asus version of the ChromeBook last week. She liked it (and I did too) and she wast tempted to keep it for traveling, but in the end she stuck with her standard Dell laptop and iPad.

    After a couple of PowerBooks and a 15" MacBook Pro, I bought a 13" MacBook Air a year ago. For my inner security, I hung onto the more muscular MacBook in case I wanted to switch back, but within a couple of weeks, I found myself using the Air exclusively. You can't pry it away from me now! Amazing machine at less than 3 pounds, quiet and so thin… I love it.

  3. Congratulations, Jan! I think you made a wise decision buying from a local resource. I use absolutely the best laptop in the world. It's the one my older son researched and bought me for my birthday.

  4. I switched to a Samsung ChromeBook a couple months ago. Very fast, very reasonably priced ($250). All data storage is in a cloud -- meaning I can edit on my Droid smart phone if I want and the edits appear on the ChromeBook the next time I access the document there. You never "save" changes -- everything you do is saved automatically. Easy downloading of documents as html for blog posting. Downside? Everything on the computer is "controlled" by Google. If they don't offer a given app there is no way to install it. Overall I'm pretty happy with the choice -- it came in at about 1/3 the price of my wife's Ipad and does just about everything her machine does.

  5. I am a dinosaur, still using a PC with a tower, cable internet hookup... oh, well. I live in South Dakota. But congrats on the new laptop - let us know how Windows 8 works for you.

  6. I'm an old PC guy, and actually sold them at IBM, back when ThinkPads went for $8K apiece. Now I'm an Apple devotee. I love iMacs and iPads and everything Appleish, and would never ever go back to Windows. Talk about switching directions . . .

  7. Herschel, it's a big box with wires and buttons. And don't call me Shirley.

  8. So far, I've managed to get online, registered computer, and looked at Win 8. I do know that almost any laptop works fine. It mainly is what you finally figure out you need and can afford. And I know there's nothing I can do to make the learning curve go faster. Just got to keep at it. Maybe it won't take me too long.

  9. So far, I've managed to get online, registered computer, and looked at Win 8. I do know that almost any laptop works fine. It mainly is what you finally figure out you need and can afford. And I know there's nothing I can do to make the learning curve go faster. Just got to keep at it. Maybe it won't take me too long.


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