What Should I Buy?

These days there are more computing devices out there than ever before. Tablets and smartphones are basically computers at their heart, and then you have traditional laptops and desktops as well. This page will help you decide which is the best one for your needs.

First important step - stop listening to the media! They are not technology experts. They are parrots repeating what they are told to repeat in an effort to push one idea or the other. Not so long ago, if you listened to the media you would be forgiven for believing that traditional computers (laptops and desktops) were going to vanish entirely. Simple logic tells us that this is a patently stupid idea. Go Tech is fixing more computers than ever, and helping more people find computers than ever. Can you imagine walking into a law firm and seeing the secretary trying to do her dictation tasks on a tablet? Or an accountant reviewing a detailed spreadsheet while hunched over and squinting at a tiny 10 inch tablet screen? Or a gamer trying to play a modern, complex game like the Witcher III or Fallout 4 on their smartphone? Of course not. Each device has it's own advantages and disadvantages. Tablets and smartphones have affected the sales of traditional computers true enough, but each device has a role to play in the modern business and home environment, and always will.

Let's start our analysis with desktops.

Desktop Computers

When I speak of desktops, I speak of traditional ones with mid to full size towers or system units. I will speak of why I dislike other desktop variants later.

Advantages

  • Generally easier and cheaper to repair. Standardised part sizes means that they are common, and that brings more affordable prices.
  • Strong. So long as the system unit does not take a strong blow with the hard drive turned on, it is virtually impossible to damage them by accident. Keyboards and mice that get damaged can be replaced cheaply. Monitors are not quite as cheap, but still relatively inexpensive compared to screen repairs on laptops or all-in-one desktops.
  • A level of upgrade options unmatched by other devices. Can theoretically be upgraded indefinitely.
  • You can pick a screen size to suit your needs. Anywhere from 19 to 23 inches or even bigger. The best choice for users with eyesight issues.
  • Full sized keyboards and mice are more comfortable, and make for easier and more efficient typing and data entry.
  • The best for large scale storage. Hard drive sizes up to 8TB cannot be beaten by other devices - and that's just one. You can have more without resorting to external drives cluttering your desk.
  • Core hardware tends to last a lot longer than laptops.
  • As much processing power as you can afford.

Disadvantages

  • Not portable.
  • Takes up a lot of physical space in comparison to other devices.
  • Many desktops still use older mechanical hard disc drives. These are slower than the flash memory technology in smartphones and tablets, and prone to failure. Note that many desktops (including those built by Go Tech) are fitted with solid state drives as standard. These are based on flash memory similar to smartphones and tablets, and so are much faster.

Desktops are best suited to a business looking for a device for an employee who does not need a mobile computer solution, and/or needs a big screen and comfortable keyboard for maximum data entry and review efficiency. They are the only choice for hardcore gamers due to their easy upgradability and potential power. Good for home users who want a decent screen size and keyboard for maximum ease of use. A better choice if you have young children as they are less likely to be expensively damaged. The bigger screen sizes also lend themselves well to people with eyesight issues. The only choice for anyone who needs a lot of storage for things such as videos. Good for anyone who works on photos, word processing, desktop publishing or anything that involves layout as again the bigger screen sizes are invaluable for these tasks. Lastability is perhaps their best attribute. While parts such as power supplies and hard drives can and do fail over the course of a desktop's lifetime, the core system tends to last a lot longer than other devices.

Laptop Computers

Advantages

  • Portable.
  • Small compared to desktops.
  • Often very cheap, though the cheap ones usually have poor processing power and build quality. You get what you pay for.
  • Keyboards still pretty decent in comparison to tablets and smartphones.

Disadvantages

  • Limited upgrade options. You can sometimes add more RAM and a bigger hard disc (or replace the slow mechanic one with a smaller but much faster SSD) but in terms of overall speed, you are stuck with what you have. If it gets slow over time there is usually a repairable reason why.
  • Fixed small screen sizes. If you have eyesight issues, try before you buy.
  • Suspectible to breakage of screens, screen hinge mounts, and power connection points.
  • Heavy in comparison to tablets but this has greatly improved. Many modern designs are extremely light while maintaining superior screen size, keyboard size and flexibility compared to tablets. The ASUS laptops sold by Go Tech usually weigh around 2kg or less.
  • Generally more expensive to fix in the event of failure or damage to parts other than hard drive and RAM. Parts such as keyboards are specific to a model or family of models, and when you have a situation like that you usually have higher cost. As time goes on, such parts also tend to become harder to source.
  • Most are limited to a single hard drive with a maximum size of 2TB. USB hard drives can be used to add more storage when needed but this is clumsy.
  • As with desktops, tend to be fitted with relatively unreliable and slow mechanical hard drives. Solid state drives are available as they are for desktops but are usually not fitted as standard. Go Tech can upgrade any ASUS laptop it sells to a solid state drive for an additional fee and this makes a big difference.
  • Hardware failure while under warranty will mean your laptop will need to be sent away, potentially for a very long period of time.

Laptops are best suited to someone who needs a mobile computing solution but still needs a reasonable amount of storage, and a passable screen size and keyboard to work with. A wireless USB mouse should be considered a must have for a laptop. It is much easier to use than the often awful touchpads laptops come with. Not recommended for use by young children known to be a bit careless as a spilt cup of drink or a drop can lead to expensive damage very easily. Wireless mouse and keyboard sets that use a single adapter can be a boon, as you can get an almost desktop style feeling by plugging in the adapter and siitting the laptop on a raised surface over your desk or table. Then when it comes time to go portable, you only have a single USB plug to remove. You can also connect them to external monitors for more screen size but this tends to be a bit cumbersome.

Tablets

Advantages

  • Light and compact.
  • Some very cheap models (but as always, you get what you pay for).
  • Simpler interface and software can be better for users who find traditional computers difficult.
  • Good for children if they are careful as the touchscreen can be great fun.
  • Lack of traditional mechanical hard drives mean more reliable (but still not perfect) storage of files.
  • They make a superb complimentary device to modern Smart TVs and sound systems that support Bluetooth.

Disadvantages

  • Fixed screen sizes even smaller than laptops. Some larger models are available but the size makes usability suffer. Users with eyesight issues might really struggle so, as with laptops, try before you buy.
  • Screens suspectible to breakage in the event of impact damage, even in protective cases. Depending on how common the model of tablet is, getting it repaired can be costly and take a long time due to scarcity of parts. It may even be outright impossible. This is less of a problem with common models such as the iPad which we can fix quickly.
  • On screen keyboards make for inefficient typing. Add-on keyboards can be found for some models but these still pale in comparison to even a laptop keyboard for comfortable and efficient typing.
  • While multiple apps can and do run at once, they are nowhere near as efficient at sharing data or sharing the screen. The latest Samsung Tab changes this, but it is still not as convenient or efficient as what can be achived with a traditional computer. See below for more detail on this point.
  • Setting up printing is cumbersome if not impossible (depending on the exact tablet and printer).
  • Limited storage space even with an SD card slot.
  • Generally no real way to import and manage photos and videos from other cameras without using a computer as a "go between".
  • No upgrade options save perhaps the size of your memory card. Some tablets do not even come with a memory card slot.
  • Most tablets have no HDMI output for showing content on TVs, but certain tablet and TV combinations can work together. Plus external devices such as the Chromecast and Apple TV can help.

What tablets do they generally do well, but what they do is very limited. For someone like me, a tablet will never be anything more than a casual device - something I use for a bit of lazy Facebook browsing, YouTube viewing, simple game playing, and maybe some light chatting. But when you want to do some serious typing or accomplish a task that requires multiple apps, they are essentially useless at worst or cumbersome at best. For example, when I work on a website, I need at least four applications typically - Photoshop for graphics and layout mockups, an app for writing the site's code, another for uploading files to the site, and of course a web browser to review my work. Often I have all four running at the same time. With a computer, I can run, use and switch between them with ease. On a tiny 7 - 10 inch tablet screen with touch only controls? Not a chance. The average office worker is in the same situation. They might have a web browser, email program and a word processor open all the time. Not impossible on a tablet but much more difficult and considerably less efficient.

However, for a less serious user this may be a perfectly sufficient solution. Think carefully about the tasks you will want to do, and choose accordingly.

Smartphones

All of the advantages and disadvantages of tablets apply here, with the added advantage of being even smaller and lighter, but the added disadvantage of an even smaller screen. Someone who is efficient at texting and so used to small keyboards may not be hampered by this. So a good smartphone may be the only computing solution they need. For most people though, a more advanced solution will be needed.

All-in-One and Micro Case Desktops

These desktops are hugely problematic. Their custom case designs mean that you get all of the primary disadvantages of laptops - custom and costly parts and expensive repairs - and none of the advantages they bring, and virtually none of the advantages of traditional mid to full size tower desktops either. As such, there are no circumstances under which I would recommend the purchase of one of these desktops. The only real advantage I can say an all-in-one desktop has is they often look attractive. That is it.

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