So it was time to get a new laptop. I won't bore you with why that became necessary...let's just say the old one was five years old, and well past its prime. I hadn't shopped laptops in awhile, and I am pretty impressed with what is basically "standard" these days.
I've always wanted a Dell, and I finally got one for around $500 (click the photo above for specs). It isn't a "fancy" Dell, but it's more than adequate for home and hobby use. Even the cheap new laptops come with 3-5x the memory and about 10x the hard drive space of their counterparts from just a couple of years ago. Mine has a 4GB memory, and 320GB hard drive, which is amazing. My graphics are considered "average" by 2010 standards, but they are phenomenal compared to what I've been using.
I literally came home from work, sat down, and set up my laptop over dinner. I just followed the instructions that appeared when I turned on the computer. It took a couple of re-starts to get all of my software updated, but it was truly easy. Very impressive.
I must say that in the process of updating everything I upgraded to Internet Explorer 9, and regret that particular move. I don't like it. I can't find my stuff, and it's kind of slow. If I can figure out a way to go back to the older version, I will. Once I downloaded Firefox, though, I was quite pleased with my computer's performance and speed.
Most of the new PC laptops come with Windows 7, which includes Microsoft Office "Started" for free. That is a decent version of Word and Excel for casual home use. An upgrade to the Microsoft Office Student, Home, or Pro versions is easy, and available for about $100-$200.
One other thing I've learned through this process: If you usually work with your laptop sitting flat on a table, invest $20-25 in a tabletop laptop cooler. It's a fan which lays flat under your computer, and plugs into one of the USB ports. Keeping the air flowing under the computer will help it to perform better, and prolong the its life.
I'll bet you're wanting a new comper, now, aren't you?
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking.