What are computer manufacturers playing at?

In the mad race to make each successive generation of laptop lighter, thinner and faster, we are ending up with the need to invest in a range of peripherals to keep the same level of functionality.

Already my desk is awash with USB hubs, DVD Reader/Writers and external hard drives. So, woohoo; the latest iteration of the MacBook is only 1.38kgs. Whoopdy do. What a pity that the peripherals I have to lug around weigh a whole lot more.

The choices facing the computer buyer of today are horrendous. What on earth do you choose? I can guarantee that the salespeople are highly unlikely to recommend the cheapest product, even if it will fill all your needs. Experience tells me they just don’t work that way.

Yesterday I read two articles by two different publications saying basically the same thing. With the amount of choices facing today’s consumer, the aim is no longer to maintain profitability by selling bulk numbers of product. It’s to make each product you sell horrendously (for the purchaser) profitable.

In 2011 I experienced this when I added a few features to the laptop I wanted. I watched the price balloon out to over $5000 because I wanted a larger hard drive and more RAM.  It’s still a great laptop, but I updated in 2014 and paid only $3 400 for a superior version! If I was to go out and buy a new one today, I’d be forking out $4 300.

I’ve been interested to read the attacks launched by the old and tired anti-Apple brigade. One reviewer sneered that he couldn’t tell the difference between models over the past four to five years. If it had been me writing that review, I’d have added that it was equally difficult to tell the difference between many other products unless you read the stickers festooned inside the covers, usually to the side of the track-pad. Until then you can’t tell whether your CPU is an AMD, Celeron or Intel.

Cosmetics are all well and good. MacBook lovers enjoy the feel of steel or brushed aluminium. Spectre lovers apparently like good fashion. Chromebook lovers, I guess, don’t really care, because  some of the garish offerings there would make those with delicate dispositions swoon, faint or puke. I’m not even going to get started on the pull-apart offerings. I recently reviewed some that were designed to function alongside their ultra-book cousins, while others clang and clunk along and appear to have been manufactured late on a Friday after drinkies.

Caveat emptor, so said the great Plato, or was it Goscinny and Uderzo: I forget. If you are in the market, make sure you look at functionality and not just how sexy that laptop would look on your desk. If like me you run the risk of leaving a trail of peripherals behind you whereever you go, examine the ports and count them!


Author: owenmcc

An aspiring best selling author, software tester and developer. A love of dabbling, and lover of words like sesquipedalian. Extremely excited about the groundbreaking work by Cambridge astronomers proving that the answer is indeed 42. Finds Vogon poetry gruntulous. Passionate about education and how we can encourage learners to "own" their learning pathways. Dreams of walking in the footsteps of Wordsworth and Ransome.

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