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Laptops Are Now As Cheap As PCs

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The “Weekly Rant” column was featured in the PC Mechanic Newsletter since 2005. Topics relate to some aspect of technology, which include opinions on hardware, software, new technology, technology companies, and computing standards.

Declining prices in the PC market has resulted in inexpensive low to mid-range pre-built PCs.  So much so, that it’s now quite a bit cheaper to buy a low to mid-range PC from a manufacturer, rather than building it yourself.  Now, you still do win out for a high-end multimedia or gaming PC (and other special situations), but it’s hard to beat out a $500 to $800 package that includes not only the PC tower, but the monitor, keyboard, mouse, low-end/basic speakers, and the Operating System.  Granted, I can assemble together a PC tower for $800 using parts from newegg, zipzoomfly, and/or directron, but that’s ONLY for the PC tower’s hardware.

So, for someone looking just to work with email, do some surfing, and possibly watching DVDs, listening to some music, and playing a little solitaire, one of these $500-$800 packages would be great for you.

In the same token, there are laptops within that same price range that will be able to take care of those same needs.  Now, for a high-end laptop, yes, you can spend anywhere between $1200-$3000 easily, but for basic tasks, you don’t need quite that much horsepower to open up a word processor or browser.

For example, I have a friend who was looking for a laptop that would allow him to surf the web and write emails.  He wanted something that would last him a few years, but wouldn’t put a big gaping hole in his wallet.  So, here’s the base model of the laptop he’ll be using.

It’s a Dell Inspiron 5101, listed at $449.  The only thing I bumped up was the battery to a 9-cell Lithium Ion, which was only an additional $50.  The other thing I changed was the Operating System (from Vista to XP), which cost nothing (you can debate the merits of this change, but for this laptop and for the sanity of my friend, Windows XP was the better choice).

So, for $499, my friend will be getting a pretty good laptop that should last him a while.

(Originally published in the pcmech.com newsletter)