Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hasta La Vista, HP

I got the word from the good guys at National Tech Express: my HP laptop is dead. Last time it was the hard drive; this time is was the motherboard. Fortunately I have a 500 GB external drive, so last night after dinner I went with Bob to the local Best Buy and looked at new laptops. After checking out several brands with a variety of bells and whistles, I settled on a Toshiba Satellite L505 with a 3 gig memory and 320 gig hard drive. It has a nice monitor, which doesn’t really matter to me since I plug it in to a bigger one, and it has Windows 7. The whole thing, tax included, was less than $600.

It was a breeze to get it up and running, and since I had all of my data on the external drive, I had no trouble getting everything back to where I had it before the HP Pavilion died, and it only took one phone call to GoDaddy to remind me of the settings for my e-mail accounts on Outlook 2007. It immediately found my wireless network, printer, wireless keyboard and mouse, and compared to Vista, it zoomed through the installation and set-up of programs like Quicken and Office.

The computer came with Norton already loaded and ready to be activated, but I’ve been down that lonesome road before and chose to go with the free Microsoft Security Essentials based on this review by the Washington Post‘s tech guru Rob Pegoraro. Whereas Norton is a huge memory hog and an annoying pest for updating and renewing, you barely notice this program.

Quite a few people suggested that I look at Apple, and I did consider going over into the Light, as my brother implored me. But there were a couple of issues that kept me in the PC world, including incompatible software like File Maker Pro 6 and my current version of Office 2007. I know they are available for Apple, but I don’t have the luxury of time (or finances) to replace them. And then there was the expense. Apples cost more than PC’s. I’m sure that you get what you pay for, but in my case, you get what won’t max out your Capital One card.

What also is impressive is how fast and big these little laptops are getting to be at the inverse ratio of cost. In 1997 I bought a Gateway PC with a 2 gig hard drive and monitor for $2,500. Twelve years later I am on my third computer since then and the price has gone down by 75% for a machine with 160 times the memory and warp speed. As I said to Bob as we left the store, five years from now I should be able to buy a computer that can run NASA for $200.

Anyway, here I am again on a new computer, and I hope this one lasts as long as my last Toshiba — five years — as compared to the HP Pavilion which barely made it past two.