What you Should Buy for your Next Computer 2010-2011


I’ve been promoting this setup to a lot of my friends that ask what should I get for my next computer. My answer might shock you. You should get a netbook and a 20″+ LCD monitor with a wireless keyboard set.

The truth of the matter is that the average user doesn’t need half the power they buy and this setup is so convenient that where it lacks in power, you get back in convenience.

You can pick up a reasonable netbook for about $300, then add a 23″ HD LCD monitor for $150 and a wireless keyboard and mouse for $50. Total cost is $500 and you get a nice big workstation at home but if you ever need to go somewhere you have a compact little netbook. It has a 95% size keyboard so typing on it isn’t any worse than a laptop. Plus having a laptop at home is nice if you need to break away from the desk. Also if the power goes out, the thing has a battery that last 3 hours– try to get that from any APC battery backup (most are about 5 minutes). And for all of you “going-green” people out there, a netbook uses 30 watts of power compared to a tower at around 400watts. While you might not notice a difference in your energy bill, you will get the benefit of knowing you are doing your part to help the environment.

The Downsides
I’ll admit it, the netbook isn’t the perfect fit for everyone. If you plan to do any serious video editing (beyond Microsoft Movie Maker – like Adobe Premiere), you will need more processor power. If you plan to do intense 3D gaming, you need a bigger video card. If you plan to watch blurays on your computer, well, you can buy an external drive for that.

Also definitely get as much ram as you can get in the netbook. I’m dragging with only 1gb in mine and it claims that you can’t put any more in it, but from blogs on the internet, many people have upgraded to a few gbs. Just make sure to check the max memory of the netbook  you choose, because 1gb is a pain to multitask adobe products on. That being said my netbook is doing ok running three Adobe products at time. Sure its not as fast as my desktop but at the end of the day I’m still getting my work done. For more average users you won’t have a problem running a web browser itunes and office at the same time.

Another pain with it is the switch between on the go and at home. You will probably fill all USB ports, ethernet and monitor ports which is just alot to plug/unplug. Then when you get everything setup the way you want for your full HD screen, you take it on the road and it tries to shrink it down to the 10″ screen. But for the most part it does a good job resizing things back and forth. I’ve worked on dual monitor setups that after removing the second monitor it still liked to open programs on the screen (nonexistent) screen, but so far I’ve never had that with this setup. You might be tempted to get a usb port replicator — be warned that it just adds virtual usb devices through a single usb cable. Full screen HD video on a usb video card doesn’t work that well. As far as I know, no netbook has a real port replicator like most business laptops have.

To Wrap it up

  • Netbooks are quieter than a desktop
  • Netbooks use less power than a desktop/laptop
  • You get a full 23″ screen at home, and an extremely portable 10″ screen on the go
  • It’s just as functional for the average user
  • A lot to unplug/plug in – often you will just leave it at home as its too much work
  • Can be underpowered for videos and gaming
  • Very affordable

I'm a 32 year old UIUC Computer Engineer building mobile apps, websites and hardware integrations with an interest in 3D printing, biotechnology and Arduinos.

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