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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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With This RAM Chip, I Thee Wed?

I’m not the sort of guy who gets buyer’s remorse. I like to do all of my agonizing up-front, before I make a decision, and then never look back. I weigh the options, do my homework, analyze the variables, and make comfortable, sensible, well-informed decisions. Assuming I’m not drunk at the time. Or in a hurry. Or with a sales clerk standing over me at the magazine rack saying:

We’re closing in two minutes, sir — do you want the ‘Juggs’ or the ‘Naughty Grannies’? Hurry up, please.

(I so should have taken the ‘Juggs’. It’ll be a while before I can look at a knitted shawl again without feeling queasy.)

That brings us to the laptop I’m planning to buy. Or rather, planning to plan to buy, because for the life of me, I can’t decide which one to get. My strategy of in-depth research and cold, calculating comparison works best when the options are more or less similar to begin with.

Like candy bars, for instance. When selecting a candy bar, there are several questions to ask yourself:

Do I feel like a nut?

What’s my current position on crispy wafers?

Am I man enough for nougat?

But all of your choices will boil down to something roughly the size and shape of a candy bar, dipped in delicious milk chocolate and lovingly wrapped in decadent silvery foil. At a very fundamental level, all of the choices are roughly equal — they’re all designed to taste good, rot your teeth, and shoot your blood sugar through the roof. With candy bars, you’re comparing apples to apples.

“Buying a laptop is less like buying a candy bar, and more like finding a spouse. And much like getting married, you won’t really know whether you’ve made the right decision until you live with it for a few months.”

Not so with laptops. With notebooks, you compare Apples™ to HPs, Toshibas to Fujitsus, and Acers to Asuseseses. There are big ones, small ones, wide ones, portable ones, fast ones, fancy ones, and ones that don’t fry when you spill your drink on them. Which is important for a guy like me. I’m a big clumsy goof, and I’m usually drinking something. I’m a time bomb waiting to happen.

All the shapes and sizes and features and specs are simply dizzying. Buying a laptop is less like buying a candy bar, and more like finding a spouse. And much like getting married, you won’t really know whether you’ve made the right decision until you live with it for a few months. Also, if you’re not too picky, you can order one from Asia and have it delivered in the mail. It’s a solid analogy.

Daunting as it was, I sucked it up and did my research. I looked at dozens of machines, pored over all the optional features, and read all the reviews and benchmarks I could get my grubby eyeballs on. Then I methodically sorted out about ten features I considered ‘must-haves’. All of the ten are well within the current limits of technology, and they each appear on several currently-available notebooks.

Problem is, they apparently don’t all appear on the same currently-available notebook. Anywhere. And laptop computers aren’t uber-configurable, like their desktop cousins. It’s not as simple as buying a box and jamming a bunch of upgraded parts into your motherboard holes. With a notebook, DIY improvements often just aren’t possible — or they require special equipment and an E.E. degree. You think I’m capable of that? No way. Let me operate a soldering iron, and I’ll lose an arm. I’ll find a way. Guaranteed.

So my ‘must-haves’ really aren’t, so much. Not if I want a shiny new toy in the next three months or so, anyway. With that in mind, I went looking for options that nearly met my criteria.

(Hey, I’m a guy. If we can’t find a ’10’, we’ll absolutely settle for an ‘8’ or a ‘9’.

Under the right circumstances, even a ‘3’ or a ‘4’. Get me drunk enough, and you might sell me that old Commodore64 you’ve got stashed in your attic. How’d you like to wake up to that every morning?)

So far, I’ve narrowed the laptop field to three specific models. And while I like these machines, I’m not sure I like them like them. There’s the ‘fancy one that needs careful maintenance’, the ‘sturdy one that’s not so quick’, and the ‘bulky one that plays all sorts of games’.

(Incidentally, that’s also how I’d describe the girls I dated in high school. And look how those decisions turned out. The ‘sturdy’ one almost ran me over with her Honda. Ouch.)

I’ve decided that my ‘perfect machine’ isn’t out there. Not yet, at least. Which means I’m stuck in ‘analysis’ mode, obsessively checking for updated options and new releases, until some manufacturer takes pity on me and spits out a laptop with the right combination of bells, and just the right sort of whistles, to make the decision obvious. Otherwise, I’ll be second-guessing my new notebook for the next three-to-five years.

Or until I knock a glass of orange juice all over the keyboard, which could happen while I’m unwrapping the thing, frankly. I really should invest in a sippy cup. I wonder how many models those things come in. Yeesh.

Permalink  |  1 Comment

One Response to “With This RAM Chip, I Thee Wed?”

  1. Roofie Raccoon says:

    I bet I’d be the ‘bulky one that plays all sorts of games’!

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