The 5 P’s of purchasing a new ‘puter!

I was recently in the market for a new computer, and I spent a lot of time deliberating about what to get. With all of the different types of units available, it can often be terribly confusing and somewhat paralyzing to make a decision, and so I thought I’d share my experience, opinion and more importantly, the steps I followed when deciding to buy my new computer.

  1. Purpose

    First, you need to start with the main purpose of your device. If you’re simply looking to browse the Net, check e-mails or your social media pages such as Facebook or Twitter, or perform very basic activities, then a tablet such as an iPad or Galaxy Tab could be just your ticket. If you prefer a traditional type of device, then netbooks were quite popular for a while and may be right for you. If you’re a hardcore gamer or need a fair bit of grunt to run graphic or processor-intensive software, then you’re probably going to want to be building your own beast of a desktop computer. Chances are, however, you’re probably going to be somewhere in between -– just like me. My new computer was to become my workhorse, and so I certainly needed to be on the gruntier side of the performance spectrum.


    Touchscreens are important for taking advantage of Windows 8.

  2. Platform

    The platform, or operating system (OS) wars are hotly debated and they often lead into a form factor debate too. As a user of both Windows and Mac operating systems, I definitely lean much more towards Windows. That’s not to say that Apple doesn’t produce good products. I love the MacBook and MacBook Air. However, familiarity with my OS and products such as Microsoft Office are much more important to me, and so I know for sure which path I need to start going down. If you’re ambivalent to OS, consider if you plan to share software or other items with your friends and family. Sometimes you might run into compatibility issues if you don’t choose your OS wisely.

    Note: You can also setup most computers to dual boot –- that is, run two operating systems. That’s a discussion for another time, and I think I just gave myself an idea for a future post. :-)

  3. Portability

    Now that you’ve decided on your platform, it’s time to make a decision between desktop or laptop. Again this comes mainly down to how you intend to use your computer. For me, mobility was key. I travel quite a bit, often by plane, and so size and weight played a big part –- although you wouldn’t know it from my current laptop. When I started looking for my new computer, it was all about finding the perfect balance between power, size and weight.

  4. Price

    There’s such a large range in pricing when it comes to your choice of computer. Sure, often the price is commensurate with performance and quality parts, but don’t be fooled: the clever marketing folks and some of the manufacturers will lead you to believe that a shinier casing or whiz-bang product name might end up adding a couple of extra dollars to the price tag too. When setting out to buy your new computer, try to keep a price range in mind, then look for the best possible computer specification that fits within it. Most manufacturers these days produce quality machines and also offer solid warranties, so you’re sure not to go wrong.

  5. Preference

    Last but not least, your personal preference will likely need to weigh in. If you find multiple units that tick your boxes, then now is the time you get to exercise your personal preference. Too many people start with personal preference first, then consider all the other items such as processing power, hard drive storage, screen size, etc. This may leave you with the slickest looking system, but having to work three jobs just to pay it off, or even worse, a system that is more sizzle than steak. Start with your head and end with your heart — you’ll be much happier for it in the long run.

So, what unit did I end up going with? I chose a Samsung Series 5 Ultra Touch. Interestingly, it wasn’t the laptop that I absolutely wanted, but it was the laptop that best matched my 5 Ps:

  • Purpose

    I needed a basic computer to for work that can run basic word processing and spreadsheets, but powerful enough to run software like Adobe Photoshop and Dreamweaver.

  • Platform

    I’m a PC man. It was Windows all the way for me. Specifically, however I needed Windows 8 to become familiar with the new OS.

  • Portability

    As mentioned earlier, size and weight were very important to me. Portable devices are getting sleeker and lighter, without losing their processing power. There’s quite a range of units available and so the final 2 Ps became quite important in whittling down my choices.

  • Price

    Fortunately I was not hamstrung too much on price; however, I also like to think that I am quite a reasonable and rational person. I was definitely looking under a $1,000 price tag, and the lower the better.

  • Preference

    Once I worked through my initial 4 Ps, I was still left with quite a selection of units to choose from. I really wanted a laptop with at least a 15-inch screen, and I was really keen on the Samsung Series 9. However, one of my must-have criteria was that the unit needed to have a touchscreen so I could take full advantage of Windows 8.

    After much deliberating, I stuck to my 5 P principles and whittled my choices down to the Samsung Series 5, the Acer Aspire S7 and the Lenovo Yoga units. From there, it was down to my preference based on feel, look and whatever other emotional chord was being pulled by the respective manufacturers. I have a Samsung phone that I love and so I went with what I know and trust.

    So there you have it, some buying advice supported by a real world example of the principles in action. I hope you’ve found it useful, and feel free to share your experiences with us, or ask us a question about your purchasing conundrum. We’re here to help!

  • Brett Duncan

    Nice article, but don’t say you have a preference towards a certain operating, and don’t forget to mention iOS, Android, Windows RT, Chrome OS, Ubunta, etc.

  • LadyLiberTEA

    Thank you for correcting another review, and linking to your article here, I especially liked your “more sizzle than steak” and “start w/ your head & finish w/ your heart.” After reading many reviewers’ probs right out of the box, though, it would help to forearm readers to plug in their new pcs right away & use them heavily to identify defects before loading a lot onto & into them–why I prefer to buy from local “brick & mortar” stores for face-to-face accountability & quick exchange/refund, before adding to a pc.

    Happily lighter use notebook resurgence w/ more power & storage than Ultrabooks or tablets but now lighter weight & cooler if Intel Cor i3-i7 needing less power; & multi core processors allow more simultaneous applications; & memory often upgradeable; w/ longer battery too, some 5-10 hour.

    In my pc research/shopping/experiences, online CPU comparisons help, and in addition to adding memory and a Solid State Drive SSD for more speed, a matte screen film/protective cover compensates for non-matte screen glare hard on eyes/vision; Square Trade hassle-free quick protection plan; iObit Advanced System Care free or pro indispensable maintenance; Sophos antivirus better than all I’ve tried inc tenacious McAfee, consuming AVG or Avast, or Kaspersky letting a trojan through, incomprehensible & some features didn’t function right, & no easy support.

    Wondering though if SSD high price brings pc down from HDD standard 500GB to as low as 128GB maybe better stay w/ HDD higher since I don’t like cloud vulnerability and I prefer local hardware storage cheaper too.

    P.S. I don’t agree w/ other commenter protesting your sharing your research & preference for Windows O/S I appreciate hearing others’ experiences and resulting views and wish I’d known earlier Win8 drawbacks before purchasing latest Samsung i5-3210M I would have chosen Win7 more available & better priced then.

    Win8 shocking disappointments make me glad I’m not a touch-screen user & can still seek Win7 for a second home pc for light use & entertainment instead of Win8 jettisoned Blu-Ray & DVD play even when “compatible” VLC added; intermittently says “no Adobe Flash Player” though embedded & “running”; forces importing traditional Start button from Advanced System Care; often incompatible w/ major websites especially financial; etc.
    I learned from this & some other updates to not take on new versions any sooner than must, keep copy of existing in case something updates it away, let bugs get worked out of new, & compare online comments. People are so helpful. Thank you all :)




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