Got a call yesterday from a friend who is buying her daughter a computer for college.
Once we got through the pricing for the system she picked out (it was a good price for a 4 Gig RAM, 320 Gig HD laptop, with web cam) we moved on to discuss virus protection, browsers, and Office. This is where my advice has changed DRAMATICALLY in the past 6 to 12 months.
1. Do not pay for anti-virus. Go to Microsoft (lets assume we are talking Windows machines) and download Microsoft Security Essentials. It is free, and it works fine. And who knows Windows better than Microsoft?
2. On the flip side of Microsoft, I suggest not buying the Microsoft Office Suite. There are two valid options here:
A. You can download the free Open Office suite of software which in it’s latest versions (a few years back this was not the case) can read and save files that are Office compatible.
B. Move to the cloud and use Google Docs which are getting better and better at a rapid pace.
3. In the old days, the speed of the processor was what made a computer. Now, with 32 and 64 bit systems, that does not seem to be the primary measurement anymore (at least not for me). I would say that any processor you pick (or that is installed in the computer you choose) is going to be good to excellent. So go with the flow. I now look at RAM, HD space, size of the screen, and if you want, an embedded web cam or not. Pretty basic.
4. As for browsers. My suggestions now are Chrome or Firefox. IE is not among my favorites, but, I must say it appears to be getting better and, more importantly, safer. Chrome is so freaking fast….and the fact that I am quickly moving everything to Google cloud…..I use Chrome almost exclusively. Firefox when I have to, and never IE.
Lets chat about videoconferencing for one second. With Skype (and similar video chat apps, even Facetime), and the young kids now going off to college with an intimate knowledge, and comfort, with computers…I see the day VERY SOON where videoconferencing will be, finally (finally!), ubiquitous. Not in the conference room, but, at home, at school, and at any WiFi hot spot.
The world is changing, computing is moving to the cloud, and it makes sense to start making the move, or at least, not tying yourself down with expensive software as you transition.
The kids will push videoconferencing to the levels I have always thought would be the case. My Sharepoint slide show from March 2009 (or see it embedded below) talked about “mobile videoconferencing”…THAT is fast becoming a reality. 🙂
Move on, move up…keep creating!