Whenever I write about the computers I recommend, I hear from Windows users who demand equal time. So here goes: The latest version of Windows, called Windows 8, is a disaster without parallel in the history of computers.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983
Cheapskate's guide for 2012: Computers
December 2, 2012
By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2012, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2012, The Post-Standard
Buying a laptop is much easier than buying a desktop computer. You have far fewer choices to muddle up your decision.
But I'll make the desktop part of the equation easier, too. Let's talk about laptops first.
Many of you know that I recommend Apple's computers almost exclusively. There are many reasons -- freedom from break-ins and virus attacks, great customer support and outstanding built-in software, for example.
But I also think Apple's Macs represent something too often missing from products we spend our lives with. They're crafted, not stamped out. They're designed to look good and work well. Nobody I know can afford the best of everything, but we might as well try affording the best of something -- and what better object of our affection than a computer that reminds us, every time we use it, of the art of beautiful design?
Apple's MacBook laptops need no further praise. They're adored by college freshmen and soccer moms alike. The "Air" models are exceptionally thin and have great battery life, with the 11-inch MacBook Air the darling of the brood. It's very light, sports a super-bright display and a full-size lighted keyboard, and is small enough to hide inside a magazine.
The 11-inch Air starts at $999. The 13-inch model is $200 more. Refurbished models, sold with new warranties, are usually available at significant discounts. Look for "Special Deals" on the main website at http://store.apple.com/us.
Let's make desktop computer buying just as simple. The best-selling desktop computer in the U.S. is the iMac. which comes in two screen sizes, a super-large 21.5-inch display and a humongous 27-inch display. (Yes, showing movies on it will make you weep.)
As an industrial design, the iMac is a triumph, and you simply must see it "in the flesh" even if you aren't going to own one. The screen edges are thin enough to qualify as steak knives. As if to make a point about something no other company has tried, Apple built the entire computer into that thin piece of glass and aluminum.
Prices start at $1,299 and run to $1,999, depending on screen size and processor speed.
A final note: Whenever I write about the computers I recommend, I hear from Windows users who demand equal time. So here goes: The latest version of Windows, called Windows 8, is a disaster without parallel in the history of computers. If you buy a Windows PC and it comes with Windows 8, get your money back.