Cheap PCs

I did our weekly shopping tonight at a Super Walmart, and a number of Windows PCs were on sale, all $500 or less.

Would I still recommend an iPad over a $500 bargain computer?

It depends on the person. Most of the time, I would. In particular, I’d recommend a refurbished iPad 2 from Apple for $349.

My dad bought my mother a small netbook, which he actually uses most of the time (so really, he bought it for himself). My mom is trying to learn how to use it, but with little luck. She would be up and running with an iPad in no time.

I’m a computer guy, so I totally and completely understand the freedom that a PC (Windows, Mac, or Linux) gives you above and beyond an iPad or a tablet. But that freedom comes with a cost.

  • How much are you going to spend on software for that PC? For as much as you spend on Microsoft Office (the most basic edition), I can outfit an iPad with a ton of apps, including iWork.
  • Virus software. You can get good, free anti-virus software (I used to like AVG Anti-Virus), but you need to run anti-virus with a Microsoft PC. You won’t need that on the iPad.
  • What is the battery life like on that notebook computer? 10 hours on an iPad.
  • How many accessories are available on that notebook computer? Thousands for the iPad.
  • How truly portable is that notebook computer? I’ve hauled a MacBook through Europe. You feel it. My iPad travels with me everywhere, easily, even to church.
  • And most importantly, you often get what you pay for. Those bargain computers have bargain components that may fail, so you are going to need a backup strategy. The iPad comes with iCloud for free, which is adequate for most people.
  • You might think the iPad would become irrelevant by future iPads in less than two years; but remember: will that bargain notebook run Windows 8 when it is released? It’s a fair question.
  • And if you need a computer for other reasons, the bargain basement notebook probably isn’t going to serve your needs anyway. You’ll need a “higher-end” machine.

Ultimately, it’s your choice. If you choose a bargain notebook, I won’t mock you. I’ll even understand why you did it…just know that no matter what path you take, you make sacrifices-PC or tablet.


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