Bits and Bytes December 2021

In this section of the newsletter, I will include some items related to managing and using technology - including computers, email, the Internet, and mobile phones. I hope you find it interesting.

A computer for Christmas?

Laptop presentWith Christmas just around the corner, the usual Black Friday and pre-Christmas sales will soon be in full swing with a sparkly new version of Windows available. And many people will be thinking about buying a computer, for themselves or for others.

But please don't be fooled by cheap prices — cheap really doesn't always mean cheerful. Have a read through the following buying guide to help you choose the right laptop and to hopefully avoid disappointment.

Windows 10 or 11

This year I'd be making sure that I get one that's compatible with Windows 11. It doesn't necessarily have to have it now, but I'd make sure it's compatible.

Processor — CPU

As the 'brains' of your computer, the processor does influence performance, although the choice will depend on what you need to do. If you're looking for a standard laptop with the best combination of price and performance, buy a Core i3 or Ryzen 3. Intel Core i5 or i7 CPUs and Ryzen 5 or 7 will be better for multitasking, multimedia tasks, high-end gaming, but are more expensive.

Merry ChristmasStorage — Hard Drive

This is where all your data is stored. Most people struggle to fill a 250GB Hard Drive with photos, programs and music since the average size of a photo or MP3 is about 4MB (you can store about 62,500 photos or MP3's on a small 250GB Hard Drive). However, if you play around with video files 250GB will be hugely insufficient and you should look to 1,000 GB (1TB) drives which can store about 24 hours of HD video. Warning: Be very wary of buying a laptop/netbook with less than 64Gb of storage space. Windows 10 and 11 have regular sizeable updates that you will have difficulty installing them. In fact, Windows 11 insists on a minimum 64Gb of storage. I'd advise getting a laptop with at least a 120GB Solid State Disk (SSD).

Memory — RAM

RAM is fast, temporary storage that Windows uses to load both itself and whatever it is you are doing at the time. If you are surfing the internet, you are using some RAM for Windows, a little for the web browser, a little more for your anti-virus program, etc. 4GB is the bare minimum amount of RAM you should have in a laptop, and 8GB is ideal.