Cyber Santa? Tips for choosing the best PC gift
(BPT) - The number of shopping days until Christmas is dwindling, and the clock is ticking as you try to carve out time to shop for the perfect PC gift.
Between complicated specs, endless reviews and technical mumbo-jumbo, finding the right PC that meets all your requirements can be daunting. But there are a number of compelling reasons to upgrade this year, including the debut of Microsoft's new Windows 10 operating system, along with laptops that are thinner, lighter, faster, cheaper and more interactive. Some PCs are running less than $350.
For those short of time and/or technical expertise, here’s a simplified PC buying guide for the holiday season.
- Start by identifying probable use of the PC. Will it be shared? Does the user want it for business, entertainment, at home, at work or on the go? What programs will be needed?
- Frequent users often appreciate a keyboard or a 2-in-1 (a convertible that transforms from laptop to tablet and back), while others may prefer a tablet. In general, Consumer Reports says, desktops deliver “more performance for the money,” are less costly to repair, come with better speakers and allow for more ergonomics. But many laptops are high performers as well, and weight and size matters more to those who frequently haul their devices.
- A PC’s power is made up of its central processing unit (CPU), random access memory (RAM) and hard drive. Even inexpensive devices today have impressive speed and power, but more may be needed for professional photo and video editing or advanced gaming. For those uses, seek devices with Core i5 or Core i7 processors such as the ASUS ROG G752. An 8GB memory is common for desktops while 4GB is “plenty” for most tasks, according to Consumer Reports.
- Most of today’s screens are big, sharp and proficient at displaying documents, streaming Internet shows and playing casual games. Among the clearest: devices with a 4K screen, or 4,000 pixels of horizontal resolution -- that’s roughly twice the resolution of most televisions currently on the market. An example is Toshiba Satellite Radius 15.
- Long battery life is a priority for travelers who depend on a constantly powered PC. The good news is that today’s more power-efficient processors and slim battery designs typically result in much longer battery life.
- Budget options can accomplish everyday tasks from the use of Microsoft Office to casual gaming, streaming video and Web surfing. The HP Pavilion x2, for example, starts at $330 and boasts a 10.1-inch HD touch screen, an 11-plus-hour battery, a detachable keyboard with magnetic hinge for laptop mode and a year of Office 365 Home.
Last-minute shoppers may find the deals don’t last, or their preferred colors and configurations aren’t available. You may want to get your dream machine while there’s a window of opportunity.
Still not certain about choosing a PC as a gift? Consider a 2014 study in the Journal of Consumer Research showing most recipients prefer gifts that offer convenience, feasibility and ease of use – major features of today’s computers.
“We tend to think too much about sentimentality than utility,” notes Derek Thompson in The Atlantic, responding to the study. “After a while, many gifts are just things. And if they're not useful or practical or convenient, then what exactly makes them a great gift?”
For more information on this year’s lineup of PCs, check out Windows.com/holiday.