March 27, 2008

How seriously should we take Moore's Law?

I'm going to need some feedback on this one.

My neighbor's computer died. She's borrowing one of my old ones for the time being. She's on a fixed income and it will be a little while before she can buy a new one.

I'm the most tech savvy person she knows, so she was talking to me about what she should get. A little bit of back ground, she's retired, in her sixties, and uses her computer mostly for email, financial stuff, and some cheap mind-challenging puzzle games.

So - I told her, you can get a brand new desktop for $300 or less - actually $200 if you got with a gPC or similar. (And I explained what a gPC was.) She then followed up with a "Yeah, but I think I'd rather save up a little while longer and get what I really want."

I don't have a problem with that line of thinking - except I don't think she knows what she wants. I mean, the old clunker she's borrowing can do everything she wants to do, it may be a little slow in doing it, but it works. A new computer - even the cheapest on the market - would do it all and be faster than the 3 year old PC she had that died.

Here's my thinking. I'm not worried about how long she borrows my old PC. It's not like I was using it. If she wants to save up $600 or $700 and get a powerful desktop - that's her business. I just think you could save up your $600 - spend $300 of it now, and get a very useful machine - and set the other $300 in a cookie jar, wait a year, and get a more powerful computer for that $300 then than you could with your $600 now.


  1. Am I being too generous to Moore's Law? Would next year's $300 desktop be more powerful than this year's $600 one?
  2. Keep in mind her basic uses of the PC - no hard core gaming - no terabytes of pirated movies to store - no video editing or 3D rendering taking place - no galaxies to map .... What could you get for $600 that you can get for $400?
  3. Should I suggest her get a $600 laptop instead of a $600 desktop? She does travel to see family pretty often. (Read - several times a year.)

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Tia Lobo said...

Definitely tell her to save for a laptop. There's a marked difference in usefulness for the average user in a laptop. And her needs are also easily served by a laptop.

And she will probably need to save up to the $600 price-point in order to get a laptop that she can actually use. I say that because the Linux varieties that are being used on the eeePC and Cloudbook seem to have some peculiarities, especially in handling WiFi. That'll just be frustrating!

But I think the next year will see some pretty amazing developments at the low-end of laptops. And low-end just means not able to run the latest game. Compared to laptops five years ago, these are amazingly powerful computers.

makuahine said...

A laptop might be a better idea for her if she travels. Not to mention the compactness of one and the anywhere-in-the-house ability. I've been pushing laptops lately when people ask, lol.

I also wouldn't be surprised to find next year's $300 computer to be more powerful than this year's $600 one!

Maybe you could ask her what she (thinks she) wants and find her something as cheap as possible, showing her she doesn't have to double costs to get what she needs.

Anonymous said...

welll if you tell her to shoot for a laptop there is that sell preconfigured ubuntu laptops desktops and servers.... Im seriouly thinking about buying one of the highend everex laptops or a system76

btw this is cb88 from the GP32x forum :-)