Don’t Waste Your Money

By Joe Callison
1 July 2020

We all like bargains, but sometimes they may not be the good deal they appear to be. Some to watch out for are below. 

Chromebooks are beginning to increase in popularity as they become more usable even when offline. They can be a more reliable and equal or better performing option for a lower cost than a cheap Windows based one. They do have one drawback that is worse than experienced with most Windows based ones, and that is lack of support for older hardware as the operating system is updated. It is similar to the problem with most Android and Apple smartphones and tablets. If you buy a bargain model that has been out for just a few years, you may find that it no longer receives operating system updates and may not even receive security updates after a short time. The lifecycle of some of these products can be as short as 3 to 5 years from when they were first introduced before they are abandoned from support. To make matters worse, Amazon has been allowing merchants to list old models of Chromebooks as “new” or “2020” which is incredibly misleading as they are actually just new listings of old models. Of course these are the bargains you first see when you search for Chromebooks. Only a detailed inspection and research of the hardware in the specifications can reveal what you are really looking at. Don’t waste your money buying old hardware that has little or no future support.

Apple Macbooks
As Apple moves away from using Intel processors to ARM processors in their products as announced this year, there will be bargains for the last remaining Intel ones produced and prior year models, both new and refurbished. If you remember the transition from PowerPC to Intel processors announced in 2005 and effective in 2006, you know how quickly people with PowerPC models were abandoned from support (last MacOS version 2009, end of parts support 2011). It is not unreasonable to expect the same bump in the road this time. It is unlikely that Apple will maintain MacOS updates and security patches for both Intel and ARM processor based models for very long. Don’t waste your money buying hardware that may have little future support or value.

The pandemic has caused scarcity of products that suddenly became in high demand worldwide, such as webcams needed for video conferencing. If you try to find any highly ranked model of any well-known brand of webcams, you will find them all out of supply. What you will find on Amazon are hundreds of brands and models you have never heard of. Some do not even indicate a brand or model but show up in the results when you search for a specific brand and model as if to mislead you. If they have enough reviews by users to be meaningful, most of them have a significant number of one-star reviews mentioning poor video or audio or other performance issues. Don’t waste your money buying inferior hardware from unknown sources.

Posted by Joe Callison

1 comment

When my brother-in-law was moved to an assisted living, I inherited an unopened box of a computer he had ordered. Turned out to be a Chromebook. The folks at Staples told me it is model Book 11, which I believe is an earlier model. What I like most about it is the ability to “browse as a guest” which leaves no browsing history, which in my case is monotonously repetitive news websites. I also like the lack of a caps lock key, which keeps me from inadvertently turning on the caps when trying to enter a password. Thanks for your blog posts, they are very helpful.

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