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What to look for when buying a new PC

Here are some tips for prospective PC buyers upgrading from their Windows XP computers. 

Published on May 9, 2014 8:04 AM
 

It has been a month since Microsoft ended support for Windows XP. If you are still using Windows XP, it is like painting a bullseye for hackers, as Microsoft is no longer releasing security patches for the operating system.

You have two choices - upgrade to a newer version of Windows, or buy a new computer. Here are some things to look out for when shopping for a new PC.

Hybrids, ultrabooks and all-in-ones
All-in-one PCs: Great for users with limited desk space, AIOs integrate the display and CPU into a single, elegant unit. They usually have screen sizes of between 21 and 27 inches and with touch support, too. But unlike a desktop PC, there is little room for future upgrades.

Hybrids: These touch-capable devices are designed for the touch-centric Windows 8 operating system. They can switch between different usage modes, such as tablet and laptop. While there are numerous designs out there, the best ones has a flexible hinge that let the screen rotate 360 degrees so that it can convert from a laptop to a tablet and vice versa.

Ultrabooks: These sleek and slim laptops are the PC industry’s take on the Apple MacBook Air. Initially, they were pricey, premium models, but manufacturers have since produced more affordable versions by using materials such as plastic instead of aluminium.

Tip: AIOs are suitable for both entertainment and content creation as they have a large screen and fairly capable hardware. Ultrabooks tend to be more portable and have longer battery life than typical laptops, but are more expensive. Hybrids are versatile, but they do not make the best tablets or laptops. Pick the form factor that best fits you.

It’s all about touch
Whether it is a hybrid or an all-in-one PC, chances are that they will have a touchscreen and run Windows 8.

The thing about Windows 8 is that it feels like two operating systems that have been forced together. There is the tile-based interface that is designed for touch. And then there is the traditional Windows desktop with the usual icons and windows. When the two collide, things get messy and confusing. The latest Windows update alleviates some of these issues, though more improvements are expected later this year.  

On a touch-capable device, Windows 8 actually works well, though you may need to learn some gestures to get around the interface.

While early touchscreens added a significant amount of weight to the device, and increased its price, the latest touch-capable PCs are affordable and only slightly heavier than the non-touch version.

Tip: Try out the demo sets at retail outlets to see if you prefer having a touch option. Who knows, you may even like it.

 
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