Thursday, February 21, 2013


My son, who loves everything tech, nevertheless has had a standard response to my lamentations about computer disasters over the years: "Well, Mom, it's a computer," he says, his voice laced with resignation. Great tool, he seems to imply, but it will crash, die, melt, go up in flames when you least expect it. That's par for the course.

Anyone who has known me for awhile knows that computer blues are just a part of my life. I've had a monitor die, another (brand new) develop red and green vertical lines, a power supply on a reliable dinosaur conk out and the unit was too ancient for a replacement to be found. Then burglars relieved me of the first brand new laptop I owned, a gift from my bro. I fell in love with the little 13" brushed chrome beauty I purchased on Amazon, then it died after two years of stellar performance.

I'm now using on my son's old Dell Studio laptop. He upgraded to Mac a year ago and was happy to help me out with his old workhorse. The horse is heavy, though. I can't lug it to school or to the office unless I want to court a sprained back. It is slow; my son has oodles of stuff on there, including fancy bells and whistles and those games that take up so much memory.

The upshot is that I'm in the market for a new device. I've looked at tablets and eschewed the idea as they don't seem very practical for writers, unless you can afford to buy a laptop and a tablet. I do envy all those students who keep flashing these small, lightweight, clever devices in class, though. I've looked at the Chromebook, tempted by the idea of effortless backing up to a cloud, but it doesn't run Word; I can't envisage a world without Word, somehow. I've looked at the Microsoft Surface, but it's too expensive and the reviews are iffy. The Samsung Ultrabook looks very attractive right now, but I'm not paying almost $900 plus shipping and handling plus courier fees to the Caribbean for anything Microsoft right now. The Macbook Air has been an ongoing temptation since it appeared, and I can't help wondering whether it might actually be cost effective if Microsoft laptops are going to die on me every other year.

If you know of a device, small, lightweight but powerful, runs Windows, looks good and is perfect for a cash-strapped writer, let me know.

There is also the issue of backups. I've added backups to the Amazon Cloud to my old system of backing up to flash drives since my brushed-chrome beauty died months ago, but I've been hearing that Dropbox is the thing. Advice on cloud backups from the pros out there also welcome!

Liane Spicer


Eugenia O'Neal said...

Yes, the additional cost of shipping to the Caribbean does make certain things prohibitive. I don't have a laptop though I've been thinking about it so I'll be interested in the answers. Some brands that you might want to look at also are Acer and Lenovo.

William Doonan said...

A regular Macbook Pro, not the air, is my choice. Light but still powerful enough, and with tons of memory.

Unknown said...

Glad for this post and will check back for responses. This will be my next big purchase as well.

Anonymous said...

Here are a few cloud backup services that are free or very cheap. I use them all!

A-Drive — 50 GB free storage —
Dropbox — 2 GB free storage —
FilesAnywhere — Approx $1 per GB per month —
Google Drive — 5 GB free storage –

If you can still buy them, then I would recommend a netbook for writing, rather than an ultrabook. I got one last year for about $450. It's an Asus EEE PC.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm generally pretty happy with my Dell laptop, although I had to add an external mouse since I hate laptop mice.

Jewel Amethyst said...

A year and some ago I bought the Dell Inspiron Duo. It is a lightweight laptop/tablet convertible that runs windows (using it right now). I was happy at first but then realized though it had both the functions of a tablet and a laptop, it doesn't do either of them very well. It is adequate for my purposes, but a lot slower than I expected. The good thing is, I can carry it in my purse and don't have to have a special laptop bag.

I don't know if it is still available from Dell, but recently I saw they brought out some more convertibles but were twice the price of what I paid for the Duo.

Liane Spicer said...

Thanks for the suggestions, Eugenia. I'm not too familiar with the brands but they've been coming up frequently in the searches I've been doing.

Liane Spicer said...

William, the Macbook Pro is looking more attractive to me every day. It's such a beauty, but I don't know if I'm ready to spend that kind of cash on the one hand, or to learn a new operating system on the other. I've been reading about people who made the switch and just hated it.

Liane Spicer said...

Julie, let us know what you chose!

Liane Spicer said...

Thank you for the great suggestions, Captain Black. Will investigate.

Liane Spicer said...

Charles, I too must have a regular mouse. Dell hasn't been kind to me, though--although I can't blame the company for the one that was stolen. :|

Liane Spicer said...

Jewel, I'll look into the Duo. I really like the sound of the tablet portability with laptop functionality.