By: Revanche

Another reason cheaper isn’t always better

November 10, 2008

Not when it comes to electronics.

A friend purchased a cheap laptop for a few hundred dollars over a year ago and is now struggling with it because it can’t load or run Vista properly on the amount of memory that came with the laptop. Since mine is over five years old and still runs Windows 2000, I had no helpful personal experience or advice.

I canvassed computer savvy friends on what to do about “shoddy Vista” which resulted in admonitions that Vista isn’t the problem, it simply requires at least 2 GB to run well. And sure enough, Q has less than 1 GB of RAM. Even better, Q called tech support and found out that the computer can only be upgraded to 1 GB, total. Uhhh…

She definitely cannot afford to simply replace the laptop because her personal finances, and that of her partner’s, are not especially stable. Bad enough that the economy’s so shaky, their household situation is such that she’s carrying most of the financial burden.

It’s a grim reminder not to lowball electronics. I’m not advocating buying first generation hardware, but if she’d spent a little more for a machine that could accept a few more GBs of RAM, it wouldn’t cost as much to upgrade memory as it would to replace the entire computer. Also, I’d much prefer upgrade existing equipment than replacing it entirely as you get more life out of the original machine and keep more junk out of the landfill. It’s not much, but preventing a habit of treating our electronics like they’re disposables can make a significant difference over the years.

My only really useful suggestion to date has been to replace Vista with an older OS with lower memory requirements. That way, she can actually use the machine. And that’s all you really need.

5 Responses to “Another reason cheaper isn’t always better”

  1. I think you’re right – if she switches to an old OS, it will be fine. I had Windows XP for YEARS and loved it. If you still have your old W2000 install disk, it might be nice to make a copy for her!

  2. Karen says:

    Why is she trying to upgrade to Vista? What happened to the installed OS?
    My old desktop can only be upgraded to 1GB. I replaced one 256MB card with a 512 last week but haven’t decided if I’ll replace the other card. Mostly because I screwed up at first and bought a 1GB and my PC doesn’t support that config. Plus, I didn’t buy 2 512 cards. I’m going to wait until I’m ready to buy an external hard drive. Or maybe a whole new Sony esp since I accidentally deleted the calculator.

  3. Revanche says:

    paranoidasteroid: I’ve been looking for my install disk, but since my computer was a gift and set up for me by a relative, they kept my disk, I think 🙁

    karen: The computer came with Vista and it’s never really run well. Huh, you can delete a basic app like a calculator? I only use my PC for basic computing and use a Mac most other times so I’m rusty on the things you can do to a PC.

  4. Karen says:

    revanche: you can add/remove windows components. I was deleting something else to free up space. Apparently I didn’t uncheck calculator (but accessories was unchecked so I’m puzzled). I’m working on trying to retrieve it.

    Install disk: Not sure about laptops but my PC did not come with an install disk. I would have had to create one (I had directions from Sony but uh, I accidentally deleted my inbox when I briefly went to thunderbird. I want to note that my deletion issues occurred on very separate occassions!)

  5. Revanche says:

    karen: I’m pretty sure lappies have reboot disks of some sort.

    I’ll take that under advisement. I tend to clean house on my computer when I’m using it a lot and have a definite tendency to do unfortunate things.

    Much … like … you …. 🙂

    Actually, I can’t be blamed for the permanently set-to-dark screen that makes me want a new laptop: I can thank the awful local Best Buy Geek Squad for the squinting pleasure.

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