Saturday was a day of major purchases for me: bought a nice and wide 17″ LCD monitor, a new laptop, a Seagate FreeAgent 160 GB external HDD and 1GB of RAM for the now stuttering PC.
Buying the laptop
The parents were with me, since the laptop is (was?) for them: we went to the Toshiba, HP, Lenovo and Acer showrooms. There was very little product differentiation: The Toshiba laptops appeared to be were priced higher than the rest, and a couple of the Acer models we did like the look of did not have bluetooth. The strangest thing: the lenovo showroom had the laptops packaged, and the shopkeeper appeared intent on pushing the HP/Compaq range at us. We couldn’t really try out any of the laptops, so we decided to just go to the HP showroom. In ideal circumstances, I take my time and talk to 20 friends before making such a purchase. However, the mother was adamant that we pick one up TODAY, and so we did. Since there was very little product differentiation, I told them to choose a screen size that they’re comfortable with, and I just picked up the one that had all the basic features, was fast enough, and had enough USB ports and Bluetooth.
The one problem I did face while buying a laptop: every machine (barring the Acers) had a Windows Vista installed. The Acers had Linux, which I don’t think the parents would have been able to handle. Apparently, HP doesn’t give you an option for an OS, so no XP; not even if you buy a CD and give it to them to install it. The Vista is unbelievably counter-intuitive, going against design and usability that Microsoft has gotten its users used to. Now, every time one starts a program, it asks you to verify that you want the program launched. It took me 45 minutes to figure out where I can add the network settings, and even then, I had to turn off a bunch of settings to make the connection work. Like Shyam said – so much has been made of the security loopholes in Windows, that this time there’s overkill – it’s almost as if they don’t want you to use the Internet with the Vista. That, and the extremely poor usability. What I can’t figure out is – if Vista’s such a pain, why is HP offering its users such a sub-standard product – and not giving users a choice? An OS adds around Rs. 500 to the cost of a laptop.
I’m not very comfortable installing OS’ and partitioning hard drives, so Shyam offered to help switch the laptop to XP: Now it appears that XP doesn’t support the new hard drive format – SATA, and will require additional drivers. Since MS is likely to discontinue the XP updates, and switch/force users to switch to Vista, I might just end up switching the laptop to Ubuntu…which isn’t so bad for me, but might not be so easy for the parents.
The Seagate External HDD And The Monitor
Some regret about the Seagate external HDD and Monitor… I should have spent a couple O’ grand more and bought the 300 GB drive, and a 19″ monitor. The drive tries to replicate the functioning of a normal desktop, which is silly…but it appears more reliable than the others available in the market — my 40GB one (laptop drive in a local USB casing) is quite unreliable.