Brand X to soar

Good enough, says Bill Quick, is, well, good enough:

The computer industry (and I include in this makers of smartphones, tablets, and traditional computers in whatever form factor) is currently agonizing over the commodification of the personal computer. By this I mean that while geeks and fanbois drool over esoteric pixel counts and multi-core processors, normal buyers (which means 95%-plus of them) just want something that works for them at the lowest price they can find consistent with a reasonable level of quality.

How many of those normal buyers, I wonder, swore by [brand name] right up until the moment when their [brand name] machine turned into a paperweight?

Disclosure: The last time I owned a computer with a brand name on it was 1991, when I retired my Commodore 128. My current machine, slightly ahead of the curve when I bought it in 2006 — dual-core! — is now slightly behind.


  1. fillyjonk »

    23 October 2013 · 3:33 pm

    I would also add to “something that works” the caveat of “something that’s not going to be horribly, horribly outdated in six months.”

    Part of the reason I’m a late adopter is that I remember the era of Betamax.

  2. CGHill »

    23 October 2013 · 5:38 pm

    As do I. (I still have several dozen tapes, and hardware which was working the last time it was cranked up.)

  3. Bill Quick »

    23 October 2013 · 6:08 pm

    In general, the brand names have a pretty good track record on putting out decent machines at decent prices. As for the hope that something won’t be obsolete in six month, re-read Moore’s Law and dream on.

    The flip side of that, though, is that the replacement of your obsolete machine, when you buy it, will be smaller, more powerful, more capable, and cost considerably less.

  4. CGHill »

    23 October 2013 · 6:24 pm

    It will certainly cost less; I put $850 into this custom job. (The most expensive component, however, wasn’t hardware; it was the operating system.) $399 buys one heck of a box these days.

  5. Jeffro »

    23 October 2013 · 7:51 pm

    I just run laptops, and feel lucky when I get one to run for more than a couple of years. But, they are rode hard, put away wet, and have a lot of miles on ’em by then, so when a component fails, it’s generally not cost effective to repair.

  6. McGehee »

    23 October 2013 · 9:15 pm

    normal buyers (which means 95%-plus of them) just want something that works for them at the lowest price they can find consistent with a reasonable level of quality.

    Which is why, at least for a while, about 95% of personal computers ran Windows. Now it might be down to 94%.

    As for obsolescence, that is a term of art in the computer market. People among the aforesaid 95% are still happily rattling keys on single-core machines running Windows XP, and won’t be bullied into upgrading just because Microsoft won’t be supporting XP anymore, as long as the computer boots up and they can log into Facebook to like cat videos.

  7. jsallison »

    24 October 2013 · 6:40 pm

    Son took the C128 with him when he moved out in ’94, iirc. Have two 7 or 8 yo emachines using XP that I see no reason to dump until it is no longer possible to find parts. Also a 6 yo vista laptop. They are ‘Good Enough’.

  8. CGHill »

    24 October 2013 · 9:34 pm

    My notebook is XP with SP3 — but it’s twelve years old and beyond any conceivable upgrade path. (It won’t take more than 512 MB of RAM no matter how you hold your jaw.)

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