Below are some guidelines that represent my current thinking on the subject; feel free to add your own suggestions and ideas in the comments section below. Desktops and larger laptops: Buy now Considering the modest gains in actual application performance including the HD graphics , if you're holding off for performance reasons, don't. For a traditional desktop or all-in-one with no battery, the last-gen processor isn't a big deal. The same goes, to a lesser extent, for inch and larger laptops, which by their nature spend most of their time tethered to a desk and power outlet. On the bright side, some gaming laptops, such as the Alienware 14 and Toshiba Qosmio X75 , have already moved to Haswell.
Battery life on these is amazing, and I'd be hard-pressed to buy a premium ultrabook or faux-trabook with shorter non-Haswell battery life. Budget shoppers: Wait if you can, or seek out bargains if you can't Some of our favorite reasonably priced laptops, such as the Dell Inspiron 14z and Sony's Vaio Fit 14 , are not available with fourth-gen Intel Core i-series CPUs yet, nor is there an estimated date for them.
That said, we're already seeing some good deals on pre-Haswell PCs, as retailers and manufacturers begin blowing out inventory to make room for those new Haswell models. Keep an eye on those Sunday newspaper circulars and Internet deals. Well, it's time to stop compromising. The hour battery life on the new MacBook Air proves it: it's possible to get much better battery life on tablets than we're getting now, and we should demand it. In other words, if you like the look and feel of a current Windows tablet, hold out for the Haswell version. Bonus advice: Don't worry about Windows 8. Any computer running the current OSes should be easily upgradable to the forthcoming versions; there's no reason to wait for them to be released before buying.
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Don't buy a new PC or Mac before you read this - CNET
By Dan Ackerman. How do you tell which is which? That's the tricky part.
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The current laptop landscape As we move into the Haswell era, the market is in flux. Need a hour laptop? Get the new inch MacBook Air. See it.
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So I switched back. My expectations going in were uncertain. I know Windows has evolved radically since I last used it, back in the XP era, and has even changed since the last time I used it in anger, shortly after the launch of Windows 8. The current latest version of the operating system, Windows 10 confusingly, only one version later than 8.
It meshes the new Windows experience of version 8 with an old-style desktop more elegantly than previous versions, while consigning ever more of the cruft deep into nested menus and offering a slick experience for first-time users. I was also given hope by the machine. After an awkward start with the first version of the Surface back in , then pitched as an iPad competitor, Microsoft has become one of the best manufacturers of Windows PCs there is. The Surface Book is a delicious machine, masquerading as a MacBook Pro-class laptop but with a fully detachable touchscreen that opens it up to a whole new range of uses.
But for now, the company has been content to sit on the edge of the market, making niche devices for the power user. Despite all of that, I had a fair amount of trepidation. Memories of blue screens of death, of driver conflicts, of cleaning out my registry and restoring the system after a malware infection, are hard to shake, as is the general hangover from my youth of Microsoft as the Great Satan of the tech world. As Zuckerberg is to the s, Gates was to the s: ever-present, professionally amoral, and incredibly, unflappably, successful.
But Gates is gone, as is Ballmer. Some of the problems are as simple, but nonetheless infuriating, as different keyboard shortcuts. A lifetime of muscle memory has told me that Command-Space brings up Spotlight, which is the main way I opened programmes on my Mac. Similar mismatches appear in areas like window management, alt-tab behaviour, and programme installation.
That was an annoying problem. And yet, hovering in the bottom right, permanently, was a little box showing whether I was running in UK English or US English, with no option in sight to remove it. In the end, I had to turn to Twitter for troubleshooting advice. We determined that there was no option to remove the US English language because there was no US English language set up.
Don't buy a new PC or Mac before you read this
So to remove it, all I had to do was go into a language menu, add English United States as an option, and then remove English United States as an option. I know. But it worked, so who am I to complain. That advantage has largely been eroded over the years, as Microsoft has cottoned on to the joys of vertical integration, plug and play accessories, and standards-compliant behaviour.
But not entirely. About an hour of fruitless Googling later — including several suggestions to install obsolete utilities, hack the registry, or roll back to an earlier version of Windows — and I discovered the way to do what I wanted. I had to download drivers for my mouse. Drivers are the small pieces of software that tell the operating system how to work with hardware, from complex components like graphics cards to simple accessories like this mouse.
But the necessity, or not, of drivers for accessories was a big part of that competitive push by Apple, which made a point of ensuring out-of-the-box support for many of the most commonly used peripherals like printers, cameras and mice. Installing drivers for a mouse to enable a niche behaviour is no great hardship, but it still left me moderately concerned.