Help to Buy

At Genmar we spend a good deal of time explaining the various options and differences of IT hardware to customers, both home and business.

I realise that the choices can be quite daunting due to lazy advertising by the manufacturers and large retailers. Most of the staff you are advised by at MEGAIRONINGBOARDANDLAPTOPPLANETWORLD only look like they know more than you because they have a uniform and know where the toilets are. So, it is not unusual to walk in with a question regarding watching Gardeners World on your iPad when on your caravan holiday in Cromer, and walk out with a new £1000 Laptop and a dazed expression.

The following should help you make an informed decision.

Firstly, you need to make a few decisions –

Do I need it to be portable? – if not then a PC is your best bet, you get more bang for your buck with a PC. As screens and keyboards are separate you can replace if broken or upgrade without throwing away the computer too.

If yes, then you need a laptop or maybe a tablet. Laptops are full computers and function in the same way. Tablets are like PC’s and Laptops but do not have all the bells and whistles. They are great for browsing the internet while watching Strictly but not for running your company accounts or editing HD video. Laptops come in three main sizes – 14” (light, longer battery life, most expensive), 15.6” (best bang for buck), 17” + (neater than a full desktop PC with a big screen, poor battery, heavy). Tablets mainly about 11”. Most popular tablet by far is the ubiquitous Apple iPad.

What specification do I need – We are torn between displaying all the detailed spec of computers in our store or dumbing down and just saying “it’s blue – buy it”. Like a car, you do not need to go for the fastest one available, you need one that will do what you want it to do for the next few years.

Once you have decided on what sort you need to decide on the spec. If opting for a tablet, go to a store and play with them or ask your friends to show you theirs and buy the one you feel more comfortable with – obviously if you are buying a new iPad best sell your house as they are not cheap. If a laptop or a PC there are only three things you need to look at other than the price and how it looks.

CPU – (processor, brain, whatever) – only consider Intel. There are three main types i3, i5 and i7. Simple use like internet browsing, word docs, few snaps, bit of online streaming of Downton Abbey and East Enders, i3 is fine. Heavier use, photo manipulation, video editing, or just want the thing to be nippy then i5. Want it fast for no reason or into PC gaming, semi or professional editing then i7. Normally when advertised in store you will see i5 then a bunch of numbers. The first number is the series, new systems should all be 7***, if not you may be being sold old stock.

RAM – the more the merrier. 4GB is now the start point with 8GB recommended, normally quite cheap to upgrade. Some systems can take up to 128GB.

Storage (HDD or SSD) – the bit of internal kit where all your photos of aunty Jean asleep dribbling into her Baileys at Xmas are stored. HDD (hard disk drive – old tech) you will see large capacity drives with 1 or 2 TB, they are slow and mechanical and more likely to fail but cheaper and larger. SSD (solid state drive – new tech) normally with 120 – 240GB capacity, 4 to 16 times smaller but up to 10 times faster. Both are being sold by retailers, for most people it is better to have the comfort of a large storage capacity over the speed.

So, consider what type, the use, settle on a spec and budget (oh and obviously, the colour should match the curtains). You can then shop with confidence and walk out with pride and probably a 10-year warranty costing more than the tablet.

Conversely If you want some proper advice and a cup of tea and a seat, come and have a chat with the guys in our workshop.

Top Tip – to search within a document or web page rather than scour the text for hours down the Ctrl button (bottom left on your keyboard) and hit the “f” key (ctrl+F) and a small pop up window will appear. Type in what you are looking for and “hey presto”

Best Buy –  HP 250 G5 i3 Laptop £349.98 –

App of the week – Words With Friends – world’s most popular word game. Good brain exercise.

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