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Ralsina.Me — Roberto Alsina's website

JEC: Just Enough Computer

Since I am the guy that "works with com­put­er­s" ev­ery­one asks me the same things over and over. So here's at least one an­swer.

Ques­tion: What com­put­er should I buy?


If you nev­er need a com­put­er out­side your home­/of­fice, a eee PC will suck for you, but maybe a Shut­tle KPC will do the trick.

But sup­pose you are a "Of­fice+We­b+­Mail+IM+Y­outube" guy, as are about 90% of teenage girls and maybe 95% of the over-50.

Then the KPC will work won­der­ful­ly for you, if you don't need to trav­el with it.

And the eee could work great for you if you trav­el a lot, or pre­fer your in­ter­net ac­cess on a cafe [1], al­though you could be hap­pi­er with a light-ish, or­di­nary 13" or 14" note­book with a large disk (y­ou know the size of your data, right?)

Do you use it for work on the road, on­ly? Then the eee is awe­some. I dare any­one to need over 3GB of da­ta for work, out­side of some spe­cif­ic data-in­ten­sive nich­es.

Do you see a pat­tern here? I nev­er tell you to buy a 4-­core 4GB RAM box. You do not need it.

If you need­ed it, you would not have­to ask, you would know you need it.

  • If you are a gamer, you need a gam­ing rig. But you knew that, so you were not ask­ing me.

  • If you ed­it video, you need what you need. But you knew that too.

  • If you build KDE from sources dai­­ly, well, you know you need more than one com­put­er any­way ;-)

A Celeron 900 (what's on the eee, prob­a­bly the slow­est non-VIA CPU sold to­day) is enough to play any video, ex­cept ful­l-HD (which makes no sense, since it has high­er res­o­lu­tion than your screen any­way ;-).

A 240GB disk can hold ev­ery­thing you own. Ev­ery­thing you may need on the road prob­a­bly fits on 8G­B, or 40GB if you want a huge mu­sic col­lec­tion.

So, your da­ta can fit in one ex­ter­nal disk (buy 2, do back­up­s) , and what you use of­ten will fit on any note­book you buy, even a eee PC, mod­u­lo a few SD card­s.

So, if it's not about the CPU, it's not about stor­age, it's not about the video board, why would you need a very fast com­put­er?

Buy cheap. Buy last year's mod­el. Are you will­ing to spend some ex­tra mon­ey? Then spend it on­nicer pe­riph­er­als for your desk­top com­put­er, or spend it on a qui­et com­put­er, or­spend it on a lit­tle RAM, but do NOT spend it on CPU.

Here's my cur­rent hard­ware:

  • Main trav­el­ing note­­book: Asus eee PC 4G. Can't be hap­pi­er about it.

  • Main desk­­top com­put­er: A HP Pavil­lion zd7000. Got it for noth­ing, used.

  • Rosar­i­o's desk­­top com­put­er: a In­­­tel box with no fan­s, a 600Mhz P3, got it as sur­­plus from a client for free.

Al­so: a cou­ple of mon­i­tors, a bunch of ex­ter­nal IDE disks (with el-cheapo US­B-IDE adapter­s) for back­up­s.

To­tal cost: prob­a­bly U$S 500. You will prob­a­bly pay U$S 800 for it, since you prob­a­bly have less peo­ple will­ing to dump their old com­put­ers on you ;-)

If I were to buy all new to­day, I would prob­a­bly get two KPC's along with a 9" eee.

Ex­pect­ed re­spons­es:

  • I need a faster com­put­er

    Then buy one ;-)

  • The eee/P3/KPC would be too slow!

    For what? Tell me some­thing speci­­fic, I'll try it on my eee an­dlet you know how it goes.

  • You man­age with that hard­ware be­­cause you are a low-end us­er.

    Maybe I am! But maybe you are, too. Let me know why you are high end.

Manuel Quiñones / 2008-05-29 17:40:

Estoy completamente de acuerdo con vos. Desde que uso una eee hago el 95% de las cosas con ella, como dejar este mensaje. Dejé la pc de escritorio para una sola cosa, editar video (y aveces uso esa pc via ssh desde la eee).

Yo agregaría, usá una eee si sos casi nómada como yo. Fui detectando las redes inalámbricas que hay abiartas en los lugares por donde ando, en las plazas de mi ciudad. Me gusta la característica usurpadora de la eee, puedo tomar un monitor externo o un proyector, así como los dispoositivos usb de los lugares donde voy.

leo_rockway / 2008-06-03 10:03:

I have a question for you: what would be the benefit of an eeepc over a regular [old] laptop?
Aren't P3 laptops pretty cheap on ebay anyway?

As a side note, I could definitely live with a laptop like an eeepc no problem. I can even manage just fine using only the CLI and no X, but sometimes I like doing some stuff in Blender and processor power is really needed there. Other than that, an eeepc (or any other computer of similar characteristics) is probably more than enough for most people. (That kinda sounded like "640k should be enough for anyone" haha)

Roberto Alsina / 2008-06-03 15:49:

What's the benefit? That the eee + the charger weights 1.2 kg, and fits in a A4 folder.

Since I usually carry a bag when I'm on the street, I just tuck it on a bag pocket and it's always there.

A 14" I need to think about wether I carry it or not.

Also: the SSD means that I am less likely to break it so it bears to be carried more often, and the U$S 350 it cost me means if I lose it / gets stolen, I will be pissed, but not SO pissed.

leo_rockway / 2008-06-04 06:10:

I see... the size/weight thing makes sense. I don't travel around too much with my laptop so I never thought of that.

But I did think about the low price when I mentioned the old laptop, and I thought of the same reasons (breaking, getting stolen, losing it, etc.).

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