Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Window shopping.

I don't know if it's the time of year, or some internal clock that tells me it's time to buy some new technology, but I've developed a hankering to increase my computing/online power lately. The old Inspiron laptop is about 4 years old now, and still running quite well, but not perfect, and I know that it won't last forever. At the pretty cheap prices of some things I have been considering lately, I could easily see myself buying something new before the end of the school year.

Here are the options I'm considering:
Option 1: A sublaptop computer
Mini laptops like the Acer Aspire One and Dell Inspiron Mini are all the rage right now. I first saw one in the hand of one of my former students a few months ago, and instantly fell in love with the idea of having an actual laptop computer in a size that would allow me to carry it anywhere. These mini machines also have flash memory instead of a hard drive, meaning that there are less mechanical parts to worry about and they boot faster than a larger computer. Also, they are super affordable right now, starting at prices around $350.

I think if I went with this option, I would want to get a machine that could basically replace my current laptop and be a step up in computing power, meaning that I would most likely want to upgrade RAM upon purchase to at least 1 GB and buy an external DVD-ROM drive.

Pros: Lots of power packed into a small size.
Cons: A significant chunk of change.

Option 2: A Wi-Fi card for my PDA
I already have a Palm Tungsten E2, so why not upgrade it with a Wi-Fi card to make it possible for me to surf the net with a device I already carry around?

Pros: Increased functionality in a device I already carry around. Not as much need to bring a computer with me. Not very expensive. (I think a card would be something like $75.)
Cons: I've had the Tungsten for a couple of years now. It could do some basic browsing and document editing, but I'd still have to use my semi-aging laptop for more serious computing tasks.

Option 3: A Blackberry-type phone
What about upgrading my cell phone to a model that includes browsing capability? Today's smart phones could replace a lot of functions of my computer and PDA in one shot.

Pros: Again, portability. Being able to access the Internet just about anywhere. Coolness factor.
Cons: Pricey! And I'm not sure if I love the idea of surfing the web on THAT tiny of a screen.

So I haven't yet decided what to do, nor have I allocated money for whatever the purchase turns out to be. But it occurs to me that I might want to take advantage of educational pricing while it is available, however that turns out. Any ideas?

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