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Bruce Kerr goes Xmas shopping

WITH Christmas fast approaching I many of us will be after a present for ourselves or for a lucky child or grandchild and many of these presents will be in the IT field.

So I decided to do some online shopping for you and see what is around.

So what needs to be reviewed?

There is little point in me reviewing speakers or headphones as you can simply have a listen and look at the price tags and make an informed decision yourselves.

Mice and Keyboard kits are very much what you pay for & I'd suggest not going past the Microsoft or Logitech brands. Purchasing a computer software game is best left to the individual so this is not always a good present.

Computers screens are very interesting in their different performance parameters however you can still make a pretty good decision based on size and picture quality, so I will narrow this article down to computers themselves and in particular laptop sized devices. I have said many times in the past that tablets have a place as a cheap device to browse the Internet however their use is very limited.

So I went shopping online for a laptop that was not a toy. I like the Hewlett Packard brand so I found a large retailer with a good range of HP's and started comparing. For this study I decided to only look at laptops that had 8GB of ram as once again I believe that a laptop with anything less is basically a toy - however in this case a frustration toy!

The lowest priced HP that had 8GB of ram was $548 and it had an AMD A6-6310 CPU - so what does that mean? Looking up the specs on this CPU I see that it has a benchmark of 2373, so is this good? Not really, you need to read on.

The next model up was priced at $679 and had an AMD A6-7310 CPU with a benchmark of 2579. One more price step to $747 gets to and Intel i5-5200U with a benchmark of 3477 and a final price rise to $847 sees us buying an Intel 15-6200U with a benchmark of 4046 which is near double the performance of the lowest priced device.

So which one would I rather use? It is very simply like comparing a 4 cylinder car to a good V8 and in a year or two when software is more complex it is like putting a large trailer behind the above cars. The other interesting thing here is that both of the AMD's were quad core whereas the Intel offerings were only dual core CPU's. There is more to this than meets the eye.

Once again I call for our industry to adopt standardised advertising that mandates the reporting of CPU power (just like fuel economy stickers on cars) so that the average layman can compare apples to apples.

Looking a little closer at these offerings I see that all of them offered only 5400RPM hard drive (read slow) and return to manufacturer warranties. Also like every current brand of laptop, they come with an enormous amount of junk software and every Internet sign up system under the sun to coax you into spending a few extra dollars each month to further bloat the pockets of large international software companies.

I also happened to find a friendly local company offering a business grade HP with 8GB of ram, an Intel i5-6200U CPU, a 7200RPM hard drive (read fast) and a manufacturer backed next business day on-site warranty. Interestingly the same company removes all of the junk software, configures the laptop for speed and reliability and retails this product at $949

Writing this with tongue in cheek, one wonders how they do it. Next week we will talk about sending your drone to Bunnings for a sausage. Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to an

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