what should your next computer be

What Should Your Next Computer Be in 2014?

Confused what should your next computer be? Choosing the right computer can prove to be a daunting task with the massive number of options that are currently available on the market. Laptops, ultrabooks, desktops, tablets, combination devices, and all with their own specifications, operating systems, and features.  Where do you start?

If you are in the market for a new computer in 2014 and have started looking around, you probably found many different types of devices and brands with varied capabilities and pricing, along with a broad range of cool designs.  In order to narrow down your selection to ensure you get the computer that is right for you, the best place to start is by identifying your requirements.  You can begin by asking yourself the following questions:

What is the purpose for which I will use my computer?  You may be a business professional that requires a productivity device you can take with you on the go or you may be looking to use your PC for general use and entertainment purposes. Or, you may want to combine personal and business use.  Deciding in advance will provide you with indicators for the type of performance you require in addition to design, access to software, and more.

What type of computer am I looking for?  Depending upon the purpose of buying a new PC, you may be looking for a simple desktop for your home office or a tablet PC you can use on the go.  If you are a business person, you may want the best of both worlds by purchasing a combination ultrabook/tablet PC.  Perhaps you would rather have a laptop which is portable and provides you with specific features you need to get through your day.

What is your budget?  Decide what you are looking to spend on a new computer.  The targeted price range will help you find a computer that suits your requirements and your wallet.

What are some of the features you need? The features you should consider include the size of the screen, amount of Random Access Memory (RAM), processing performance, hard drive size, graphics capability, audio quality, webcam, and other features.  For example, if you will be using your computer for gaming, you are going to need a high amount of RAM, a powerful processor, and a generously sized hard drive.

What operating system do you prefer?  The type of operating system you prefer plays a big role in your computing experience.  For example, Windows 8 requires a learning curve and if you have never used it, this could result in a lot of frustration.  There are many operating systems to choose from including Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android with a variety of versions under each system.

What are your future plans for using your computer?  If you plan to do more with your computer in the near future, you will want a computer that can expand to meet your needs.  This includes the capability to perform memory upgrades, add enhanced graphics capability, and more.  If expansion is in your plans, you should start with a device that offers an SD card slot which expands the storage capability.

These are a few questions you should be asking yourself before starting to look for a PC that fits your needs.  Once you have a handle on your requirements, you can choose from a desktop, laptop/ultrabook, or tablet PC.  The following will help you understand the different uses as well as some of the pros and cons of each type of device.  We will also provide you with some direction on a few devices in each category that are worthy of consideration.

Desktop PCs

Although the desktop PC is considered somewhat outdated as the result of the growing popularity of mobile devices, many people still prefer desktop PCs instead of a laptop or tablet device.  The desktop PCs for 2014 are designed to conserve on space while offering a nice array of features.  If you are a hard core gamer, there are many dedicated gamers that also prefer a desktop PC due to the high capacity performance.

If you are thinking in terms of “bulk” the newer desktop PCs are designed with a much slimmer console that occupies less space than the bulky consoles on older models.  There are also all-in-one desktop PCs that merely consist of a monitor with the computing components inside, a keyboard, and a mouse.

If mobility is not high on your priority list, a desktop PC may be just what you need.

Pros

Some desktop PCs are designed with powerful processors and storage capabilities that cannot be included in laptops and tablets due to their smaller size.

Desktop PCs are typically lower in price, especially if you already own a keyboard, monitor, and mouse.

A desktop PC is more versatile when it comes to performing upgrades.  There are many features such as additional hard drives and other hardware that can be easily added to the console.

There is more room for airflow in a desktop PC than a laptop or tablet.

You can setup your office anyway you like for your personal comfort.

Cons

If portability is what you seek, a desktop PC is not for you.

Desktop PCs are typically not as stylish as laptops or tablets.

A few of the top desktop PCs for 2014 include:

Lenovo IdeaCentre H505s

The IdeaCentre desktop PC provides a seamless multimedia experience and powerful performance with an AMD E2-1800 processor with 4GB of DDR3 memory running at 1333MHz and AMD Radeon HD graphics.  The SATA hard drive offers a whopping 1TB (terabyte) of storage and an integrated DVD reader/writer.  Product dimensions are only 11.54 x 3.94 x 15.75 inches which means it takes up very little space and weighs in at 11 pounds.

Apple iMac 21.5” All-in-one

The iMac is an all-in-one desktop PC that is built for performance and productivity with a Quad Core Intel i5 2.7GHz processor with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB (terabyte) hard drive and NVDIA GeForce GT 640M graphics processor.  This ensures seamless performance when using processing intensive apps for business or entertainment.

The iMac features a 21.5 inch LED-backlit display with an LCD panel that is situated close to the glass for better image clarity.  The sleek monitor enclosure measures just 5mm which allows it to fit into smaller spaces.  There are multiple Input/Output ports in additions to 2 Thunderbolt ports, 4 USB 3.0 ports, and an SDXC card slot.

Microtel TI9081  

For hard core gamers, the Microtel liquid cooling gaming desktop computer packs a lot of punch with a powerful Intel 3.5GHz i7 3770K processor with 16GB of DDR2 RAM and an impressive 2TB hard drive running at 7200RPM.  There is also a NVIDIA 550 GTX TI graphics processor with 1GB GDDR5 video card with a variety of Input/Output ports and 6-channel 3D premium surround sound.  This type of desktop is built for gamers that require capacity, high performance, and extreme functionality.

Tablet PCs

A tablet PC is a portable device that looks like a slate and is equipped with a touchscreen that can be controlled with finger gestures or by using a digital pen.  This type of PC does not require a keyboard or mouse and instead, you enter the data directly on the screen.  One exception to this rule is if you choose a combination tablet/laptop PC.  This type of device allows you to use the PC as a tablet or a laptop/ultrabook PC simply by attaching the keyboard.

Depending upon the type of tablet PC you are looking for and the purpose for which you plan to use it, you will find that the newer devices can actually do a lot in terms of productivity and multitasking. Plus, if you require versatility and additional functionality, you can always opt to go for a hybrid device that operates as both a tablet and a laptop. You can also find tablets in a variety of operating systems such as Apple iOS, Windows, and Android.

Pros

Capability to double as a PC and eBook reader.

Touch functionality makes navigation faster and easier as opposed to using a conventional keyboard and mouse.

The option to use a digital pen provides greater precision when entering data or tapping on icons.

The hybrid models offer versatility and flexibility with the option to use the device as a tablet or laptop PC.

The newest tablets typically have a longer battery life than a laptop or ultrabook.

Tablet PCs can often be used as a GPS navigation device if so equipped.

Gesture recognition makes it faster and easier to navigate through applications.

Cons

If you are not using the combination tablet/PC device, a tablet can make business productivity tasks more difficult if you are working for an extended period of time.

Tablet PCs do not offer an optical drive.

Smaller display and lack of keyboard may make some tasks inconvenient.

Typing on a virtual keyboard can result in slower productivity.

Reduced port connectivity options.

A few of the top tablet PCs for 2014 include:

Asus Transformer TD300 Book Duet

The Asus Transformer is a 2-in-1 tablet PC which is the first quad-mode PC and was recently introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show 2014.  The Transformer functions as a tablet or a laptop PC and provides dual operating systems that include Windows and Android.  You can easily switch between the two operating systems using an Instant Switch button plus, there is a virtual key for switching when you are using the device in tablet mode.  The Transformer Book Duet is powered by an Intel Haswell Core i7 processor with 4GB of DDR3L RAM.  The Solid State hard drive offers 128GB of storage space with 64GB of built-in storage.  The keyboard dock is detachable with a 13-inch display that offers a 1366 x 768 pixel resolution.

iPad Air  

The iPad Air is a tablet PC that offers a 9.7-inch Retina screen with a resolution of 1536 x 2048 with 264 ppi and a contrast ratio of 1000:1. The iPad Air is powered by a Dual Core 64-bit A7 processor running at 1.4GHz which means fast loading of apps with 1GB DDR2 and a 16GB hard drive.  The device is great for working with multimedia and watching videos with a battery life of up to 10 hours. The iPad Air is also designed for portability with dimensions of 9.40 x 6.60 x 0.29 inches and weighing in at just one pound.

Nexus 7  

The Nexus 7 is a powerful tablet PC that runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad core processor running at 1.5GHz.  This is a lot of performance for a 7-inch device with a 1920 x 1200 IPS display.  The Nexus 7 has 2GB of RAM with 15GB of integrated memory and a 400MHz Adreno Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). You will also find a series of port options for connectivity in addition to stereo speakers that offer surround sound and a battery life that lasts up to 9 hours.  In terms of portability, the Nexus 7 weighs in at only 0.64 pounds with dimensions of 114 x 200 x 8.65 mm. A fantastic review of the Nexus 7 can be found on Our IT Departments blog.

If you are in the market for a PC during 2014, hopefully the information we have provided here will give you a jump start on finding the perfect device that will suit your needs and your budget.

Laptop/Ultrabook PCs

There is some confusion among computer shoppers that surrounds the laptop and ultrabook devices.  What’s the difference? They both seem to share common traits such as standard body elements as well as the shape and form factor.

There are several differences between a laptop and an ultrabook.  First, a standard laptop is a portable personal computer that is offered in a wide range of configurations and sizes.  Typically, a laptop offers a large display that can be anywhere from 10 to 20 inches diagonal and can range in weight from 3 to 18 pounds. Second, since a laptop offers a multitude of hardware configurations and features, they are powerful enough to carry you through your daily activities.

In contrast, an ultrabook looks very similar to a laptop however, the main difference is that they are slimmer in design with a display size of under 14 inches. An ultrabook also typically offers a Solid State Drive or a combination of hard drive and Solid State Drive storage. The battery life also tends to last longer than a laptop PC plus, the ultrabook is much lighter in weight tipping the scale at under 3 pounds. They keyboard also feels different on an ultrabook than a laptop as the result of its thin design.

Because ultrabooks are relatively new, you can choose from a limited number of devices where the laptop offers a broader range of devices to choose from.  In either case, laptops have come a long way in terms of technology and capability and rival most of the ultrabooks in terms of features.  The main difference is in the design since uiltrabooks are simply a special type of laptop.

Pros

Laptop and ultrabooks are smaller in size than a desktop which makes them portable.

Both devices are capable of connecting a full-size keyboard and mouse for improved productivity.

Laptops and ultrabooks typically provide more capability than a tablet PC.

Laptops and ultrabooks typically offer a better battery life than other portable devices.

Both devices double well as daily productivity and entertainment PCs.

Cons

Laptops and ultrabooks typically cost more than desktop PCs.

Both types of PCs do not offer the same high performance capabilities as some of the desktop PCs.

Upgrades are not as easy to accomplish on a laptop or ultrabook due to some components being welded into the unit.

Laptops and ultrabooks are not as functional for gaming as desktop PCs.

A few of the top laptop/ultrabook devices on the market for 2014 include:

Toshiba Tecra W50-A  

The Tecra W50 was recently featured at the Consumer Electronics Show 2014 and is a powerful enterprise laptop designed for users that work on graphics-intensive applications. The Tecra laptop PC is powered by Intel Quad Core i7-4980 vPro processor with Intel Turbo Boost Technology and 8GB of DDR2L RAM running at 1600 MHz.  There is also a super-fast NVIDIA Quadro Ks100M graphics processor with CUIDA.

The Tecra offers a separate 2GB of dedicated memory for handling video-intensive applications.  There is a 15.6-inch screen with Ultra-HD 3840 x 2160 resolution and 2892 ppi (pixels per inch) color calibrated display. The Tecra is built on the hefty side to accommodate the powerful performance with a weight of 2.7kg and dimensions of 380.9 x 253.9 x 34.9 mm.

LG Ultra PC 13Z940  

The Ultra PC is an ultrabook that offers an Intel Core i5 Haswell processor configurable to a Core i7 with 128GB of Solid State storage with the option to upgrade to 256GB.  The HD display is 13.3 inches with a very thin LCD bezel measuring at only .17 inches.  The Ultra PC is only 0.54 inches at the thickest point and weighs in at just 2.2 pounds. The device also offer Reader Mode which allows you to convert the background of any image to emulate paper for reduced eye strain. The ultra PC 13Z940 was recently introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show 2014.

Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch  

If you are an Apple fan, the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch offers a powerful Intel Core i7 processor with Intel Iris Pro 5200 graphics.  There is also a generous 256GB of Flash storage which is PCIe-based to speed up file transfers and the loading of applications.

The 2800 x 1800 resolution screen provides for a gorgeous display and sharp images with a generous amount of connectivity ports that consist of two USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt ports, HDMI port, SD card reader, MagSafe 2 connector, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Apple iLife and iWork software is also included for business productivity with a variety of entertainment and content creation software suites. The Apple MacBook Pro is designed to be a desktop replacement laptop.

Katie Daily is a computer enthusiast with over 10 years experience in the ICT services sector. In  her spare time, katie likes to write articles for various publications across the net, including guest blogs and authoriity sites.