Tuesday, October 05, 2010


I own two computers. One is a Samsung netbook (an NC10 with 2GB of memory), while the other is a strange old tower PC that I've had since 2004. Both are reasonable machines, but both are showing signs of wear and age. I want to get a new computer, but I can't decide which of these machines to replace.

The NC10 has a flickering screen problem (hardware related) and has recently developed an unpleasant habit of giving me electric shocks (not dangerous ones, but very painful—about the same strength as a cattle-fence). It's generally fine, but neither of those habits are particularly endearing. The warranty expired a while ago, so any repairs would probably cost more than a replacement.

The tower PC is a mess. Over the years it has had most of its components replaced or upgraded, often with bargain-basement or salvaged parts. It's on its second sound card, third graphics card, third power supply (it burns through them every few years), it's had its RAM upgraded many times, and has had more optical drives than I can remember (there are two in the case at the moment, and I'm pretty sure that at least one of them doesn't work.) It has only two working USB ports, no working wireless card, and has been running Ubuntu since I finally got fed up with the five minutes XP was taking to boot up. On top of all that, every now and then it refuses to boot up at all (definitely a hardware issue, as it continued after I completely wiped the hard drive). When it does this I have to unplug it, pull out all its memory, and then shove it back in for it to start working again.

Here are the possibilities:
1. Get a new desktop.
This would be the cheapest option, and it would allow me to keep using Ubuntu (which I've grown rather fond of over the years). On the other hand, it would tie me to the desk in the attic and I do have some concerns about how well certain things would run on a faster ubuntu machine. If I can repair the NC10 cheaply then this is the obvious choice.

2. Get a new Laptop.
This is a more expensive option than the desktop. I think if I get a new laptop it will be a small, lightweight one. I've gotten too attached to being able to sling my netbook around and using it while lounging on the sofa to get a cumbersome one with a short battery life. It would force me to use windows 7 though, and restricts me to a fairly limited range of options.

3. Replace both machines
I could either go crazy and spend a shedload of cash, or I could get two relatively low powered and cheap machines (a netbook of roughly equal spec to the one I have and a dual-core nettop) for only a little more than the price of the current frontrunners in the laptop- and desktop-only options.