Back to school for older kids usually means figuring out computing needs. In my day I had 3 separate laptop computers to maintain or refresh every year. It was expensive, when you had to buy a new one. The week before I did my job as “Dad I.T. Guy” checking out the status of the laptops. This was my story.
After spending a weekend shuffling computers around my house, and cleaning up disk drives and networks, it dawned on me that computers in the home have become a commodity that are replaced very often (certainly more often than 10 years ago).
This commodity typically runs out of vogue (i.e. not enough memory, computing power, graphics power, etc.,) in less than 3 years. Interesting that if you buy one for your business you have to write it down over 5 years.
Our family was in dire need of a new computer for my younger children (it really was painful to use, it was 5 years old and really couldn’t keep up with much of anything). We had been looking at replacing the existing computer, however, another methodology came to mind and hence the idea of the hand me down computer came to mind.
My oldest goes back to school soon and she had a new computer last year to go to school with (bought by her grandparents), which was a desktop model. My daughter wanted a laptop. The laptop would make her life easier. I went and investigated laptop prices and then found an ok deal in the “crash and dent” section of the Best Buy (well the box was open, that seems to be the only issue with it).
Buying the laptop made the desktop computer redundant. It could be moved over to her sisters, who were still at home.
This made me think that computers really are hand me downs these days. From older children to younger children and finally donated at the end of their use to the family.
The only problem with the hand me downs, is having to renew Anti-Virus and Office Software along the way.
Other Back to School Thoughts?
- The Business of University Fees talks about how you should look very closely at all the fees you child might pay at school. Many of these fees are refundable, think about doing that.
- Back To School and RESP Time this is when to think about it. If your kids aren’t at University, do they have an RESP?
- Back to School (Monetary Nightmare) it can be. If your child is living away from home don’t fall into these money traps.
I’m not so sure you need to replace them in 3 years. I’m running on a P4 2.4Ghz, they were released in 2002 and still works just fine. As for software… try Ubuntu, you’ll like it. It’s free, has all the software a person could need, and runs really well on almost anything. I only run WinXP Pro, since I play games, but you can set up a dual boot to windows if you still really want to, or run it inside a virtual machine.
P.S. Renew word processing software? I’m assuming you mean upgrade to the latest version, which isn’t really necessary. And even then, OpenOffice.org is a fantastic free alternative.
Of course, any desktop can be upgraded, hardware-wise, as well. Cheaper than buying a new one, and that’s the beauty of desktops versus laptops – every component can easily be upgraded in a desktop. That’s exactly why I’m currently saving up to build a new computer to replace my 4 year old laptop – because it’s cheaper to build than to buy, and 3 years from now when said built desktop is sluggish by that day’s standards, I can just upgrade it rather than replacing it.