OK, so you’re shopping for a new notebook computer. Windows or Mac? Intel or AMD?
To the first point, my recommendation and my preferred platform is the Mac, any Mac over any Windows PC. It’s just the best, most stable computing environment. No less than the prestigious PC Magazine agrees with me as well as most of the other respected tech writers. I encourage each of you to read their review: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,2207543,00.asp.
To the second point, if Windows is your choice, there are two principle processor makers – Intel and AMD. Currently, and this is the key word, Intel is tops. All Macs use the best Intel has for the job, so there is nothing to think about regarding processors. Pick your Mac model and go.
The race between Intel and AMD was very close a couple of years ago, and some AMD configurations were actually a better value than something comparable from Intel. Today, however, the nod goes to Intel for performance and reliability as well as for value.
In a notebook computer today, you will select from Intel’s stable of Core 2 Duo processors. When accompanied by Intel’s Wireless technologies they are also referred to as Centrino Duo when in Windows PCs, including the recently reviewed Gateway M Series I have been playing with.
These processors provide all the needed power to do the everyday email, Web surfing, managing and playing music and videos and so much more. Much of the work and fun can be simultaneous. Users will not experience much in the way of a slowdown even when doing multiple things on these new computers. Just be sure there is enough installed RAM memory. Optimum is 4GB. Most Windows systems today come with two or three GB (gigabytes) of RAM. Do the upgrade yourself. It’s easy. I use ONLY Kingston RAM in my computers. On my laptops that top out at a capacity of 4GB RAM, that is what I do. On my big and speedy Mac Pro, I have a respectable nine GB RAM installed, so I never choke when multitasking.
These same fast Intel processors are inside every Mac, whether it is a notebook such as Apple’s MacBook, MacBook Pro or the sleek new MacBook Air. On the desktop side, Intel is inside all Mac minis, iMacs and Mac Pro computers.
Regardless of the platform – Mac (my preference) or Windows – you need to back up. On the Windows side, this means copying documents, music, and video files to another hard drive. On the Mac side, and only on the Mac, this means you can do a total, bootable backup. The product I use and recommend is called Personal Backup X5 from Intego. Only on a Mac can we perform this bootable backup – If the computer’s internal hard drive fails (and they do from time to time), then plug in the backup drive and re-boot the computer with the Option key held down. This allows the use to tell the computer to boot to that external drive. Once booted, every bit and byte is there, exactly as it was when last backed up. Every application, every document, every piece of music and video and all the rest. Sure, the internal failed hard drive must be replaced soon, but in the meantime, the downtime consists only of the time it takes to re-start with that external drive. Nothing is lost. Then, when the bad drive is replaced, that external drive can be cloned back to the new drive and all will be right with the world.
The advantage of having Intel Core 2 Duo inside is that everything goes faster.
Intel, and this writer, also recommends setting your Windows antivirus software to auto scan and auto update. I recommend only one application for Windows users, too. Get NOD32 from ESET and use ONLY this software for your Windows anti-Virus software. It is lean and mean and you’ll hardly know it is there. Even though Macs do not currently suffer from spyware and viruses, I still recommend having an antivirus product up and running and kept up to date on Macs. I use and recommend ONLY Intego Virus Barrier X5.
More of Intel’s spring cleaning suggestions for computer users are:
- De-Cord and De-Clutter: Clear the clutter from your home office or family den by eliminating as many cords as possible. Upgrade to a laptop or a small, form-factor PC and install a wireless Internet router. This will eliminate bulky hardware while Intel’s Centrino Duo processor will allow stronger and faster wireless signals as well as energy efficiency to enable great battery life so you can truly enjoy the beautiful spring weather.
- Do A Defrag: Not a new dance or buzz word, “defrag” is short for defragmentation of the files on your hard drive. Since operating systems store new data in any available free space, the defragmenting process allows your computer to organize data files in contiguous order. This process usually improves your computer’s processing speed and prevents lost or damaged files. Primarily for Windows users, the ability to do this is built into your Windows PC. Windows XP users will find the defragmenting utility under Start->Accessories->System Tools->Disk Defragmenter.
- Digitize Family Photos: Approximately 54 million U.S. households own a digital camera, but most store photos in albums and shoeboxes. Using Intel Media Share Software, you can browse, stream or download your photos. For added security, be sure to back-up all digital photo files. Info about Intel’s Media Share Software is at http://support.intel.com/support/notebook/imss/. Mac users have audio, video and photo organization capabilities built-in with Apple’s free and included iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, and iTunes.
- Organize Your Music: Organize music files by deleting songs you no longer listen to. Creating playlists and segmenting music files into folders by genre are two great ways to keep your favorite music at your fingertips. I use and recommend iTunes for Windows and Macs. Go to www.Apple.com/iTunes for details and free download. You do not need to have an iPod to use this software nor do you ever need to purchase anything from the iTunes store.
- Make a Digital Recipe Book: By hand typing or scanning recipes and saving them in labeled folders on your computer, you can easily organize and access your family favorites and de-clutter your kitchen cabinets. Making digital copies of Grandma’s famous peach pie recipe will also ensure that it can be enjoyed for generations to come. Windows users can save any document as a PDF for free with free software called CutePDF Writer. http://www.cutepdf.com/Products/CutePDF/writer.asp. Apple users have this capability built in through the Print dialogue box. In this case simply choose to save the scanned recipe as a PDF. That’s all there is to it.
- Upgrade Video: Save some space by converting old VHS home movies to DVDs or host videos on Web sites such as YouTube.com. Intel Clear Video technology enables a premium high-definition video experience improving both picture quality and color richness.
- Disinfect Your Desk: According to a study by the University of Arizona, the average worker’s desk has approximately 400 times more bacteria than an office toilet seat. Use anti-bacterial cleaner to decontaminate your keyboard, desktop, phone and mouse.
- Homework in a Flash: Instead of paper files that can be lost or damaged, give the kids a flash drive for each class or school subject so they can save their homework, papers and projects. Flash drives are compact, easy to use and more durable than CDs. Saving all of that paper is also great for the environment! Those little flash drives are downright cheap! My current favorites in this category are the Kingston Data Traveler mini – Migo Edition, available in 1-, 2- and 4GB configurations, and priced from $8 to $23.
- Mailbox Makeover: Clean out your e-mail inbox by deleting, filing or archiving messages. This will help you retrieve important messages quickly and easily.
- Reduce, Recycle and Reuse: Before throwing out that old VCR, television or PC, consult your local recycling center to determine which electronic appliances can be safely recycled. If they are still in working order, you might also consider donating your old electronics to local charities that support families in need.