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November 2017
Suckered by Specs!

Don't be Suckered by Specs!

Are you thinking of getting a new computer, laptop, tablet or smart phone for the holidays? Great idea but don't fall victim to the specifications game. The newest latest and greatest may not be the best deal for you. Buying the “Top of the Line” is often more of a status symbol than pragmatic purchasing. Better specs don't always mean a better device.

What did I really get myself into?

Megapixel Mania!
More megapixels do not necessarily mean better pictures. A megapixel is one million tiny colored dots so more dots means a better picture, right! Not true, it could just be a terrible picture made up of more dots. The lens, circuitry and sensor along with your mastery of lighting, composition and the camera controls are much more important.

More megapixel devices usually cost more, use up more storage space and more densely packed pixels on the sensor chip means more heat which can cause little speckles in some low light shots. While most photographers know this many number crazed, spec hungry shoppers just can't seem to come to grips with the facts. With zombie-like resolve they are convinced that their 8 megapixel camera from 2013 is obsolete and must be upgraded.

Camera and smartphone makers are counting on this, (and who can blame them). Often the first spec mentioned is the megapixels. Lots of pixels are great but it doesn't tell you how powerful a cameras sensor is. Look past the specs and look at some photos taken with a certain phone or camera and compare them to other models. Also check the reviews particularly about low light performance. Get familiar with the cameras options and settings. The best photos usually come from someone who knows how to tweak the settings for that really eye-catching shot.

Processor Speed Sensationalism!
Most vendors just put an Intel or AMD logo on the front, cite a high speed and nothing more. Faster processors do not translate directly into faster machines. In most cases a slower chip with more memory is a better choice. Do you really need that i7 CPU? Unless you are a serious gamer or engaged in complex editing of video productions an i3 with 16Gig of RAM might be a better choice. Put your money into RAM instead of Gigahertz.

What do you want to do? Be honest with yourself about this. The “Atom” (a veritable “hamster wheel” in the pantheon of processors) will surf the web, send e-mails and keep you in contact with your friends on social media but it can't get out of first gear playing “Call of Duty“ or editing video clips.

How to avoid being suckered by specs!

Wi-Fi Speed Subterfuge
Published numbers regarding Wi-Fi speeds are almost always exaggerated. These are lab test results and you will be lucky to get half that speed in real life situations. Most devices made in the last few years use the ac, (802.11ac) wireless technology. While the 5Ghz spectrum, multiple antennas and beamforming technology of ac wireless blows the doors off the previous Wi-Fi standards of b, g and n you are unlikely to get the published speeds when you get the device home. Note: Even though ac wireless devices are actually backward compatible both the router and mobile device must be ac rated to get the really impressive performance.

Battery Life Lies
Published number regarding battery life are often grossly inflated! These estimates are created under optimal conditions with power draining wireless receivers turned off and often with extended life batteries which cost extra. As they say, “your mileage may differ”! Also modern lithium ion batteries start to degrade from the time they are made. After a few years the battery life may be only half what it was originally.

So what do you really want?

The cutting edge technology has a shelf life like dairy products and will be obsolete as soon as the next device comes out and replaces it. Buying the previous model can save you a lot of money and still get you an excellent product that will provide many years of enjoyment.

And remember always back it up!

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