Sunday, December 14, 2008

Want to upgrade from your old laptop, but can't afford it? Try this!

If you were wanting a new laptop/computer but can't afford it, here are some quick (and some slow) ways to breathe new life into your tired old lappie, or at least make it bearable to use and cart around until you can get your tax return ;) This post came about because I was struggling with this issue myself (actually, I suffer this every six months after I buy ANYTHING), and so I thought I'd share some of the tricks and tips that I've used to curb my purchasing of new gadgets. Enjoy :)

1)upgrade the RAM/HD - this is a great way to get more out of your existing computer, providing that you haven’t maxed it out to begin with. Getting new RAM will improve performance, and depending on your HD drive, you could either improve the performance and/or improve the capacity. And don't throw out the old parts either - coz provided they’re not faulty, you may be able to get some life out of them yet.

2)get a new battery - similar to upgrading the innards, getting a new battery to replace one that isn’t holding its charge anymore, or getting another to supplement the existing one, will help enable you to enjoy your lappie away from the cord a bit more, which increases its relevance in your tech life, and keeps it with you.

3)give your laptop a new look – I find that my eye starts wandering for new laptops when my device starts looking less than new...depending on your device, the remedy could be as simple as giving the thing a quick once over with a damp cloth (you filthy little monkey, you!) and you're well on your way to restoring your laptop to its pristine state. Of course, some device designs age better than others (I'm convinced that the dells look old when they come out of the factory), so if you're the person who plans to hold on to a device for a while, as shallow as it may seem, paying attention to how the laptop looks will help you to be happy about your purchase in a few year’s time. Also, pay attention to what materials are being used in your laptop – matte materials will start looking old when parts of it become shiny from being used, and they’ll also be more susceptible to staining as well, unless it’s a dark colour.

Another way to go, is to add a completely new look, by applying decals. There are a couple of companies that specialise in decals for your laptop/devices, like gelaskins, garskin and skinit, and they have the added benefit of being easy to peel off when you tire of them, or they start looking a bit grubby.

Finally, give your desktop screen an overhaul too, since It’s no good having a spruced up exterior, when the interior looks old (its like steampunk in reverse). I won't go into specifics (actually, I'm not even going to bother :P), but here is one article that I reckon, covers the subject quite well for windows XP: (link)

4)do a spring/summer clean - remember when you first got your computer and it ran quite fast (provided there wasn't much bloatware - your mileage may vary)? Well to get that new computer snappiness, I highly recommend doing a complete restore of your device, especially if its older than XP. Not only does it clear out the crap that slows the computer down (not sure exactly what, but I know it happens) but its also a chance for you to reassess which applications actually need to be on your device in the first place. A few caveats though -this will take a while, -you will have to backup all your files and folder before you do it - and you will have to reinstate any printers and network connections your computer may use, which may make you unpopular with the IT guy at work if he needs to set that all up for you.

5) swap computers with someone else - now, not everyone can do this obviously, but relying on the adage that 'a change is as good as a holiday', it may be worth it if you did the old switcheroo with another member of your family. Obviously this won't be as effective if the laptops are identical - but if they're not really fussed about the hardware that they're using, or you can bribe the other party in some way, this could be one way to make two people happy :)

Alright, so there are just a few ways you can breathe life into your old laptop, and a few of these tips can be applied to a variety of devices to different extents - most of them do involve spending, but if they mean that you won't have to buy another laptop/device for a while yet, then its money well spent, and its good for the environment!

Next blogpost, I'll discuss the benefits of, and the way to properly re-gift your old tech to your family, as well as the my thoughts on giving geek gifts to non-geeks and its implications (two words: “tech support”).
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