When to buy a new computer? And the laptop I ended up buying

My laptop has some sort of hardware issue that causes it to occasionally die even when it’s just sitting there.  This wouldn’t be such a big problem but my work computer, over which I have zero administrative control, has been pretty unworkable for months because of some sort of disagreement Symantec is having with Dropbox and our university IT’s unwillingness to install a patch.  At least that’s my understanding as to why my work computer will just randomly blue screen of death.

The laptop is only 4 years old, but I need a computer at work that won’t up and die on me when I’m in the middle of a complicated Stata thing.  It is a huge PITA to get everything open again and back to where I was when I’m in the middle of programming, especially when I’m trying to balance an away server with my desktop Stata.

Update:  The choice was taken from me– on January 6th, 2020, my laptop met its final end after half a day of shutting itself down every 20 minutes.

I ended up getting a Dell XPS 13, which is on the top of several “best laptops” lists and DH says has the best components of any of the best laptops at a similar price.  Irritatingly, it has also updated its ports and only has two thunderbolt ports and a newfangled little usb.  But DH says we’re better off buying new cords and other accessories than getting a worse computer with more ports.  It does mean that I will have to get a wireless (bluetooth) mouse, which I find somewhat irritating and I went with a 1TB harddrive so I could just not have an external dropbox harddrive, which was not cheap.  I paid an additional $25 to expedite shipping a week earlier because I need a working computer at work.   After taxes and without any software or accessories other than a 3 year subscription to McAfee (my university no longer provides discounted anti-virus software), my total cost was $1,834, which is not cheap, but also not as bad as it could have been.  I really hope it lasts longer than my previous laptop!

I will be getting additional software, but through the university.  It’s about time I upgraded to Stata 16 anyway.

The new laptop is super tiny.  It’s about the same size as my ipad pro though shaped a bit differently.  Very bright, good resolution.  A high quality product all around.  All the random cords we bought seem to be working– plugging in a second monitor just worked without any jiggling… it was almost Mac-like.

How do you decide when to get a new personal computer or laptop?


Ask the grumpies: what’s your computer setup like?

Leah asks:

Mouse or trackpad? Laptop or desktop?

#1:  Mouse, desktop.  I have a laptop but I mostly only use it for meetings that require I have computer access, which is pretty rare.  When I was on leave it was my main computer at work, but I had it hooked up to two big monitors.  I guess I do have a fancy mouse at home (Evoluent Vertical Mouse 3– not sponsored) to help combat RSI, though the only thing special about my work mouse is that it has a cord.  I carry a mouse with my laptop as well because it’s so much less of a hassle than the trackpad or nub.

#2:  laptop at home, desktop at work. Nothing fancy or special.