If it ain’t broke, don’t ditch it

I was using one of these at the weekend:

The actual model I used was a graphite one, but I can’t find a photo. In technological terms it’s positively archaic (we’ve had two generations of iBook and a whole new generation of processors since then), but when it’s fitted with a Wi-Fi adapter it’s a lean, mean blogging machine that’s perfectly capable of handling day to day tasks such as web, email and a bit of word processing. It also possesses one of the finest keyboards I’ve ever used.

It’s something you should keep in mind when faced with the relentless hype about bigger, better, faster hardware and software. The weak point in Word has always been my typing speed, and a 1GHz jump in processing power won’t make any difference to that; the weak link in most web wandering is the speed of your connection, not your computer’s processor. Of course, there are exceptions – inadequate RAM makes even the simplest task positively painful; don’t even think about video editing on really old hardware – but for home computing, expensive new kit isn’t significantly better than older kit.

The one exception is in gaming: even a reasonably recent PC will struggle with some of the current crop of shooters, such as Doom 3. Then again, if games are important you don’t need to shell out £2,000 on a state-of-the-art PC: £99 will get you an Xbox, and you can use the money you’ve saved to invest in Wi-Fi and a ridiculously fast broadband connection, with enough left over for an iPod or two.