I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked with friends and family about computers and thought to myself, “Why are people paying so much to get e-mail?”. Seriously. When it comes to a car, most people are pragmatic: They examine their budget, evaluate their needs, and get a reasonable car. Even if you’re getting a luxury car, you’re doing so because you love to drive or because you enjoy the comfortable ride. But I’ve seen so many people spend hundreds of dollars on computers that can edit the next Pixar film when all they really need is something to check up on their kids, upload a few pictures, and maybe watch a movie on Netflix.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m a Mac evangelist. I’ve loved Macs since the first one I saw back in high school in 1986. The user interface was awesome–much different than the Prime 600 mainframe on which I used to program, and even the old Apple II+. It had icons, it had the ability to draw on it–heck! It had a mouse! Ever since, I’ve loved Macs and have sold many people onto them. If only I got a commission…

But, despite having admitted that, I won’t necessarily tell people to buy a Mac. I want to know what they need it for first. I go for the jugular immediately, saying: “I bet you want to surf the web, send and receive e-mails, organize your photos, aaaannnnddd… what else?” Yep. That’s it.

Since people really don’t know or understand how much (or little!) computers can do, they figure that the faster and more expensive, the better. For 90% of these people, they buy so much more than they will ever use. It’s like buying a Rolls Royce to drive to the supermarket and back.

I tell people that if you want something that’s really easy to use, set up and start quickly, you can’t beat a Mac, but first look into getting a used one! A year, maybe two is really okay if it comes from a reputable source. And if you have been in a Windows world before, a year old PC laptop shouldn’t be that expensive.

Once you go beyond the basics and flex your computing muscle, then you’re looking at spending more money, first and foremost on computer memory and storage. The importance of those two things over the processor speed is what will make or break a decent computing experience.

The same goes for a tablet. The new iPads all look super spiffy–hey, I want one too! But do you really need to shell out $700 to check your e-mail on one? The Android tablets are totally functional if that’s what you need. And this is all about need! Steve Jobs was notorious for creating a need where there wasn’t before. No one “needed” an iPhone, and yet it’s the hottest property and most anticipated gadget every time a new version comes out.

If you are looking to purchase a new computer, upgrade, or just want to improve your life with technology, let us know–we are happy to advise, guide, and help you shop. We will probably save you a lot of money by making sure you don’t buy that Rolls to drive into town and back!