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Thursday, May 19, 2022
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About 10 years ago, the price of a good laptop was about $800 or more. First question anyone asked the salesman in Pre-Amazon times, is “How big is the hard drive?” Back then 250 Gigs was super large you will never need more than that. Of course, the DVD Burner, Screen size, battery life and the weight were other factors.

Last week I got lucky and snagged three laptops at $200 apiece. These were all for clients—one of them, my wife. Readers may think ‘That must be used or junk.”

Not really, when the cloud is available. Memory isn’t on the machines—it’s out there, somewhere—in the ether (actually on someone’s server). Most users, this writer included, don’t need a DVD burner or a large hard drive. Documents are kept in cloud and can be accessed edited and even saved. One machine came with a year’s subscription to Office 365. Office 365 is Microsoft’s version of paying out their software. SaS—software as a service. You can pay $6 a month and get a fully licensed version of Office 2013. Microsoft includes OneDrive which is Microsoft Online storage with plenty of space. Users will see that saving Office Documents to One drive is pretty simple. The maker of the laptop gave us 500 gigs for free. Imagine, 500 gigs for free and ten years ago 250 gigs was part of a laptop at $800.

This laptop is Windows 8.1, 32 GIG SSD (Steady State drive.), and 4 Gigs of RAM. Web Cam, Mic, Speakers and weighs about 2 pounds or less. The screen is a bit small but very usable.

How did we get here? Most people only need Google, Facebook, Email and printing. The pictures can all be saved and accessed in the cloud.

This is called the IoT—Internet of Things. You may hear this term being thrown around with those fancy thermostats that function solely on your Wi-Fi. IoT means almost everything the PC is accessing is on the web or in the cloud. So why not get a laptop that’s this cheap?

I will admit with a 32 gig drive there isn’t much room to install much else after Office. But for the price it can’t be beat.

An SSD drive Steady State is something new. Old-fashioned SATA drives have mechanical parts that spin for days and days and at some point will die. Either the power gives out or the platters will break. If you’ve ever heard the depressing ‘Gethunk, Gethunk ‘when the hard drive is dying, you know disaster is looming. Getting it repaired could cost thousands. An SSD drive is like a large USB stick, with no moving parts and the hard drive is MUCH faster and thinner. That’s why the machines don’t weigh very much…two lbs. maybe.

ChromeBooks are close to that but they are all Google. They are like Big Droid phones

Google Apps has their own version of Office and some of the features are amazing. You can share a document with a peer and actually see them make live edits. The app still needs tweaking, and again, it’s all cloud-based storage—and it comes free with your Gmail account.

I point this out because the growth of cloud and Steady State drives have really allowed consumers to get laptops that are quite affordable. There is no scam or racket. The manufacturer will scale down the hardware and lower the price to capture the IoT user.

If you have a TB of photos you don’t want to put in the cloud, the solution may be to add an external hard drive. You can buy a Western Digital External hard drive for $100. For $100 a year more the external drive will save your data and put it on Dropbox.

If you still hold onto your old DVDs of data and fear people hacking your Dropbox, OneDrive or Google drive account, get a secure firewall, or you will be prone to hackers. Most home users have terrible security, so get a good app that will protect you. I rarely get calls from people who were hacked on the cloud. I get a lot more frantic calls from clients who accidentally deleted files, whose hard drives failed or DVDs were scratched.

The real question is, Is the Internet ready for all of us to be loading and using everything on the cloud? Maybe. There are many offices migrating their data to the cloud from their servers, and those numbers are increasing all the time.

Pretty soon people will be able to automate their homes via the cloud. Something General Electric only dreamed about at the 1964 World’s Fair. Now you can turn off the gas, shut the lights, turn down the heat, turn off the faucets and lock the doors—from wherever you are.

Shneur Garb is the founder and CEO of the Garb IT consulting Group in Teaneck, NJ. Questions or comments email [email protected]

By Shneur Garb

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