How to Know When You’re Ready for a New Laptop or Desktop Computer

During the holiday season, we’ve all got our own wish lists that we hope Santa will heed (provided, of course, that we’ve been nice this year). And whether you’re a geek or a housewife or a student or a butcher or a baker or a candlestick maker, chances are that you use a computer — to some degree — at this point in the 21st century. You might use it for simple emails and Web browsing, or streaming movies from Netflix, or running your own website, or taking online courses, or keeping track of your finances, or storing music, or any number of things for which we use computers these days.

Computers have developed along with us to tackle a growing number of tasks over the years, and most households accommodate them as comfortably as they accommodate refrigerators, microwaves, toasters, washing machines, and television sets.

But just like cars, computers are machines that we sometimes hold onto for years (maybe even decades) past their obsolescence. We may do so because we’ve developed a personal attachment to our machines, or time passes more quickly than we realize and it never occurs to us that it might be time for something a little newer. Sometimes, it just boils down to a simple matter of economics.

Maybe when you bought your computer 10 years ago, it really was bank-breakingly expensive and you associate any future technological purchase with months of scrimping and saving (or recovering from the resulting debt). But now, you can probably pick up a new computer that’s far more sophisticated than the old one, but at a fraction of what you once paid — and that’s how progress is supposed to work!

How to Know when You're Ready for a New Laptop or Desktop Computer

But how do you know when it’s really time to retire the old machine and make way for a new one? Here are a few telltale signs that should help you know when you’re ready for a new laptop or desktop computer.

It’s still running Windows 95.

Since Windows 95 was released in… 1995 (16 years ago, which means that this operating system could be getting its driving permit right now), Microsoft has given us Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows Me, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.

Nothing against (most of) those older versions of Windows, but there’s a reason that Microsoft keeps (in most cases) improving its globally popular operating system every few years: computers can do more stuff for people than they used to; the tools we use to interface with them need to improve, too. If your computer doesn’t have the physical specs to run anything more complex than Windows 95, your needs have likely outgrown its capabilities. It might be time to get a new computer!

Your touchpad no longer responds to your touch — it’s lost that lovin’ feelin’.

If you’ve got a laptop, it’s probably got one of those little touchpad squares that you can use instead of lugging around a separate mouse to control where the cursor goes during your computing adventures. But over time, you may notice a lack of sensitivity (or the darned thing just doesn’t work, altogether).

Don’t take it personally; it doesn’t mean your laptop doesn’t love you anymore. Just like people, machines and their parts wear out over time. If your laptop is old enough for its touchpad to succumb to this common problem, then it might be time to get a new computer.

This thing is older than half the users on YouTube.

Make no mistake: A lot of YouTube users only act like they’re in kindergarten. Still, a typical kindergartener is around five years old. Is your computer five years old or older? Depending on your needs, it might be fine for a few more years. But if you’re a gamer, for instance, it’s likely not going to provide you with a satisfactory experience as new games with higher spec requirements come out.

The same goes for people who use their computers for video editing, music production, or other high-performance applications. If this holds true for you, it might be time to get a new computer.

It weighs more than you do. They called ’em “luggables” back in the day.

A computer that was considered portable in the ’80s could probably qualify you for access in the carpool lane nowadays with proper attire (don’t forget the hat). Computers have just gotten more tiny and convenient over time — so whether you favor a laptop, a netbook, or a tablet computer when you’re on the go, chances are that there’s something better out there for you now than when you bought your favored flavor of portable computer just a few short years ago.

A parallel port (or floppy drive) is in clear view.

Or an 8-track player. Same difference! If “old faithful” is sporting visible ways to interface with dead media that was the latest craze in its heyday, it may be time to get a new computer.

It takes you four days just to reboot.

It goes from 0 to 60 in… well, it doesn’t even go to 60. It doesn’t even go to 11. It’s as slow as a dinosaur (a fossilized dinosaur!). When you’ve upgraded the old thing until all of its memory slots are full and it pauses for long intervals like grandpa when he’s overdue for his nap after holiday turkey time, it may be time for a new computer.

The hard drive is still measured in megabytes.

Even the aforementioned YouTube kindergarteners will “gig” gle at you for thinking that “mega” bytes are “tera” bly impressive nowadays. If your hard drive isn’t big enough to fit more than half of that Dr. Demento Christmas novelty CD you tried to rip to it, it may be time for a new computer.

It’s faster to fax than it is to load a single webpage.

And if your home computer is sitting next to a fax machine, then we may have just begun to understand the dire circumstances surrounding your predicament. Get a new computer!

The fine folks at Acer have considered the plight of those of us who could surely use a new machine (or four) to make our computing lives more complete. From now until December 18th, 2011, Acer is giving you the chance to join its Facebook page and make a wish list of Acer products; one lucky winner will have their wish list granted and enjoy the happiest holiday, ever!

So if you’re looking for the sleek tablet form of the 10.1″ Acer ICONIA TAB W Series, a desktop gaming workhorse like the Acer Predator G3, a traditional laptop or one that gives you touchscreen options, or even a Revo 100 multimedia network, you could win them all, courtesy of Acer. Want a chance at having the best presents under the tree this year? Join the Facebook page and make your Acer Holiday wish list today! Time’s a-wastin’.

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Our resident "Bob" (pictured here through the lens of photographer Jason DeFillippo) is in love with a woman who talks to animals. He has a fondness for belting out songs about seafaring and whiskey (arguably inappropriate in most social situations). He's arm-wrestled robots and won. He was born in a lighthouse on the storm-tossed shores of an island that has since been washed away and forgotten, so he's technically a citizen of nowhere. He's never killed in anger. He once underwent therapy for having an alien in his face, but he assures us that he's now feeling "much better." Fogarty also claims that he was once marooned along a tiny archipelago and survived for months using only his wits and a machete, but we find that a little hard to believe.