Beware of the Apple AirPods Max, especially if you're tempted to get them! They just are NOT worth the expensive $549 price tag for the average consumer. The main issue is the audio quality, as lossless audio doesn't seem to be supported even when the product is plugged in with a Lightning-to-3.5mm cable. The headphones should've supported an option for Airplay. The noise-canceling is pretty good thanks to the processors in both ears, so the AirPods Max makes sense for plane travel. But there are simply cheaper, competent alternatives out there.
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Apple makes removing startup items a more complicated process than it likely needs to be. But if you have some annoying windows popping up on your Mac when you log on, you may need to look in your (often hidden) Library folders. Launch Agents, Launch Daemons, and StartupItems can cause your device to automatically load items every time. Just be careful to not change System files that keep your Mac running properly. Alternatively, check under System Preferences -> Users & Groups -> Login Items tab. You may see apps, files, or folders that open when the associated user logs on.
If you are trying to play Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, you are going to need a very powerful gaming machine to run it. The classic flight sim, now updated for the current age, is one of the most demanding computer games out there, and most laptops are not going to cut it. Be prepared to put down lots of cash for a laptop or (better yet) desktop that can bring out those beautiful photorealistic visuals. You may not want to purchase the game without first owning a PC strong enough for it. But you can also wait until the Xbox Series X/S release in Summer 2021.
If you're going to be multitasking with your laptop or desktop, it is best to boost RAM as high as you can afford. If you can, upgrade the random-access memory on your existing machine or choose the highest sensible option when buying a new computer. With more memory, you can have more tabs open while browsing, you can edit larger files, etc. 4GB is the minimum for Windows 10, but it will probably result in frustration eventually. Linux actually runs better with a small amount of RAM, alternatively. Also, don't forget to replace a spinning drive with an SSD.
If you want to connect with your children over long distances, try playing an online video game that's both appropriate for kids as well as fun for adults! Certain videogames like Factorio, Brilliant, Words with Friends, Animal Crossing, and especially Minecraft are great for cooperation and brain stimulation. Setting up a Minecraft server doesn't require an expensive PC, and it fuels creativity via its building mechanics. Just make sure they have the computer literacy to log in!
The less you spend on a computer, the more likely it'll break. Go for the higher-end Pro/business-grade model because the hardware will be better and won't get frustrating early down the road. The computer you want is close to $1500 to $2000...unless it's a Chromebook. We all need to reset our expectations for Windows and Mac products. Overall, it's gonna cost more than you wanna pay, but it'll be worth it in the long run. If money is especially tight, a Chromebook refurbished with some DIY upgrades could also work out.
Jeff, a listener from San Francisco, advises to not choose an OLED display for use as a computer monitor. Burn-in can be a scary issue when it comes to modern computer interfaces, which often leave menus/images still for long periods of time. It can be replaced under warranty if one is lucky, but maybe go for a 4K LCD display instead. Preferably a big screen that can be utilized as a 4-in-1 canvas for multiple windows.
If you have yet to buy your first computer, you will want to have a specific purpose upon finally receiving or buying one. Having a purpose will drive motivation, fun, and gratification while also building other computer skills in the process. A nice choice for a computer newbie would actually be an Apple iPad, which is only $329 and relatively easy to navigate. From there, your understanding can translate to other computer operating systems like macOS or even Windows. Avoid old laptops though, as troubleshooting and sluggishness will frustrate you more than necessary.
If you've got a Mac and are thinking about upgrading to a new model now, just wait a bit longer. Apple teased their next Worldwide Developers Conference for June 7, 2021. "WWDC21 will offer unique insight into the future of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS" according to Apple. So just hang on to see what new models wield the powerful M1 chip (which is currently only on the Macbook Air, Macbook Pro 13", and Mac mini) as well as a possible physical redesign. If speculation comes true, these new devices will be worth waiting for.
A lot of times we ask ourselves "should I buy the latest device (e.g. iPad) now, or wait for the newer model?" While there isn't a real answer to this question, you need to look at what your needs are: