PCs

How did PCs get so cheap?

Episode 1247

Mike from Burbank, CA

Mike notices that when a laptop goes on sale, the price drops are really not that significant. Leo says that's because he believes that computers are already at rock bottom prices. Competition has driven the price as low as it can go and margins are razor thin. That's why support is terrible on this hardware. Apple doesn't drop the price because they like their profit margin and they also offer some degree of support. They're also the only ones who make Macs. So they can charge whatever they want.

What computer should I buy?

Apple iPad Air 2

Episode 1243

Dave from California

Dave needs a new computer for Christmas. He's thinking of going with a tablet that will have its own internet access and drop his broadband at home. Leo says that iPads and Chromebooks aren't usually desktop compatible, but he could get them with 4G/LTE internet. But that's really only practical if he'll be moving around a lot.

How can I help older people with their PC problems?

Episode 1176

Sandra from Bedford, IN

Sandra has family that is relying her to be their PC support, but it's hard because she's in another state. Leo says that's the benefit of using remote access. But the danger is, that once they know she can do that, she won't have a moment's peace. Since Sandra's family is older, she could send them to The Elder Geek, where they can learn about computers. There's also How To Geek.

Should I switch from PC to Mac?

MacBook Pro

Episode 1158

Matt from Santa Maria, CA

Matt is a longtime PC user with computers that he needs to do a "tech refresh" with. Would it be better to make the switch to go along with his iPhone and iPad? His wife is reluctant to switch. Leo says there's a great compromise, however -- Windows runs beautifully on a Mac. Matt can run it under Boot Camp, which allows him to choose either at boot up, or he can run it virtually. He could buy a Windows machine, but it won't be able to run OS X. So Matt can tell her that they can have the best of both worlds!

What are the first things I should do after buying a MacBook Pro to protect my data?

Episode 1115

Jeff from Raleigh, NC

Leo says since most MacBook Pros come with SSDs now, it's important to turn on drive encryption right away. If he doesn't encrypt the drive from day one, some data could end up unencrypted on that drive. Turn on encryption before putting private data on it. The Mac comes with something called File Vault for encryption, which he can access right from the Mac's System Preferences. He just has to turn it on, and he won't even know it's running. The only reason to do this is in the event that his computer was stolen.

What's the difference between sleep mode and hibernate mode?

Sleep mode

Episode 1108

Bruce from Manhattan Beach, CA

Bruce has a computer that he puts into hibernation, but when he unplugs it, it shuts down. Leo says the there's a difference between hibernation and sleep mode. Sleep keeps the computer on, but loads everything into RAM and shuts down the hard drive and other things it doesn't need. It's in an extreme low power mode, but keeps refreshing the RAM so it'll come back on when woken up. Hiberation, on the other hand, completely shuts down the computer and then writes the RAM contents to the hard drive to access when it's turned back on.

What is a used computer worth?

used computers

Episode 1104

Jay from Riverside, CA

Jay wants to know if there's a Kelly Blue Book for computers? Leo says no. Computer values disappear rapidly because there's no real resale market. There are so many different PCs, that it would be a very large book if there were one.

One way to determine what a computer is worth is to search eBay's listings. That's a good way to see how much people are paying for it. Jay shouldn't buy a used computer, though. It's a false economy to get a used one. He's just buying someone else's problems. If he wants to save some money, he should get a factory direct refurbished computer.