Friday, June 20, 2008

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

Computerworld brags about "40 years of the most authoritative source of news and information for IT leaders." And they have an article talking about spending $125 and "a couple hours" to refresh a 5 year old laptop. The author reports a 30% improvement in performance after the updates, which include RAM, a hard drive, a keyboard, and a good 'ole cleaning.

C'mon now, this might be an interesting little project for someone at home with no budget and very casual needs, but it's not even close to worth it for any type of business use. I find this article so far off base for what Computerworld claims to be the intended audience that I don't even know where to start...

They didn't replace the battery, which probably would have been another $100+, which means this laptop isn't going to be very mobile. Congratulations, your laptop is now a desktop system with a small keyboard. I bet it has a PS/2 port where you could have just plugged in a real keyboard.

They didn't put a price on the labor involved. I find the time estimate overly optimistic for cleaning off the Windows clutter, but let's just accept it anyway. So conservatively we have to add another $100 to the cost.

And the result: a 5 year old laptop that performs about like it did 5 years ago. This "revitalized" machine still only has a 1.5-GHz Pentium M processor, slower memory, who-knows-what for video and produces a PC Mark 05 score of 1,536. A current low-end laptop should be at least twice that and can be found in the $400-500 range.

Hmm, would I like to spend $350 updating an old slow machine or $450 on a current machine that carries a warranty and increases user productivity?

I'm not a fan of the throw-away society, but hardware is cheap and it pays for itself quickly - and many times over - in most businesses. Don't save your pennies and waste your dollars. Spend a little more and get a whole lot more done.