Why New Laptops Suck
Finally, another article! This is one that’s long overdue. New laptops suck! Why am I almost the only person to write about this? I guess I’m the only person who cares about having a good laptop. I love my 2007 Dell Latitude D630 that I’m typing on right now.
The sheer lack of value §
New laptops cost usually through the roof, and the few times they don’t, they’re either Chromebooks or they’re of a similar amount of disgrace. Meanwhile, you can buy full-blown Core i5 12″, 14″ and 15″ business laptops for around $150 on eBay. They can actually be in surprisingly good condition. Don’t forget that business laptops handle usage better.
Might I also add that thieves love stealing new laptops, due to their price? If you get an older laptop, it’s much less likely to be stolen, especially if it’s a ThinkPad!
Unintelligent design §
Anyone who’s been to Worst Buy or the Microsoft Store has seen those laptops that have screens that flip all the way back, turning the machine into a tablet. Know what’s stupid about those? The keyboard is still exposed when you do that! Whatever happened to the intelligent swiveling design of the Lenovo ThinkPad X200 Tablet? “Eww, old laptops!”, you say. “They’re all slow and stuff and they don’t have glossy screens!” Bah! What a newfangler. Go buy a nice $150 business laptop, use an SSD and some plastic cleaner & polish, and bam, you’re all set.
Touch screens? Really? They’re basically worthless if they’re larger than 12″. It also takes more power than a non-touch screen does, and when it gets cracked, it’s more expensive and harder to replace.
Speaking of screens, why are they glossy? “To make the colors look better!” And to reflect you and everything behind you in bright light, making it almost impossible to work outside. Oh well, at least you can use it as a mirror, so nobody sneaking up behind you can scare you as bad.
Additionally, any device with a detachable keyboard, and thus, no sort of screen hinges to hold the screen up, have to use a kickstand instead, if they even decide to include anything. This means that you can’t really use it on your lap very well, and it also means the screen isn’t as adjustable as any hinged laptop lets you do.
Furthermore, thinness just makes the laptop more brittle, not to mention harder to get the screen open.
Terrible Touchpads §
Once I tried to use a MacBook, and the touchpad barely responded at all. Lots of laptops these days feature trashy touchpads just like that one that barely respond.
Most touchpads nowadays are also buttonless, which is excusable if it must be due to space constraints, like on the Lenovo ThinkPad X220 Tablet, but nowadays, you’ll catch many manufacturers of even 17″ laptops with buttonless touchpads. Why, when there are practically no such things as size constraints on a 17″ laptop? To make it less usable, of course. Also to imitate Apple.
On top of that, a lot of today’s touchpads are oversized, which is annoying, because I find myself having to put my pinky finger somewhere when using the touchpad, which is usually on the laptop’s palmrest, but it’s almost impossible to do that on an oversized touchpad.
Terrible Keyboards §
Chiclet keyboards? Seriously? Whatever happened to good keyboards? It’s not even just the fact that they’re chiclet keyboards, but what’s even worse than that is their layouts.
Throw in the fact that laptop makers love to have the F-keys do “multimedia” functions by default instead of the actual F-keys…ugh. Am I the only person who ever uses Alt+F4? How about Shift+F10? Was it because everyone kept falling for the “press alt+f4” joke that manufacturers did this?
Actually, this was done to copy Apple. On Mac, the F-keys aren’t used much, so, on MacBooks, the F-keys do the “multimedia” functions instead of F-keys unless you press Fn. This makes sense. However, on Windows, the F-keys are more commonly used, so why copy Apple? It’s stupid.
Lack of features §
Lots of new laptops these days have only one RAM slot! How stupid is that? They also love to get rid of the Ethernet port because “nobody uses Ethernet on a laptop anymore”. Pfft. To those, I ask, have you ever had to do real work involving hooking up a laptop to an Ethernet connection, like PXE OS installation or network diagnostics? I know I do! “Just use a USB Ethernet adapter”, you say. That takes up a USB port and doesn’t perform as well as PCI Express Ethernet adapters do!
Speaking of USB, USB ports are often seen in low quantities on new laptops. Whatever happened to laptops like the Inspiron 9300 that have SIX USB PORTS? It’s not even a business laptop! Now we’re often stuck with less than half of that! “USB flash drives are obsolete”, you say. Have you ever had one of those days where all you want to do is share a file with someone, and nothing seems to work? How about a USB flash drive? It’s a lot more convenient than trying to figure out how to share files without exposing my entire collection of files all at once with OneDrive.
- One USB port: Smartphone ripoff, bottom of the barrel
- Two USB ports: Trash heap
- Three USB ports: “Just Right”
- Four USB ports: Awesome
- More than four: HOW many ports, now!?
Another thing that many new laptops lack is not only Wi-Fi radio switches, which are handy when you really need to shut your Wi-Fi off (let’s face it, sometimes it makes sense), but also dedicated volume buttons. What’s that you say, no one uses those because they always go to the taskbar instead? Pfftch, I use ’em all the time.
Soldered Processors §
Nowadays, manufacturers just love to solder down their processors, as opposed to putting them in a socket. This makes it far harder to reuse the processor for something else when the computer dies (which you know it will). This also makes it far harder to escape a terrible processor like the Celeron N2830 from 2014 with a single-thread comparable to that of a Pentium 4 of 10 years earlier. It’s better to just replace the whole laptop, in that case.
Of course, on the flipside, if a good processor is soldered in place, then it’s more excusable. For example, the Lenovo ThinkPad X220 Tablet from 2011 has a soldered i5-2520M processor. It’s a very good processor, so that computer is exempt…but the Dell Inspiron 3531 from 2014, with the aforementioned terrible Celeron, has it soldered. The only way to escape that idiocy is to buy a good computer. It might as well be an X220 Tablet. At least the screen swivels! How many other laptops do you see do that?
Externally-inaccessible Batteries §
Blasted laptops and their blasted batteries! (I’m writing this on battery.) Now they’re internal!? Great! That makes laptops’ battery problems even more annoying to deal with! This is obviously intentional design to make you replace your laptop quicker. What a sick, money-making move. It’s just another reason to go buy a refurbished laptop instead.
High Resolution for the Sake of High Resolution §
Newfangled laptops love using high resolutions. Why? To imitate Apple’s “Retina”, of course. High resolutions make everything, especially games run even worse than otherwise. It puts more strain on the CPU and GPU, making everything slower. Even worse than that, on any LCD, setting the resolution to something lower makes everything look weird and/or stretched. On top of that, even if you use Windows’ DPI scaling, it will make things look funny, as the entire content of the window is scaled up, resulting in either blur or pixelation. There’s no cure for the disease of high resolution for the sake of high resolution. It’s a permanent curse. There’s nothing you can do…except go buy a laptop that isn’t a newfangled piece of trash.
Low-wattage for the sake of low-wattage §
Newfangled laptops often come with low-wattage power adapters (<65W). Know what that does? While it reduces the size of the charger (although not by a lot), it also makes battery charging significantly slower!
Additionally, the processors in newfangled laptops are almost always lower-wattage (<25W). This just makes the processor slower (remember the Intel Atom?). It doesn’t help as much as one would think with heat and noise emissions, but it sure hurts performance. There’s a reason why Lenovo swapped from low-voltage Core 2 Duos in the X200 Tablet to full-blown mobile Core i5/i7 processors in the X220 Tablet.
Remember, the full TDP is only dissipated under full load. TDP says nothing about idle heat dissipation (or the lack thereof). The solution to cooling problems is making better coolers, not reducing full-load dissipation and making a slow processor as a result.
There is an advantage to this: as a result, new laptops are not that much faster in CPU performance than old ones…so why not go buy a nice refurbished Core i5 business laptop?
Something I must add is the fact that low-wattage mobile processors have improved, but the problem is that they’re still less cost-effective (too much money, not as good performance) than a slightly higher-wattage mobile processor.
Dedicated Graphics for Games Suck §
This applies to ALL laptops, including new “gaming” laptops, old laptops, old “gaming” laptops…whatever. Games make dedicated graphics chips put out a lot of heat and same for the CPU. The result is a heater of a laptop that barely lasts on battery. Why even get a “gaming” laptop if you not only practically cannot play games on battery, but you also can’t even run games at all without the whole thing getting so hot, that the experience becomes miserable? Adding the fact that the majority of them tend to be overly large and bulky. What a sick joke. Screw “gaming” laptops, old and new.
Netbooks Sucked §
Netbooks, way back when, sucked. I still have one…well, two, and they both suck. I had one back in the day, seven years ago. They’re slow, gimped of features, less usable than a real 12″-14″ business laptop, and who cares if it’s lighter? Seriously, what is up with these total wusses who can’t bear to lift…four to five pounds? Okay, maybe we aren’t dealing with wusses, but rather…goofballs who thing lightness is necessary. Does everything have to feel like a MacBook? Like as if MacBooks are the prime example of usability, durability, and reliability.
Instead of buying netbooks, we all should have gone on eBay and bought a refurbished ThinkPad X61, or, if you need a touchpad, a Latitude D430. They were only about 3 years old at the time!
Little to No Indicators §
Lots of newfangled laptops omit tons of the useful LEDs that existed way back when. I say that, like anything else, there is a balance that should be achieved with LEDs: don’t go minimalistic but don’t go overboard either, but at least, just like cable slack, too much (ThinkPad T400) is better than not enough (Inspiron 1545).
While I’m At It §
You know what else sucks?
- ExpressCard slots that you push the card in to get it out (what if you’re plugging a device into the card?), as opposed to the old-type release mechanism (the Latitude E6410 gets it right)
- Any flipping kind of thing that you have to push in to remove when it’s flush with the case! Even the E6410 flunked this one. Not everyone has long fingernails or handy screwdrivers!
- Short-throw touchpad buttons (especially once they get worn)
- No sort of “high-speed” (eSATA/USB3/Gigabit Ethernet) data connectivity or digital video output (HDMI/DisplayPort) on something new enough (>2009)
- Keyboard-based wireless switches (you can’t easily turn off your Wi-Fi as, or, even harder, before you start the PC)
- Keycaps that crack when you remove them (another E6410 flunk)
- No 56K Modem (just kidding)
- No Pause key functionality
- Speaker grills on the palm rest (they get full of dirt and junk) or on the base. Put them on the LCD assembly, for goodness’ sakes!
- Screens that open behind the base, rather than above. This means you have to remove the LCD assembly in order to disassemble it.