Buying a New Laptop

I decided toward the second semester of my sophomore year in college that I want to integrate my school work with my computer. It started with writing notes in a OneNotebook rather than my composition book for Biology. I liked being able to copy-paste pictures, links, and files into the notebook. Additionally, I type much faster than I write, and I don’t finish class or study sessions with cramped hands. I was also impressed with my friends’ Surface Pros and Surface Books, which had touchscreens that worked with digitizer pens.

After a few months of contemplating and weighing pros and cons, I decided to go with the HP Spectre 13in over popular candidates, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, the Microsoft Surface Book, and the HP Spectre x360 15in. My priorities, in order from most to least importance, were pen compatibility, RAM, weight, and processor. 

The device had to be pen compatible, and I’m not talking about those generic squishy rubber things at the end of pens. The Surface Pen and Apple Pencil both have pressure sensors and are precise in writing and drawing. I wanted this experience with whatever device I got. A strong candidate in many other categories was a Lenovo laptop that boasted specs better than the laptop I bought, including a true 4K display. Unfortunately, its touchscreen was not digitizer pen-compatible. I almost bought a $900 HP Spectre x360 13in, but because it did not work with a pen at all (check out the model 13-w023dx), I had to turn it down for the new model, which was $400 more.

Any device I wanted was going to cost me at least $1000. I’m used to paying $300-400 for a laptop that lasts me about 3 years. If I was going to spend 3 times more than what I am accustomed, then the device better be fast and last me longer than 3 years. About 5 years ago, 4GB of RAM with a Pentium processor was the standard for a basic laptop, and the fact my Toshiba had 8GB and an i3 processor was a luxury to a person with a budget like mine. Today, that Toshiba is on par with laptops sold for $250 (the Ivy Bridge i3 in my Toshiba is probably slower than the Skylake i3 processors of today). I suspect another 5 years from now, 16GB of RAM will be standard for the same category. Also, my friend with an 8GB RAM Surface Book said he wished he could have bought a 16GB version of his device if only Microsoft didn’t beef it up with other specs to drive the price up more than he wanted. Because of this, I would not consider any device that had 8GB RAM and anything less than an Intel i5 processor. My Spectre has 16GB RAM and an i7 mobile processor.

One major factor in the new device was the weight. My Toshiba weighed about 5 pounds. Call me weak, but that felt liked a drag, carrying it around everywhere I went. For a few months, I had my eye on the 15in, 2016 version of the Spectre x360. I even bought the stylus compatible with it, and I was waiting for Best Buy to lower the price back down to $999. The larger, 4K screen* interested me over the 13in, but after realizing that I would have considered a Surface Pro (with a 12-in screen) or Surface Book (with a 13-in screen), I decided the 2-in difference did not matter so much to me. I also figured I would not care about the resolution so much, for any of the candidates had better resolution than my Toshiba. Last but not least, the 15in Spectre weighed a little over 4 lbs whereas the 13in Spectre was about 1.5 lbs less. Therefore, the 13in Spectre was much closer in form to either of the Surface candidates.

*I later read on Reddit discussions that the screen is not truly 4K. I am still not sure why HP marketed it as 4K if it wasn’t true. My fellow techie comrade thinks it might be due to the lack of a powerful processor, as the integrated graphics card could not handle 4K display. The newest 15in Spectre now has a true 4K display, in addition to a discrete NVIDIA graphics card.

Other influences in buying this laptop were my friend who switched from a Surface Pro 4 to the exact same model I have, and the fact that the rest of my $1100 scholarship would probably run out at the end of the school year. I was going to wait till Black Friday, but excitement and necessity convinced me March 17 was a good day to do it.

Total review on its performance and use for me will be posted soon.


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