Thinner, Lighter, Sleeker ­ But Better?

The trend with notebooks is to keep making them thinner and lighter, but these new sleekbooks, ultrabooks, convertibles and ultra­portable PCs are more disposable than most people realise. These new devices are more like phones and tablets than they are like the notebooks of old.


The best advice we can give when shopping is to make sure you know what you're buying, whether it can be maintained and whether you can expect to own it for longer than the manufacturer's warranty period. If it's thinner than an 2.5cm (1 inch) overall, converts into a tablet or is a touchscreen under £600, chances are there will be problems.


Upgrades ­ The biggest downside from a tech perspective is that you can't add RAM in many of these new devices since they are soldering it all on the motherboard. If your RAM fails, replace the motherboard. The cheaper options are also coming with 4GB of RAM which is fine for basic tasks, but will slow you down if you're a multitasking wizard


Storage ­ Many of the cheapest devices are coming with 32GB of storage space, which is barely enough for an operating system, let alone some pictures, music and documents. Some manufacturers are even soldering this 32GB on the motherboard which prevents conventional data recovery and is another reason you may need to replace the motherboard.


Cooling ­ Apple and HP has been guilty of this for years, but the thinner and quieter you make a system, the worse it's going to be at cooling itself off. If the processor overheats, they are often soldered to the board now, so overheating is another reason you may need to replace the motherboard again.


Costs ­ The price maybe the same or cheaper then you paid for your last laptop, but replacing the major components like the touchscreen or motherboard can be as expensive as buying a new device because parts tend to be scarce due to the vast number of models on the market and quite pricey because of all the components manufacturers are combining into one package


Design ­ This can be from a user or technicians perspective, but a lack of USB ports, audio jacks, video outputs, etc. is becoming more and more of an inconvenience as devices get thinner and smaller. Inside the devices, manufacturers are giving up on screws in favour of tape, glue or plastic welds that prevent simple parts from being replaced and this also makes it more common for them to break.


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