This summarizes exactly how I feel today.
I shouldn’t need a crazy fast machine.
However, when I’m on a machine with a mechanical hard drive or
slower processor, I can tell the difference the second I start
using it. It still functions, but my general assumptions get
in the way. I get impatient. Come on, move already!
This is why I went overboard in my new
desktop, which should arrive in December. Dell xps 8930 with a
core i7 processor. I may not need it, but with the
advancements in computer technology and how screen readers
are, instead of becoming lighter on processor usage, are
seemingly more dependant on them, I figure I should get as
much power as I can while I can. My thoughts are a core i3
processor, 8 gb of ram and a decent solid state drive should
get you where you want to go. The problem is when you want
more than a 128 gb drive. You have to pay for the i5 or i7
processor, thus making the machine even more expensive. Also,
in 5 years, that i3 may be ancient history. It seems things
are taking off at breakneck speed rather than slowing down as
far as advancing goes. Soon all applications are going to be
multithreaded if they’re not already and you want as many
threads as you can squeeze out of it in the future. Dual core
with hyperthreading just isn’t going to cut it in even 4 years
– and if it does, it’s going to be on the edge of it. Maybe
this is just my paranoia talking, but you never know.
** This was also cross-posted to
As a screen reader user, I'm
finding selecting a new laptop is more difficult than ever
before. I'm very curious to see what others think, so
please post your thoughts.
It used to be that I didn't feel I
needed a super fast computer, because I wasn't editing
video. And nowadays if you look at reviews of laptops,
you'll see that people who edit photos, use CAD systems,
create art or engage in heavy gaming need fast machines.
But for those who just surf the web, read email and do
some light word processing, reviewers maintain that a
slower and cheaper laptop will work just fine. In fact,
reviews of chromebooks are often mixed in with reviews of
inexpensive Windows laptops for just that reason.
In 2012 my Acer netbook (An AO-756)
was the fastest ultraportable I could buy for under $500.
Its processor, a 1.4GHZ Intel Celeron 877 was a dual core
from the Sandy Bridge family -- the slowest one in that
family, but it wasn't a much slower Atom. It had a
reasonable fast 500GB hard drive. I added 8GB of RAM
making it even more useful at running multiple tasks
efficiently. I could use Word, Excel and Outlook without
latency and of course I did a lot of web surfing. Compared
to the computers at work, it was a bit slower, but like
the reviewers said, it didn't matter, since I didn't do
computation-heavy tasks at home.
What's changed today might best be
covered in this post:
which discusses how screen readers
access the web. Today, if I have to work with a dynamic
website, my little ACER is unbearably slow, despite my
having carefully maintained it so it doesn't run
unnecessary background tasks, and so that Windows is
regularly fully refreshed.
I am convinced the problem is not
so much that the PC is slow, but that the screen reader
has become a palace built on a shack's foundation. It
needs everything it can squeeze out of the processor to
handle the new, dynamic web. Seems both NVDA and JAWS fail
miserably on slower processors.
But if a task does not depend on a
screen reader, the machine is still fairly fast. For
example, when I OCR something in Kurzweil 1000, the laptop
is just as fast as my much more powerful desktop computers
at work. And running something like Handbrake is indeed
slower on my laptop but not so slow it cannot be used. A
video that takes an hour to convert on my desktop at work
might take fifteen extra minutes on the laptop. Handbrake
is often used as an informal benchmarking tool.
But where instant responsiveness
counts, my Netbook falls short. I expect to hear something
when I press a key. Often, today, I don't -- seems like I
am always waiting for the screen reader to pull itself
together and find the focus, or cope with a dynamic
partial page refresh, or the next column in the
spreadsheet, or read my next email in Thunderbird.
The Acer actually got fractionally
faster when I upgraded to Windows 10, but even so, I
mostly wait after pressing a key to hear something read
back to me.
My work computers which run Core i7
Pentiums respond immediately, even though they are saddled
with far more background tasks required by my job.
So if I were to trust reviews, this
claim that for the kinds of things I do at home on the
laptop I don't need a very powerful machine, I'd buy
something with an Atom processor, a 128GB SSD and 2GB of
RAM. Clearly that would result in a machine that's even
slower than my existing laptop. Plus, it would have a
quarter of the storage!
I guess the dilemma I'm struggling
with here is how to avoid spending a fortune and still get
an ultraportable that has no latency when I use a screen