Not All Machines Are Created Equal

Carl Weinschenk

Maybe people are in a sour mood as they wait out the last days of winter, but we found it interesting that both PC World and PC Magazine almost simultaneously ran "worst of" features this week. The PC World piece focused on the 10 worst PCs of all time, while PC Magazine's swipes are directed at more contemporary machines.


We didn't cross reference to see if any devices are double losers, but it's certainly possible. The stories are valuable to folks who are interested in devices that straddle the professional/personal line for a couple of reasons. The first, of course, is that it's important to stay away from the devices mentioned.


More importantly, the stories serve as good reminders that there really is a wide quality range in laptop and desktop PCs. It may be tempting to think that these are commodity items -- that a computer is a computer -- but the stories validate that this simply is not true.


Folks mixing personal and corporate devices and networks must be especially careful about what they are buying. Though IT best practices argue against it, the fact is that many telecommuters indiscriminately mix personal and professional computing. Security staffs get particularly vehement when the kids, and their virus- and spyware-laden games, are part of the picture.


Though many cases may not be extreme enough to land the device on a worst-ever list, it is important to recognize that there are a lot of subtle and overt differences between various hardware and software devices. Furthermore, what's good for business often doesn't synch with what makes a gadget good for consumers. IT departments should provide guidance to telecommuters and mobile work forces on precisely what processor speed, memory and other parameters are necessary to ensure that a dual-use machine can handle everything that is thrown its way.


Finally, it wouldn't be a bad idea to let users know specific machines that should be avoided. One way of doing that, it seems, is to send out links to the PC World and PC Magazine stories.

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