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The poor writer’s dilemma

November 20, 2019

I have to invest in a new laptop. I just don’t have a choice. This, my eight-year-old Toshiba, is driving me insane. It is so slow. If I value my sanity (which I do), I am going to have to bite the bullet and spend money I don’t have. I could spend $500 without repayments dragging out over months, but is that a false economy?

A friend recently and very kindly sent me a replacement for my Samsung tablet, which recently stopped working. The replacement is a Microsoft tablet. It hasn’t taken long for it to start driving me insane. First up was the discovery that it will not allow me to download any apps from the Google Play store, so I can’t get my banking app or my Guardian app or most of the other apps I used frequently on my previous tablet. I can only get apps available from the far more limited Microsoft app store. Grr.

In order to get any apps from said Microsoft store, I had to set up a Microsoft account, which I did, dutifully making note of which email account I was using and what the password was. The next time I tried to access this account I keyed in the username and password. I was informed that I also needed to use a security code which had just been emailed to me. Jesus. Opened up the email on my slow as molasses computer (because I couldn’t do anything on the tablet until I had the security code), found the code, keyed it in and was then informed that something had gone wrong and they would have to further verify by sending me a text message on a phone number to be provided by me. I don’t have a mobile phone – at least not a functioning one. I have an old Nokia pay-as-you-go which I put money on when I’m travelling. It’s not worth paying for a ridiculously expensive contract for a smart phone because I live in a dead zone. Even if I put money on the pay-as-you-go and provided the Microsoft tablet people with that number, I wouldn’t be able to receive the message because I live in a fucking dead zone. So I rang a friend and asked her to give me her mobile number so I could give that to Microsoft and she could receive the text message and tell me what it said. She said fine, gave me her number, I keyed that in, hit enter and was informed the number was unacceptable. What the holy mother of god fuck?!?!

So now there are a hundred things I cannot do on my new Microsoft tablet because I’ve been locked out of my Microsoft account. Jesus fucking Christ.

I had high hopes for this tablet, because it has a keyboard attached to it and I thought maybe, just maybe it could replace both my tablet and my laptop. Not so. The keyboard is simply too small to write comfortably.

Which brings me back to replacing my laptop.

After it took me an hour and a half to download a (very large) file this morning, I started doing a Google search for best laptops under $500. Various options came up. Then I thought, hang on, what’s the thing I do most on my laptop? I don’t play videogames (are they even called video games anymore?). I don’t watch movies or television shows on my laptop. Yes, I use it for the internet and email and Facebook, but mostly what I use it for is writing.

If I’m going to buy a new laptop, I want one that is good for writing. I refined my Google search to best laptops for writers.

I found this article, which led me to throw my hands up in despair.

The Samsung Chrome 3 was looking like an incredibly affordable option, until I got to this paragraph: “Although Chromebooks can’t run Word and have limited functionality away from an internet connection, many users find the offline functionality of Google Docs is good enough to make this laptop a stellar deal. That’s right, you can’t use Microsoft Word on a Chromebook, so if that’s a must for you, look for another option.”

But I want Microsoft Word on my laptop. I want a system I know. I don’t want to have to learn a new system. Oh, well.

The Lenovo Ideapad seems to get the thumbs up from a number of best-laptops-for-writers lists, but… The first tablet I bought was a Lenovo because it was cheap. It lasted a couple of years (maybe – probably a year and a half) and then it just died. So, no, I don’t think so.

Another thumbs up for the Acer Aspire. Slightly more than $500 for a 6GB memory version, nearly twice what I want to pay for the 8GB version, which also has GeForce MX150 (whatever the hell that is). Are two extra gigabytes really worth that much?

And the there are the multiple recommendations for the MacBook Air. Oh, god, really? I have an irrational hatred of all things Apple and have resisted this evil empire for years. (Any more evil than Microsoft or Google? No, probably not.) I say irrational, because I know it probably is, but those fucking PC vs Mac ads really got up my nose.


Is it time? I don’t know. Apparently there’s a $550 version, but the sites rave in particular about the keyboard on the 2017 one that costs $789 (which, of course, once you’ve added the bloody tax, means more like $900+).

It definitely won’t come with Windows 10.

What’s a poor writer to do?

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