Obscure PC Components.

One of the things for which I have very recently realized that I should be very thankful is my Lenovo ThinkPad R61i. It's not that I should be thankful for it in the way you are for Thanksgiving, or in the way you are for another person, or even a really meaningful gift.

Instead, I'm to be thankful that it's such a great computer, despite the fact that I bought it retail, with almost no prior research on the specific SKU, and with no knowledge of how Windows Vista was going to run on it. I am sure that had I bought either of the machines to the left or the right of the R61i on that display shelf, I wouldn't have gotten the experience I did.

The reason this is important is because of the reading and research I've been doing lately about Windows Vista, and the launch of Windows Vista. It turns out that if your PC has an older chipset, some things just never work properly. Unfortunately, I've met a lot of people to whom this has happened, and even today, I'm fairly certain low end notebooks are still available with 945 and (I wouldn't be surprised at least) 915 chipsets. The unfortunate thing about that is that Windows Vista has a poor experience on some of the machines based on older chipsets, mainly as a result, as per Intel, of Microsoft's lack of communication about the requirements for the WDDM driver model, which is a big part of how Vista provides the Aero/Glass user experience.

Luckily, the R61i uses the decidedly modern Intel 965 Express chipset, and has the Intel GMA X3100 graphics chip, with shared ram. Not that I knew that when I first got the machine, to me it was just "oh, ThinkPad, these are reputable machines, and I need to learn Vista anyway." Luckily, it's been great for more than just notetaking with OneNote 2007, and merely "learning Vista."

Unfortunately for the "average" PC buyer, this means that a lot of PC purchases will be made on the faith that the consumer is getting what they paid for. Unfortunately I think that that is the very problem right now, that consumers are getting what they pay for, and in many of today's sub-$600 computers, that means old technology. Typically I've found the budget PCs to be usable when you get some of the "bundled offers" removed from them, but with the transition to Vista, what I've noticed is that there haven't been enough improvements quickly enough to the lowest segment of the computer market. The lowest end desktop PCs today can't competently run Vista, more than a year after it's release, which I find to be disconcerting.

Unfortunately, I think that this part of the industry is behind. Not just in the "oh, but it's a $399 computer," way. I think it's further behind than it should be, and it's really disappointing that as a result of the vendors' inability to bring their lowest end computers up to reasonable Vista spec, Microsoft has to continue offering XP for sale to OEMs.

This is something I think people need to have more awareness of, even if it takes longer in a class to go over various chipsets, and how to look for what chipset a computer has. Not just chipsets either, I would be much happier with a basic computer class at both the university and the high school levels that went over all of the components in the system unit in detail, and helped students understand sale ads, researching systems to find a system that really does meet their requirements.

I think putting more focus on the "obscure PC components" would produce more truly computer-literate people, especially since most people already know a lot of the basics about computers, such as the fact that a keyboard can be used to enter text into the computer, and that once you've entered text into the computer, your monitor, which operates like a television, displays that text on the screen.

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