back to article Reg man confesses: I took my wife out to choose a laptop for Xmas. NOOOO

We love our gadgets and phones and suchlike. Gadgets can also make great gifts, so long as you get the "right one". Some this Christmas season - like me - will no doubt have thought what a great idea it would have been to buy their partners (or some other significant loved one in the family) a new laptop, device, or tablet as …

  1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    If she likes the colour ...

    Look up the model number and see if it is easy to install your favourite Linux distribution. The effort required could be anything from a year of frustration to five minutes of set-up plus half an hour reading a book while everything downloads. Linux runs fine on modest hardware, but for Chromebooks you have to check that either the internal storage is reasonable or for an SDHC slot.

    1. Simon Rockman

      Re: If she likes the colour ...

      Linux? Linux! What part of "not wanting to be condemned to tech support" or running iTunes and Word did you not understand.

      1. PNGuinn

        Re: If she likes the colour ...

        From the point of tech support I'd hug the penguin any time. Provided the hardware is compatible - and think peripherals like borked gdi printers etc as well - it seems to just work (tm) nearly all the time.

        Sod Itunes, sod Orifice. (And sod systemd while I'm at it. I don't need another stinking registry).

        To be perfectly cynical - (who - me?) - If it's a distress purchase - and frankly if it's the likes of pcslum it has to be - why not another distress purchace to go with it? Grit your teeth and go to halfords and get a tin of cellulose spray paint. You could even try out the colour on the sales droid - he'd probably never notice. Mind you, your local gofaster shop would probably have a better range of colours, and you might even get a really good deal on a nice bright obsolete 1970s tint.

        Personally, you'll prize my Asus EEE901 from my cold dead hands. In many ways those things are still ahead of their time. A bit thick to say the least by today's standards, but a very nice keyboard if your mits are not too big, superb matt screen, excellent battery life, enough grunt for some serious work, easily upgradeable, built like a tank ...

        Got to agree with you though - if you're going to have to support it make sure you choose it.

      2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        @Simon Rockman

        Decoding computer requirements from non-techies is tricky because they lack the computer literacy to ask for what they need. I find delivering Microsoft Word without question leads to angry technical support calls when Microsoft Word fails to read a document created by a different version of Microsoft Word. So far, incompatibility problems have been solved by upgrading to Libreoffice. These days, I get users to try Libreoffice first. Perhaps one day I will come across a non-techy with a genuine requirement for Microsoft Word, but it hasn't happened yet.

        1. Dave Bell

          Re: @Simon Rockman

          If you're an author, selling your work, you may find that publishers expect MS Word to handle the copy editing, and I know some pretty geeky authors who keep a copy for that reason. But it's arguable that that is a pretty specialised use-case. In any case, it's a collaborative edit process, with detailed tracking of the changes, and it would be folly to rely on somebody else getting file import and export right.

          For the actual writing, the same people swear by Scrivener. But that comes down to using the right tools for the different jobs. MS Word can create HTML pages, but the last time I checked they were grotesquely over-sized. Libre Office does a better job than the Word which I knew.

          I do sometimes wonder if we can make good choices for friends and family. I haven't created a huge file for a couple of years. How much storage space do you need for keeping the letters you write? Do some of the things we worry about really matter?

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: @Simon Rockman

            If you're an author, selling your work, you may find that publishers expect MS Word to handle the copy editing, and I know some pretty geeky authors who keep a copy for that reason. But it's arguable that that is a pretty specialised use-case.

            Word is still widely required for academic publication in the humanities. Back when I was still willing to put up with that, I used to compose in OpenOffice, export to Word before the initial submission, and use Word for the revision cycles with the editor. (It was a nasty process, and I've pretty much decided not to publish anymore with anyone who won't take LaTeX.)

            My point, though, is while it might be a "specialised" use case, it's not a small one.

            I also need Word for work purposes - a fair number of Word docs here circulate among contributors with change tracking, and the last I checked Libre Office1 didn't always get that right. And IT put Office on my work machines before I even get them, and OO/LO really aren't that much less unpleasant, so there's little incentive not to use Office for work.

            1I'm indifferent to the OO/LO battles over licensing and control, but I switched to LO a while back because I had to do some presentations for a class I was teaching and LO's version of Impress had better presenter support. Considered using one of the LaTeX slideware classes or something like S5, but only so many hours in the day.

      3. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: If she likes the colour ...

        Idiots will always force you to be "condemned to tech support". The OS really doesn't matter. The idea that it ever was was just a myth perpetrated by liars trying to sell you something.

        As far as being "condemned", you're already there with the Chromebook.

        It's already Linux. It's just a very crippled variety of Linux that you have less control over. Running a proper Linux allows you to avoid iPhone style stupidity like "cloud printing".

    2. FrankAlphaXII

      Re: If she likes the colour ...

      >>Look up the model number and see if it is easy to install your favourite Linux distribution.

      Did you not read the article?

      The user's requirements include Word and iTunes, which is not "close to Word" and "sort of like iTunes". Neither iTunes or Word run natively on a Linux distribution, maybe you could virtualize them, but that sounds a major pain in the ass as opposed to buying a mid-range Windows notebook or a Macbook if he has the money and likes Apple's stuff enough to justify the expense.

      Also, given his reluctance to support something as easy as google's purpose built surveillance device netbook for a user used to either OS X or Windows I certainly doubt he'd subject himself (or his wife for that matter) to a highly technical operating system, and one he'd have to force the hardware to use.

      1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

        I see you has the colour

        Going by your sig, I imagine you know more about computers than women.

        The trick to an happy marriage is to keep the little woman constantly grateful, not to shower the pwned object of your desire with your largesse and ignorance. (If you are very nice (and apologetic) to me, I may be inveigled to further inform you of your inherent rights of manhood.)

        1. BongoJoe

          Re: I see you has the colour

          Surely the trick to a happy marriage is to refrain from calling the Memsahib "the Little Woman"

    3. Camilla Smythe Silver badge

      Re: If she likes the colour ...

      Eh ?

      "Then she saw it - the sunset-orange colour Chromebook. This was “the one”. I was worried. I knew straight away this was trouble - Chromebooks have their place but they are not laptops."

      "Look up the model number and see if it is easy to install your favourite Linux distribution."

      So... assuming I need to use something like apt-get install and hope The Gimp dependencies follow through then the target machine is going to break out a spray can from the appropriate hardware port and pimp the case Orange.

      Impressive.

    4. illiad

      Re: If she likes the colour ...

      no, no, no.... you stooooopid linux loonies.... you blind peeps have not seen that she would not know linux if it hit her...

      and poor hubby would be losing his lovin' due to her complaints that it 'does not work'.... :(

      there is also something big missing you idiot chrome fans are blinded by....

      "honey, what happened to the two buttons above the mousepad???"

      ANY DIMWIT would just buy a win laptop in the same colour!!!!!

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: If she likes the colour ...

        That's all very well, but can you imagine the nightmare of persuading her that you didn't buy her Windows 8 as some sort of premeditated torture ?

        At least if you put Linux on it you've got some hope of making it do what she wants with only trivial UI differences. It won't be actively fighting her (and you).

  2. dz-015

    I think you should have bought her the crappy orange data-collecting device. She'd have learnt a hard but worthwhile lesson, and you'd have saved a lot of money. Everybody wins.

    1. Richard Ball

      She wouldn't have learnt the right lesson.

      He would have proven his point, but only to himself.

      "Yay happy xmas me, I was right."

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Her choice

        The real issue here may well be that he chose to buy her this as her gift.

        Not that she'd said she wanted this as her gift.

        She may not have wanted a geeky Christmas gift at all. So naturally chooses something gifty.

        As opposed to something practical. It's a bit like bringing home a gift wrapped ironing board.

        (Is the writer one of those types who buys people what he thinks they ought to want?)

        If it really was what she wanted, ideally you should make a list of what she needs before hitting the shops. And then preferrably go to the shops with the list but not her.

        Otherwise it has to be. "OK, that's what you want. It is what it is, I don't think it will ever meet your needs. It can't do (as required). But that's your choice."

        After that the response has got to be, within reason, "Sorry, but this kind of machine won't really do that."

        1. jonathanb Silver badge

          Re: Her choice

          The only time you buy an ironing board as a present for a woman is if she is your daughter, and she's moving out to her own place for the first time. Laptops aren't in the same category at all.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Her choice

            @jonathanb

            .

            Otherwise;

            That sort of depends on whether she sees a lappy as a desirable object or a way to get dull or simply essential jobs done.

            If the latter, it's just a digital ironing board.

            Come to that, I wouldn't buy an ironing board for daughter moving to her own place, either.

            Vase maybe. Even kettle or microwave.

            But a drudge tool - computer or ironing board. No.

            And so, yes, in the sense that they are both drudgery tools they *are* in the same category.

            It could be you were being ironic, I suppose.

            (BTW after writing this I asked my undergraduate daughter, to check if I was right. And she said exactly what I exactly I'd expected. That they would both be on the list of things she'd need if she didn't already have them - but wouldn't want them as a regular gift.)

        2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: Terry 6 Re: Her choice

          ".....It's a bit like bringing home a gift wrapped ironing board....." I knew someone that did that one year. As a joke. It did not end well!

    2. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      I guess it's like MAD... no one wins?

      1. Oldfogey
        Angel

        Except

        I assume, Alfred E Neumann?

        (Re MAD above. Don't know why it ended up here!!!!!!!!!!)

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Except

          I assume, Alfred E Neumann?

          (Re MAD above. Don't know why it ended up here!!!!!!!!!!)

          Poe's-Law Disclaimer: I can't tell if this is a genuine question or a joke.

          By "MAD", the OP was presumably referring to the Cold-War doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      you should have bought her the crappy orange data-collecting device

      but then, there would have been no reason to product the article with its final, rather obvious, but still valuable, conclusions, non?

    4. skeptical i

      Um, maybe.

      In my experience and observation, spouses/ sig oths trend toward either of two poles: (1) those who make a bad choice, pick through the aftermath, learn something, and do better next time, and (2) those who make a bad choice and will never ever EVER let you forget that it's somehow YOUR fault that her/his/hir life is now complete misery (with most falling somewhere in-between). Know the terrain and pick your route carefully. "I can't lie to you about your chances, but... you have my sympathies."

    5. Black Betty

      Clearly you bunk with Ms R. Palm.

      There are NO WINNERS to be had by teaching one's SO a lesson by rubbing their nose in their own ignorance.

  3. poopypants

    I have two PCs on my desk. One has 16GB RAM, two 2560 x 1440 monitors, a Titan graphics card, 10 TBs disk storage, etc. The other is a Chromebox. The one I use when I am not on Mumble or playing games is the Chromebox. Apart from games, it does over 90% of the things that I usually do - which is mostly browse the web, write fiction or read/write emails. Best of all, it powers up in seconds, and uses far less power than my high end gaming PC.

    Does your partner play games or chat on Mumble?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      tick tock

      I tolerated the stock OS install on my Chromebox for all of 5 minutes before I felt compelled to put a area Linux distribution on it. It still adequately manages those 90% of those light duty tasks. It just plays nicer with the rest of my network.

  4. Jay 2

    I suspect the easiest way out of this was to not ask her to tag along in the first place!

    If someone else requires a new PC/laptop/slab that you are purchasing, then get some rough details of what theyre after, then you put your tech skills to work and find a suitable item.

    Though it always going to be your fault/you're always going to have to fix it.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm still paying the price for buying the other half a Mac Air earlier this year.'It'll just work' I thought....how wrong I was.

    Latest exciting surprise was her agreeing to the Yosemite upgrade nags, which on top of the last few weeks of "where has this gone? Why can't I do this now?", the crowning triumph was rendering the old but functional graphics tablet unusable. Ponied up for a new one instead of spending hours of my free time wrestling with an unfamiliar OS.

    If I had the inclination I'd just Windows the damn thing. At least when Microsoft changes/breaks things for the benefit of my customer experience, I know how to sort it out.

    1. Frankee Llonnygog

      Sometimes the reason OsX doesn't work

      Is because a Windows person has fixed it

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sometimes the reason OsX doesn't work

        I don't touch the damn thing unless I have to, it applied it's UI 'improvements' and rendered hardware obsolete on it's own.

        Besides, this wasn't a Mac vs PC post...just a general lament at the way Software has been regressing the last few years. Windows 7, Linux Mint, iOS 6, Android Kit Kat....all mature and usable experiences. 2014 has been the year of UI designers trying to justify their existence and ****ing everything up that didn't need touching.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sometimes the reason OsX doesn't work

          While I'm on this rant, let me get this off my chest. The whole UI shafting syndrome can be summed up in one icon change:

          The Android Lollipop Wi-Fi indicator. Every single unnecessary UI change from something instantly recognisable and familiar to something meaningless and 'modern' distilled into one hateful little cluster of pixels.

          Merry Christmas!

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Sometimes the reason OsX doesn't work

            Mine had to have a new laptop when windows "had a moment" and lost her holiday pictures.

            What she really needs is a Chromebook, what she insisted on was a Macbook Air (because they don't go wrong) but all it is used for is facebook.

            The price difference is a small price to pay to be able to say "Sorry don't know anything about macs, can't help"

        2. ThomH Silver badge

          Re: Sometimes the reason OsX doesn't work @AC

          The administrator's password is required to install all OS updates. Major versions are not pushed automatically, you have to go to the App Store and select to download them, supplying your store login credentials.

          The Mac definitely did not install Yosemite "on its own".

          1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

            Nobody said it installed on its own. The sentence used was "her agreeing to the Yosemite upgrade nags".

            1. ThomH Silver badge

              @Pascal Monett

              The author said, and I quote exactly: "I don't touch the damn thing unless I have to, it applied it's UI 'improvements' and rendered hardware obsolete on it's own."

              1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

                Point taken.

                I wonder how to reconcile both sentences.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  On it's own wasn't strictly accurate....but I mean, as designated family tech support, you can't bloody win.

                  Yes, install recommended updates.

                  No, don't install recommended updates if it clearly a browser malware extension...oh wait, there's no easy way for a layperson to know.

                  I just think that we as an industry should be evangelising technology that makes people's lives better, less hassle, less risky....instead...what do you reccomend? Where is the simple, reliable laptop that works with everyone's mobile out of the box? Stops malware nags, says OS VERSION X.0.0 update is available....just so you know, but please wait until X.0.3 for the best user experience.

                  We can do better....but where....how?

                  Technology should be improving and becoming easier and safer to use. But it's not. It annoys the **** out of me.

                  1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge
                    FAIL

                    Personally it's high time we take all the engineers (including myself) and shoot the lot of us for allowing this complex crap software and hardware going out the door at the behest of marketing and managerial droids. This is our failure.

                    1. JEDIDIAH
                      Linux

                      Right idea, wrong perp.

                      Engineers for the most part don't cause the problem. Salesmen do. Artificial churn is needed in consumer products so that their gravy train keeps moving. Career minded managers also need to be seen "doing something". Things can't just stay still. Someone somewhere needs to change things in order to justify their existence.

                      Although Unity and SystemD demonstrate how this affects everything, even stuff without sales departments.

                      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                        Re: Right idea, wrong perp.

                        Engineers for the most part don't cause the problem

                        Oh yes, they do, at least as far as software goes. Read David Platt's Why Software Sucks for several excellent arguments about why software developers are just as responsible as management, marketing, and sales for the generally-dismal state of software.

                        (Hardware has somewhat different economics, and thus somewhat different constraints and pathologies. Sometimes the engineers are to blame; sometimes they're just not permitted to do a good job.)

                2. Dan 55 Silver badge

                  Quite easy, his wife hit upgrade and entered the password and it installed the upgrade and the computer slowed down without his help. Normally if you install some kind of update you are responsible for everything that goes wrong from then on, including the computer slowing down.

                  As an example I installed Windows 8 -> 8.1 for someone as IE10 wouldn't work with some website and IE11 needs Windows 8.1. Everything that's wrong with it is now Windows 8.1's fault, including IE11 which doesn't work with some other website.

                  Eventually I installed Firefox which seems to have kept him quiet for a while.

                3. Thomas 6

                  "I don't touch the damn thing unless I have to, it applied it's UI 'improvements' and rendered hardware obsolete on it's own."

                  "It" = "the other half"?

              2. Tom 13

                Re: @Pascal Monett

                AC's got a valid point: Apple shouldn't be nagging for a software update on hardware that's not compatible with the software update. MS mostly dodges this issue because they don't make the hardware, someone else does. But Apple own the chain from top to bottom. That's the whole point of buying an Apple product.

                1. ThomH Silver badge

                  Re: @Tom 13

                  The original poster is referring to whatever drivers he had installed for an "old but functional graphics tablet" no longer working under the latest OS X. This is exactly a third-party hardware compatibility problem. Apple didn't make that hardware, somebody else did.

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              And of course after agreeing to the nags and having it apply the update, the average user will deny all knowledge and say that nothing whatsoever has been changed, but everything has stopped working.

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Sometimes the reason OsX doesn't work

          "2014 has been the year of UI designers trying to justify their existence and ****ing everything up that didn't need touching."

          Was that a sideswipe at the poor and under-utilised El Reg Web Design Team?

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Sometimes the reason OsX doesn't work

            Was that a sideswipe at the poor and under-utilised El Reg Web Design Team?

            Probably wasn't, but if they ever get near my car they might find one! :)

            The site is j^ia4i9*()REF4fpt [ACCOUNT TERMINATED]

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      I did the same - ironically the only thing that has ever given the missus problems is Word for Mac which seems to be an unstable piece of crap.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You think the UI changes in OS X are really that awful? As a daily user of with both Windows and OS X I can honestly say that the Wndows 7 to 8 to 8.1 to 10 transitions are a lot more jarring.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        That the UI changes in Windows are awful doesn't make the UI changes in OSX "not awful"

        The functionality breakages are even more of a problem. We're wasting quite a bit of support time at $orkplace having to try and unpick the ball of wool so that people can do simple things like use the centralised print server - the ironic thing being that CUPS is an Apple product

  6. Ole Juul Silver badge

    "irrational factors such as the shell’s colour"

    I disagree that colour is an irrational factor. As someone who likes computers and electronics I still chose my devices based on many factors. I am sitting here amidst a pile of open computer cases and exposed wires - a sculptural compilation which has taken much thought and innumerable decisions - some involving data processing performance, and others - colour. I personally think that to chose one's environment based on one particular type of performance factor would be bizarre. Not necessarily bad, but certainly worthy of further examination. I would however admit that choosing a computer based on processing power alone would be equally rational to basing ones choice solely on the colour of the shell. The bottom line is that there are different rationales.

    1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

      Re: "irrational factors such as the shell’s colour"

      > I am sitting here amidst a pile of open computer cases and exposed wires - a sculptural compilation which has taken much thought and innumerable decisions - some involving data processing performance, and others - colour.

      What no masking tape and can of car paint spray?

      Must be a woman. (Wonders off to find clean shirt.)

    2. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      Re: "irrational factors such as the shell’s colour"

      I have a fairly high-end digital camera here and color was one of things that I based my purchase on. Since I never use the thing, it being for the rest of the family to use, pink was perfect. No chance of missing it while digging around to find the damned thing.

      1. Sandtitz Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: "irrational factors such as the shell’s colour"

        "pink was perfect. No chance of missing it while digging around to find the damned thing."

        My workplace coffee mug was selected with that criteria also!

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: "irrational factors such as the shell’s colour"

          I have a loop of orange paracord (thick string) attached to my black phone's case... it makes the damned thing so much easier to spot when it falls between sofa cushions or beside my car seat.

          I once worked in a factory, and the remote control for the over-head crane was resembled a bright orange house brick. That's great mate, I said to the fitter, if TV remote controls looked like that we'd never lose them!

          "You'd think so, wouldn't you?" he replied, "but some c*%£ always manages to hide it in their toolbox anyhows".

    3. GitMeMyShootinIrons

      Re: "irrational factors such as the shell’s colour"

      Couldn't agree more. How many beige PCs do you see in the shops these days?

      1. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: "irrational factors such as the shell’s colour"

        > Couldn't agree more. How many beige PCs do you see in the shops these days?

        For the most part, PCs come in one color and that's whatever color happens to be the current color choice du jour.

        The wood grain classic radio chassis is something you'll have to beat the bushes for and then build yourself.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: "irrational factors such as the shell’s colour"

          "The wood grain classic radio chassis is something you'll have to beat the bushes for and then build yourself."

          Oddly enough, my wife was just commenting on how so many DAB radios seem to be "old fashioned wood-like" case instead of shiny and modern looking ;-)

  7. TheProf
    Coat

    Choices

    Should have gone for a coffee maker. Oh, wait. Tassimo? Senseo? Nespresso?

    Does she not like shoes?

    Gets wallet.

    1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

      Re: Choices

      Foomf. I could purchase and configure a laptop to suit my wife--she needs Word, Excel, (for now) PowerPoint and a browser. But I doubt that one male nerd in a thousand could select women's shoes with any success--I'd never have a chance.

      1. BongoJoe

        Re: Choices

        Get her one of each colour?

    2. Hazmoid

      Re: Choices

      This is the point at which you resign yourself to the drudge of being dragged to the shops for the Boxing Day Sales by purchasing a gift voucher (which invariably has to be worth 20% more than you would have spent if you bought a gift)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Or vinylwrap

    A few years ago I bought my mum a new laptop. She's not the most technical of people but does a lot of typing so wanted a half-decent keyboard.

    Long story short, we couldn't find one in a colour she liked so we just vinylwrapped it. I guess I could have sprayed it too, but it'd need to be disassembled to do that, voiding the super extended warranty... Plus when she wants a faster laptop I can just wipe it and do a clean reinstall to remove the crap she's installed, then vinylwrap it in a different colour!

  9. Michael Thibault

    At least it wasn't pink

    So hard to coordinate, the pinks. Much moreso than the oranges, anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: At least it wasn't pink

      "So hard to coordinate, the pinks."

      There was a glut of decent secondhand Dell laptops on eBay which were suitable for a tech refresh of various friends. Paid a bit more for one that was pink with a white motif - knowing that one friend adores things in pink. When offered a choice of the laptops she immediately rejected the pink one as "not the right shade - and I don't like white patterns".

  10. roy lovelock

    I decided about a year ago to get my wife a chromebook - shes ok on a computer but not tech savvy.

    I had a few reasons for choosing the chromebook over a windows / mac.

    First and foremost being - it works, i don't need to constantly check for viruses, updates, adware, the machine does exactly what she needs it for, that little bit of shopping and checking emails.

    She even uses it as a media centre and does all her documents on the machine.

    I have various windows machines but couldn't make the switch to windows 8, tried it for a few weeks then returned the machine and have since switched over to a mac book pro, i wish i had done it years ago.

    I think chromebooks get a rough deal, we now have a couple of them in the house and they are the most used machines - instant on, any account can sign in, and the cloud service works fantastically. Even when we went on holiday with no access to the internet the offline mode worked well for my daughter - she loaded it with her music and videos and was kept entertained in the wet summer holiday we had in aug.

    Not always does cheap mean bad, the chromebooks are cheap yes but far from bad.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Often a Chromebook is the least-worst option for most users, and no matter what you get, you will get support hassle:

      Windows: AV/virus problems, TIKAM not looking as old laptop did, old hardware like scanners, etc, often not being supported if it pre-dated 7 for drivers.

      Mac: You need to buy Office again (unless balls-in-the-vice subscription to 365) or use LibreOffice and some other stuff will need a very different software/approach.

      Linux: Same issues as Mac, but much more so.

      Chromebook: Very limited capabilities, but OK for most folks FB/webmail and on-line shopping.

  11. chivo243 Silver badge

    Just say it

    NO Effin Way! There I said it, most if not all readers of El Reg can say it. Buy her what works well and you can support, and educate her on how to use it properly.

    Or in the end, just as mentioned in another post, buy her a coffee maker or juicer.

    1. e^iπ+1=0

      Re: Just say it

      'Or in the end, just as mentioned in another post, buy her a coffee maker or juicer.'

      Seems a bit impersonal, not much better than a new hoover - buy her a handbag instead, keeping the receipt in case she wants to change it.

      That being said, I did recently buy my wife a laptop for her birthday, wiped the Windows installation and stuck my favourite Linux distro on it so I can support it if need be. She seems to be happy with this a few weeks later, and I had money left over to buy her the handbag too.

      Although, with regard to the handbag, she took me to the shop and showed me which one to buy for her.

      1. Stacy

        Re: Just say it

        I don't know, if someone wants to buy me a coffee machine for Christmas I'm all for it! Mind you for the price of a decent bean to cup full auto cappuccino making coffee machine you can get a more than half decent gaming laptop... Though the later does need to look good (which most don't), where as the coffee machine simply needs to make damn good coffee :p

        1. wdmot

          Re: Just say it

          @Stacy

          The gaming laptop needs to look good? If the coffee machine stays on your kitchen counter, *it* needs to look good, whereas the laptop just needs to perform well and be reliable. Actually both of them need to perform well and be reliable. And the laptop needs to not be some bright colour like that orange Chromebook. Just sayin ;-)

      2. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: Just say it

        @e^iπ+1=0

        I threw the juicer in because my missus did ask for one. Along with a circular saw. As you can guess, hand bags are not at the top of the list for my missus.

        1. wdmot

          Re: Just say it

          Sounds like my missus. Bought me a chain saw for a late Christmas present, and now wants to go use it before I've even had a chance to try it out!

      3. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Just say it

        >Although, with regard to the handbag, she took me to the shop and showed me which one to buy for her.

        My sister merely changed the screen-saver on her fella's computer to a picture of the very expensive handbag she wanted.

        That's one way of 'using technology'.

        1. Whit.I.Are

          Re: Just say it

          My wife handed me a handbag just before Christmas and told me to wrap it and stick it under the tree. Everyone happy :)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Even when people ask your opinion they make their own decisions

    I was asked what was a suitable laptop to replace a hand-me-down . A major part of the specification was running Minecraft to which I mentally added family control settings and longevity (yes for a younger person's use). I was still in the process of taking soundings from more savvy friends and cross referencing minecraft spec and user reviews when the family member who was paying for it arrived back from a shopping trip - to PC world where they had bought one as the price was reasonable

    So I set it up and installed Minecraft as requested. Runs very smoothly.

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith

      Re: Even when people ask your opinion they make their own decisions

      Surely you're running your own minecraft server though?

      Whitelist his/her friends and show them how to do mods, & ops, & carry on. Even my 4y.o.s Celeron can cope that way.

      1. Alien8n Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: Even when people ask your opinion they make their own decisions

        Depends on the mods. No way the other half's laptop could handle Minecraft (vanilla or otherwise) and the PC only just copes now it's got 8Gb of RAM in it.

        When looking at modding check the spec required for Resonant Rise 3 and Sphax. Ideally you're looking at 16Gb of RAM if you want to run the server on the same machine as the game (at least 4Gb for each, possible on 8Gb but not recommended, my server regularly errors out due to lack of RAM now they've ditched Cauldron)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Even when people ask your opinion they make their own decisions

      IME, people who ask your opinion want you to confirm their already decided beliefs...and if you don't they just ignore your opinion.

  13. Arachnoid

    Your mistake

    Was asking a none techie person to choose a device based on hardware and software specifications and not style.What you needed to do was ask her what she wanted then purchased one based on your experience this way she would be happy with the device you purchased not unhappy you didnt get what she requested.

  14. 420Penguin

    Home Sweet Home

    The ChromeBook was designed for the non-technical person and requires little in terms of technical support, but if your partner needs Word and iTunes then use whatever makes that available.

    My wife is extremely non-technical, although a professional and smart, but she uses the household computer running Linux Mint just fine. She uses LibreOffice for wordprocessing and her newsletter and Firefox for web browsing, and she freely shares her office output with her co-workers, who use MS Office. We use Spotify (Linux client) for music. The computer works flawlessly with the house networked printer/scanner, the webcam and Skype. I have near zero technical support issues. I'm not recommending this for everybody, I'm just saying it works well for us.

    If you want to make your partner happy, don't worry about the technology, just try to be a bit less condescending.

  15. Patrick R
    WTF?

    "those that know what they want in terms of functionality (the geeks)"

    Geeks don't know what they want in terms of functionality, they want everything.The choice could possibly be made for christmas 2019. As well, geeks knowing what "they" want "for someone else" is a very debatable concept.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: "those that know what they want in terms of functionality (the geeks)"

      "Geeks don't know what they want in terms of functionality, they want everything."

      That is so true. Every geek tech purchase is a compromise otherwise they'd never buy anything. There's always a better CPU, bigger HDD, better GFX card just around the corner or coming "Real Soon Nowtm"

  16. Mark 85 Silver badge

    There's a difference between men and women

    The old joke about how men and women view the way car sales lots should be applies: Men... sort by make and model. Women: sort by color. I think we as techies get too involved in specs and OS's.. The non-techies want it to: a) work and b) look good.

    Disclaimer: I would have bought the orange and then figured out how to make it work. My lady buys stuff for me based on my specs and then she figures out how to make it look good.

  17. Chad H.

    >>>>Don’t get me wrong: Chromebooks have their place in terms of functionality

    Yes, and so do Doorstops.

    Which one is which again?

  18. davenewman

    I recommend Chromebooks to older people

    They are so simple to use, with few of the problems that come up on machines running Windows 8, that when older people ask me, as a volunteer at the Connecting Communities, to suggest a machine, I recommend tablets or Chromebooks. Those who bought Windows 8 machines spend weeks learning to find things.

  19. Arachnoid
    Joke

    Would those Tablets you recommend

    be Valium or laxatives?

  20. RISC OS

    I bought my

    alcatel one touch fire because of the orange colour... looks really nice.

  21. Jonathan 27 Bronze badge

    Overwhelmed

    If I'm buying a laptop for someone I ask them, what they want to do with it, what size/form factor they want (not using those words) and if they like a particular colour or colours. That way you can try to get a machine that will fit all their needs. Taking someone who doesn't know anything about computers out shopping for computers isn't normally a good idea because it's very overwhelming and can mean that they fall in love with the wrong machine. It's possible that Chromebook was a good idea, but probably not.

    Also, always get a gift receipt, that way if they don't like the choice you made they can make their own (and be responsible for it themselves). And this is not a male vs female thing, it's a techie vs non-techie thing guys. It's a lot easier to decided based on factors you understand so if you don't know what any of the specs mean picking my appearance is really your only option.

  22. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Agreed somehwat.

    Agreed: re Chromebook. I don't feel like running a notebook that is limited to just running a browser and browser apps (more or less). The older ones were too low spec'ed for me to even want to run Linux on them, it looks like the newer ones are at least better in that regards, but I'd still find the low amount of storage (16GB or so) pretty limiting. I seriously doubt "Word and iTunes" literally means "Word and iTunes" (as opposed to a Word processor and music-handling app that don't look totally different than what one's used to) but still.

    Disagree: re tablets. Very cheap tablets (like $40) now have a dual core ARM and 1GB (maybe 2GB) of RAM; ones closer to $80 or $90 still have a quad core ARM. It really doesn't matter if it's a Chinese chip nobody's heard of, nobody seems to be having trouble implementing a trouble-free ARM tablet chipset. (The Chinese MIPS-based tablets of a few years ago seem to be off the market as near as I can tell; THAT thing was a bit of a slug.) I've had no complaints with the performance of these and no longevity problems. Mom's Nexus 7 has a (slightly!) better...well, basically everything... but these $40-100 tablets these days are no slouch.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Agreed somehwat.

      I totally agree with you about the tablets. I've bought 7 in total (for various people) and others have been shocked that these cheapies fully support things their expensive one doesn't (usb otg for example)

  23. Alan Brown Silver badge

    tablets/chromebooks

    For 90% of what people do, chromebooks and tablets work fine, seriously.

    One caveat: it's surprisingly easy to put a tablet under your pillow and overheat it. I killed a Nexus7 like that. (It didn't go to sleep, cooked itself and now won't start)

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why only ugly PCs/laptops ?

    Actually this is a valid issue and I would like those in the know to share with us why all OEMs are only able to produce dull to straight ugly PCs/Laptops ? Not the slightest attempt at coming out with something that tries to be elegant or, God forbid! anything else than the mortuary range from black to gray (I voluntarily exclude consumer products that may err towards metal or silver). A few years ago Dell advertised on their web site a Latitude laptop that came in (strap on your helmets, folks!) silver, graphite, red and blue colors. I wanted badly to get my hands on a blue or even red one but they were not available and a sales rep I talked to was so shy and apologized for they appeared on their site by mistake (WTF?!) and she invited me to order the grey one instead.

    So the PCs are dying and all that manufacturers are doing is keep pumping out that same atrocities as in the '90s. In our opinion are they blind, stupid or coerced into this nonsense ?

    1. wdmot

      Re: Why only ugly PCs/laptops ?

      @AC

      While I would tend to disagree personally with that sentiment, I know that many (most?) people are really put off by what they consider "ugly" in a device they'd use regularly. But then, I guess even I am that way, I just have a different idea of "ugly" -- I would hate to have a bright orange or neon green laptop (but would put up with it if it performed well). So, as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, yes, PC/laptop makers should make a wide range of styles and colours to please a wider variety of customers. Personally, I love the look of my black Thinkpad t60!

      Oh, and they shouldn't *all* make *only* screen resolutions/sizes that are aimed at those who watch movies on their laptops. Some of us like more vertical space.

  25. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    This is why you gift experiences rather than material goods. The value of memories collected on a beach in Aruba, a trek to Machu Picchu, a nice evening out to dinner and a show or a simple day at the spa is far above that which can be derived in some sort of brick that will be perceived as obsolete, slow and grotesquely inadequate in less than a years time. Champagne, candlelight and chocolates in front of a warm fire on a chilly evening is a far better gift for both of you than spending one more day in the office trying to please the C-suite with cheap kit. No, I don't care what she thinks she wants because sometimes you have to break out of the staid mold and let your hair down and the more practical the both of you are the more you need to unplug even for one day. Gifts aren't practical, they are what a person wouldn't buy for themselves but might still enjoy and if you're wrong, it happens from time to time.

    1. Snapper

      If I could.....

      upvote that several times I would!

      My wife got me two pullovers.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. netbooks

    Have a mini 10.1" HP here, apart from the sucky battery (warning messages and 20 minute life) it works fine now the HDD has been replaced and memory upgraded.

    Its Atom based so at least everything works.

  27. joed

    deja vu

    Funny enough I had just been through the same early this week. An older neighbor got a deal on a laptop,OK, a chromebook. At 70$ I'd bite as well (with hdmi, usbs and real network = ethernet port the setup can be better than my w8 tablet). Now he wanted his pictures and such on the new "laptop". Converted him to google user (not sure that he grasped the idea though) and moved some of his junk into the "cloud". Not exactly my way of life but I used the opportunity to educate myself at someone's expense.

    The other funny thing was that the previous chromebook owner was just as ignorant. She handed over the device without sanitizing it and provided her login credentials. Some people are just clueless (or just have nothing to hide;)

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1. All tech is a compromise: not just <=£300 gadgets.

    2. Kids can get tech as long as it stores in the cloud. The wife can use employer supplied and supported hardware.

  29. jake Silver badge

    If you marry the right person ...

    ... S/he will trust your judgement.

    The Wife & I's go-to desktop/laptop systems are ~10 year old HP ZV5105s running slackware-current, with docking stations (real keyboard, mouse, monitor, and "dumb" terminal attached). Works for us.

    Upgrading just for the sake of upgrading is a waste of money.

    ::shrugs::

  30. BartA

    Wife might be right

    I think you're wife might be right after all. Chromebooks are an excellent laptop choice for many people ... and they definitely are for content creation. That's why schools have been adopting them in preference to iPads. You can create GBs of documents, spreadsheets ... you can do (some) editing of photos and even video. You just will be using different tools than you may have used on Windows or Macs. And you will probably work using the Cloud, rather than locally.

    My wife liked the blue color of an HP Chromebook, and she's been very happy with it. Email, browsing the web, writing short pieces. It boots fast and requires little maintenance. The technical questions are easily solved.

    Specialized applications may not work on the Chromebook, but I've been pleasantly surprised how much of my work I can do on it.

  31. sege122

    HP Stream maybe

    The HP Stream 11 or 13 looks pretty much like a Windows 'Chromebook'. Better than a Netbook and a free year of Office 2013 by subscription.

    Maybe it hasn't got the 'cool' of Google but the colours are Ok.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yup, better to just...

    ...NOT give technology because the chances are extremely high that you'll be on the hook for tech support and they will be unhappy because of some foolish perception such as the color is not glow-in-the-dark green - their favorite colour.

    At one time I provided no charge tech support at several PC forums. It was amazing to see the "logic" or lack there of expressed when people are deceived by advert hype or lack of the technical basics. I can understand someone liking a particular colour but when the colour is the priority over the device's function, you know it's wasted effort to try and technically educate them.

    What I determined after years of studying human behavior is that when it comes to technical matters most people are clueless and they desire to stay that way. They simply do not desire to be confused with facts when technical ignorance makes them happy. Unfortunately some purveyors of products prefer a technically illiterate consumer and they have a large audience to serve.

  33. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Meh

    It could be worse!

    Many years ago I let my wife choose her own PC and what I should have predicted happened - "I like that one's case." Now, it was a mainstream vendor PC, the spec wasn't too bad, and it came pre-installed with WinXP and MS Works, so I took the lazy route and handed over the cash. The case did actually look good, all shiny chrome and black steel. I fooled myself by thinking that at least my wife had not chosen a closed-garden device with no upgradeability. Since then, I have struggled through two mobo upgrades ("But I like the case, can't you just upgrade it like you do yours?"), shoe-horning OEM powersupplies into a case designed for a non-ATX PSU and bending/cutting/drilling the chassis as it only had one 5.25in slot. The OS has been upgraded to Win7, the Works has been replaced with full Office, and it still gets used for little more than word processing, emails, Websurfing and Skype.

    The problem was my wife knew a PC could be upgraded because I DIY'd my own. The next time I will suggest a laptop or tablet (or Chromebook) and let her believe they are more convenient but non-upgradeable. It will give me more time to play with my own system.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I see more

    People that should be using Chromebooks but aren't than I see Chromebook users that have problems. These days even Photoshop can be run on a Chromebook and it runs better than any full price laptop could c run it.

    If everyone had Chromebooks, where would the money be in fixing busted PC?

  35. AmGnothiSeauton
    IT Angle

    Silent Night

    420Penguin said, "If you want to make your partner happy, don't worry about the technology, just try to be a bit less condescending."

    Methinks that's the sagest piece of advice so far, to anyone who writes of their mate, "Arguments about iTunes, Word and not being able to store many files locally failed to dissuade her from the fact that this [the orange Chromebook] was it."

    The so-called IT-savvy husband in this story had, evidently, failed to have a pre-spree discussion with his wife -- and subsequently felt as though he did the right thing "in all good conscience" by making the ultimate choice while excluding her.

    This is as much a story about an expert spouse's failure to communicate/educate as it is about the other's seeming contentment without computer expertise.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ex is the word

    Ex sayes she's going to buy a Amazon Kindle fire, and for once I did the right and kept my mouth firmly shut and said if that's what you want. So for the next year why won't it do youtube like yours answer because its a kindle, why does it try and sell me things answer because its a kindle, why can't I have the apps to you have you may have geused by now what the answer was. She bought it because her friend had one and was willing to pay the price of owning Amazon's, Apples, googles tech without the understanding to get around the annoying things they force you to do. So allow the none loop techies to buy what they want but refuse all requests to make it work like the thing you would have suggested.. And for all you newbies with Women DO not say I wouldn't have bought that...3 months after she could not do what she thought she was buying it for and never use with it and say what a load of crap. Did I say ex. Merry christmas

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not so hard

    Why didn't you just buy a Mac? Aesthetics and technical excellence in one beautiful package.

    1. Kiwi Silver badge

      Re: Not so hard

      Aesthetics and technical excellence in one beautiful package.

      We've had to dismantle a few over the recent weeks, a couple of Macbooks and various AIO models as well.

      I've seen some quite neat engineering solutions which, sadly, had to be created to get around totally effing ridiculous design solutions. Life would've been so much easier had Apple got some intelligent designers in for a change.

      And please don't get me started on some of their idiotic error reports and other such things,

      A few months back I quite liked the idea of Apple stuff - sure, walled garden, but because they were anal about limiting what hardware and software was allowed then logically the must have an easier time with support etc.

      Now I realise they're only so anal because they're full of...

      1. Queasy Rider

        Re: Not so hard

        My Apple experience was the same so my first Apple was my last. Left me feeling suckered. Can feel my blood pressure go up every time I think of it. Am now an Apple device hater. Over-priced, over-hyped, and they under-deliver.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Not so hard

      I never thought I'd agree with such a comment. But if it has to be a laptop as a gift for a non-techie ( male or female) a Mac is always a safe option.

      They look nice, have street cred and will do what they want.

      It's tech as a commodity.

      It's the opposite pole from a Linux box

      1. Alien8n Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: Not so hard

        Semi-jokingly I offered to get my other half a top spec macbook pro for her birthday next year. Her only criteria is "will it play the games I want?"

        Which is fine by me as the games she plays are the really cheap rubbish that come with an online subscription and will run on 10 year old tech, so no need to buy her a laptop again until she breaks the one she has. My daughter however is looking at wanting a 2k gaming laptop (she's really into her gaming and it'll mean she won't be nicking my pc once I get the Occulus Rift and flight joystick for it, not to mention the new MB, graphics, RAM... who am I kidding, I'll be building a whole new PC :) )

  38. jason 7

    Bit two dimensional on the colour issue.

    Do as I have done before with laptops for ladies.

    Buy the right plain laptop for the job.

    Go to Decal Girl and get the snazzy vinyl covers for it.

    Score major brownie points.

    Job done.

  39. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Snobbery bollocks

    "The same can be said for off-brand tablets that many people will find under their Christmas tree and expect to work just as well as a Samsung or an iPad. These devices are cheap for a reason."

    And that reason is that you're not paying some huge markup for a 'label'.

    Seriously, as long you check the spec before buying, some of these comparatively cheap Chinese tablets can be real bargains.

    Besides, whetr do you think most of your branded products are manufactured?

    1. Dana W

      Re: Snobbery bollocks

      Seriously? Benchmark one of these $50 tablets up against a top end Samsung or Apple tablet. If you want a bad screen, a plastic case and a cheap and dated "or mystery" processor, by all means buy one from Tesco/Walmart (insert your local junk store here) Be ready for no support, an antique version of Android, and quite often not even access to the Google play store. MY Android Tablet plays Portal. I'm betting yours does not. You get what you pay for.

      What is it about the misers here who will ignore CPU and build quality just to pat themselves on the back for avoiding a brand name?

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Snobbery bollocks

        You are an idiot, or a troll. You expect to compare the cheapest Chinese tablet against the top end Samsung?

        Anyway, not once did I mention bad screen, plastic case, unknown CPU or all the other bullshit you came up with. Don't choke on all that straw.

        I'm currently typing this on a 7inch 1920x1200 8 core 2GB 48GB tablet that came with the "ancient" kit-kat which cost £120 including postage, though I guess the dual sim makes it a 'phablet'.

        When I tested it on Antutu, it didn't score highest, but I was informed 'welcome to the world of high-end smartphones'

        'Support' is your only nearly valid point, but I've been in the business long enough that I don't need it - I also don't buy from PC World. YMMV.

        If you feel better spending over 4X the amount for a similar spec., then good for you! The economy needs morons and fanbois after all.

        I suspect you are one of those who queues for days to buy a new product on launch day, so you can 'show off' to all your imaginery friends on twitter.... See? I can come out with unsubstantiated bullshit too!

        Oh yeah, I don't have an nvidia tegra/shield, so I can't run a game written for an nvidia tigra/shield, but if you're going down that route, I'd have to agree with any iphone owner who says your tablet is crap because it doesn't run Siri.

        HAVE A NICE DAY

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Snobbery bollocks

        My Tesco Hudl (version 2) does anything I can think of wanting it to. I can take it on holiday or carry it round with me to meetings if I need a bit of cheap, light IT, just in the way that I used to use a PDA, but much better.

        And I can read books, use the interwebs, watch iplayer and even play a simple game if I have the time.

        No it probably can't play a high end game, but then neither can I.

        So no, it's not a device for a geek with a video game playing fixation. Happily these are a small subset of the human species.

        (My previous one, BTW is now used by older daughter to carry to lectures).

  40. Dana W

    Perhaps its who you date/marry? My girlfriend has a computer sciences degree, and needs no help from me to pick computers.

    1. fruitoftheloon

      @Dana W

      Dana,

      wifey has a masters in nuclear medicine (with astrophysics), but she can't count.

      All is not always what it seems...

      Ymmv.

      J

      1. jzlondon

        Re: @Dana W

        My wife has a PhD from Oxford in aeronautical engineering (well, they call it a DPhil but it's a PhD to me). I have nothing more than a BSc. Her day job is CFD modelling at a nuclear research lab.

        I still choose computers for her. It's not so much ability as interest.

  41. xyz

    God, I'm in the same situation...

    ....so far I've managed to body serve the whole mess by sleeping through xmas and with an " in the sales" promise. Now the sales are here, the only thing saving me is that HP has put up the price of the thing they were selling on the telly before xmas from £179 to £250 odd...so she's got that confused look on her face. However the day is fast looming where I'm going to be dragged off to PCWorld to provide pre-sales consultancy prior to getting my tech supp apron out. My advice is to get the cheapest laptop with the biggest screen, rip out win 8 and pray to God that she finally works out what she can really do on the iPhone, Samsung tablet and Kindle Fire HD instead of speaking, nothing (it's still in its box) and reading respectively.

    PS...Linux guys read this, it'll give you a grounding on the subject...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woman

  42. Wedge

    So I was in a similar boat to the writer a couple of weeks ago, taking the wife along as she wanted something portable for the new year that she currently doesn't get with her iMac.

    Walking into the shops I got distracted by the new Samsung tablets which I hadn't seen in the flesh yet. After a quick play she said she wanted something with a proper keyboard, off we went and looked at the pretty Chromebooks. Then came her next request, had to have office on it. We went to the next table where her eyes found the Microsoft Surface pro 3. One purple keyboard later and I honestly couldn't believe that we were now the owner of a surface.. A product I've had numerous doubts on. She's smitten, and for a techie lad I'm quite impressed with it. Yes it was more expensive than the Chromebook and Sammy tablet, but they had a sale on and it ended up being quite affordable for us..

  43. Kriilin

    I'm lucky, my wife's got an engineering degree and a CISSP. Like some other posters' wives/girlfriends here she buys her own tech. I stick to getting her perfume, spa time, and naughty bits.. :D

  44. wrwalke

    Keeping the loved ones happy...

    Daughter wanted a Chromebook touchscreen for Xmas (love my little geek-princess), but living in China most of the year, I didn't trust the Google vs. Chinese guvmint battles long term with any expectation of stability through the Great Firewall. So her second choice was Win8 and a touch-screen. I cringed... but that is what she wants. Oh yeah, and not black. Mommy's requirement was "no cheap Chinese off-brand crap".

    I was amazed at just how low prices have dropped, and how high the current quality and specs available have risen. We ended up with a Lenovo 415-T touchscreen 14", metal body, with decent specs: AMD A6 processor, 4G and 500G HD. $300, and "Chinese" but not "cheap crap", so 67% compliance and 100% happy daughter. Oh yeah, and it is metallic grey/silver and "very Chinese red".

  45. Buster

    Buy a tech gift and you are indentured to be technical support for that and any subsequent device for the rest of your life. Not just the tech support who at the other end of a phone can bale and gets paid but the tech support who deals with the rage, recriminations and the emotional fallout in fucking person.

    Even normal shit like updates slowing the system and badly built websites that take an age to load, ISP outages and the eternal fuckup that is Trusteer Rapport that periodically gets installed are your fault. FFS spend an hour every so often clearing shit out of your partners system and leaving it on long enough for updates to complete will add years to you life and sanity.

  46. Captain Boing
    Alert

    it doesn't necessarily have to be anyone in your "sphere of influence". I have fielded calls already where others (customers, not family or friends) have been gifted new devices and feel empowered to call me outside of office hours during the holiday for help setting up their mail etc.

    1. jake Silver badge

      @ Captain Boing

      First rule of Technical Support: NEVER give any kind of personal address to customers.

      Oh. Wait. You're a modern-age iFad wielding, Gootard worshiping "tech". You have absolutely zero idea about keeping your personal information out of the picture, right?

      The late-twenties college grads are completely hosed when it comes to personal security, and it's their own damn fault, because they didn't pay attention in class.

  47. HKmk23

    Just an idea

    How about a Lenovo laptop (excellent) and a can of spray paint in the chosen shade? I doubt the orange crookbook had an orange keyboard......

  48. FunkyEric
    Happy

    Look, it's quite simple!

    Girls like jewelry, boys like tech. Buy her some shiny shiny and she'll love it.

    1. jzlondon

      Re: Look, it's quite simple!

      Welcome to 2015. You might find things have changed since you were frozen back in 1954.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Look, it's quite simple!

      Pity anyone who says that to my teenage daughters. They might want a blingy device, but it has to a be a good, fast, blingy device.

  49. John Tserkezis

    No, no, no, no, no, never, ever again.

    My standard response now is a sensible but non-descript "pick your budget and buy to that".

    I've had my arse chewed over enough, so never again.

  50. blazewon22

    A Little High on the Horse

    I think its a little bit of your ego at play here. Millions of people switch OS's and try new apps all of the time without having to provide endless IT support. My wife who is COMPLETELY non-technical has managed to use a Chromebook for almost 2 years after switching from Apple devices and Windows devices years before that. Our kids use Chromebooks exclusively which saves me from having to clean their machines every month.

    Most people don't need advanced word processing or productivity suites. Lots of Apple users are fine with iWork. Not a killer switch to use Docs. Same with switching from iTunes to Google Music. Saving to a network drive versus a local drive is something IT folks cherish because its easier to manage as well.

    Familiarity breeds contempt. While the ChromeOS & Chromebook may not work for you it will probably work just fine for her and she will love the color!

    I don't expect every person is a fit for ChromeOS just like every person is not a fit for Linux, OSX, or Windows. Get off your high horse and let her enjoy her device! The Get Help app makes it really straightforward to answer her questions...

  51. Gilj

    Get inventive

    Get a good laptop and some vinyl wrap, job done.

  52. jzlondon

    The thing had a totally different operating system, couldn't run most desktop applications, and what worried you was that it had a slightly slow CPU?

    Yeah, that's really the elephant in the room. Sure.

    Not that I'm dissing Chromebooks. Far from it, but in this day and age CPU speed is a non-starter for non-gaming home users.

  53. jzlondon

    My father-in-law bought a 15" Macbook Pro in October. He's not a techie, but has plenty of money so doesn't really care about cost.

    It went wrong last week ("My Safari keeps crashing") so I told him to call Apple, who "fixed" it (trained him how to use it) after an hour of extreme patience on the end of the phone.

    But that's the thing - the Mac is perfect for him. It's reliable, easy to use, and when there's a problem Apple are on it with no fuss or drama.

  54. fattybacon

    Typical El Reg comments

    I'm amazed at how little of the 3 pages of discussion has been about the needs of the 'customer'. It's all been about bashing Macs, replacing every OS with Linux and perceived quality of bits of technology. Typical El Reg stuff.

    The thing is the Chromebook does the job for most people but most of all, it's easy to support for us the nominated techies. When anything goes wrong you can wipe and restore it in minutes, returning all the data, shortcuts, bookmarks, extensions, passwords everything. Yes, you are giving Google a gift but at least we don't have to be involved.

    I'd also question the need for Word and iTunes in the OP article. Really? Still got an iPod have they? All the people I know with iPhones have never synced their device with iTunes and in fact, didn't realise you could or why you'd want to. As for Word, Chromebook handles Word docs seamlessly for viewing, and Google Docs edits and saves them.

  55. gw74

    nope

    "those who go by looks and aesthetics (Apple users, some would argue)"

    nope

  56. goldcd

    Onda V975w

    Bought this as part of wifey's Christmas present (has an oldish but serviceable laptop), mainly for sofa-based consumption.

    Pitch in a nutshell is that it's:

    ~£150

    ~iPad retina size, with same screen (but with Micro-SD, HDMI, USB-OTG etc)

    ~Runs full-blown x86 Windows 8.1

    Only has 2-gigs RAM, reasonably well built (but you're not going to confuse it with an iPad on closer inspection) - BUT for the price is pretty incredible.

  57. John 62

    Person beside me at work has a Chromebook. I think they're very happy with it apart from not being able to use the remote desktop software for work.

  58. Wintermute

    Wait, -- what? A computer isn't the best gift ever?

    Wow. I never thought I'd live to see the day that computers were lumped in with ironing boards.

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