“Welcome 2018: Best of 2017”
2017 was a year where we moved more towards mobile, privacy, sharing, and shopping online. The PC is not the primary computer even for many of us with a desktop or a laptop. Our use of smartphones and tablets is only going to grow in the future. A troubling trend in 2017 was the threat to our privacy. The loosening of regulations on internet providers being able to sell our usage history and the end of net neutrality should be two things that we really keep an eye on this year. While there are some independent internet providers in Connecticut, where most of my customers are based, none can compete with the speed that Frontier and Comcast offer. That’s too bad because we really need a company in the northeast like Sonic that puts customers and their privacy first.
Here are some of my best picks from 2017.
Best Bargain Smartphones
I’m going to put the Motorola G Series at the top of my list once again. Their Android based G5 Plus phone can be purchased unlocked from motorola.com for just over $200 (outright no payment plan). It is compatible with all major carriers including Verizon. I’m going to include the iPhone SE from Apple on this list as well. While a new model has not been released since March of 2016, Apple doubled the storage on the base model in 2017 and cut the price to $350. This phone is also compatible with all major carriers including Verizon and is best purchased directly from Apple without any need of a payment plan. If you like a smaller 4 inch phone that can fit in a shirt pocket, this is the phone for you.
I’m going to go with a safe pick on the iPhone side for 2017 and recommend the iPhone 8 Plus. It has an awesome camera that is truly an improvement over its 2016 predecessor and does not demand the learning curve that the iPhone X requires. It seems likely that all of our iPhones will not have a home button and will feature face unlocking in the future, but for now I’d like to steer my clients down a familiar path.
On the Android side of things, Google’s second generation Pixel phones were a disappointment because they were plagued with nagging flaws from the time of release. Most of those issues have been fixed with subsequent software updates, however you don’t always get a second chance to create a first impression. I’m going to take the go-big-or-go-home approach with Android here. As long as you can tolerate a 6.3 inch diagonal phone, which is almost like a mini tablet, I’m going to call the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 my Android phone of the year. Expect a refresh on the slightly smaller Galaxy S line in the early spring.
If you have to buy a Mac laptop then go out and buy one but I can’t recommend the 2017 Mac Book Pro models. While the 2016 lineup was refreshed quickly in 2017 to fix some reliability concerns, they still feature a keyboard that leaves a lot to be desired. Furthermore, how can you call it a Pro model when the only kind of port is the USB Type-C port? Mac Book Pro users need to buy one or more dongles to connect things like backup hard drives and even their iPhones. Sadly, I don’t think Apple is going to reverse course and give us a Mac Book Pro like the 2015 model ever again. The Mac Book Air is still alive and kicking. It received a minor update in 2017, but it is truly not an upgraded model. It received a small speed increase to its 2015 processor (CPU). I think the Air is dead going forward.
I can enthusiastically recommend business class laptops that are durable and have pleasing keyboard experiences. My picks for you are the Lenovo Thinkpad T470 (or its slightly slimmer cousin the T470s. Note: The updated T480 line is coming soon.), the Dell Latitude 5480 or Latitude 7480. These laptops are not sold in stores and are best ordered from Lenovo’s and Dell’s websites. They generally run about $800 to $1500. As I mentioned to a client the other night, you can often find a bargain on the aforementioned models in the Dell or Lenovo outlets. I am talking like $500’s and $600’s, with at least a 1 year warranty on certified refurbished or returned models.
There isn’t a lot of innovation in desktops to write home about. I think a workable hybrid solution is to purchase a laptop, an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse. When you don’t want to be chained to the desk, you can take the laptop to the couch, coffee shop, or on the road. I will not deviate from past picks and continue say that the Lenovo ThinkCentre and Dell OptiPlex desktops are solid choices. These systems are not the same as the Dell and Lenovo PC’s sold in stores. Apple refreshed its iMac lineup in 2017. I consider it a top pick in performance and and design. Just be sure to order it from Apple.com or ask for some help in ordering. The iMacs sold in stores are the SLOW hard drive models. You will want a custom order with a solid state drive (SSD). The Retina 4K 21 inch iMac, with a 256 GB SSD will cost you $1499.
Looking forward to a great 2018 together!!