You don't have to have the latest and greatest technology to really benefit from a new PC. There are lots of bells and whistles and super-fast processors you just don't need. But when it comes to new PCs this year, buying a Windows 8 or 8.1 machine that does not have a touchscreen is a really bad idea, even if it saves you money.
Honestly, I’m no fan of Windows 8. In fact, if I had to buy a new PC I’d try to buy one equipped with Windows 7 Home Premium. But more and more PCs are shipping with Windows 8 pre-installed so you need to know what you’re getting into. PC makers and retailers like Amazon are currently sticking Windows 8 on bargain PCs and hoping you don’t notice. (Windows 8.1 is somewhat better, but not fundamentally different.)
The biggest issue is touch. Windows 8, as you may know, is a hybrid OS that combines elements of the traditional Windows desktop with a mobile interface, kind of like the one you see on Windows Phone. It simply works best on a device with a touchscreen. Using it with just a mouse is really frustrating, and although there are various add-ons you can find to make Windows 8 look and feel a bit more like Windows 7, they don’t really solve the problem.
Consider ads that Amazon is running this week. It’s touting a discount on Lenovo’s G505, selling it for $321, which is about $50 off the regular price. But it doesn’t have a touchscreen, is heavy, is a bit short on storage space (just 320 GB), has an old AMD processor, and doesn’t have the graphics horsepower to run higher-end games. So why would you want to buy it?
Look closely at any of the bargain PCs you see advertised this month; Lenovo and Amazon are hardly the only guilty parties.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the giant Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicks off in Las Vegas in early January. Many consumer electronics makers unveil new products at the show, and that means lots of older, but still very good, stuff will get cheaper after CES.
DealNews, a site that tracks prices, says you’ll see heavy discounts on this year's tech in late January and throughout early February. Expect deep discounts on 2013 HDTVs, Android tablets, digital cameras and high-end laptops.
In other words: Be patient, and you'll be rewarded.