/ Technology

Are laptops getting worse?

Laptop and speech bubble

It’s a strange concept. The idea that a technology could be getting worse as time goes by seems unthinkable. But I think laptops are, and here’s why.

Consumer electronics is an industry constantly moving forward, and at a rate faster than any other. Tablets, smartphones, smarts TVs – all distant concepts a mere ten years ago, now firmly at the centre of our day-to-day lives and improving every day.

In fact, those three technologies are exactly why the current state of laptops is so noticeably lacklustre. A piece of kit that predates any of them by a good 20 years, laptops seem to be running out of steam.

Cheaper and cheaper laptops

Are laptops literally getting worse? Of course not. Processors are updated every year, displays continue to pack in more pixels, and lighter and stronger composites are working their way to the production line. But these are minor improvements to the average consumer. Compared to smartphones, for example, it’s as if the laptop industry is standing still.

Rather than striving for the latest innovations, laptop manufacturers are doing whatever they can to offer their products at a lower cost. Tablets and smartphones have made an irreparable and eternal mark on home computing. Most people nowadays, whether they are aware of it or not, probably don’t even need a laptop for what they want to do. It seems like the only way computing manufacturers feel they can compete is by slashing prices.

What good is a £300 laptop if it’s flat-out awful, though? Even around the £500-£700 mark we’re still seeing laptops that fill us with apathy rather than awe. Cost-cutting will always impact on quality, and there’s little way around that.

Laptops need a jump start

Which? laptop review scores have taken a noticeable dip over the past six months, and the same problems are endemic throughout all of those poor-testers. Big-name components that under perform due to poor optimisation. Terrible build quality and cheap materials. Dreary displays and muddy audio. It’s obvious that the money you save has been ripped from the production line.

In a time where laptop manufacturers, petrified of their own impending irrelevance, are doubling-down, consolidating, and offering you what you’ve already seen before for cheaper, the exact opposite is needed.

Today, brands like HP release upwards of 100 laptops a year. The differences between them are often indistinguishable, and that market saturation just means that you, the consumer, has a diluted pool of devices to choose from.

Like a shark, if a technology stops moving, it dies. Smartphones and tablets are now the great whites of the market, and it’s only a matter of time until they gorge themselves on the tender, aging flesh of the laptop. A serious re-balancing of priorities is urgently needed.

Do you think laptop manufacturers need to innovate more?

Yes (77%, 1,563 Votes)

I don't know (16%, 324 Votes)

No (7%, 133 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,020

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Useful links:

Which? advice on the best laptops to buy
How to buy the best laptop

Comments

OSX is the Apple system, and has nothing to do with M$.

Ian where do I mention -OSX ????? and naughty -naughty – in one US controlled forum I was nearly banned for making S in MS a $$$ sign . I applaud Which for being more liberal minded .

You didn’t: Derek did when he said “By the sound of it OSX, Linux, Unix (etc…) will be unaffected”. However, owing to the entirely unnecessary threading system my response was moved down several posts.

Sorry Ian, I was just trying to outline the essential key facts mentioned in DL’s post.

If Microsoft intend to lock out W7 users from newer hardware, that should help to encourage all their corporate W7 users to migrate away from Windows to other choices.

For those interested in Linux do a little search for an interview with Linus Torvalds at the TED conference in Vancouver…………..

It only gets worse !!! – Do you know Win 10 has a built -in P2P app ??? which is on by default and MS will use your bandwidth to send updates -patches -and Windows Store downloads etc thereby saving their servers ,nowhere is P2P mentioned in the EULA . Now think about this who uses P2P for its personal gain ?? using your PC as a BOT -enabling denial of service -malicious software -sending you to a malicious site or computer to download -automatically hard porn thereby getting you banned and arrested by your iSP and the police and much more . How many companies will trust their download to a persons personal computer ?

DL, see “How to stop Windows 10 sharing your update data” on Which? Tech Daily for a previous expose of this…

Derek – didnt know about Tech. Daily , I got this from one of the computer mags I read as well as on the web to verify it. But will look up Tech Daily . Cant find Tech Daily so far will keep on trying but fate being what it is I have located a new (for me ) business computer tech website -joined it and guess what ? more info on error 53 so heading there to post it.

Ah Derek –its WHICH tech Daily I will browse through it , I usually get my info straight from international business tech websites but the above info about Win 10 I didnt get there I got it from computer mags it shows how computer mags dont always publish up to date data .

…in which case, I hope you already know the 1st rule of journalism….

Found the advice on telemetry Derek that doesnt apply to what I am talking about P2P which MS WILL be using to download updates etc .

Got the right advice on this Derek — Click on -updates+security -then -advanced options -then-choose how updates are delivered -then-turn OFF updates from more than one place -button. That fixes it Derek.

The only problem with the advice given in how to stop being snooped upon by MS via Win 10 is that once you have turned everything off ,including going onto the Internet and doing it from MS,s webpage is that Ms can turn it ALL back on . Many complaints from users about this . You also cant block downloads in Win 10 Home and if you want apps from MS,s website you have to allow it anyway , MS knows even what your Motherboard serial number is to stop you re-installing Win 7 ,if you have OEM and not a retail disc after the time out period for accepting Win 10 and so you cant transfer it to another computer. I dont have Win 10 so I cant tell for sure what you can do on it as far as defy MS but I have Win 7 Prof. on dual boot and I can certainly stop MS from downloading Win 10 -or downloading anything BUT it requires a lot of disabling in the Registry and non use of Windows module installer – the NOT ! “”trusted installer”” as well as many others so it is limiting my use of it to basic . Number ONE rule though dont allow remote interrogation or ANY version of it to run although it will stop genuine people checking your computer.

I just had an example as to why LInux is more secure than Windows . I keep up to date with any virus threats and unusually one or two were being used against LInux Mint ,one involved a virus download if you downloaded the system as of a few days ago and another was a server type attack within a few day of this I got today a priority 1 download to block the threats . Contrast this with Windows and you are talking weeks to get a security update with a good chance of a blue screen or loss of Internet service or programmes.

Duncan – thanks for that news.

I enjoyed the twist where it was reported that the Linux Mint website was hacked via a security flaw in their WordPress blog….

I have a very old lap top, and my main problem is with down loads, I am on windows 8, but I keep being asked to down load windows 10 and to be honest windows 10 is the biggest load of B.S. ever, I bought my wife a tablet for Christmas with windows 10 and she just could not get on with it, it caused her a load of grief and many nights of tears. In the end, I down loaded windows 8.1 and she has never been happier. back to my lap top, when windows 10 came out I did try to down load it, it took 3 hours, and at 99% I was told there was a problem and my lap top was being returned to windows 8, this took all night. As a member of my Parish Council, I need my lap top on a daily basis because that is how we as a council communicate so to be without my lap top for so long meant that I missed out on some of our council business. Now I refuse to down load anything, and to date I have over 200 down loads that windows want me to accept, I say no way, leave me as I am, as long as I can get , read and send emails watch you tube and play the odd game of cards, then that’s all I need in my lap top. And windows 10, lets forget it, maybe in 10 or 20 years time when like windows X.P. we had a great system, then once windows get there act together maybe, just maybe windows 10 will be as good. but for now, I will stick to windows 8.

Mike one thing that effects this is not enough RAM (memory ) how much have you ? Second what the state of your “C” drive is it near full ? Windows 10 uses a very large amount of HD space . There are other reasons but I am with you about Win 10 -the SPY network your Parish Council info would be zoomed straight back to the US and third parties DONT install it ! Have a look at LInux MInt somewhat like Windows but you own it not MS and you control your computer not MS and it will be a lot faster at booting and running. IF you let it (in Win 8/8.1 ) it will install itself (win 10 ) by force now .

John Davies says:
26 March 2016

I have a 4-year old Lenovo L laptop at home, which continues to give good service. I recently had to buy a new laptop at work and chose a Lenovo T model with a much higher specification. Its performance is so poor that I plan to replace it after less than a year (although I have no idea what to buy instead). At first I was impressed with the battery lifetime but I soon realised that this was because the processor ran so slowly. I turned the speed up to maximum and the battery life is now worse than the old laptop but the performance remains unacceptably slow. It often cannot keep up with my typing and I find that I delete things by accident because the software falls so far behind what I am doing. A colleague who bought a similar laptop recently has the same experience. So yes, laptops do seem to be getting worse and this is for professional-level models, not bargain-basement versions. Poor design? The problems do not seem to be related to the version of Windows and both machines have plenty of RAM and disk space.

John could you give me the exact model of your Levono T model and whether it is really a laptop ? ,there is a wide range of models so that I can find a genuinely fast laptop for you. Its also down to how much you want to pay.

exerxes says:
17 February 2018

Looks like there are many high quality laptop machines with interesting capabilities – But they are at a very high price (is this exacerbated by a demand balloon from bitcoin mining processor warehouses?) – too much for me. My 10yr old w7 setup has been cracking up for years but still just works just well enough to carry on with – I will use it as long as poss. Although looking for a new one, I have not seen a product with adequate all round abilities at the right price and am also rather w10 averse (did try it but backed out of it). Am strongly leaning towards going the raspberry route (avoiding w10 and the like with any luck – Linux maybe?) – or one its now considerable number of peer group alternatives, some of which look very tasty and user-friendly and at decent price – might be more interesting and controllable too.

Exerxes – Persian ? I like Persians .If you like W7 and I had the Prof . version till MS -Redmond got too intrusive and controlling along with everlasting security updates due to their insistence on “back-doors ” then install Linux Mint its pretty close to it and no snoopy big brother system control. You control what is downloaded, you control what is installed , none of this – no you cant do that – it’s open source and Linux comes in 100,s of varieties . If you want to dual boot remember to disable Secure Boot by MS as it will block Linux from being installed.