It used to be my rule of thumb that a sweet-spot computer could be had for around $1,000. There’s always a tradeoff between getting a shiny-new, super-powerful machine that would “last” for a while, and getting the best “bang for the buck”. $1,000 was generally where it was at, although it was perfectly reasonable to spend closer to $2,000 for a powerful machine.
As far as I can tell, though, computers are rapidly approaching free. I keep an eye on deal-tracking sites for fun, and noticed this Dell offer today. This is a nice deal but far from unheard-of:
Dell Dimension E310 Pentium 4 3.06, 1GB DDR2, 160GB HDD, DVD-ROM + DVDRW, 17″ LCD, Color Printer
Need a translation?
- Fast, single-processor computer with perfectly reasonable memory and storage. I write software for a living on a machine roughly this powerful
- Reads and burns DVDs
- Comes with a 17″ LCD monitor and a color printer
((Infomercial voice)) — How much would you expect to pay for this package? $1,500 ? $2,000?
Dell will sell you this bundle for $398. $419 if you don’t use a Discover card to pay. Not long ago, no LCD monitor could be bought for that little, nevermind a computer. A little longer ago, a color printer cost several times that much money. Now, Dell will give you one free just for fun.
This is a very inexpensive, and very powerful, computer.
With a monitor!
And a printer!
I’m just saying.