This article is more than 1 year old

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

It may be a lovely orange but a Chromebook is NOT a PC

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 a present. It is surely a quick win, and we know what we are buying, right?

Not so fast. The problem in my case - and quite a few other people who work in IT - is that that person you are buying for isn’t as technical. Fair enough. Not everyone is, and nor should they be.

The big mistake I made was taking my intended gift recipient (in my case my wife) to see a range of laptops so I could get a steer on what caught her interest.

“Anything within reason” was the financial limit.

There was “umming”, there was “ahing". Some - I'm looking at you, Hewlett-Packard - were just butt ugly so were quickly ruled out, Beats Audio or no Beats Audio. There was also the obligatory pushy salesman who was given the cold shoulder.

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.

When pressed as to why it HAD to be this device in particular all I got was: “I like the colour and it looks cute.” Arguments about iTunes, Word and not being able to store many files locally failed to dissuade her from the fact that this was it. The Celeron logo was what worried me more than anything. We left without making a purchase.

Days later and alone in John Lewis, and in all good conscience I plumped for a Lenovo Yoga 11.2. OK, so it was roughly three times the price, but it did what her current laptop did and came with a touchscreen and a nice Hello Kitty/handbag friendly colour.

Self preservation had kicked in. I could see that, two weeks down the road, I’d be fielding comments and questions like: “Word looks kinda funny” and “Why won’t iTunes install?”

This is the dilemma that anyone who “does IT” faces when buying electronic gifts for those who do not work in IT. Get it wrong and it is going to be a long year providing free IT support for potentially crap gadgets.

I fear I am not alone in going against what the other half has decreed as “the” present. Gadget buying essentially divides people into two groups: those who go by looks and aesthetics (Apple users, some would argue) and those that know what they want in terms of functionality (the geeks). In between lies the rest of the populace. You takes your chance and buy what you think appeals.

Next page: Cheap for a reason

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