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Beyond the bull: Laptops and PCs

While the #PCMasterRace might have its benefits, there’s a fair share of marketing lies going around the world of PCs and Laptops as well – and we take them apart.

Marketing lies are nothing new to anyone well versed with the world of tech. Regardless of the category, there is something or the other that most brands do to mislead you into buying crappy products that don’t stand up to what was promised. In this series, we’ve already covered smartphones and displays, and now we are all set to go beyond the bull on laptops, desktop PCs and their components.

VR Ready PSU

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With VR becoming more mainstream, a whole new marketing term has become available to PC and laptop manufacturers, and boy are they using it. Now, of course, there are legitimate claims to be made here. For instance, you do actually need a GPU or CPU that’s capable or meets popular VR platform’s requirements. A case can also be made for cabinets (pun intended) since they add-in extra front USB slots or something… and we can definitely look the other way when headsets claim to be VR compatible because they need to fit with the VR head-mounted display.

Must be VR Ready if the box says so

However, not wanting to be left behind, power supply manufacturers are now claiming “VR Ready” status. Five whole turds for you sirs, for doing absolutely nothing new but pretending to have done so. What’s next? VR ready keyboards, mice, printers, scanners, routers, cabinet lights, etc.? Make sure you don’t pay extra for this steaming load of excreta!

Battery Life

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Loving your brand new laptop? Why shouldn’t you? So much in love are you that you decide to take her (yes, we think of laptops as female, and gaming PCs as male) down to the local park to sit under a tree and live the hippie dream, while still staying connected to the net – where all your friends live. So you cough your way through the smog and traffic and spend an hour commuting to the closest park in one of our major cities, and then sit down hoping to spend a couple of hours pretending you are in a jungle when a mere 45 minutes later you see the low battery warning. “WTF!” you exclaim, “I thought you said you could last for four hours, honey!”, you complain, like a new arranged-marriage bride… As you play out your soap opera in the park, we zoom out of the scene to see you in a tiny park surrounded by traffic jams, and the smog acts as a natural fade out into the black. A narrator (preferably in the voice of Morgan Freeman) booms “Battery claims are as honest as a used car salesman, or a lawyer!”

Meet betrayal (image for representation)

If we could make a public service ad about laptop batteries, that might be it. Why? Because the claimed battery life of laptops is now so far removed from reality, that it’s worth at least four turds. The only reason it doesn’t get the fifth is that at some specific setting with nothing installed and all services turned off and CPU running in lowest power mode, etc., you can actually get close to the claimed figure. Of course, your laptop essentially becomes a paperweight at those settings, but it is theoretically possible. Laptops that don’t have user-removable batteries (because of super slim designs and whatnot) maybe deserve five turds, because it’s not like you can buy a higher capacity battery like before, and end up having to visit a service centre for an expensive battery replacement.

Noiseless Keyboards

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Three turds for whoever came up with the idea of marketing cheaper membrane keyboards this way. The “silent typing experience”, “noiseless keystroke reaction”, “comfortable”, “silent switch tactile feeling”, etc., claims you will see are essentially marketing you poo as “the heady fragrance of Mumbai’s railway tracks”. Yes, membrane keyboards are “silent” compared to some mechanical keyboards, but they’re also pretty useless.

Membrane switches

The average membrane keyboard is rated at 8 to 10 million keystrokes, while their mechanical counterparts start at 30 and go all the way up to 70 million keystrokes. Some membrane keyboards can barely manage 5 million. That said, read this month’s Boo-man column, because as it turns out, even mechanical switches seem to be heading in the direction where they need to be awarded turds.

Memchanical Keyboards

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Yup, that is not a typo. Mechanical keyboards have actual spring-based switches below the keys, while membrane keyboards have a rubber dome beneath the keys to simulate the resistance of a switch. Then there are memchanical keyboards – half-mechanical keyboards, where the switch is still membrane, but a mechanical plate is added above the switch to make a clicking sound. Paying a premium for this is a strict no-no because they’re just as crap as the average membrane keyboards, and in fact, the experience can be a little funny, as the click that occurs when you lift your finger is heard before the key itself rises!

Mechanical switches

High DPI Mice

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DPI stands for dots per inch. On mice, it is a measure of how much the cursor moves on screen compared to how much the mouse moves on the pad. There are some mice in the market that offer insanely high DPI settings, over 10,000 or so. There is absolutely no need for this, even when gaming. If you set your Windows mouse tracking speed to the lowest possible setting, you still can’t raise the mouse DPI to more than 6,000, because it becomes unusable. So who exactly needs 10,000 or 12,000 DPI we have no idea. Even if you have an insanely large monitor, you’d still want some control over your mouse, right?

Aditya Madanapalle

Aditya Madanapalle

An avid reader of the magazine, who ended up working at Digit after studying journalism, game design and ancient runes. When not egging on arguments in the Digit forum, can be found playing with LEGO sets meant for 9 to 14-year-olds.