The Best Bang for the Buck

My web site is full of articles that discuss technology topics and issues. Pretty much all the products, practices, services, etc. that I discuss deliver what I consider to be the Best Bang for the Buck. Or I probably wouldn't be recommending them, right?

Best Bang and Best in Class are sometimes the same, but often aren't. Here we'll discuss the two ideas then get into what I consider the Best Bang.

Best in Class is literally the best you can buy or do and with money being no object. The ne plus ultra of whatever it is being considered. e.g. The Best in Class of all-electric cars is arguably the Tesla Model S P100D. But at $135,000 it's probably not the best bang for the buck unless your only concern is raw acceleration.

 

Best in Class laptop might be the fully-loaded $4,200 MacBook Pro. But again, not the Best Bang.

With these examples, defining what Best Bang means is easy. It's simply the ideal intersection between cost and specs. There's a point where price and specs intersect to give you, well, the best bang for the buck. Once you identify that point, then departing from it in either direction on either metric will result in a less-than-ideal intersection. e.g. Lowering the cost by a little will lower specs by a lot. Conversely, increasing the price a lot will raise the specs a little.

The Best Bang for any class of product or service can be plotted on a graph, but you can't compare graphs of dissimilar things because the ideal intersection is different for every product, service, or idea.

With that in mind, here's my opinion on the Best Bang for for a number of products and services. You'll also find links to other pages on my site where certain items are described in more detail.

Computers: Brand name is unimportant, specs matter the most. Here's the Best Bang for specs.

  • Intel Core i5

  • 8 GB RAM

  • 250 GB SSD - more here

Monitors: 22 inch with IPS display. As of this writing (March 2018) a 22 inch monitor costs around $90 whereas a 23 inch monitor costs $130 or so. That's a big difference for only one inch. Brand is unimportant since all the panels are pretty much the same. Buy whatever is on sale but make sure it has an IPS panel.

Smartphones and tablets: Here, the Best Bang is also very close or equal to the Best in Class. Apple and Android models both have more or less comparable specs, but the iPhone and iPad enjoys these advantages over Android models.

  • Is far less vulnerable to malware.

  • Is supported far longer. iPhones/iPads receive 4 to 5 years of support and updates whereas Android models only receive 1 to 2 years of support.

  • Has higher resale values. That's nice when you upgrade and want to sell your old phone/tablet.

  • Has a more coherent UI. Menu organization is better and obscure features are easier to find.

More here on iPad

Windows vs. Mac: An age-old religious battle that I discuss here. Windows computers cost 1/2 to 1/3 of what a comparably spec-ed Mac costs and is every bit as capable. High-end Macs may be Best in Class especially regarding the all aluminum chassis and quality of construction, but they aren't any faster or last any longer. Definitely not Best Bang. More here

Printer: For an inkjet printer, the HP Officejet 8710 is a Best Bang. Here's the positive features. 

  • It has a decent scanner.

  • Printer is fairly fast.

  • Ink costs considerably less per page than most cheaper inkjets and ink carts last longer.

  • Connects via USB, Ethernet, and WiFi.

For $100 to $120 or so on sale, this is a terrific bargain. And even the ink which usually subsidises a printers' low purchase cost is cheaper with this model. More here (inkjet vs laser) and here (home vs office) on printers

Printer Toner and Ink: For business printing on laser or higher-end inkjets, I recommend buying genuine ink made by the printer manufacturer, not 3rd party refills. Refilled or remanufactured toner and ink carts are problematic. They sometimes leak ink or toner, clog-up the print heads, print unevenly with streaking or fades, or cause other problems including damaging the printer. It's not worth the hassle. Yes, genuine toner and ink costs more -- sometimes a lot more. You can reduce costs by simply printing less, print more to PDF, or switching from inkjet to laser.

For a cheap inkjet at home, go ahead and buy refills if you print a lot. That way, if the printer is damaged, replacing it won't cost much.

Email: In my opinion, Gmail is both Best Bang and Best in Class for personal and small business use. There is no comparison between Gmail (either personal or business) and the leading competitors. Some benefits listed below:

  • Browser interface is the most advanced, least cluttered, fastest, and simplest to use.

  • Spam detection is first rate. After all, Google's strongest kung fu is search and they apply that to help ferret out spam.

  • Includes numerous productivity apps.

  • Integrates with nearly all cloud-centric CRMs.

  • Can attach to your domain for a professional email address, like this: robert@pbcit.com

  • Seamlessly ties all your devices together, regardless of brand or ecosystem.

  • Works with Outlook for all you old timers out there :-)

More here (on email in general) and here (business email providers)

Anti-virus, anti-malware: Malwarebytes Premium (MBP) is an excellent preventative and clean-up tool. MBP has rocketed up to the top tier in the anti-malware industry and is used by I.T. geeks everywhere. For a company founded only 10 years ago (as of this writing, March 2018) they have managed to achieve widespread recognition by producing a fast, reliable, and affordable anti-malware tool.

 

The company never had to resort to shady marketing practices to bring attention to their product or to buy their way onto new computers made by popular brands like some of the other well-known AV producers did. MBP made a name for themselves in the most honest way possible: By creating an effective tool the blew away the competition. I've used MBP since the beginning. Even back shortly after their founding, it was always one of the best clean-up tools a tech could have. And it's only gotten better as they've added new exploit mitigations and realtime protections.