Of the three traditional things to worry about when buying a computer–processor, storage, and memory–only one is likely to limit your ability to upgrade your software. The processor used to be the biggest deal, but most chips now spend most of their time waiting on the user. You, in turn, will probably find that most of your waiting involves either slow downloads or the system switching one app out of memory so another can take precedence. (Video editing is the one major exception in home computing.) Hard-drive storage, meanwhile, has gotten so cheap that it’s increasingly difficult to max that out. The story’s a little different with the solid-state drives now displacing hard drives in laptops. They weigh less, use less electricity and don’t have spinning platters that can suffer mechanical breakdowns, but the smaller SSDs on entry-level models may leave you cramped for space too soon. Memory prices have fluctuated more in recent years but remain at historical lows. The more worrisome trend here is machines that don’t allow any expansion of memory after the fact. The arrival of Windows 8 has made touch screens much more relevant on Windows laptops, so purchases should not get caught on the wrong side of that shift. Finally, as a general rule, trying to find the absolute best time to purchase a computer is like trying to pick the best time to invest in a stock. It’s hard to outsmart everybody else but easy to agonize over the decision. Don’t beat yourself up over the process. | Read More