As 2009 gets into its stride, its time to reflect on the lessons we learned in 2008. We've looked at the year in technology in 2008 to reveale just what valuable morsels of information we should take away from the year. Read on to find out.
I learned a lot in 2008. For example I now know never to take basic financial security for granted and that the UK is capable of winning a few gold medals. But the year was full of other, more practical epiphanies, too.
Among them: selling a laptop on eBay can be an invitation to fraud and the fact that netbooks lose their novelty rather quickly while the Apple iPhone's allure only grows.
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So, let me share with you some lessons learned from 2008 related to mobile technology.
It can be scary to sell a laptop on eBay
It's extremely tempting to sell your old laptop on eBay, especially when money's tight. But be forewarned: as I learned from experience, the process can subject you to fraud, especially when you're trying to sell an expensive or highly desired laptop.
Too often, there's an assumption that it's primarily sellers on eBay who are trying to rip off buyers. However, throughout my years as an eBay buyer and seller, the only times I've experienced fraud are when I tried to sell my Sony Vaio ultraportable. In two cases, my auction closed when someone attempted to buy the laptop using hijacked eBay accounts (and credit cards).
In one instance, I learned of the fraud only after I'd dropped off the laptop at the post office. Fortunately, after a mad dash back to the post office, I retrieved the Vaio before it had left the building.
If you're planning to sell a laptop or other high-ticket item on eBay, please be vigilant. Otherwise you lose both your laptop and the money a fraudulent buyer promised to pay you.
Netbooks quickly lose their novelty
These days there's a lot of interest in netbooks, those subcompact, stripped-down laptops available from Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and other computer makers. I admit I've been taken by them, too, especially the Lenovo IdeaPad S10, which is the best I've tested so far.
But almost as quickly as my ardour for netbooks was aroused, it died. Although I appreciate the compactness of a netbook, it's difficult to get excited about what is, in essence, an intentionally underpowered Windows XP machine. (Some netbooks come with Linux or Windows Vista installed, but many have XP.)
Although Vista isn't the dream OS Microsoft touted it to be, using Windows XP again after I'd switched to Vista felt like a step backward. There were other things about the netbooks I tested that felt retrograde or cheap: the small screens (8.9in or 10.2in are the usual sizes); the all-too-brief battery life; the loud clacking sounds the mouse buttons make; and so on.
I'm not swearing off netbooks though. If a dazzling yet affordable model arrives, I would probably buy it. But until then, I'll stick with my admittedly-too-expensive-but-oh-so-exquisite Apple MacBook Air ultraportable.
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