Personal computers are where a lot of us started with technology.
My first home computer was an Apple Mac Plus with no hard drive, one floppy drive and one megabyte of RAM.
These days, most of us have moved to laptops or tablets, and my Apple Watch has more computing power than my first computer.
Here are a few laptops, 2-in-1 (touchscreen) computers and accessories that will be welcome on Christmas morning.
— MacBook Air
What is it? This isn’t Apple’s fastest MacBook, or its most expensive. In fact, it’s the cheapest Mac you can buy and that’s a good thing. It has a beautiful 13-inch retina display, two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports and TouchID. The minimum configuration is 8 gigabytes of RAM and a 128 GB solid-state drive.
Who is it for? Students! This is the perfect laptop to send with your kids when they head off to college. And it works for anyone who wants a (fairly) inexpensive Mac laptop.
How much does it cost? Starts at $1,099, but look around for holiday sales.
Where can I get it? Apple stores, Best Buy, MicroCenter
— Asus C434 Chromebook Flip
What is it? This isn’t a PC laptop. It runs Google ChromeOS, which is perfectly fine if you spend most or all of your time in range of a Wi-Fi network. The Wirecutter called this the best laptop under $500, and I agree. It has a great touchscreen, 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage.
Who is it for? Chromebooks are designed to work with a Wi-Fi connection, so make sure you’ll have Wi-Fi where you need to work for best results.
How much does it cost? It lists for $569, but you can probably find it for closer to $500.
Where can I get it? Amazon, Asus, Best Buy
— Microsoft Surface Book 2
What is it? This is a great PC laptop, although it isn’t cheap. The Surface Book 2 comes with either a 13.5-inch or 15-inch touch screen. It’s really a tablet PC that connects to a very nice keyboard to create a laptop. It is actually a great tablet and a great laptop.
Battery life is exceptional — up to 17 hours — and it can be configured with up to 16 GB of RAM and a 1 terabyte SSD.
Who is it for? This is a serious laptop that can handle most everything you throw at it, but it’s also good for students.
How much does it cost? Starts at $1,149
Where can I get it? Microsoft, Best Buy, Amazon
— Raspberry Pi 4
What is it? Is it a toy or is it a computer? Well, it’s a computer that costs a lot less than a lot of toys. The Raspberry Pi 4 is a palm-sized PC that runs Linux. It can handle most of the tasks you’d want, plus it can be a media server or even run home automation tasks for your house.
Who is it for? This is for the tinkerer and the techie. If you have someone on your list who excels at technology and computers, chances are they’d love one of these.
How much does it cost? Starts at $35.
Where can I get it? Micro Center, PiShop.us
— Western Digital Easystore 2 TB External Hard Drive
What is it? This is a small USB hard drive that you can connect to any Mac or Windows PC for extra storage, to back up your files or even to clone your computer’s hard drive as a bit of extra insurance if your computer’s drive ever dies (or gets stolen).
Who is it for? Do yourself a favor and buy this external drive for someone you know isn’t backing up their files the way they should.
How much does it cost? $109.99, but it’ll be cheaper for the holidays.
Where can I get it? Best Buy
— iStorage Datashur Pro2
What is it? This is a flash drive, but even from the looks of it, you can tell it’s no ordinary flash drive. The Datashur Pro2 has some very serious encryption going on to keep your data safe from everyone else.
If you lose it or it gets stolen, the drive is protected with AES-XTS 256-bit full disk encryption. This is certified for storing HIPAA data (patient medical records).
Who is it for? Anyone who is worried about their data falling into the wrong hands.
How much does it cost? Prices start at $64 for 4 GB. A 128 GB drive costs $218.
Where can I get it? Amazon
— Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag
What is it? If you own a laptop, you need a bag of some kind, and I’m partial to messenger bags that I can just throw over my shoulder. Timbuk2 has been my go-to bag for almost a decade.
It has a padded slot for your laptop and a quite large open pocket for all your stuff.
Who is it for? Students with laptops will love this.
How much does it cost? I have the medium in black, which will hold a 15-inch laptop and costs $99.
Where can I get it? Timbuk2
— EcoTank ET-2760 printer
What is it? If you print a lot at home, you probably know how much inkjet cartridges cost. Epson has just what you need — a line of printers with ink tanks you fill from bottles instead of those small, expensive cartridges. The ET-2760 comes with two years’ worth of ink in the box. It can also copy and scan and print wirelessly.
Who is it for? Do you curse the printer companies whenever you have to buy ink?
How much does it cost? $299.99, but look for sales.
Where can I get it? Amazon, Best Buy
(Article written by Jim Rossman)