It (literally) pays to know all the crafty ways you can save money without sacrificing your power user cred
As much as we love ogling top-of-the-line PC hardware and fantasizing about price-be-damned rigs, we also love, love, love to stretch a dollar. Does that make us cheapskates? You betcha, if that’s what you want to call someone who doesn’t pay a premium when he or she doesn’t have to. Sign us up! In fact, where computing is concerned, knowing all the various angles to save a buck—a buck that can then be put toward new and better gear, mind you—is as much a part of being a power user as knowing how to flash a BIOS or overclock RAM. If you’re currently spending top dollar on your PC activities, it’s time you got schooled in the fine art of penny-pinching. From free software alternatives, to the best deals on all forms of digital entertainment, to hardware-buying tips, to our blueprint for a $600 PC, this year’s Cheapskate’s Guide can save you thousands of dollars and make you a more savvy consumer in the process.
Note: This article appeared in the October 2012 issue of the magazine.
OK, our first look at the Dell XPS One’s gorgeous display didn’t leave us quite as flabbergasted as astronaut David Bowmanstaring into the monolith at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. But the absolutely gorgeous Samsung PLS panel—with its 2560x1440native resolution—did leave us a bit slack-jawed. The XPS One’s$2,000 price tag might have contributed to that reaction, too; then again, a 27-inch Samsung Series 9 display built using the same panel costs $1,200 all by itself.
Dell’s XPS One 27 is a gorgeous computer. You’ll have to decide if it’s $2,000
Asus takes the price/performance crown in this roundup. The company’s ET2701 all-in-one can’t match the audacious display built into Dell’s XPS One 2710, and it doesn’t have a fast SSD to supplement its 2TB hard drive, like the Dell; but many of the other components inside the ET2701 are exactly the same as what you’ll get with the XPS One. And the ET2701 costs $500 less.
The IPS display inside the Asus ET2701 is so beautiful you’ll quickly forget that its maximum resolution is just 1920x1080 pixels.
Everything about the Aegis Secure Key telegraphs that Apricorn is serious about the whole data-security thing. The Secure Key has 256-bit AES full hardware encryption, so it doesn’t require software or drivers—it’s completely platform-independent, and it will even work with USB On-the-Go devices like Android tablets. This is a big deal—many drives ship with software encryption clients, but those rarely include software compatibility beyond Mac and Windows.
Enter the wrong PIN 10 times and the Aegis will shred your data to prevent brute-force attacks.
America’s nerdiest hobby gets its annual digital update, but is it worthwhile?
If you’ve ever played (or tried to play) Magic: The Gathering, you know it can be tricky to get started. Between the complicated rules, intricate strategy, and the roster of more than 12,000 unique cards, it’s not a game that would traditionally be called “accessible.”
Amazon's Kindle is fast becoming a runaway success, and the eBook reader looks to get even more enticing this fall with two new models. Crunch Gear claims to have the inside scoop on two new Kindles, saying the first one will maintain the same size screen as the original but in a smaller form factor. As the un-named insider puts it, Amazon has "skipped three or four generations" with the new models compared to the original. The second of the new Kindles will reportedly come shaped like a standard 8.5 x 11-inch piece of paper, making it noticeably bigger than first run units.
Both models are expected to come in a variety of colors in an attempt to appeal to a larger audience. But what the insider didn't say is whether or not Amazon plans to implement PDF support and better battery life when using the wireless functionality. If so, will it be enough to get you interested in jumping aboard the eBook scene?