Computers you have owned: which gave the most & least satisfactory performance?

When rating a given computer, please do so in term sof how useful & enjoyable to you it was AT THE TIME. Obviously even a cheap laptop today is going to have enormously more processing power, better graphics, & so forth than an expensive workstation of 1993, and the 1995 unit wouldn’t be able to handle anything but the most basic programs today’s computers can run. But if the computer you had 18 years ago was reliable, easy to use, and outstanding in terms of the uses of the day, while the computer you own now is buggy, difficult to use, and subpar for what you’re doing now (even though it could run rings around the earlier model), the 1993 model wins. Okay?

All right, I’ll begin.

I’ve owned about a dozen computers in the last twenty years. The most satisfactory computer I’ve ever owned was the Macintosh desktop unit I used from 1995-1998. Yeah, it had a tiny hard drive & next-to-no memory by today’s standards, but compared to the IBM-compatibles I had access to then, it was enormously superior in terms of setting it up, installing new software, and every day use; it never gave me the slightest bit of trouble. Tied for number two would be my current Toshiba laptop and the Toshiba laptop I used from 2005-2006.

The LEAST satisfactory computer I’ve owned would be the Compaq laptop I had before buying this Toshiba. It gave me trouble from the day I bought it, quite literally; the very day I set it up and did a Windows update, it crashed because of a conflict between some proprietary Compaq software and said update. The clock mysteriously stopped working within a month, the memory was inadequate for what I needed it to do; it simply sucked by every metric.

Anybody else?

Most: Packard-Bell 386. Barely ran Windows 3.1 but was awesome for a 12 year old. I added an 8-bit SoundBlaster and a 2x CD-ROM, spent all night programming in QBasic and playing Doom. It was perfect for writing reports for school without too much distraction.

Least: My eMachines desktop computer. Don’t remember what CPU it has and don’t care. It runs Windows XP and Office. Has a bunch of stupid crap bundled in. Whatever.

Back in 1987 or so: My old Vendex Headstart Turbo XT, running at 8 Mhz, with a 20 Meg hard drive and dual 5.25 floppy drives!

I installed my own 8,000 baud modem, added a whole 1 Meg of RAM, and really understood pretty much all of how that system worked. And it did what I told it to do. An upgrade to DOS 3.1 made it even spiffier!

I can do a lot more now, but I don’t know how it does it, and when it doesn’t work, I don’t know why…

I’ve been very happy with almost every computer I’ve had. The first Apple ][e that my parents got when I was 5 did a great job giving me an intro into how computers work and taught me how to program in BASIC. My IBM 486 DX2 Thinkpad (purchased around 1996). The last two laptops I’ve had have also done quite well, a Toshiba Satellite and a HP something or other. Also, the desktop I have now, even though it’s a 64 bit with 2gigs of memory and 4 hard drives is technically just a reincarnation of the same computer I’ve had since I went to college in 2002. It’s just been updated one piece at a time. I think the only piece of original hardware in it at this point is one of the hard drives.

The only computers I’ve been truly dissapointed with are various Compaqs, eMachines and Magnavoxs that I’ve either owned or my parents have owned (and I’ve had to fix) over the last 20 years. I’m not sure where the Magnavox came from, it was a 386 IIRC. The eMachine was for work in an “OMG we need a cheap computer RIGHT FUCKING NOW” situation. What a piece of shit that was. The Compaq Presarios, well, they always seemed so promising, but always turned out to be crap. That goes for both the laptops and desktops. I’ve always had great luck with HP computers, that’s most likely what I’ll be sticking with going forward. But I’m always willing to look at other brands.

I’ve only had 4 pre-built machines. All of the ones I built myself have been aces (probably about 10 of them).

Most: A tie between the already-old-at-the-time off-lease ThinkPad T20 my boyfriend gave me for Christmas like…Hmm maybe 2002? I don’t know what I used it for before I discovered I could use it to watch streaming content from my server and play Solitaire while in bed, but since I figured that out it’s been awesome. I can barely surf the Web on it or do anything else, but as a heavy iPad with a keyboard and “big” screen, it’s the bees knees. So what if I have to repair Windows every year or so!

The other Most is the HP Pavillion I bought via some program with my dad’s company (Ford) in 1997 or so. That was the first machine I owned on my own ($1700!! At a discount!) and the first machine on which I used The Internet. It lasted a long time, and when I was done with it I used most of its parts in other machines. I am pretty sure the motherboard was being used regularly until a couple years ago.

The Least: A Dell Optiplex I bought for my work computer a few years ago, at their discount store. It was hella better than the one it replaced (possibly using that Pavillion mobo!) but only for like 6 months. I thought it would be good enough for my needs for a while, but Microsoft kept releasing new beefier versions of the tools I use, and the Optiplex just choked. There was little room or reason for upgrading the machine itself. I learned my lesson and bought the highest-end thing I could find and ended up with…an HP Pavillion. This puppy rocks. The Optiplex just sits on the spare desk in my office, looking defeated.

Pretty much happy with every computer I’ve ever had. I guess my most satisfaction would have been my C=128 as a replacement for my TRS-80 MC-10. Back then, computers where scarce and not to be taken for granted. These days, I just buy what I want, almost when I want to. If I had to pick the most disappointing, I guess it would be when I upgraded from a Colour Classic (correct spelling; I bought it from AAFES in Germany) to a Performa 636CD. I thought that the upgraded graphics and the step up from the 68030 to the 68LC040 would be great. Except there were things that a full 68040 was required for (I’m thinking virtual memory or Virtual PC, or maybe both). Also, the PowerPC was out, so I should have been smart enough to know that even the new 68000-series would soon be deprecated. I only had that computer for a little while until I step up into a Quadra 6400.

Best: Dell laptop that I purchased refurbished.

Worst: Packard Bell desktop. It was unupgradeable–you had to buy Packard Bell brand components.

All my others have been a bit better than middle-of-the-road for satisfaction.

Been satisfied with most of my computers. The big exception was when my wife and I both bought eMachines desktops ca. 2004, and they both died after about 2 years.

My mac mini and my macbook air. They’re not super powerful, I have a custom built PC for that, which never gets used because it’s less fun. Even for gaming, I can play rome total war far more conveniently on my macbook air than on my desktop, so it’s never used.

Most: My current Toshiba low-end, cheapo laptop. It’s so reliable and dependable, I’m actually tempted to beat it up to see if it can still work. When my desktop had to be wiped, it did all the work a “superior” computer could do and more, just slightly slower. In fact, when I had to do a major video project (which is what my quad-core desktop is supposedly best at) I had to switch it over to the Toshiba at the 11th hour and make the video.

Least: I bought a cheap, no-name dual core computer for my wife when integrated graphics were just coming out. It lasted about 4 months before she gave up, bought a laptop, and I salvaged the parts into a newer build.

I’ve had everything from Timex, TRS-80, Commodore, Apple ll up to IBM, Dells, HP & Gateway. Everything has been pretty good. It’s my job to get the most out of the device. If I do that, I’m a happy camper. I currently still use an old TRS-80 hand held computer on my desk mostly as a calculator. However, it can be programmed with the giant 16K memory module. No kidding. Some simple few lines of basic can do wonders for every day scientific and business calculations.

I’ve only ever owned two Toshiba laptops – because they just keep going and going and going.

My first Toshiba (16 gig hard drive – woohoo!), I owned from 2000 - 2007. When I finally retired it, screen switch stopped working and was successfully “modified” by a street computer guy in Mexico, and the CD drive finally gave out. The laptop was still usable, except for my mistake of trying to change the OS to Linux and messing up the installation. At that point, I lost patience and already had a new computer, so it was retired for parts to a computer shop in Mexico. That thing was indestructible. It came with me to Costa Rica, traveled the world, endured mold growing inside, had a large spider crawl inside and die, and never failed me.

My new Toshiba (160 gig, one of the last ones to come with XP) is a little less reliable. I’ve had it since 2006, the fan needed replacing in 2009 ($30 to fix in Mexico) and the battery died in late 2010. Still an awesome, awesome machine that has served me very well for five years. I may replace it in 2012 or 2013.

I can’t quite see owning anything other than Toshiba, for laptops at least. The only problem is that they just won’t die to give you an excuse to replace them!

Least: IBM PCjr (yeah…we had one). Even for its time it was crap.

Most: My last four PCs since I now build them all myself to specs I want. All have been champs and all worked exceptionally well and for a long time with no problems.

I love my H/P, I own three other Dells and they’re OK but they take awhile to get rid of all the bloated crap. H/P came with some bloat but it was very easy to take off in less than 30 minutes.

Worst: HP Omnibook something or other. I’d had an earlier 650 mhz Omnibook 6000 that was rock solid. This one was just after the Compaq merger, and was terrible. Creaky, cheap plastic case, flakey trackpad, half the time when you’d open it from sleep it would need a reboot because it was either frozen or the backlight wouldn’t come on. One time I sent it in to HP for repair and it took so long to come back I’d pretty much forgotten I owned it.

Favorite: Macintosh Quadra 660av. It was a total platypus of a computer, a bizarre evolutionary cul-de-sac because the PowerPC machines came out shortly after the AV machines were released. It had an integrated DSP chip on the motherboard that gave it the ability to do cool things with video and sound in real time, some of which I haven’t seen since.

Worst: Tandy 1000 HX. I bought it for entering college. The thing would have been a piece of shit under the best of conditions but insult was added to injury when I was sold the thing right before the Tandy line was discontinued and Radio Shack stopped supporting the line. I still avoid shopping at Radio Shack whenever possible based on that crapbox and the guy who took a wad of cash from me for it. Physically speaking, it had no hard drive, the few peripherals or expansions you could get were all Tandy products and the “Tandy” software was junk.

Worst Runner-Up: The Commodore Plus/4 I got for Christmas as my first computer. First off, it was supposedly a business machine so it was pretty worthless for a kid. The “Plus/4” referred to four built-in business applications, all of which were clunky even by the standards of the day. But it also didn’t support the already popular Commodore 64’s software, has less available RAM than the 64 and had limited peripheral support. Luckily, mine broke soon after getting it. When my mom returned it, she was told it was discontinued and steered her into getting me…

Best: My Commodore 128. Even though I mainly used it in its Commodore 64 compatibility mode, it played C64 games flawlessly. I actually did have a few applications for it in 128 mode or its CP/M mode (where I could run stuff from my friend’s Osborne computer) such as the GEOS system. Even when I started college, I used my Commodore for more paper writing than I used that Tandy for. It had a metric crap-ton of games, some of which are still fun on the emulators today and a huge support community (for the C64). I got years and years out of that thing and it only died when I accidentally knocked a can of Mt. Dew into it.

Best Runner-Up: My Dell Dimension 4550. I bought it back in 2004 and used it until 2010+. I’ve heard all the Dell horror stories but that old girl never steered me wrong. Sure, after a while, I had to upgrade the memory and eventually hit the ceiling on what AGP cards I could buy for it but it never gave me any trouble I didn’t make for myself. I finally used tax return money last year to build a new box but the Dell is still running strong as a “family” computer in the other room and it’ll be a shame when it finally gives up the ghost.

My first computer was a K-pro. It was awesome. I logged on to a bulletin board and rated movies. Absolutely amazing. Had Word Perfect which was far better than any word processor since. I fell in love.

Best: Another Commodore 128 fan here. I, of course, gamed extensively in 64 mode, and learned to program C64 program in assembly, but I really preferred 128 mode. Explored mathematics using the enhanced BASIC available in the machine, and it was my Internet computer of choice (using Novaterm in 80 column mode), accessing a shell through dial-up. Ran a BBS at 2400 baud for a while, had a hard drive and several disk drives daisy-chained together (two 1571s, a 1581, and a box full of 1541s), used a 1084s monitor, had the video RAM upgrade, etc. Used from 1985 (preceded by an Atari 600xl) to 1996 (succeeded by a 386 machine built in a 5150 case.

Least: Mattel Aquarius. A crappy computer that was out of date before its release, and lower-powered than the video game system it was supposed to complement, the Intellivision. Why would a company create a computer that was supposed to be games-friendly with no sprite or bit-mapped graphics capabilities? I could understand that in the 1970s, but in 1983, it was moronic. Oddly, though, the system was packed with an excellent beginner’s programming course and reference guide… it seemed like more care went into the documentation than into the system itself.

Believe it or not, the best computer I ever had was the family computer we had when I was a kid, a Dell 325SX.

Man, I kept that machine running like a well-maintained car. Everything I initially learned about computers I learned on that box. I would pull components out, put them back in, upgrade components, write batch files, customize the BIOS, learn everything about every DOS command, customize the device drivers by recoding them… I knew that computer inside and out. It performed far beyond its design parameters and lasted well beyond its point of obsolescence because I took such good care of it.

Wish I knew what happened to it when we moved from that house. I’d love to toy with it again.

The MacBook Pro I bought in August also seems to be a pretty good machine. We’ll see how it turns out. It’s my first Mac.

The poll’s not working and I don’t understand the backstory. I can’t figure out what the moral dilemma is. Compaq, Toshiba, and IBM are the dumbest obscure variations of uncommon names for characters you’ve ever used. So I’ll just go with ‘Yes’. Why? Because. And I disagree with your conclusion.