I get a lot of computers in to try here at Expensive ones, cheap ones, innovative ones, pretty ones, and powerful ones. I often get attached to one computer, though, and my reasons have less to do with price, specs, cleverness, or bling than function. And when I say function, I don’t mean speed and features. I mean, how well it works for what I do.

I recently did a (completely unscientific) experiment on this theory using the Lenovo 100s and the ASUS Chromebook Flip C100P.  I handed the Chromebook to Dennis (’s Lab director) and set up the Ideapad 100s for myself. He fell completely in love with that Chromebook. And I have become so inseparable from this Lenovo 100s that I will buy one when they want it back. Months later, we are both still (respectively) dedicated to these machines.

Aside from differences in color, size, and specs they are a similar category of computer: Small, light, portable, and meant to be used mainly while connected to the Internet. I do not use the Lenovo as my main work computer. I have an office, a big screen, an ergonomic keyboard, and all the trimmings for that. But when I travel — even if only to a meeting in the city or a cafe to get away from my house — I take the Lenovo with me.

The Chromebook has a touch screen, the screen flips around so you can use the keyboard as a stand and watch movies on it. And it, of course, connects to Google universe of productivity tools: Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and like that. Dennis loves everything about it. (Ask him about it…. Hell, just look at it and he will tell you, “I love this thing.”)

The Lenovo 100s is more basic. It has a slightly larger screen and keyboard. It is not a touch screen. It doesn’t flip around. But it’s a Windows machine. I don’t care about Windows but I am completely dependent on Word for writing and OneNote for research and planning. And that means that I have to use Windows. (A deal I am willing to make without complaint because I am so grateful for the existence of those two tools, without which I would probably flail around uselessly.) The only reason I carry a laptop is to write. And I write – unless someone forces me to use some other tool – with Microsoft Word. This machine makes me very happy. It fits in my purse. The battery lasts all day. It’s easy to carry. And it’s a cute red.


There are specs we both like about these laptops respectively but nailing  this primary use is the essential element. If the keyboard disappointed. If it made getting to the place either of us stored our files annoying. Or if it was too big for the bag we carry, we would not be interested in USB ports, HDMI ports, storage, or processors. In the current world of specs, those are all gravy.

This casual social experiment proved my theory about buying a computer: Know thyself first. If you ask someone you think is a computer nerd, Apple fanboy, or gamer what computer they would buy, you might learn something interesting. But it won’t be the answer to the question, “What computer should I buy?” For that, you have to look in the mirror.