Walt Mossberg

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Choosing a Windows PC

Q:

I’m shopping for a new Windows PC. Once I choose the processor brand and speed, the amount of memory, the brand and capacity of hard drive, etc., does it matter which PC I buy? Since none of the PC companies make their own components, isn’t price the only differentiating factor (apart from warranties and tech support)?

A:

You’re right that many Windows PCs are made from the same or similar components.

In fact, many are made by the same handful of contract manufacturers in China. But there are differences. Manufacturers mix and match parts from different suppliers, develop or select different designs, load their machines with different added software, and, as you say, offer different qualities of warranties and tech support.

On certain models, they also introduce innovative engineering from time to time. I have certainly noted differences in my testing over the years in things like battery life, keyboards and screens.

Q:

I recently purchased a new Dell Latitude laptop. The problem is irritating programs which recently began appearing on the screen, unrequested and unappreciated. One has a title of “Dell ControlPoint” and the other is titled “Windows Live Messenger.” I don’t want these programs. How do I get rid of them?

A:

These are programs that were bundled with your computer. If you don’t want them, you should be able to go into your Control Panel, to “Programs and Features” (assuming you’re using Windows 7) and uninstall them.

You should find them in the list of programs that appears there, and can then simply select them and choose “uninstall.”

In the case of Messenger, you will likely have to look for it in the list under “Windows Live Essentials.”

Q:

How would you compare the new Blackberry Torch to Samsung’s Galaxy S phones?

A:

They are very different devices. The most important difference is that three of the four Galaxy S models lack a physical keyboard, while the Torch has one. Also, the Torch has only a 3.2 inch screen, while the Samsung models have much larger 4 inch screens. In addition, the Torch, while sporting a refreshed interface, still looks and works like a BlackBerry, while the Galaxy S phones have the more modern-looking Android operating system, and access to Android’s 70,000 apps. The Torch can only use 9,000 apps. Finally, the Torch is (so far) available only on AT&T, while the Galaxy S is a family of devices that will shortly be available on all four major US carriers, albeit under different model names.

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Write to Walter S. Mossberg at walt.mossberg@wsj.com


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