■ Recycling PCs
Laptops: Thin is in
By Marc Saltzman
Q: What can you tell me about the new
laptops called Ultrabooks™?
A: If the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las
Vegas is any indication, Ultrabooks are poised to be
the hottest laptops this year.
Ultrabooks are a new category of incredibly
thin (less than 1 inch!) and lightweight—“
ultra-portable,” if you will—laptops that also benefit
from a powerful processor. In other words, there’s
no trade-off between size and performance, as
there was just a couple of years ago.
A trademarked term coined by Intel,
Ultrabooks have not only a fast processor to handle
demanding tasks, such as online gaming and video
editing, but also a long battery life (once the
Achilles’ heel of laptops). Some Ultrabooks can last
up to eight hours on a single charge.
Ultrabooks also benefit from Intel Rapid Start,
a proprietary technology that uses flash memory
embedded in the Intel chipset to improve boot-up
Some believe the increasing popularity of tablets had a direct influence on the creation of
Ultrabooks, as consumers wanted something thinner and lighter to tote around, with a high-powered
but low-voltage processor.
I mentioned there are no trade-offs between
size and performance, but be aware you might be
giving up some features with Ultrabooks. For storage, most use flash memory instead of a hard drive,
which means less capacity for programs and files. If
you enjoy carrying around many thousands of
songs or hundreds of videos, you might want to opt
for a laptop with a hard drive instead. I should note,
though, that flash-memory drives are very fast and
durable compared to hard drives.
Also be aware that most Ultrabooks don’t have
an optical drive, so you can’t play CDs or DVDs. If
this is an issue, you can always use a portable drive
that connects to the Ultrabook via USB. But personally, I haven’t used the DVD burner in my laptop in nearly three years, so I wouldn’t miss it.
As you might expect, prices for Ultrabooks are
higher than for standard laptops, but they’ll come
down over time—which is always the case with
Q: I’m buying a new PC
and want to safely dispose of my old one—in
terms of being environmentally sensitive and
also protecting my personal data. Tips?
A: Not surprisingly, there is a
downside to our increased reliance on tech toys: electronic waste
(“e-waste”) that ends up in landfills.
Consumer electronics often contain toxic substances such as cadmium,
lead, mercury, beryllium, polyvinyl
chloride (PVC) and brominated flame
retardants, to name a few of the nasty
ones, and this toxic runoff poisons our
soil, water and ecosystems.
If you’re unable to donate your aging PC
to a local organization that could benefit from
it, keep in mind that all of the major computer
manufacturers have recycling options that allow
you to properly return end-of-life machinery.
Dell, for example, lists a number of recycling
the option to fill out a FedEx waybill to attach to
your old PC for delivery.
HP also offers a recycling info site (www.
hp.com/recycle), with a breakdown of their services
to recycle computer equipment, printing supplies,
rechargeable batteries and other items.
Before you ditch your PC, however, be sure to
completely remove any personal information on it.
Don’t simply clean out the Recycling Bin or trust
that the store you’re taking the computer to will do
the job. There are many tools—including free
ones—that can properly format the hard drive so
any existing data that resides on it is inaccessible to
the next person who uses it. One example is CBL
Data Shredder for Windows. C
electronics or computers
you purchased at
Costco? Email them to:
Or send them to:
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
or fax to (425) 313-6718.
in the subject line. Marc
will answer selected ques-
tions in this column. We
regret that unpublished
questions cannot be
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The Costco Connection
On Costco.com, enter “Connection.”
At Online Edition, search
Costco carries a variety of Ultrabooks in the
warehouses and online at Costco.com. All PC
purchases at Costco are protected by free tech-support service through Costco Concierge
Services and a second-year warranty.
You can trade in many unwanted devices
through the Electronics Trade-In Program at
Costco.com. For details, go to Costco.com and
enter “recycling” in the search box.
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