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Lap(tops) of luxury?

While consumer electronics such as mobile phones, DVD-players, Playstation 2's and digital cameras seem to catch on quite quickly even in a country as poor as Bangladesh, the laptop computer seems to be an extravagance that people still shy away from here. Most computer users in Dhaka seem to use only desktop machines, at home and at work. This differs from other (perhaps more affluent?) countries, where many business-people and students often have a laptop in addition to the desktop computers they use at home and at work/school.

The obvious reason for this lack of popularity is its price: laptops typically cost two to four times as much as equivalent desktop systems. But computer prices have fallen to such an extent that laptops now cost around as much as a good desktop used to cost a few years ago. So if you've ever wanted to buy a laptop but were deterred by the price, now may be a good a time to take another look.

A quick tour of the computer stores at BCS Computer City in Agargaon reveals about a half-dozen stores selling laptops - not a very wide selection of models, but even so the prices range from Tk. 72,000 all the way up to a whopping Tk.1,57,000.

All the machines have low-capacity harddisks compared to desktops - from 15 to 40 gigabytes on the models seen; adequate for most office and school work that laptops are intended for, but cramped if you want to store music, movies, games, etc., or if your work involves editing video or sound. The lack of storage space can be greatly offset by the inclusion of a CD-writer, which most of the machines at BCS had.

The screens feel roomy compared to older laptops, ranging from 14.1 inches to an impressive 16 inches on the Compaq Pressario 3000. A 15 inch laptop screen seems be have about the same effective viewable area as a 17 inch CRT monitor for a desktop, and most of these machines support resolutions of up to 1024x768 pixels, which is adequate for most people on a screen of that size. Not a great resolution for gamers or graphic designers, but such people are better off with desktops anyway.

There's quite a bit of choice as far as processing power goes - some machines offer budget chips such as 850MHz Intel Celerons and 900MHz AMD Durons, while others have high end 2.66GHz Pentium 4s. Most offer 256Mb of RAM. Basically, they're all quite capable of handing office work, and some of them will even serve as gaming platforms (although they probably won't keep up with gaming for long). And with the DVD drives that most carry, they're good for watching the occasional movie (especially since unlike the LCD screens of a few years ago, the screens are viewable from a wide range of angles).

Perhaps the only people whose work can justify the cost of a laptop are business-people who travel a lot, and university students (particularly those who study abroad but return home often). Both classes of people need to have their computers with them, but would find it hard to pack and transport a full desktop computer every time they traveled. And being able to take a computer to lectures or meetings can be extremely convenient (not to mention entertaining).

I suppose the biggest problem with buying a laptop is finding one that suits you. Vendors don't usually allow you to specify what parts you want, so you may need to make compromises. The one that's in your price-range might have a fast processor, but a small harddisk. Or a nice graphics card, but a small screen; a wonderfully responsive keyboard, but no CD-writer. And be wary of the warranties offered - some are 3 years for everything, but just 1 year for the battery, or 1 year for everything, but no warranty for the adapter. So before buying, make sure you're satisfied with the warranty conditions.

Finally, if you don't already have a computer, should you buy a desktop or a laptop? Desktops are cheaper, more customizable, upgradeable, and offer more comfortable keyboards and screens. But laptops take less space, and can be used anywhere (I don't just mean you can use them in the car - I mean that writing a paper all night is much nicer if you're in bed than if you're at a desk, and if you're taking a class on, say, Japanese, having dictionary software running can be invaluable while the rest of the class struggles with printed dictionaries). And let's not forget, laptops look cool. And if you don't like the tight little keyboard and touchpad on your laptop, you can usually buy a cheap (or expensive; it's up to you) keyboard and mouse, and use them with the laptop when you're at your desk. You can even attach a normal desktop monitor to most laptops.

By Salman Ali

Reader's Chit

Septic of politics

Politicians! Undoubtedly in the context of our country it is no longer a complimentary term. Although virtues such as honesty, integrity, responsibility, patriotism, and respect for the law are inextricably associated with this word, politician. Whatever these "politician" creatures of our country are, they are far from being holders of any of these virtues. Rather, they subscribe to the more evil attributes. It does sound a bit harsh but unfortunately it is the bitter truth as we, the citizens of this country are the routine victims of the so-called politics that has been molesting the very spirit of this country for the last three decades.

To some it may seem unjustified that due to the evilness of some ostensible national leaders and despite the existence of some good-hearted politicians (let's hope some actually exist!), all politicians of this country have been labeled corrupt. But the history of the last 32 years prohibits us from having a favorable opinion of the characters in our political playhouse. What is this politics? It should be the method that systematically shapes a country's development process, reflecting the aspirations and hopes of its citizens. Something that not only allows them to stand on a common platform (the country itself) but also creates an atmosphere in which the masses can work together and appreciate each other's efforts. But for Bangladesh the situation has become reversed.

The politics that exists in this country is no longer nation-bound politics but rather party and personal politics. People may have different political beliefs and ideologies but this doesn't mean that those beliefs and ideologies are more important than the country and the fate of her countrymen. Unfortunately the politicians of our country believe that their political parties are much more important than the interests of Bangladesh, as they are determined to establish their so called "patriotic philosophies" even though it splits the nation into several pieces. If millions of Bangladeshi's with different political beliefs can live together in harmony, then why can't this handful of politicians work together in achieving a progressive nation, something which they all claim as their ultimate party objective. Realizing their lack of dedication and will, the people of Bangladesh were kind enough to construct an establishment called the Sansad Bhaban, so that these national leaders can sit together and discuss logically the issues that involve the country. But what do we see? Every time a party gets elected this Sansad Bhaban turns into that political mob's party house and the opposition's mockery of public commitment and responsibility towards the nation. It is really frustrating to see that rather than focusing on the country's concerns and realities, these ministers and M.Ps of Government bodies and opposition blocks only busy themselves in talking dirty to each other and blaming their assembled nuisance on each other.

There is also this infamous kinship of criminals and politicians that is so intimate that nowadays it is very difficult to draw a line (even in terms of character) between these two. It is inevitable that these anti-social blocks of thugs, convicts, racketeers, gangsters, and crooks will conduct the muscling of the politicians of this country and in return these evildoers will be rewarded by being allowed to continue their rampage on the social establishments of this country. We often hear our national leaders claim that their party is free of terrorists and outlaws. If that is so, then how is it that almost 99% of convicts and criminals have a political tag of the most influential parties on them. And how come every anti-social thug that terrorizes the country has grown under the blessings of these political leaders and parties. Recently two major leaders of the two most influential parties of this country admitted that black money holders now control the politics and the politicians of this country and they also acknowledged that the politicians are helpless about it. Such is the boldness of the Shers of our Paltan Maidan. If these nation savers of Bangladesh willingly sell themselves to the perverse forces of this country then what are they going to do when it comes to facing foreign oppression and international conspiracies?

Lacking a proper sense of responsibility and respect towards her/his own country these crooked politicians have been mingling with the anti-socials elements from all levels of the society and have created a menace called corruption that has destroyed the patriotic atmosphere and polluted every social system of this country. The people of Bangladesh are sick and tired of this double-faced nature of our politicians. Frustratingly they are also loosing faith in the selection of a democratic government through the electoral system because every time it's just a different face with the same old stinking dirt.

By Obaidur Rahman


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