It’s all about the numbers. Or is it?

What do you look at when you buy a digital camera? Do you look at the lens manufacturer name? Or maybe if the battery is a standard or proprietary one? Well, most people look at the numbers. How many pixels does it have? How large is the zoom? That’s about it, and that is also what is advertised, usually.

What about the computers? Same. People look at the CPU speed (that number of GHz that no-one knows the meaning of…), and recently – people look at how many cores the CPU has.

Is it the most important thing to look at? No. Definitely no.

This the best way for the manufacturers and sellers to obscure the data, and emphasize the less important things, while not mentioning the things that really matter.

Why am I writing about that? Because of this article: 1,000-Core Chip Could Make Computers 20 Times Faster. Read the title. 1000-core chip can make computers only 20 times faster. Faster relatively to the modern computers, which are on average dual-core. I.e.: 500 times more chips, 20 times more efficiency. Just think about it when next time a sales person will say “You have dual core? This one is quad-core, you can do twice as much with it!”. What do you need to check? Memory for example. Many low-end PC’s are being sold with 1GB memory, which is by all means not enough and will make your computer very very slow. Hard drive size is less important (even if you fill it up, you can add an external one easily). Display resolution – low-end computers (especially laptops, where the monitor cannot be changed) are sold with monitors that support very low resolutions. And, of course, benchmarks. There are plenty of sites that provide benchmarks for various different computer models and parts. It’s not just the numbers that matter, after all, it’s the overall performance.

With cameras? Well, it is important to know how many pixels the sensor has. But does it really matter if it’s 5 mega-pixels or 12 mega-pixels when you’re making an occasional family photo or taking a picture on a trip? What are you going to do with it? Upload to your Facebook profile? Picasa album? Email to your friends and family? Print it out? Think of it, a picture taken with a 5 mega-pixel camera can be printed on a Letter format page (8′ x 10′, to be precise), without any degradation of the quality. When was the last time you printed that large a photo? So do you really need a 12 mega-pixel camera? No. What you do need to look at is the sensitivity, the quality of the lens, the zoom (optical zoom, digital is worthless), image stabilizer (especially with a large zoom camera), etc. Pixels? There’s no camera on the market which doesn’t have enough pixels for an average, non-professional user. Pixels are a myth.

So think of it next time you see an ad, or hear a salesperson trying to impress you with some numbers. Numbers are best for the advertisers, but for you, the consumer, it’s just a way to get manipulated. Does having 4 cores really make your computer work too times faster than if it had 2 cores? No. Does the 12 mega-pixel camera provide twice as much picture quality than the 6 mega-pixel? No. So be careful, and don’t let anyone to manipulate you with irrelevant data. Do your own research, read the reviews from the people who had already bought the item, and look at what’s important to you.

Your Little Advisor

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