The RAM Scam

To start this article, I should explain what RAM is, in order to understand how we are
being scammed in our purchases of laptop computers. RAM stands for Random Access
Memory. It allows your computer to quickly access files and programs. Generally, the more
RAM available, the faster the computer will respond in opening those files and programs.
Thus, 16 GB of RAM will make your computer run faster than 8 GB of RAM.

In the past, most computers had specific “slots” into which you can replace or add more
RAM to the system. This condition was in laptop computers; however, in the name of
“progress” manufacturers have soldered in the RAM, which means that it is fixed permanently to the electrical system without the “slots” that allowed you to remove and update RAM. Most laptops actually had one or two of these slots, so that you could greatly increase the RAM until you reached the computer chip’s maximum. Well, this situation has been changed. You are probably asking why manufacturers changed it?

The reason they give are:

1 It allows the laptop to be thinner and lighter.

2 It eliminates the possibility that RAM could loosen up in the slots.

It is amazing that they forget to inform you that it is cheaper to manufacture the computer this way, Moreover, it makes you computer obsolete sooner than necessary.
So here is the situation in many cases, namely, the purchaser of a new laptop, must
predict the amount of RAM you “might” need in the future. So, if you guess that 8 GB of RAM is sufficient for today, you cannot update to make it more powerful by making it have 16, or 32 GB of RAM three years from now. As we all know, software programs are getting more complex and contain more features with every new release, so more power will obviously be needed eventually. But without the RAM option, your laptop will most likely be sent to recycling, often to foreign countries with lax labour laws, or to the local landfill. Therefore, you will need to go out and buy a new laptop, which is precisely what manufacturers want, as they focus on “planned obsolescence”.

I have noted in previous articles that I purchase “used” laptops, instead of buying new
ones, as they are perfectly serviceable, despite their age. Presently, I am writing this article on a 2014 Lenovo Think Pad, which I have added an extra 8 GB of RAM in addition to the RAM that was soldered in. Yes, it had 1 old-style RAM slot, that allowed it to be upgraded. My 2016 Think Pad has the same “compromise”, that is, one soldered in RAM and one RAM slot to enable upgrades. Therefore, my advice to you as a purchaser of laptops for personal or pastoral charge use, please carefully check out the technical information of the model you are considering. Make sure that it is upgrade-able in order to future-proof your investment.

I am afraid that this situation is not the only article that I shall write on technical trends that I find troublesome ethically. In the coming newsletters, I shall examine the latest system on HP printers, that tries to eliminate the use of cheaper third-party Ink jet refills. I shall also examine the impact of cellphone manufacturers by eliminating the inexpensive earphone jack, and the removal’s effect on “offline” FM radio reception, which becomes useful during major power outages when the cell towers are not working. (Yes, I have had this happen during hurricane Dorian and Fiona on PEI) Later, I shall explain the privacy concerns of e-sim cards for your smartphone, compared to a physical sim card for data connections, and the cellphone’s lack of battery replacement.

Until next time, remember the old Latin phrase, “caveat emptor”, let the buyer beware.

by Rev. Martin Dawson (retired)