Tips on Buying a new computer (This is a good read... I'd recommend it before buying a new computer..)
There are so many computer options nowadays; it's almost like buying a car. You really need to figure out what you use it for.
(Fuel economy? Do I go Off-road? Do I tow things? Leather interior? How many passengers can I carry? Etc……)
It's all personal preference, and different for each person. That’s why some companies custom build them, where you “build” them online by selecting what you want in it. Plus, remember, you always “get what you pay for”.
Here are some things to have, and consider:
· #1 Laptop, or Desktop. Which kind should I get? You get more bang for your buck with a desktop. You pay extra for a laptop being compact. But the portability of a laptop is way worth it sometimes, but you sacrifice a few things, like speed and upgradeability. I went to a laptop because there are a lot of models out there that are VERY good “desktop replacements”, meaning they are packed with features that a desktop would normally have. If you go with a laptop, get a goooood battery (maybe two!). Take into consideration the weight of the laptop too. A 17” screen laptop is a monster if you plan on carrying it around a lot. If it's going to sit in one place "most" of the time, consider a "port replicator" or also known as a “Docking Station” for the desk, so you don't have to unplug a million things when you want to go use it on the couch. (Usually around $45- $250 depending on the features). They usually have one big plug somewhere that everything connects to. There are after market ones that plug into a USB port, and ones that are made for your model laptop from the same company. The later type is recommended if it’s available for your model. (Make sure that it’s compatible!) Note: When looking for a computer, make sure you realize “new” from “refurbished”. Refurbished computers are usually cheaper and sometimes with the same warranty as a new, but have already been in customers hands, and possibly returned for a problem of some type that the company claims they have “fixed”. It may have just been the wrong one, and returned unused so you never know. I was given a refurbished at work, and it was a great machine, so...... you choose!
· #2 Monitor / screen size. Note: if you’re getting a new desktop, and are happy with your current monitor, you CAN use your old one to save you money. (you may need an adaptor, most common is a VGA to DVI or HDMI) If you are getting a new computer, it will most likely come with Windows 10. A monitor that is also a touchscreen will work a lot better with this operating system. What size to get? That's just how much you want to put into it, and how good your sight is. For people with 'bad' eyesight I'd recommend a bigger one. (24” or higher) Especially if you plan on using it to watch movies on. (Netflix, HuLu, Apple TV, etc...) If you've got the funds, dual monitors are becoming very popular. You can drag the mouse from one right over to the other. It makes your "desktop" area so much bigger and useful! Once you have two screens, you'll never go back to one. (Just ask me, I have three!!) Another thing to consider is “Standard” or “Widescreen”. Again, it’s personal preference, but if movies are in your computing future, Widescreen’s the way to go. A lot of TV's can take an HDMI input, so you can use your "TV" as a monitor to if it's in a good spot for this type of use.
· #3 Memory. Get at LEAST 16 gig of ram. Anything less, and you're wasting your time. Any more then 6 gigs is a little overkill unless you're doing some heavy video / photo editing or plan on running virtual Operating Systems (two at one time)...
· #4 Video Card. Don’t worry too much about this option unless you’re a gamer, or doing some heavy graphics editing. For the simple “surfing / email / word processing” this isn’t going to make too much of a difference for you. If you’re a gamer, you’ll most likely know what video card you’ll want to get. If you want to run dual monitors, you’ll need to make sure your video card will support them. (They should know that if you say you want dual monitors…)
· #5 CPU speed. Get what you can afford. You don't want to be itching to upgrade after just a year. The new Intel i7 is actually 4 CPU's in one, and is great when you've got multiple programs running. (burning, scanning, watching, etc…) Go to Intel to see what’s available. The majority of the options are i7, i5, and i3, http://www.intel.com/products/processor/
· #6 Hard drive. Unless you have a huge movie/picture/music collection, the normal size should be fine. If multiple family members are going to use this computer, then you might want more space for each person’s profile, so think about that, but just for Internet / email / word processing, a 320-750 GB should do fine. Nowadays, they don’t come smaller then that. 320-750 GB “smaller” vs. 1TB - 5TB “Bigger”. (GB is "Gigabyte" and TB is Terabyte ( 1,o24 GB's)
· #7 CD/DVD Burner. These are starting to become "legacy" devices because so much is online nowadays. If you REALLY need one for some reason, they still make them. You can also get an external drive that connects to a USB port.
· #8 Operating system. Most everything now is Windows 10. You really can't get anything else unless you install an alternative after you purchase it. Like open source Operating systems like Ubuntu. Windows 10 is a great happy medium of windows 7 and 8 features. it's designed for the touchscreen interface if you want, but will work just fine as a desktop computer. Microsoft is supposed to just keep upgrading windows 10. (sort of like a chromebook does...)
· #9 Printer/ Scanner. Sometimes, they throw in a cheap printer with a computer purchase. (You REALY pay for the ink later....) If you're in the market for one, get an All-in-One that prints good pictures. You'll never go to a Wal-Mart photo shop again. A lot come with the card readers built right in, and can even view your pictures right on a little color screen. (Note: using this type of printer will automatically give your computer a “card reader” slot. Remember that!) A lot of printers nowadays are wireless. If you have any iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad, you'll want to make sure you get one that is air print compatible. Most are nowadays. This will make it very easy to print from your iPhone or iPad wirelessly.
· #10 Mouse / Keyboard. I find it's always good to upgrade these from the basic, because when you think about it, it's WHAT YOU USE all the time. Cordless works great, batteries last a long time, and some are rechargeable. “Combos” (KB and Mouse) are either Wireless (FM) or Blue Tooth. If you get a Bluetooth set, make SURE your computer has a Bluetooth receiver built in. If not, you may have to use the little USB Bluetooth receiver in order to make it work. (sometimes comes with a Bluetooth device.) for more information on what Bluetooth is, go here: http://www.howstuffworks.com/bluetooth.htm Also note the mouse pad. Some are not “optical friendly” and make the mouse jump around a bit. Use one that works. Hey, even just the counter top may work better! If you mouse jumps or jerks, try different surfaces.
· #11 (This may be the most important). BACKUP!!!! A very affordable way to backup your data is with an external hard drive. They're very cheap nowadays and well worth it when your computer goes down. (Many times without warning!!) I know a few people who have lost A LOT just because they never thought about having a copy of important things. (You can't replace those precious baby pictures!!!) Note: there are a few "online" services that do this too, so if money is an issue, defiantly look into that option. One that's free that works great is www.veeam.com (Google “free online storage” is a great place to store files)
If you have a MAC, make sure you take advantage of the built in feature called "Time Machine". This will restore your WHOLE mac in the event of a failure. Also can be used when you want to "replace" your hard drive with a larger model.
A good free backup program is called “Syncback” made by www.2brightsparks.com . I use it all the time, and it’s very customizable. A lot of people are starting to use the "Cloud" to store files. The biggest one is Google Drive. You store your files online, and can also download the "Goolge Drive" app to have a local (syncing) copy on your computer. Best thing is that it offers 15GB of room free. If you purchase a Chromebook, you can get an extra 100GB FREE for a full year. Now you can really store some files!
· #12 Speakers. A lot of computers come with either speakers in the monitor, or little ones that you put on each side of the monitor. Consider this when buying….. What are you going to be listening to? A lot of music? TV? You might want to get a simple “speaker upgrade” that includes a sub-woofer. It’s not that much more, and sounds sooooo much better. If you’re into gaming, or good quality TV, consider a 5.1 (or 7.1) surround package. (5 or 7 speakers and Sub) This setup puts speakers behind you for excellent effects. You can get a good set for under $80. (Unless you want to go with a set of Bose! $$)
· #13 Internet Connection. If price is an issue, go with something like Verizon DSL if it’s available in your area. Comcast Cable internet is the fastest home connection I’ve seen at around $50 a month extra. If you have a big family, trust me, get it. A lot of people think their computer is sloooooow, and in all reality, it’s not, if the “web” is slow. It’s the speed of your internet connection, not the computer. Want to test your connection? Go here: http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/ Pick the “new York” server, that’s the closest one to us. If you’re getting 100 mbps-200 mbps download speed, and 5 mbps - 10 mbps upload speed, you’re average for a basic cable connection. If not, find out from you’re provider what you’re supposed to be getting. You may have a problem.
· #14 Warranties. Most computers come with a 1 year warranty, and offer extended warranties at a sometimes hefty price. Some credit cards can also extend your warranty if you purchase the computer on them. Something to consider. If you don’t want to do any repairs yourself, look into the “onsite” warranty, but you’ll pay some extra $ for it. A sense of protection is a good feeling, but costs you. For a Laptop, it might be good to get it because it’s more prone to damage (like dropping it.) If it’s for your kids, or you move it a lot, they do have ADP (Accidental Damage Protection) in where they’d replace it even if you ran it over with the car. But that does add to the cost. Also for protection, consider getting a “keyboard Skin” for it for spill accidents. It also helps with accidentally pulling up keys on laptops. Average cost is about $20-30.