Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hard drives, graphics & ports, oh my!

Deciding what kind of new computer to buy can be overwhelming. I know I want speed, ease of use and reliability. But there are so many kinds, so many options, so many ways to customize that even after making myself dizzy reading reviews and taking questionnaires about how I use a computer, I still don’t know what to buy.

Mac vs. PC? We’ve all seen the commercials slamming PCs and touting Macs. Many friends also rave about Macs, but I’ve been using one a couple of days a week and still don’t get what all the hoopla is about. And the way the programs zoom larger and smaller when you mouse over them makes me a little seasick.  One benefit is supposed to be fewer viruses, but I (knock wood) haven’t had any trouble with any of my PCs.

Desktop (all-in-one or tower), laptop or netbook? Laptops of any size just aren’t ergonomic enough IMO as a primary computer because the keyboard is too close to the monitor. They’re great for taking notes during interviews, working at a friend’s place or in a coffee shop.  But it’s hard to maintain good posture or proper arm and wrist position all day every day on a laptop.  Plus a bigger monitor is useful when working on more than one document at a time and when doing audio projects. The all-in-ones look cool, take up less space and have fewer cords. A touchscreen would be fun…
Memory and hard drives-how much is enough? GB, RAM, cores, speed, storage…enough acronyms and definitions to boggle the mind. Intel, AMD...sigh.

Brand: I’ve been a Dell fan. But bopping around review sites encourages me to at least consider HP, Asus, Sony and/or Lenovo.

Peripherals: The base price of many PCs seems quite reasonable. But then you start adding in all the other stuff you want…a larger monitor (I know I want one that's bigger than 19", which I currently have, but how big? Do I really need a TV tuner, too?), Microsoft Office. How important are better speakers? How will I know until I play music on the new PC? Is buying these items with my PC easier on the wallet? Maybe I should spend more time researching a la carte prices.  I should also check for any discounts, such as AAA.

Where to buy? Online at the manufacturer's site, Amazon or somewhere like  Some sites offer buying assistance via live chat.  Would an in-store purchase be easier?

Back to the drawing board...any suggestions?

eHow: How to Buy a Computer What Computer Should I Buy?

wikiHow: How to Buy a New Computer

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