Practical Suggestions for Choosing a Computer

Advice Based on Experience

There are any number of articles you can check that will give you the rundown on specific computers, listing all their features and capacities. This isn't one of those articles. Here is some advice based on personal, practical experience concerning how to go about looking for your computer.

First of all, you need to decide if you are going to spring for an Apple or a PC computer system. Apple computers are wonderful for artists and for those who need their systems to be very user friendly. I've found my iBook clamshell laptop to be very durable. It is over eight years old at this point and is faithfully taking all my seminary notes and allowing me to write all my papers with efficiency. It is way behind the curve in capacity and new features, but it does what I need done. However, my desktop model is a PC and is also quite a durable machine, used by several members of my family, and is over six years old. Needless to say, I'm not going to be giving you advice on the most recent aps and features. But here are a few things to consider in choosing Apple or PC. Apple computers are made in significantly lower numbers and are therefore more expensive. With limited distribution, there are also fewer stores that carry components necessary to support Apple computers. This is less of an issue than it was in the past as there is online access to such components. However, there are also fewer computer programs for Apple computers as fewer programmers write for Apple's Mac computers given their more limited distribution. If you have children in public school, a PC is a better choice. Public school systems are now providing books on disc and these tend to be PC programs.

Now, do you want a desktop model or a laptop? There is now less need for a desktop as laptops these days have all the same features and significantly larger storage capacity than they had in the recent past. There are really two questions to consider: 1. how and where are you going to be using this machine and 2. who is going to be using this computer? If you need your computer for work, school, or field research, you need a portable laptop or one of the new miniature network devices, netbooks. If you are going to be using the computer at home, a desktop model may fit your needs. Who is going to be using the computer will also help determine what type of computer to buy. If you are the only person using the machine, a laptop or a small netbook suit your needs well. If you have multiple family members who need to use the computer, you will want the more durable desktop system. With a desktop computer, if the various family members with wildly different typing methods wear out the keyboard, it is simplicity itself to swap out the old keyboard with a new replacement. If the laptop or network mini's keyboard wears out, you have a much bigger problem. Desktop computers also still tend to have the largest storage capacity. If you are going to be storing large numbers of digital photos and music, and large numbers of complex programs, the desktop model may better meet your needs.

Once you've decided on the type of computer you wish to purchase, you need to attend to the features. Modern computers have wireless connections. Many laptops now feature built in webcams. The features you decide you need for your work, play, and access will help to determine the price of your computer. If you absolutely have to have the most recent, cutting edge features you will have to expect to pay top dollar for them. If you can live with a strong stable of features, but don't need the very most recent bells and whistles, you can get a very good PC machine for well under $1000 anywhere. You should do some research into what is available today and which features are actually useful to you and which are largely window dressing ... or "Windows dressing" perhaps.

In the 1700s, aristocratic hunters dictated the advancements made in hunting rifles. In modern times, gamers have dictated many of the advancements in computing power and capacity. Before you buy, head over to the computer games. Take a look at the systems requirements for the most recent games. Make sure the system you are about to buy has enough memory (RAM) to support these new games. By doing so, you'll ensure the computer you are purchasing will be able to handle the programs you need for at least several years to come. It is well worth making this check, as it will extend the life of your machine by staving off obsolescence.

When our son graduated from high school last year, we purchased a laptop for him as his graduation present. We did not understand at the time all this machine would be capable of when we purchased it. My intent was to get him a machine that would allow him to efficiently take notes, conduct research, and write papers. I discovered this one machine also gave him a complete entertainment system as well. This single device provided access to television programming, took the place of a stereo system, and gave him complete access to the broad expanse of the web (okay, I was aware of the last as I knew he'd be able to conduct online research with this laptop). It is truly remarkable what computers are capable of today.

Best of luck to you in your search and your purchase of a personal computer. Oh yes, one final word of advice. During the hunt you will have become accustomed to checking all the ads and all the models available regularly. Once your purchase is complete, whether Apple's Mac or any PC, laptop, netbook, or desktop, immediately stop looking at all the ads. If you don't, you will soon be frustrated by the advances in computer technology that occur mere months after your purchase. Instead spend your time exploring and enjoying all the abilities your new computer has placed at your fingertips.

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