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How to buy a computer that's right for you

Updated on September 25, 2009

A new PC?

Inside a computer's disc drive. The disc itself has been removed and is on the right. It's normally mounted on the motor spindle - the silver circle in the centre of the circular depression in the drive.
Inside a computer's disc drive. The disc itself has been removed and is on the right. It's normally mounted on the motor spindle - the silver circle in the centre of the circular depression in the drive.

Where do you get the best computers in town?

The real answer to this is... there ain't no such thing!

To get the computer that's right for you, you need to decide what you want to do with it and then find a machine that will do what you want. You can get one that does it adequately or you can pay more and get one that does it superfast - but that's your choice. You can also opt for additional features that maybe you don't really need but think you might like, such as watching blu-ray videos :)

If you find trying to decide all this is too hard, go to your local independent computer store. Don't go to a big chain - they'll generally just sell you what they want to shift that week. Ar a local store you'll generally get good, honest advice. You'll pay a little more but if you get problems later, they'll fix them quickly and without fuss. The extra is worth paying because you'll get better advice and better service - and you'll have less hassle.

If you have particular needs, they'll build you a machine to order to do just what you want and set it up to work the way you want it. When you buy a machine from a big chain, it will arrive in boxes. You'll need to unpack everything and connect the various bits together. It's not that hard but some people do find it daunting. Some chain stores will unpack & install it for you for a charge and almost all independents will - but the latter will take a little more time over it and get you started. The big operator's engineer will leave as soon as he's seen everything powered on OK (don't blame him - it's what he's paid to do!). Usually, you have to go through the initial startup procedure yourself and you're then left staring at a new desktop with little idea of what to do next. More importantly, the default settings are wrong for most people (unless you get a Mac :). A local shop will deal with all that for you if you ask them and give them a few bits of information so they can set things correctly for you.

Alternatively, if you know exactly what you're doing and just want the best value PC, one of the big mail order companies may be just what you need - but still beware of the after-sales service if something should go wrong. Fair enough - you're paying a low price and you're getting what you paid for!

Some help with choosing and using a computer

Windows XP For Dummies
Windows XP For Dummies

Like almost all the books here, this is one of the "for Dummies" series. That's because, for this type of thing, they're pretty good.

 

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