Which computer should I buy?

It seems you’ve not long purchased the latest, most up-to-date piece of computer hardware before something better hits the shelves. The key is to pick the right computer for your needs and one which will last.

When shopping for a new computer, you have to shop smart. Easier said than done!

Budget is the first consideration for most computer buyers and this usually means purchasing a PC rather than a MAC. You have to decide whether a desktop PC or a laptop will better suit your needs. With the amount of wireless technology that is floating around, and the drop in price for many laptops over the last couple of years, the smart money is on a laptop. With a laptop, you have two choices. A netbook or a notebook. A netbook is a small, lightweight ‘mini’ laptop, the likes of which have enjoyed a rise in popularity. They are light, have excellent wireless technology are easy to carry and often cheaper than its big brother, the notebook. However, if you are not on the go often, then a notebook is probably the better buy.

There are three things to look out for when buying a laptop, of which the layman may not be aware. Firstly, perhaps obviously, ask what the computer’s wireless capability is. Secondly, ask what the battery life is. Most laptops manufacturers claim to have a superior battery life, but this is usually based on your notebook working on the lowest power. Choosing a laptop with a guaranteed long battery life is essential, as less charging also prolongs the life of the computer. Thirdly, ask how much room, or ‘gigabytes’ (GB) the hard drive has. Will you be storing lots of music, photographs and emails? Or just using your computer to surf the net? The price difference between a laptop/computer with a 200GB storage capacity and an 80GB storage capacity is astounding. If you know how much you need, and it’s not a lot, the opportunity is there to save some money.

Buying a desktop PC is still a good idea, and is considerably cheaper than a laptop. If you have no need for portability and wireless technology, then there are plenty of good desktop computers out there. However, PC’s are large and take up a lot of space. Also, most of the money invested in technology these days has gone into developing notebooks, wireless technologies and smart phones, meaning that the desktop PC is thought to be slightly antiquated, with not too much focus on developing new technology.

Setting up a wireless network at home gives you the freedom to roam around and surf the internet whenever and wherever you please. It also enables more than one user to connect to the internet at the same time. Buying a wireless router for your broadband modem is relatively cheap and by following the instructions, can be set up relatively quickly.

When buying a new computer, you will have to buy an operating system, most likely Windows. And I do hear you when you ask …”what is wrong with my windows 95? I’ve grown to love ‘clippit’ and his slightly useless help”. For years, we were impressed with the notion of a talking paper clip but sadly, technology has moved on. These days, most users run Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7. Anything older can cause problems when you wish to share files. Files created with newer software can be difficult to open; many users will have at some point received a file in “docx.” format, which can only be read by Windows 2007 and above. If you can afford it, go for Windows 7, as Microsoft seems to have ironed out the problems of Vista.

If some people live by the ‘fool me once’ principle, and have already had their fingers burnt by Microsoft, and are somewhat computer literate, then perhaps purchasing an Apple Mac would be the best suggestion. Whether purchasing a ‘Macbook’ (netbook) a ‘Macbook Pro’ (notebook) or the incredibly well designed iMac, which has a computer built into a 21 inch screen, Macs are the boutique computer on the market today. While Macs are more expensive than some PCs and laptops, Apple doesn’t update their software as often as Microsoft, saving you an expense in the long run. Add to the equation that Macs never get a virus…ever, ensure that your purchase will be for the future.

Unfortunately, when it comes down to it, the old saying ‘if a deal seems too good to be true…’ is most applicable when buying a new computer. Most cheap deals are so because the software is already out of date and the warehouse guy wants them clear before Friday. Longevity is essential in the technological world, and if you have some nous, you won’t have to pay too much. Making the correct purchase, even if it costs a little more initially, could save you hundreds on repairs and updating software in one or two years.

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