Friday, November 25, 2011

Tips When Shopping for a New Computer - Part 5 of PC Buyers Guide

Ask the retailer you’re buying the computer from if there are any manufacturer rebates available.

Consider a custom built computer
This is the best way to get the most BANG for your buck. Having a computer custom built to your specific needs means the components are interchangeable and therefore cheaper to replace or upgrade. Many manufacturer’s limit the options to upgrade and require you to replace failed parts with their costly replacement parts. Custom built machines allow you to upgrade or replace parts at a much lower cost.

Shop at the right time
Pre fall, the holidays and midsummer (July) are good times to shop. New models are introduced and promotions to move inventory mean you can find great deals. If a computer you like isn't on sale, ask for a better price.

Test drive
Especially when buying a laptop. Punch the keys, navigate different programs and test web surfing. Make sure the touchpad is large enough to allow your finger to cover the span of the screen with one swipe. Test the weight buy carrying the laptop around for a few minutes and make sure it fits in your existing or new case.

Ask a lot of questions
The only dumb question is one that isn’t asked, so don’t hesitate to ask questions. Some good ones are:
·         What is your return policy?
·         Does the price include any office programs like Word,  Excel, Power Point, etc?
·         Do you offer any free technical support?

Ask about recycling discounts
Some retailers will offer a small discount if you give them your old computer to recycle.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Are Extended Warranties and Service Plans for Computers Necessary - Part 4 of PC Guide

Part 4 of our computer guide covers extended warranties (service plans) and whether it's a good idea to buy it or say "no thanks". did it! You've found a great computer at a great price and the stock boy is bringing your computer to the check out. But just as you approach the check out... the salesperson goes into their pitch on the benefits of insurance and why you should buy their extended warranty.

But is the extended warranty (service plan) worth the extra money? It depends on how you look at it and your past experience with them.  Extended warranties are the same as insurance policies, you may need it or you may not.  But why are retailers so insistent you buy them? The truth is simple....They make an enormous profit on them.

Essential Software for a New Computer - Part 3 of PC Buying Guide

Part 3 of our computer guide covers software and the essential software you'll want to have installed.
There's a multitude of options to choose from but the core software you'll most likely use on a daily basis consist of:
  • The operating system
  • Office/school productivity software
  • Virus & spyware programs
  • Maintenance utilities
  • Web browsers

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Part 2 of PC Buyers Guide - Selecting the Right Hardware

Part 2 of our computer guide covers the internal hardware components and what you should look for when buying a new computer. Quality components play a key role in the performance and life span of a computer, so knowing what to look for will help you avoid problems with your computer in the future.

Throughout this guide I’ll be referring to computer users in two groups:

Average user: Surfs the internet, sends & receives email, downloads & prints photos, creates, views and edits documents, occasionally watches video online.

Advanced user: Works with multiple programs open simultaneously, frequently watches online video, uses video and photo editing software, occasionally plays video games.

Now let's look at the internal components and some minimum requirements

1) Processor
Often called CPU (central processing unit), is the “brains” of the computer and processes information. Performance is determined primarily by the number of cores it has and its clock speed.
Minimum requirements
Average user:
  • Any dual core
  • 2 GHz clock speed

Advanced user:
  • High end dual core or better
  • 3GHz clock speed or higher

2) Memory (RAM)
RAM temporarily stores data while the computer is running. The more memory a computer has the faster it can access files and programs... up to a point.
Minimum requirements
Average user:
  • 4GB (gigabytes)

Advanced user:
  • 6GB or more

3) Operating system
You have several versions Windows 7 to choose from and each has its own hardware requirements. Whether you’re an average or advanced user, we generally recommend the Home Premium version of Windows 7. If your computer will be used for business we recommend Windows 7 Professional.

4) Video outputs
VGA (analog) is fine for most users, but if you watch a lot of video or have a large monitor, a DVI or HDMI will give you better quality and much crisper images. You may need to purchase the DVI or HDMI cable separately.

5) Hard drive
The hard drive stores your programs, documents, music, photos, and videos. Hard drive’s measure in gigabytes(GB) and commonly range from 250GB to 2TB (terabyte).
Minimum Requirements
We recommend no less than 500GB. If you download a lot of music, photos or videos, opt for 1TB hard drive

6) Monitor/Display
Purely a personal choice. Go with a larger screen if you plan on watching movies.
Allow you to connect external devices and cable to your computer.
Minimum number of ports
Average user:
  • 1 Ethernet port
  • 3 Front USB ports
  • 2 Rear USB ports
  • 1 S-Video or HDMI port

Advanced user:
  • 1 Ethernet port
  • 3 Front USB ports
  • 2 Rear USB ports
  • 2 or more HDMI ports
  • 1 eSATA port

The hardware requirements listed above and your requirements may vary, so remember to carefully evaluate your needs before choosing your hardware options.

Next up in part 3 we’ll discuss the best options for programs/software to install on your computer!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Guide To Buying A Computer (Part 1 of 5): Types of Computers

Welcome to part 1 of our 5 part guide on buying a new computer. The holidays are fast approaching and with computers being a hot gift, I thought it necessary to put a little something together to give you the information necessary to make an intelligent computer purchase, ask the right questions and maximize the money you plan to spend. 

We’ve broken the guide into 5 parts:

Part 1 - The Different Types of Computer
Part 2 - Hardware Options
Part 3 - Software Options
Part 4 - Warranties
Part 5 - Shopping Tips

Part 1- Types of Computers

The choices seem endless when buying a new computer. Desktop vs. laptop vs. netbook, hard drive space and brand are a few of the factors people consider when they need a new PC. It all comes down to how you’re going to use the computer. Desktops aren’t mobile but allow for future upgrades to increase performance and capacity. Meanwhile, laptops are made to travel with some offering features and capabilities that compare with desktops. The three types of computers to consider are as follows: