Buying a Home Computer
Things to Consider:
What are you going to do with the computer?
Fortunately, many computer companies like Dell, Apple, or HP will gladly configure a system if you let them know how you plan to use it.
- High-end: If you or a family member are going to use it for computer-based video games, then you will need to buy a high-end computer.
- Middle: Do you plan to use the computer to work with digital images or digital video? If so, you may want a larger hard drive or card readers (for images).
- Low-end: On the other hand, if you are going to use the computer primarily for word processing and surfing the 'Net, then the inexpensive Walmart special will probably work for you.
What type of computer do you need?
Tablets such as the Apple iPad have become very popular and may be a suitable replacement for a home PC. You can now purchase an all-in-one computer which includes the monitor and computer in one unit. These also come with touch-screen capability. Windows 8 will let you take full advantage of your new touch screen capability and can be installed on your smart phone, tablet, laptop and PC.
- Computers may be better for those who do a lot of writing as well as high-end tasks such a video editing. The processor in a computer is generally faster and the computer likely has greater storage capacity. Tablets use touch screens so typing may be slower than on a computer with a regular keyboards. Some tablets offer keyboard accessories but that can be cumbersome and reduce the mobility of the tablet.
- Mobility - Tablets are light-weight, easy to use, and generally have a longer battery life than laptops.
- Check availability of the applications (software) that you need.
How much do you want to spend?
- The sky's the limit - but think about how you are spending your money. Getting a high-end computer to do basic computing is a waste of resources.
- Buy as much RAM as you can afford. This is one of the most important factors in the performance of your computer. You will want at least 4 GB, but increasing this can add additional years of happy computing.
Where are you going to purchase the computer?
- Companies such as Dell and Apple have representatives that are happy to help you configure the computer to meet your specific needs if you give them a call.
- Look for open-box buys for really good deals, but you need to check for missing components (look at inventory sheet) or visible damage.
- Virginia educators can purchase from the Virginia state contract. This may not save you money, but you may get a better computer. For example, the Optiplex from Dell that schools purchase are better computers than the Dimensions that are purchased for home use.
- Ed Saylor, Computer Resource Technician
Last Updated: July 27, 2012