Your Computer Needs for Over 15 Years
|Some Tips for Selecting a Computer that meets YOUR
FIRST Determine Your
Budget & What You Want A Computer to Do for You
are like most other technologically advanced products theres ALWAYS a
bigger-faster-better-usually cheaper whatever on the horizon. Before you get immersed to
your eyeballs with hardware specifications, put some thought into what you will be using
the computer for
Do you just want something to write letters, play a few games and
email your family with? Do you need a computer that will generate graphics such as
business cards or pamphlets? Or do you need to perform more complicated CAD (Computer
Aided Design) or video editing work? In computers, as all tangible goods, by and large you
get what you pay for. So determine what your budget is FIRST, and then buy the most
technology you can to that limit.
Learn A Little
Computer-ese or Find a Translator!
I know, I
know…you don’t want to have to become a computer expert in order to buy one.
But computers are like any major financial investment: whatever you can do
to inform yourself is to your advantage. Knowing a gigabyte from a megahertz
can be of tremendous help in wading through the maze of features different
systems offer. There’s a wealth of information out there now for the
computer novice. You can look for magazine articles, newspaper features, and
don’t overlook the books and videos geared toward computers. In addition,
many community colleges, libraries and community education departments will
offer beginning computer courses for even the most inexperienced of computer
users. If you don’t know that kind of thing and don’t want to learn,
consider hauling someone along who DOES to help you wade through the tough
you solicit opinions from others that what they tell you will be based on
their particular experiences and biases, and the less you know the more
dependent you will be on their take on things. At some level, computer
preference can be a lot like whether you’re a ‘Chevy’ or a ‘Ford’ truck
person. That being said, it can still be useful to find out what the
experiences have been of those you trust, especially if their situation at
the time they became computer owners is similar to yours. Although the
information you will get may usually be subjective, there is also the
possibility that you can gain from their experience and avoid at least some
of the pitfalls buying a computer can present.
Check Out the
Company Making Your Computer
One of the
best ways to select your computer source is to be referred to the company by
other satisfied customers. If you are not fortunate enough to have this sort
of connection, then a little detective work is to your advantage. Computer
companies come and go at a furious pace, so find out how long they have been
in business (anything less than 5 years can be risky) and anything else you
can about the sales and service they provide. Comparison shop not just by
dollars and cents, but in terms of over-all value; i.e., how convenient are
they to get to, what does the warranty cover, how long would repairs take,
are the staff knowledgeable and courteous, and the like.
Find Out About What
Happens AFTER You Buy In
keeping with checking the company out, think about what your needs AFTER the hardware sale
are going to be. Most companies offer a standard 1 year for hardware only and will (either
directly or indirectly) charge you for on-site or extended warranty work. If you (or
someone who you have free access to) are comfortable with the basics of setting up and
maintaining computer software and peripherals, you can look for the best deal anywhere you
find it: that would include direct mail and the internet as well as local sources. But in
deciding whether you are superstore or mom n pop material, consider what you dont
know about computers. If youre fuzzy on exactly what the difference is between
hardware and software, youre probably going to need more training and support than
the average 800 number can provide. Think of your computer the way you would your car:
Computers have the equivalent to oil, brake jobs, roadside emergencies
are you going
to feel comfortable handling that yourself or do you feel you would need a more hands-on
approach? And remember that software and peripheral management are not
included on any computer warranty. Youre either going to have handle that yourself
or find someone else to do it, usually to the tune of $50 and up an hour.
& Features Remember that just because its a
computer doesnt mean its a well-made computer. While prices on
computers and other technology do certainly continue to drop over time, the old adage of
If it seems to good to be true
definitely applies. Theres a huge
range in price and quality of the hardware used to assemble a computer system, so
heres another area where you need to either acquaint yourself with things like the
brand names of good hardware components or consult with someone you trust. If youre
not comfortable and knowledgeable enough to go it alone, make sure to enlist assistance in
your comparison shopping.
About Software & Peripherals Many people who have never
been personally responsible for computer purchases or equipment are shocked to find out
the amount of time, effort and money that computer software and peripherals can take.
While we are getting closer to the point that an end-user can just plug stuff in and go,
by and large the computer learning curve is steepest in this area. Loading and using new
software programs can be very time consuming if youre not familiar with the turf.
And while such technologically advanced notions as video conferencing, scanning or
printing your own letterhead can be appealing, setting up those peripherals and
trouble-shooting once installed is again either going to have to be done by you or someone
you pay to do it. Dont forget to budget for these things as well.
Enjoy and Explore! If
youre willing to bite the technological bullet and educate yourself about your
computer investment, you will probably be tremendously pleased at what you can learn to
do. Gone are the days when only computer nerds could figure out how to design a web page,
create a form or generate a business card. Now you can do it too! With the advent of
Windows 95 and 98, there has never been a better time for a new-comer to
explore the bounds of creativity, efficiency and learning that are at your disposal in the
office, the home and the worldwide web through your computer. Enjoy!
Deb Hunter, World Computer
Addendum 2006: It's just
amazing that as technology zips forward all around us, the basic advice
offered above is the same today as it was in 1998!
With a number of years of
Windows XP behind us and new operating systems on the horizon, we now have
even more options for connecting to the outside world and each other for
education, fun and work efficiency.
World Computer is still busy making sure that our customers have a quality
option when considering their computer needs, and have expanded our services
to include in-home training to respond to the increasing need of individual