Lost at Sea

Sound shopping advice can be hard to find against the cacophony created by today’s adds and other brand-oriented propaganda. With so many commercials saying that their brand is the best buy, one wonders where to begin. When shopping for a new computer, there are always a few key points that ought to be given attention.

1. Price
2. Quality
3. Power
4. Ease of use
5. Practicality
6. Worth

Some of these may be easier to identify than others. Hopefully this article will help to narrow options down for you.

The first question you need to ask yourself is “is price an issue?”. That will narrow things down considerably in all directions.

There are two main competing operating systems available on the market today: Windows and Macintosh. Mac computers are powerful machines, high in quality and reliability,  and packed with high end photo/video/audio editing capabilities. However, they are otherwise every bit as capable as a Windows machine. Windows is a practical operating system made for a little bit of everything. Unlike a Mac, Windows PCs are greatly varied in capability and provide pricing options accordingly. Macs tend to run on the high end of the price market regardless of capability.

Both Macs and Windows machines have the ability to be easy to use, however Macs tend to run on the intuitive side while Windows machines require a little more reading to understand.

If you know that you want a Mac, the best price reduction option for you may be to buy used or order from the Apple Store – which will include a new warranty. This is a rather unattractive option to many users, however, it can save remarkable amounts of money.

When shopping for a Windows computer, there are more ways to cut costs without cutting quality, one of which is actually looking at a discount/wholesale outlet. The prices at places like Costco and Sam’s Club often put other suppliers to shame. Next to that, you should pay close attention to exactly what you are paying for.

Computers today have a tendency to come with things that users will never use or need. This is where worth comes in. Sixteen gigabytes of ram, for instance, is completely superfluous. RAM (random access memory) is used by the computer to save the data of the applications you currently have open for quick access. A combination of applications that could require such a volume of RAM would be almost impossible to find within the realm of ordinary computing. Four or eight gigabytes is typically a reasonable amount that should provide a fairly seamless experience with any operating system and program it may encounter.

Processors, on the other hand, are the driving force behind your computer and will in many ways dictate the speed with which your computer carries out its processes and the level at which your computer functions as a whole. A good processor is often worth paying the difference for. Intel offers some cutting edge, multi-core processors starting with the I3 at reasonable prices that integrate well into the system’s mechanics.

The last technical aspect worthy of note is hard drive size. Most people have an idea of the size of hard drive they will require, but if you don’t, I would recommend that you take a look at your current hard drive (if applicable) and gauge from there the approximate size that you desire. An extra large hard drive often has the ability to drive the price up dramatically.

Getting back to the issue of practicality, the software package that comes with your computer is not only worth looking into, but it is something that should be given ample attention. The software provided with your computer is what gives your computer the ability to carry out those complex tasks that you are paying for it to be able to do. You can buy software independently, however the software that comes included will be packaged in with a greatly reduced price. Microsoft Office is an indispensable tool that is not always included as a part of the setup. Buying it independently could cost hundreds extra and not purchasing it could cripple the practicality of your machine. You should be careful to factor this into your buying process and final decision.

Lastly, a final touch on quality is in order. Many users find a computer for an incredible price with the same hardware capabilities of a much higher priced machine. This often comes at the cost of quality. A close friend of mine made the mistake of buying such a machine and has suffered for years with monitor problems, rendering his computer half useless. A wise decision upon the the discovery of such a deal is to wait, go home, and look up reviews from several trusted sites like Newegg, CNET, or PCMag. A little research can make or break your buying experience.

Good luck out there!

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