The choice of computer types and styles has exploded in recent years, making buying a new computer a completely different experience than it was even ten years ago. There are many things to consider as you research computers to find one you want at a reasonable price.
It’s no surprise then if you’re confused about what to look for in a new computer and you’re certainly not alone. Many of us are in that self-same boat. Let’s face it, technology changes so fast, it’s hard to keep up. What’s state-of-the-art today becomes old news so quickly it can be frustratingly hard to keep up.
In the end, all you really need to know is – will the computer you pick do everything you need it to do? Here’s a simple plan to help you choose a computer that fits your needs
Learning Computer Speak
In order to help you understand what you read or hear from a computer sales person, here’s a glossary of terms you’re likely to encounter when shopping for a new computer. It’s the same whether you’re buying a PC or a Mac.
- A Router is a small box that allows several computers to join the same network. Besides wired connections, most modern routers offer wireless connectivity as well.
- The Processor is the brain of a computer, also referred to as the CPU. Processor speed is measured in gigahertz (GHZ.) The larger the number of GHZ, the faster the computer will be.
- The RAM or Random Access Memory, is what your computer uses to store information. Again, the higher the number, the more memory your computer will have.
- The Optical Drive is the device that can read and write CDs and DVDs.
- A Wireless Network Card is able to access the Internet without the computer being physically connected to a router. They are rated by their speed. A computer store expert can advise you on the speed you’ll need for your purposes.
- An Ethernet Port is standard on all computers. It allows your computer to connect to the Internet by physically plugging it into your router.
- The Operating System is the software that makes your computer go.
- The Hard Drive is where all files, whether music, movies or word documents, will be stored. Hard drives are rated by size and speed. A computer salesperson can help you decide how much storage you should have for your needs.
- A Video Card enables you to see what you’re doing on your monitor. Different video cards allow you to do different things, such as use multiple monitors or watch HD movies on your computer.
New or Used
Whether you want a new or a refurbished computer depends a lot on your price range. You can save a lot of money by buying something that’s a year or so old. Naturally, a brand-new computer with a warranty will cost more.
Features You Need
Decide what features and abilities are most important to you. Things to think about include:
- Do you want a laptop or desktop model?
- What software do you need the computer to run?
- Are there peripherals, such as a modem or printer you need to be able to connect to the computer?
- Compatibility with software or hardware you already have.
- Your budget.
Portable Vs. Powerful
You will need to decide whether you want a desktop or a laptop. You can also get a hybrid PC.
Today’s laptops are small, lightweight and portable and offer a variety of characteristics that will suit almost any need. Many laptops now feature detachable, convertible screens that can double as tablets.
For a more powerful system, a typical desktop is designed with more core processors and hard drives and lets you add extra devices, if needed. You can connect a desktop computer to one or more large screens, which offers greater flexibility for looking at data, files and videos.
Standard laptops and desktop machines, which are a lot cheaper than they used to be, are also still available. But these, too, start to get expensive if you opt for advanced features like touchscreens, built-in cameras, fingerprint readers and even facial recognition login software. Some of these extra features may be unnecessary. For example, a touchscreen isn’t very useful on a desktop monitor.
These days it’s not unusual for homes to contain more than one computer or types of computers. Laptops are convenient devices for students and executives who are always on the move. A desktop computer is often chosen to play games or pay bills on.
A reputable computer retailer will take the time to help you understand the features and functions of each of the different computers you’re considering so you can make the best choice for your particular needs.