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Many things to consider when buying a new computer. First and foremost, does it need to be portable? Shopping for a laptop is totally different than shopping for a desktop. With technology moving as it does, you now have to consider whether you can do with a tablet or notepad. Even a good cell phone may have all the functions you need from a computer.
If you aren't sure if you need a portable option or not, consider what you want to do with your new technology. Sometimes the fastest and newest isn't what you really need. If you can determine your needs you can figure out what you can get away with; to buy just a little bit better so you can expand your new technology in the future if you need to, or have it already that little bit faster so you can move with your needs without having to pay for upgrades.
Let's take a look at basic functions: home, business, pleasure, and research. Usually for home, business and research, you may need to be able to print. That narrows down many of the portable options available today. For example, an tablet is a powerful machine but you might not be able to print from it. If you need the option to print, then you might need a desktop or laptop. If you want a machine for pleasure, then printing may not be an issue and you have to determine the type of pleasure you want.
Music, games, social activities, general internet and communication can all be acquired from a notepad or notebook, at which point an Ipad or tablet may be the perfect choice. My only concern with these machines is you pay for the applications and for their use. If you are trying to buy within your means having an additional monthly expense may not be in the budget.
To be honest, my experience with the new technology coming out is very limited. I am doing more research as well, and I am holding off. My old laptop really does everything I want technology wise with the exception of video chats. My laptop was made before they had a built in camcorder. I know with the research I have done, I want a piece of technology that can print. That knocks out the Ipad 2 until one is made with a USB port for external devices.
There are already similar devices to the Ipad that have USB so it will probably happen with the Ipad 3. I want WiFi capability so I can get on the internet just about any where. Whatever devise I get must support Skype or Vontage and have built in video capability.
So you see, you need to put a lot of research into what you really need to determine what you really want. Then purchasing it may be as simple as an AD search on Craigslist or bidding on Ebay. Which, by the way, is a viable means to an end. My last laptop I purchased bidding on Ebay. I still use it to this day and I have had it for over 6 years. Other than no built in video, it still meets my needs. What would meet your needs? You may find it liquidated at BestBuy or Office Depot.
By Suntydt from Tazewell, TN
Suntydt, you've just made me feel better about having the same computer for five years. Thanks. JPJ
When you hand over your computer to a repair service, do you realize that once they get your computer to function, EVERY bit of personal (and possibly financial) information is at their disposal.
My advice is to find a local repair person that you feel you can trust; not hand it over to a company that will send it to their repair center. Who is working on it, and will they invade your privacy? At least if you deal with an individual, you have a better chance of not being invaded. If so, at least you have a 'starting source'.
By cajun62234 from Collinsville
I would also like to pitch learning how to do repairs yourself. There are many websites that offer free advice on how to do this. It is not rocket science! My son does all my computer repairs and he has taught me a lot. One basic thing is preventive: don't click on any links that pop up, such as for antivirus software updates! That is a no-no and a clever way to access your computer. Get to know which sites are legit. Get computer for dummies or free library sponsored classes. I agree that any computer repair company/person or anybody with access to your computer can steal or substitute inferior parts and if you don't know about your computer, you will be blissfully unaware.
If you have been on the web for years, do not listen to anybody who tells you to update or to upgrade your old computer.
Source: Go to the Firefox web site and read the information there. http://www.firefox.net
For inexpensive computer parts post a free ad in Craigslist or search your local ads. I see people posting want ads for used computers all the time.
Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
My son has recently started a computer class at school and has asked for a home computer. How and where do you suggest I research the best computer for my money?
If your son will be using it, then I would recommend the largest hard drive you can afford and the most memory you can afford as kids like to keep their music ect on the computer.
You can get a very nice machine for 300-500.00 that will have what you need on it.
Also consider these things:
1.For digital photography and video-a good nvidia based graphics card, firewire port, and built in card readers a re very nice to have
2.If your son is using windows at school, then I would go with a windows xp system. If you want to run Linux, you can still do so on a windows pc.
3.A cd or dvd burner is a plus for sending photos to grandma, backing up data, ect
4.I am also partial to AMD Athlon processors
Shops I recommend:
I usually just order a system with what I want in it as opposed to buying a "Dell" for example, I might buy a machine where some of the parts are made by Dell, and some by other companies. Currently I own an AMD system with 2 hard drives and 512 ddr memory. Your hard drive speed is important for graphics, video, sound, ect-7200 rpm is good.
From time to time, Walmart has some great deals on some wonderful systems. And they have layaway, which is nice too.
I teach a digital photography class for kids and approve the tech purchases.
I forgot to ask! How old is your son>and also, what types of things do you think you will use your computer for?
Looking ahead at the possibilities often helps when computer shopping. You may end up doing things on the computer you never thought about! My son has recently gotten into doing digital music and I am sooo glad I have the machine I have, lol. I work on my computer everyday and doing photography, it helps to have those built in card readers, though it isn't necessary,lol.
I hope this has been at least a little helpful.
I would suggest buying a custom dell. They are great. I recently bought one with 2 gigs ram for 300 dollars.
My son-in-law is in pc works. He compared dell versus gateway-gateway won hands down. Needless to say I will always have a gateway. The best.
You want the best computer for the money get a Apple.
I have to agree with Alph's post above. I wouldn't buy anything with Windows on it, especially Vista! I would also not send a fortune on a machine as this is his first machine and the computer technology changes faster than one changes their dirty socks. I also would not buy a machine from Dell, Gateway or any big name brand. You are sending $$$ for the name only, not on the best hardware available. These big name companies are selling re-branded equipment. 99% of the time getting the extended warranty is a waste of money. I would also use Linux for my OS of choice (PCLinuxOS), and if I need for whatever reason run something that only works in Windows, I would run that in a virtual environment. Good luck in which ever way you go. Just remember that buying the newest or latest equipment is always the best solution. This is not an area that one has to buy to keep up with the Jones next door.
I would base the "best" rating on what your son's level of experience and use for the computer are.
If your son is not into computer hardware work or software development, and wants to go into computer graphics, then the Apple is a great deal.
If your son is going to do computer hardware work (building computers, stringing network wire etc.), building an IBM-based PC himself is a great learning experience, but don't expect to save much money by doing it yourself. Sweat equity in computers is very small and real computer builders would gladly trade a little sweat for a few extra GB of RAM or a bigger disk drive...
If your son is into software (other than computer graphics), an IBM-based PC is the best way to go. In this case, I would recommend any of the normal reputable dealers, including Dell, HP/Compaq, etc. My current and last PCs were both Dell and I have been happy with them. Prior to that I had Compaq which worked fine forever (I still have it and intend to convert it to Linux soon).
DEFINTELY SHOP AROUND FOR THE BEST BARGAIN! Prices differ widely for *very* similar equipment. You may get a PC that you just need tp slap a few RAM chips into much cheaper than one that comes pre-built. Check out a bunch and shop for the best deal.
Buy a windows laptop instead of apple. Try Dell or HP.
For other reviews you can check http://www.cproductreviews.com
My computer has died. Right now, I am going to the library to check my mail. I don't have much money to buy a new one. So far the best deal I have found is a Compaq from Walmart for about $500. That is where I bought my last one, and it lasted me quite a while. But it will cost me just under $500 to fix it.
The new one comes with a 17 inch monitor, twice the memory of my old one (40 GB), a faster processor, a video card (didn't have that), etc.
So, I was just wondering if anyone knew of an even better deal somewhere else. If it was even just for the tower, that would be OK, as long as my hp monitor, keyboard, scanner, mouse, and digital camera would be compatible.
I have searched, but boy there are a lot of computer store sites out there!
You could also consider talking to your local high school. Sometimes the tech ed department will fix computers for community members. Its very possible that something minor is creating major problems. Some of these kids really know what they're doing!
Stay away from Compaq. Have you tried EBay. I bought a brand new digital camera on EBay and it is great. You might also try Outpost.com which is Fry's web store. They always have good deals.
I don't know where you are so I don't know specifically where to direct you, but find a good computer repairman/builder in your home town and see what he can do. Get a good computer from a reputable tech and if it has any problems take it back to where you got it. We have a guy like that in this town, and if I need a box and don't feel like building it myself I'd be beating his door down in the morning. Go with the independents. You don't want an HP, a Dell, or a Compac. If you were in my town (Greenwood, SC) I'd introduce you to my friend Bob. Bob would fix you right up. He's one of the best.
I'm with Alph! When my old beast blew a gasket, I went to my local computer shop and they did an "upgrade". I was able to use my own hard drive, floppy drive, cd drive, programs and peripherals like monitor, keyboard and mouse, so only needed the case, power supply, memory, mother board and processor. Cost? Way, way under $500.00
Good luck and hope you find a solution.
You can also check with your local college, they may do repairs. The universities around here just throw them out, you can check with their mantenance dept. I got a printer for free, they had upgraded to a faster model.
We built most of our computer ourselves...don't panic its not hard!!! I did it and I am not the sharpest tack in the box. We bought our computer half built from www.newegg.com. Then we put it the appropriate video card, memory, and modem.
We now own a computer that would cost about 2000.00 at Dell that we built for around 500.00.
P.S. When you learn to do this you are your own tech support!!!! and you don't have to worry about propriatery hardware and software (hardware and software that only works with certain brands)
Thanks for all the wonderful ideas! We did go to our local computer store and he quoted us $500. It would be the same or cheaper to buy a new computer! The reason it would be so expensive, is we have Windows ME, and he won't fix it without upgrading to Windows XP. Too many problems. So that means a memory upgrade as well. All the parts came to about $450, and labor was about $50 (one hour's worth).
We checked out eBay, and have you ever really looked there for a computer??? It is a minefield!! I bought a laptop from there (which I ended up selling to my Mom) about 4 years ago, brand new and in the box. Great buy, but I also never got over the worry (after someone mentioned it to me later) that it might have been "hot". Don't get me wrong, I LOVE eBay, and am also a seller there. But there is something a little off about a person selling a brand-new in the box computer for half price and only having one and not having a store. I just don't want to risk it again. Just me.
We checked out Outpost.com and THANK YOU SO MUCH for that link!!! We think we found what we want. It is a tower with keyboard, mouse, and speakers for $300. It has 2x the memory, and Windows XP and 4x the USB ports of what we have now. We don't need a new monitor. Ours is working fine. Now we just have to wait until payday...
A word of warning about Walmart computers. A good friend of mine is a manager at Walmart. I talked to him last night about it all, and he said he and another friend of our's both had also bought this same Walmart hp deal about 4 years ago, and their computers have already died. He was surprised mine had lasted so long. Ends up the fan is too small to properly ventilate the tower, so it overheats. The Walmart deals look good, but they are built cheap and are not expected to last more than a few years. The old adage is true: "you get what you pay for!"
Thanks to everyone that responded!