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Tech Guru @ WABC/ Channel 7
Thursdays 6:45 a.m. (New York time)

Comments and ideas:
techguru@sree.net

Sree's Thoughts on Shopping for a New PC
Thursday, May 10, 2001

One of my morning anchors, Steve Bartelstein, does not have a PC at home. Because he spends many of his hours at the office sitting in front of a computer writing his scripts, doing research and such, he hasn't felt the need to have one at home. But he has decided to get one at last.

We decided to use his shopping experience as a way to give some tips to our viewers who may be in the market for a computer and don't know what questions to ask.

"You're dragging me into the 21st Century," Steve said to me as he and I visited J&R Computer World in lower Manhattan with Frank, our cameraman, in lower Manhattan. At the store, Steve and I tried out several machines, asked lots of questions and generally made a nuisance of ourselves as we tried to find a PC for him.

Steve wanted to buy a laptop even though he didn't plan to travel more than once a month with it. His reasoning -- laptops take up less room and he can work on it while lying on his couch watching TV.

Below are two segments from earlier Thursdays with tips about buying a laptop and desktop respectively that will help you with ideas when you go computer shopping.

Sree's Thoughts on Buying a Laptop
Thursday, April 5, 2001

If you are considering buying a laptop (a.k.a. "notebook"), there's a confusing array of options and choices. Companies want to move inventory, so you should be able to find something right at a price range that works for you. Anywhere from $1,000 to $4,00-plus.

Difference between buying a desktop and a laptop:
Generally, laptops are more expensive than desktop machines. You are paying for the portability and the convenience. First thing you should do is evaluate your needs and decide whether a laptop (of any kind) is right for you. I see too many people spending money for a laptop, when all they need is a desktop. So ask yourself how often are you going to need this on the road. Once you determine that you are going to need it when you travel, unless you are going to be traveling more than twice a month, there is no need to get the smallest, lightest or most eye-catching models.

Some things to keep in mind while shopping...

  • DEFINE YOUR NEEDS
    How often are you going to be on the road? Are you going to need access while traveling or do you just need to be able to get your files in multiple places? Will a desktop -- combined with portable storage such a Zip drive -- do instead to give you access to your files? You need to ask yourself these questions.

  • CHECK OUT SCREEN SIZE & WEIGHT OPTIONS
    Since you will be spending a lot of time staring at the screen, you can harm your eyes if you get a substandard one. A minimum size would be 13 inches. As far as weight goes, try to keep it below 4 lbs -- between the batteries, the cables, and the bag itself, the weight adds up fast.

  • CHECKOUT BATTERY AND KEYBOARD OPTIONS
    Ideally, you want a battery that can last 5 or 6 hours without recharging. Unfortunately, most last just 1.5 hours. So look for one that at least promises 3 hours -- then you might get 2.5. Also consider buying a spare battery, too. Test out the keyboard so that you are confortable with its "feel." And to move your cursor, decide whether you want a touchpad or one of the eraser-like pointing devices.

  • SPLURGE ON MEMORY & STORAGE
    It's always safe to spend any extra money on buying more memory and storage -- at least 64 megabytes and at least 4 gigabytes of hard disk storage space.

  • DO YOUR HOMEWORK
    There are plenty of stores around town that sell PCs, but do some research online. Sites such as Buy.com and ComputerShopper.com offer good bargains, as do companies that sell directly to you, including

Toshiba notebooks
Dell notebooks
Sony Vaio noteb
ooks
Computer glossaries

Sree's Thoughts Buying a Desktop Computer
Thursday, Feb. 1, 2001

If you are considering buying a desktop PC, there's a confusing array of options and choices. From souped up power machines to cheaper machines that seem like bargains. It isn't easy to know which one to get. Here are five things to watch for.

  • DEFINE YOUR NEEDS
    Decide what you are going to use your machine for. If you are going to be doing just e-mail, Web surfing, and word processing, you can get a simpler machine. If you are going to be doing a lot of high-end gaming or multimedia, then you need to get a more high-end machine.

  • RELAX IN THE STORE
    Don't let the salesmen pressure you into spending more on too sophisticated a system if you don't need one.


  • FASTEST IS NOT ALWAYS BEST Spending money for the fastest processor will not necessarily help you, unless you will do specialized tasks that make use of that spreed -- most of us rarely do that at home.

  • SPLURGE ON MEMORY & STORAGE
    It's always safe to spend any extra money, on buying more memory -- at least 128 megabytes and at least 20 gigabytes of hard disc storage space.

  • DO YOUR HOMEWORK
    There are plenty of stores around town that sell PCs, but do some research online. Sites such as Buy.com and ComputerShopper.com offer good bargains, as do companies that sell directly to you, including Gateway, Dell and Compaq.


    Resources:
    Egghead.com's desktops

    Buy.com
    ComputerShopper.com
    Sho
    pper.com
    Computer Glossaries

Send your feedback -- and ideas for coverage: techguru@sree.net

 

Sree's Site of The Week

Gas Price Watch
http://www.gaspricewatch.com

This week's site is in honor of the ever-increasing gasoline prices at the pump. Gas Price Watch allows you to find the lowest prices in your area and to track national trends.

Just enter your zip code and it will produce the cheapest prices within, say, 5 miles.

The site uses about 16,000 volunteer spotters who keep an eye on prices across the U.S. and Canada, and allows you to sort your searches by state, city, station, zip code, and grade of gasoline. It also does the same for heating oil prices.

I don't even have a car, but I like to visit this site on occasion to see how prices are developing.

http://www.gaspricewatch.com

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