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.
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.
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
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.
Thoughts on Buying a Laptop
April 5, 2001
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
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.
things to keep in mind while shopping...
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.
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.
BATTERY AND KEYBOARD OPTIONS
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Site of The Week
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.
enter your zip code and it will produce the cheapest prices
within, say, 5 miles.
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.
don't even have a car, but I like to visit this site on occasion
to see how prices are developing.
o o o o
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