Beginners Guide to Buying a New Computer
With everyone being so reliant on computers to perform all sorts of tasks like, video editing, image creation, house design, data storage, emailing, social media, conferencing or even just chatting to a friend on the other side of the world, it’s important to know what type of computer and accessories you will need before you make a purchase.
So many of us are not too sure where to start, when it comes to buying a new PC. We rely either on what someone else has told us or on what the computer sales person tells us.
This article with provide you with some helpful tips on purchasing a PC and accessories that will meet your requirements and help prevent you falling prey to pushy sales people.
By not knowing what your computer requirements are and what you should buy, puts you at a disadvantage and at the mercy of some salespeople who just want to make a sale, regardless of whether it meets your need or not. Therefore, being none the wiser we tend to accept what we are being told as gospel, only to find out later on that we have been misinformed.
You hear stories of people who have just bought a computer based on someone’s say so, only to discover later on that they need to purchase something extra. For example, a software trial program that came with the PC needs to be purchased because the trail version has expired.
Trial versions usually last for 60 days after which you need to purchase a license to continue to use it. Most first PC buyers are not told that they will need to purchase a software license when the trials run out. MS Office and Antivirus trial software are usually the two main programs that come already installed on a new PC.
As a side note, you can save some money by downloading a free MS Office look-alike program such as OpenOffice that does all that MS Office does and downloading a free antivirus program, such as AVG.
I recommend that you purchase a retail version of an antivirus program that includes a firewall. The firewall helps protect your computer from hackers and programs that try to gain access to your computer while connected to the internet. A firewall acts like a security fence.
1) Note down what you would like to be able to do with your new computer, e.g., browse the internet, send email, chat with and view live video of distant family and friends, type up letters, play homemade videos, play music, print out photos, etc.
2) Ask family or friends to see if anyone can recommend a good computer store or a good brand of PC they have personally used and have had a good run from.
3) If you have a computer savvy friend ask them to accompany you to help you with your PC purchase.
4) Take your time; it is your money you are spending. Ask a lot of questions. Do not let any salesperson sell you what they want, but purchase what you want according to your checklist. Get them to answer your questions in non-technical language.
Be assertive but polite. If a salesperson can’t be bothered to take the time to explain things to you and answer your questions, then find another salesperson or store that will.
5) Ask what the best price is and what extras are they prepared to throw in.
Your selection criteria will be based on the following.
A quality brand, one that is well-known and has been around for a while e.g. Asus, Dell, HP or a well-known, locally assembled brand.
My recommended minimum requirements for a PC for basic usage based on current technology is as follows.
Intel I 5 2.3X GHz or I 7 2.8X GHz CPU (The speed of the processor)
750GB Hard Drive (The amount of internal storage)
4GB Ram (The amount of memory)
Graphics Card 1GB Ram
Combo CD/DVD/Blue Ray Burner
USB ports (at least 6)
20″ LCD Monitor PC
Windows 7 Operating system
Antivirus Software 1 year license (if possible)
One that has a warranty of 1 to 3 years, preferably 3 years. If it is not too expensive, purchase an extended warranty if the PC only comes with a 1 year warranty. Check what the warranty covers and if it comes with an on-site or return to base warranty.
An on-site warranty is where the service technician comes out to your house to service your computer. This removes the hassle of having to disconnect your computer system, and take it into the service center for service. Though it is more convenient for you to have an on-site warranty, it is not essential, just as long as you have a warranty cover of some sort.
Check if the computer repairs are performed locally or does the computer have to be sent away. If it has to be sent away, inquire as to what the repair turnaround time usually is.
It is much better to purchase a computer that has a local service center, as the repair turnaround time should be a lot shorter. It also has the advantage of you being able to deal with the service center personally if you have any issues, as opposed to dealing with a call center by phone in another part of the country or overseas.
If you want to do email, chat and view the family via the internet or printout letters, then you will need to purchase additional hardware items, such as a web camera, an inkjet or laser printer, a broadband modem and a broadband package for internet use.
Web cameras are not expensive, so purchase a good quality one. A good entry-level inkjet or laser printer these days are not expensive either, but one important thing to find out before you buy a printer is the cost of its consumables i.e. ink cartridges for the inkjet printer and the laser cartridge and drum for the laser printer. Inquire also, as to what is the average cost per page for black printing and color printing as some printer consumables are not cost-effective to use.
If you do not have anyone to help you setup your new computer, then you will have to get a PC technician to call round and setup your computer, printer, email and broadband. Before you do this though, inquire around to get the best rate and see if they can give you an estimate of the time and cost involved.
Finally, you will need to protect your new PC, printer and modem from the possibility of electrical damage by purchasing a good quality surge/spike protector.