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Choosing A PC

Choosing a new computer is much like choosing a new car, TV or washing machine; it should answer your needs, meet your budget and be available.  Make a list of the applications (programs) you will use either by type, for example word processing, spreadsheets, CD player, video editor, photo store; or by name, Word, Excel, Windows Media Player, Microsoft Office Picture Manager, etc . Take into account not only what you will do with your computer on day one, but also for the foreseeable future.  Consider where you will use the computer; the amount of space available for the base unit, display, keyboard, mouse, printer, stationary, disks etc.  Unless you have an isolated workspace, you should consider whether the noise you will create will affect other people and if you are going to be affected by noise that they make.  You may need to make adjustments to the window blinds and room lighting to ensure comfortable viewing of the screen during the day and at night.  Bear in mind that computers should be kept away from excessive dust, liquids, direct sunlight and heat.  Finally, consider the needs of any other users of this computer.  If you cannot find a suitable site, or you want to be able to use it in various locations, you could opt for a portable computer that can easily be moved around the home or office to suit your needs. 

 

Balance the “cost of ownership” (the total costs over the life of the computer) against any savings in the initial purchase price; consider the value of higher productivity, reliability and ease of maintenance against the possible poorer performance, more frequent problems and higher cost of maintenance for apparently “cheap” computers. 

The main hardware components of a PC are the CPU, RAM, HDD and DVD.  There may also be floppy disc drives, card readers, video and sound cards.  You should consider your needs for connectivity – USB, 1394 (Firewire) Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth and IR, SVideo, TV and audio out, VGA, DVI, serial, parallel etc.  Typically the marketing literature will highlight all these features permitting you to make an easy comparison between computers.  However, for the same reason that few buyers would rely solely on comparing paper specifications when choosing a new car or a TV, you would be wise not to choose your new computer based only on the manufacturers’ specifications.  We recommend you read consumer and independent tester’s reports or talk to an expert before making a final decision on what to buy.  Where possible, try to choose a computer that uses industry standard components, and has some spare capacity for expansion to cater for your future needs; PCI, PCI-E, AGP slots for expansion cards and 3.5 and 5.25 inch bays for additional HDDs and Optical drives.

 

Service and warranty is another area where you can easily get caught out unless you consider what support you will need when you encounter a problem and compare this to what you are going to get if choose to buy the warranty from the manufacturer. Most warranties usually cover the hardware only and may provide Telephone, Collect and Return, and On-site support for one, two or three years, depending on what you want to spend.  Many have premium rate telephone support numbers to call centres abroad where you may have to deal with people that have poor English language and technical skills.  You may find that even if you have paid for Collect and Return or On-site support, you may be required to carry out extensive and time-consuming telephone-based trouble-shooting before the manufacturer will agree to collect or send out a technician to fix your computer.   The troubleshooting process may require the restoration of the original operating system, software applications and hardware drivers and settings to the original default configuration as shipped from the factory which will result in loss of all your data.  Customers are typically required to keep full security copies of any software and data in accordance with best computing practice and in any case before requesting services from the manufacturer and to acknowledge that they are responsible for recovering their own application software after any such services have been provided.  Manufacturers may also decide to send you a replacement part to fit yourself.  You should expect a turnaround of up to a week for Collect and Return or On-site support at home.  For a premium you may be able to purchase Next Business Day On-site service, but this may be restricted to the more expensive “business” computer models that manufacturers have on offer.  It is worth bearing in mind that as you will have pre-paid for these services, it will not then be possible to get a faster resolution if you have need for it at the time when you have a problem.

 

Grove Green Computer Services can assist you choose a computer that is right for you because we understand computers and we steer you around the usual pitfalls.  Click on Services to see our service options.

 

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