Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
How to Purchase a Desktop Computer
Computer technology changes rapidly, meaning a
computer that seems powerful enough today may not
serve your computing needs in several years. In fact, studies
show that many users regret not buying a more powerful
computer. To avoid this, plan to buy a computer that will
last for at least two to three years. You can help delay obso-
lescence by purchasing the fastest processor, the most mem-
ory, and the largest hard disk you can afford. If you must
buy a less powerful computer, be sure you can upgrade it
with additional memory, components, and peripheral devices
as your computer requirements grow.
hard disks, optical disc drives, a keyboard, mouse, monitor,
printer, speakers, and modem. Be aware, however, that some
advertisements list prices for computers with only some of
these components. Monitors and printers, for example, often
are not included in a base computer’s price. Depending
on how you plan to use the computer, you may want to
invest in additional or more powerful components. When
comparing the prices of computers, make sure you are
comparing identical or similar configurations.
8 If you are buying a new computer, you have
several purchasing options: buying from a
school bookstore, a local computer dealer, a
local large retail store, or ordering by mail via
telephone or the Web.
Each purchasing option has certain advantages. Many
college bookstores, for example, sign exclusive pricing
agreements with computer manufacturers and, thus, can
offer student discounts. Local dealers and local large retail
stores, however, more easily can provide hands-on support.
Mail-order companies that sell computers by telephone
or online via the Web (Figure 45) often provide the low-
est prices, but extend less personal service. Some major
mail-order companies, however, have started to provide
next-business-day, on-site services. A credit card usually is
required to buy from a mail-order company.
5 Consider upgrades to the mouse, keyboard,
monitor, printer, microphone, and speakers.
You use these peripheral devices to interact with the
computer, so make sure they are up to your standards.
Review the peripheral devices listed in Figure 44 and then
visit both local computer dealers and large retail stores to
test the computers and devices on display. Ask the sales-
person which input and output devices would be best for
you and whether you should upgrade beyond the standard
product. Consider purchasing a wireless keyboard and
wireless mouse to eliminate wires on your desktop. A few
extra dollars spent on these components when you initially
purchase a computer can extend its usefulness by years.
6 Determine whether to use a broadband or
dial-up connection to access the Internet.
If your computer has a modem, you can access the
Internet using a standard telephone line. Ordinarily, you
call a local or toll-free 800 number to connect to an Internet
access provider. Using a dial-up Internet connection usually
is relatively inexpensive but slow.
Broadband connections (cable, DSL, fiber, radio signals,
or satellite) provide much faster Internet connections,
which are ideal if you want faster file download speeds for
software, digital photos, digital video, and music. As you
would expect, they can be more expensive than a dial-up
connection. If you want to use a broadband connection,
your computer should have an Ethernet card installed,
unless you are using a wireless broadband connection such
as WiMax or 3G. If you will be using a dial-up connection,
your computer should have a modem installed.
Mail-order companies, such as Dell, sell computers
7 Use a worksheet to compare computers,
services, and other considerations.
You can use a separate sheet of paper to take notes
about each vendor’s computer and then summarize the
information on a worksheet. For a sample worksheet
that compares prices for a PC or a Mac, see scsite.com/
ic8/buyers. Most companies advertise a price for a base
computer that includes components housed in the system
unit (processor, RAM, sound card, video card, network card),
9 If you are buying a used computer, stay
with name brands such as Dell, Apple, HP,
Although brand-name equipment can cost more, most
brand-name computers have longer, more comprehensive
warranties, are better supported, and have more authorized
centers for repair services. As with new computers, you can
purchase a used computer from local computer dealers,
local large retail stores, or mail order via the telephone