Tech Tips: Custom Fitting Your New Computer With Christmas around the corner and computers more affordable than ever before, we inevitably hear the statement, “I want a computer, but I don’t know how to decide which one to get!”.
The answer is as varied as trying to find the right vehicle for someone. Computer use ranging from amateur video editing and simple web design are becoming as common place today as word processing and using email was ten years ago. As an example, I have a client who is 90 years young that does video chat with her family across the country and plays online video games, her computer requirements are much different than the 15 year old who is a high end gaming enthusiast.
Our first question is always “How would you like to use your new computer?”. The answer to this question will help us narrow down your requirements. Here are some guidelines in selecting your perfect computer:
Are you a mobile computer user?
First order of business is deciding to get a Laptop or Desktop. Generally speaking, a laptop will have a higher price tag compared to an equivalent desktop. Determining if you need a laptop or a desktop is relatively simple; if you would like to move your computer around and take it on vacation, to the cabin or any other location, then get yourself a handy carrying case for your laptop and get ready to head down the road! If you are having a hard time deciding since mobility is not your primary concern, then consider the following:
Do you use any special software or hardware?
This is a great place to start, if you have any specific software that you use, such as financial, video editing, animation or 3D software, for example, these will have their own “System Requirements”; i.e The hardware required to support the software. These can be found on the software manufacturer’s website on on the software box.
Are you storing videos or a large amount of pictures?
Hard Drives, the part of your computer that actually stores your “stuff”, are inexpensive and normally large enough for the average user. However, if you are an photographer or have a library of videos, a larger than average hard drive may be required.
Cameras, Keyboards and Web-Cams, oh my!
Ah, computer peripherals, the fun part. Here is the opportunity to really expand the usefulness of your computer. This is what referred to around our office as “The Geek Factor”. Added functionality items like keyboards with multimedia controls, mice with multiple buttons for added customization or even monitors that allow you to touch the screen to interact with the computer. If you haven’t tried online video chatting, make sure you pick a web-cam, it is surprisingly easy to use and useful with so many online messaging applications and online dating sites.
Additional items to consider:
Are you covered?
Beware of your warranty coverage, a lot of computer companies provide “Return to Depot” as the default warranty repair option. This means, you have to pack up your computer and ship it to the company and may wait up to a couple of weeks to have it repaired. We normally recommend a three year “Next Business Day” repair with our computer company of choice but you can normally get up to five years of coverage.
Are you REALLY covered?
Accidental damage coverage is one of those additional items that used to make me feel like stereotypical “used car salesman” when I offered it. However, just last summer, I had a customer who purchased the accidental damage coverage as an afterthought on a gorgeous new laptop, THREE days later, her grand-daughter inadvertently knocked over a glass of wine directly onto the new laptop. For, normally, less than a fifth of the cost of a new laptop, you can purchase accidental damage coverage which provides you with a new computer if your purchase is damaged within a certain length of time. This is certainly an optional on a desktop computer, but I highly recommend it for a laptop.
Don’t forget about backing up your data! Some vendors or computer manufacturers offer great deals on peripherals when purchasing a new computer. Now is the time to pickup an external hard drive to store that backup copy of financial data and family pictures. This past summer The “New” Selkirk Enterprise, published one of our articles dedicated to this very topic. Visit www.rep4.com to read this and other past articles.
Visiting a computer store or reading through computer sales fliers with the thousands of options can be intimidating. While this is not a comprehensive buying guide, it will hopefully provide you with some direction when wading through the many, many options and computer configurations.
Eddie Phillips is the President of REP4 Technologies Inc. in Selkirk, Manitoba. Eddie is a 15 year IT veteran using his experiences from working for companies like Microsoft, Texas Instruments and HP to grow technological awareness throughout the Interlake. For past articles, visit www.rep4.com