I've not had a problem that would be noticable to enough to not
recommend any PC that I've bought from a major vendor, with the
exception of what I have "heard" about Packard-Bell models (and I'm not
sure if they are even still in business). I've had Gateways, Dell's,
HP's, and IBM's in the past.
Your anticipated use description does not require a top-of-the-line
model, but sometimes those requirements change. As for waiting for
Vista, in my experience, it is rare that MS delivers on a shipping date
(currently into 2007 for Vista) and even more rare for a new version to
be worth the hassle (bugs, patches, etc.), especially for a new user.
Windows XP (the current version) should suffice for your use.
- become familiar with basic terms and information. You do not need to
be an expert but should know some basics, like the difference between
RAM and a hard drive. Google "how to buy a computer" and read some of
the hits. If you have questions or would like something clarified,
post to this thread as a follow up.
- if you don't have a local resource to assist you (or relative, etc.),
call the major vendors (HP, Dell and Gateway...and check if they have
an "outlet" store nearby) and compare their offers so that you can
reduce your risk related to the next item...
- be wary of the "xxx model for $499" advertisements, as many times
they are underpowered and the components to add to make them decent are
overpriced by the vendor. By calling and talking to more than one
vendor, you can make a more educated assessment of what is included
and/or what upgrades would cost
- be wary of "shiny" throw-ins...that nice photo printer may not shine
as brightly when you find out the maintenance cost for special paper,
toner/ink, etc. I know several people who received "free" printers but
never used them once they saw that their "free" printer cost $30 each
time the toner ran out, or worse, dried before it was all used. If,
for example, photos are of interest, you can upload and then get them
sent to your door from snapfish or other vendors for $.10-.15 a print
or less. Some home printers can cost you $.50 or more for a print.
- more often than not, RAM (or "memory") is a good thing to upgrade on
those "$xxx models). In order of preference...do it yourself (or a
relative) after-the-purchase, have a local PC vendor do it for you (who
has a vested interest doing this for a reasonable price for future
business), or have the PC upgraded when you purchase.
- unless you are planning on significant software usage (hundreds of
music files, home video, etc.) the standard disk you will get will
probably suffice for what you described and can be upgraded in the
future for less than an immediate factory upgrade. 40GB would probably
suffice, 80GB would probably be the absolute highest you probably need
to go (depending on what they're trying to sell.
- remember that anything is negotiable. Many times, simply asking for
a better price is all that is necessary to get something knocked off,
or at least another freebie thrown in. If you are persistent, you can
increase your reward but it depends on how long you want to play the
game and what you're trying to get (shipping can be expensive and is
something that might be very good to have removed from the final
If you have additional questions, post follow ups and take your time.
It can become very expensive, but there are people willing to help.
I would, however, probably make sure my new one could be upgraded to
Vista, after the inevitable service pac or two. If you are going to keep
it more than a 2-3 years, that ability will probably be useful.
vista requires minimum of one gig of memory and prefeably 2 gig
ME I use 1 gig processor old HP Vectra busimness computers bought off e
bay for 50 bucks each.
nice and roomy no overheating easy service access and reliable. did max
out memory on each one, and run on FIOS 5MB IT does the job for us
It depends...many people (and businesses) have put off upgrades because
there is no benefit to them when the new OS arrives. Corinne doesn't
mention anything that appears to be revolutionized by Vista, so
compared to the cost to upgrade now vs. 8 months from now, she might be
better off to wait.
Thanks for taking the time to comment.
By all the great replies, I know I need to take my time. I have my
homework cut out but you have definitely given me some good feedback.
tom email@example.com wrote:
Apple's Mac Mini, especially if you already have a monitor. Eliminate
the concern abotu viruses and malware, easy to use, lots of software,
and if you absolutely must run Windows rather than the Mac OS, you can!
I was wondering when someone would step forward to suggest Apple Computer.
Obviously, I was too chicken to do it myself. <sigh>
iMac and Mac mini, for their desktop systems, have been upgraded to use the
new Intel processors. Mac OS X, built on Unix<tm>, is amazingly ROCK SOLID.
iPhoto, iWeb, iMovie, iDVD are included with new systems.
Also check walmart.com. About 5% cheaper than Dell for equivalent boxes.
Walmart's computers are made with commodity parts; Dell has a lot of
proprietary stuff. If the generic, Walmart, computer breaks, you replace the
defective/busted part with an off-the-shelf item. If the Dell machine
falters, many times it's off to Dell.
Absent special needs (like high-end gaming or video editting), a swell
machine is going to cost you $400. Worst case scenario, then, if it really
croaks, throw it away and buy another.
See: http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_idE45567 for an
Just to add my two cents...
The old adage about computers being obsolete as soon as you open the package WAS
true for quite some time, but for several years now has only been true for high
end development workstations and gamers. If you are neither of these then what
you want to spend your money on are those things that affect the user
Today's typical PC user is an internet surfer and internet surfing does not
require much of a PC. Spend your money on a really nice display (this can be
carried over to future PC upgrades so it is money well spent) and get the best
broadband connecton available in your area. Those two things will have more
affect on how "nice" it is to use your computer than anything else.
It is always a good idea to get the most RAM you're willing to spend money on,
but even this is dictated by what you will be doing. For most users these days
lots of RAM is required for doing digital picture and movie manipulation (both
of which also require big hard drives). If you have no interest in these things
then going crazy on RAM makes little sense.
If you have been happy with your existing box and are only concerned with its
age then any of the Dell's that you see in the special (can it really be that
cheap?) ads would almost certainly be adequate for your needs. My last two
purchases have been from Dell's refurbished units web site and both have been
Thanks for this info.
True, I don't need anything that does all this fancy stuff, unless I
want to take some computer classes and learn how to accomplish all the
different things these fascinating computers can do.
Appreciate your help.
Rick Brandt wrote:
Depending on how you learn (some people prefer classes over other
mechanisms), there are a *ton* of websites to teach you various things
(many times for free), and obviously you are aware of usenet groups for
I look to the internet for everything from clothes shopping to auto
repair to research for projects, etc. before I look to classes and
The adage was a combination of a few things...the expanding market (the
growth of people buying PCs was increasing every year) and forced
obsolesence (purposeful incompatibilities for OS upgrades, forced
hardware upgrades and application upgrades).
It's always been amazing that each version of Windows made third-party
apps magically break while the virii unleashed could infect every
generation of the OS. Or that the lunar modules required a mere 32K of
RAM to get to the moon, but to write a letter to my mother on Windows
XP requires almost 512MB RAM and 5 minutes to boot just to type
But then, the virus writers didn't have the vested interest in breaking
For the most part, the "need" to constantly upgrade was marketing and
advertising. My version of DOS-based WordPerfect had capabilities that
Word does not have to this day, but that people have upgraded 3, 4
times. However, when you look at the upgrade market, you see that many
people (home users primarily) have not upgraded from the Win98/ME days.
On 16 Jul 2006 07:40:19 -0700, tom firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Many of the "forced" things gave a user some advances, broader
bandwidth, sloooowly move away from 8bit, to 16bit, to 32bit and here
comes 64bit. Remember when XP came out there was a test app that
The user got caught between all the hardware and software issues.
Some years ago NASA had or may still have a search for certain chips.
I had an old 8bit motherboard with the exact chip. They did not accept
from a layman, but wanted large lots of this chip.
WordPerfect bought a company/software called Write and Spell. It ran
on 5.25 floppies, IBM X86 CPU, 1 meg RAM, no hard drive. One floppy
was the program and the other the dictionary. Had to swap them out to
spell check <grin>. Then another 5.25 floppy to save the document.
This was before the first 10 Meg hardrive.
I have 5 Dells, all bought within the last three years. A lightning
strike is the only problem at all. Took out all the modems.
Don't be blinded by processor speed; ram is more important IMO, at
least 1 gb. Good graphics board and speakers (if you're into music).
One thing I couldn't do without now is dual monitors. Never thought
they would be so handy.
--Andy Asberry recommends NewsGuy--
Modems to seem more susceptible to lightning damage.
And the speed at which the RAM operates is also more important than
Yes, they are. BTW, right now I'm looking for an AGP video card that
supports 2 monitors, preferably one that can use the second monitor
for video playback.
Also, don't forget the external hard drives or other components needed
That may be true, although I generally ignore such things because
they're usually spam inserted automatically by a usenet software or
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