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1. Introduction and Index

2. Computer Buying Considerations

3. Computer Hardware Options- CPUs and System RAM

4. Disk Drive Options

5. Video Cards, Monitors, Sound Cards, Modems, etc.

6. Additional Features - Printers, Digital Cameras, Scanners, Networks

7. Recommended Software

8. Recommended Computer Systems

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Computer Buying Primer

Computer Buying Considerations

Why buy a computer?

Think long and hard as to why you want to buy a computer. Do you want to buy a computer to get on the Internet or do you want to run a specific software application? Do you want to buy a computer just to play games? Then you might be better off buying a game console like a Sony PlayStation 2.

It makes a lot of difference for which purpose you buy a computer, as to what hardware configuration you should look for and the price you have to pay for it.

This document is intended to help you make those choices. There will be many decisions to make so that your computer may better serve your needs. Will you be using it for travel, business, research for school, or just to play around on? Do you want a laptop for business meetings or to plan a vacation to Cancun resorts? Or are you going to use it to edit video and photography of the wedding you went to at the hotel Punta Cana?
Once factors like these come into play you have to choose your hardware that will make up your computer. Hopefully you will be more prepared when you think about buying a new computer, and get the right configuration for you needs.

If you have children aged 5 and up, it is almost a must to have a personal computer in your house. But even if you don't, computers and the Internet already form a big part of today's life style, and you don't want to be left out.


This question will be answered in great detail. We will look at all parts of the computer and what to look for if you go for those bargains, which might not be bargains at all.
You also want to buy a computer that lasts. If you buy a computer that is already outdated, you might run the risk that you are not able to run the latest software on it.

A computer is as fast as it slowest components. This means that you can have a fast computer, but if a component like a hard disk slows down the computer, you might have just wasted lots of money on a high speed CPU that will never be fully utilized. That's why this document also talks about some technical specifications that might be important when selecting the right machine for you.

Additional features

We will also talk about additional hardware, like printers, scanners, digital cameras, modems and networks.

The right additions might get you more use out of your computer for only a little bit of extra money.


We will also take some time to look at some software features and what's best to buy when you are just starting out.

Where to put the computer

The best spot to install your computer is the living room or family room. This way, if you have children, you can all share the computer.
It's important to chose a location that in not too humid, not in direct sunlight, away from heat vents, and away from electrical appliances that could cause interference.

Problems and Support

The time that you would probably find that there was anything wrong with a computer from a hardware point of view is in the first month that you operate your computer.

If your machine is running okay for a couple of months, it will probably be okay forever (figuratively speaking). You can buy a computer from a company like Dell, or Gateway and get technical support with it.

I have only had good experience with Gateway's technical support service as long as you keep buying everything from them (both hardware and software). As soon as you buy something through another source, they will not support it and tell you to contact that manufacturer.
[The same is true with other computer manufacturers, they will not support other companies' products. - Ed]


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