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1. Introduction and Index

2. 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

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


Basically there are two types of printers, laser or inkjet. Laser printers are more precise then inkjet printers and print a lot faster then inkjet printers. The down side is that they are black and white only. (Color laser printers are still very expensive).

Color inkjet printers give you more flexibility in terms of your printing work since you can add color to your end result. My personal recommendation is to buy a HP color inkjet printer. They give the best results in terms of quality, durability and least use of ink cartridges. Buy a HP color inkjet with photo printing technology.

Recommendation: HP Inkjet. Epson and Lexmark printers are also good.


With a flatbed scanner, you can scan color photo's and black and white text. Printed text can potentially be converted to documents (with OCR software) without having to reenter the text and color images can be used to add to documents, send over the Internet, etc. You can buy a scanner for $40 or more.

Most important is the resolution of the scanner and the ease of use of the software that comes with it. I have had good luck with Microtek scanners.

Scanners can be connected via the printer port or USB (Universal Serial Bus). If USB is present on the computer's motherboard, it is recommended to use this over reusing the printer port. However, we do not recommend you add a USB port to an old computer just to run a scanner.

Recommendation. HP, Epson, Visioneer, or Microtek.


If you have more then one computer (or desktop and laptop) you can install a network. This connects multiple computers together. You can share an Internet connection, printers and hard-disks/CD-ROMs through the network and play certain games through the network.
A network is not expensive and Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP has standard network software built-in. You can install a complete network between two computers for less then 100 dollars.
If you can't or don't want to use a wired network, you can use a wireless, telephone line, or power line network. These networks are more expensive than a wired network.

Note: Router boxes are very useful for allowing several computers to share one Internet connection at the same time.

Digital Camera

With a digital camera, you definitely get what you pay for. I would recommend that you get at the very least a 3X optical zoom camera with a resolution of 2 megapixels. The optical zoom is important to bring objects closer to your camera. The resolution is important for keeping the pixel size small in your printed pictures. Good quality Digital cameras can be found starting around $200.

<I have had great performance with my Olympus D-450 Zoom 1 megapixel camera (cost about $400-450 retail when I purchased it 3 years ago). I used it to take the pictures in our Adding a Second Hard Drive article. Recently I upgraded to a Minolta DiMage 7i, 5 megapixels, which I am also extremely happy with.- Ed>

Game Controller

To be able to play games, you can either use your keyboard as a control device or connect a game controller to your PC. Game controllers come in many different varieties and vary enormously in price. Purchase a game controller that is compatible with most games and that is easy to use.

Recommendation. Wingman Extreme Digital 3D joystick (40 dollars), one of the Microsoft joysticks or gamepads, or Gravis Gamepad Pro.




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