January 2015 – Purchasing a computer

Purchasing a Computer

(Originally written in March 2012).  Purchasing a new computer can be frustrating and fearful -it should be fun though and can be.  Deciding whether you’ll purchase another Windows computer or switch to Apple needs some thought unless you’re in a position where you’re just looking for a way to browse the internet and check email on an absolutlely beautiful system  Now you have to decide if you’re going with a tablet computer, an iPad or just using your phone!

Fearful because you think you may be purchasing the wrong thing and at the wrong time.  Frustrating because you spend a great deal of time looking for the best deal and attempting to transport your computer to your home or office.

Our office

We have Windows 7 Pro, Windows 8.1, Mac OS (desktop and laptop), iPads and iPhones represented in our office.  We use laptops and desktops depending on what we are doing.  Web site development or email from a laptop can be very handy.  We use our iPads all over the house and in our kitchen area.  We use for weather, news and as a dictionary when we have disputes over the meaning of a word.

The Basics of your computer purchase

In short, you need to determine what you want, the items that are important (i.e., speed, storage, monitor size, etc), your budget, determine if you want a laptop or desktop.  If you’re going with Windows or Mac, figure out if you are doing the setup yourself, shop to find the best price and service and then make the purchase.

Purchase a Laptop or Desktop?

Choosing a laptop or a Desktop depends on what you want to do.  Are you moving around and need to check email and internet sites?  Then it’s obvious that you need a laptop — or is it?  Smartphones and the iPad are helping people move around now without having to carry their laptop with them.
Do you like having a larger screen when you’re going to be working for an extended period?  You can indeed connect a monitor to most laptops.  Thus, we’re still not clear on whether we need a laptop or desktop.

Windows or Mac?

Really folks, it depends.  We are trained in computer science and just stepped into the Mac arena three years ago.  We must admit that using a Mac is quite pleasant.  There are annoying parts of the software from time-to-time, but overall we are pleased.  A big plus to a Mac is how well it operates with an iPhone, iPod and iPad.  Also worth mentioning is the ease of processing photos and then saving them to process in an email or otherwise.  Very nice.

If you’re considering a Mac and have been a Windows user, it pays to determine the true cost of conversion and the learning curve that you will experience.  Are you tolerant to change and also tolerant to learning new things?

There may be additional software purchases since you can not simply install the Windows version of Microsoft Office onto your Mac (they are different).  You may also find other pieces that you have to purchase and it pays for you to spend the time figuring that out (i.e., Quickbooks for example).

There are nice emulation packages (VMWare — but be wary of any time they offer discounts or rebates as they fight to avoid paying them) which can allow you to have Windows run on your Mac.  It doesn’t take over the Mac but only runs Windows in a program window.  This would allow you to perform activities in a Windows environment like you’ve been doing — thus eliminating the need to purchase other software.  This ’emulation’ assumes that you also have a copy of Windows to install (the CD/DVDs).

What we’ve seen so far

When our clients throw out the psychology of ‘instant gratification’, take the time to think about the purchase and shop with various vendors for pricing, they are happy with their purchase.  Our clients that are open to change do well switching from a Windows system to a Mac.  Those who take the time to examine everything they are doing on the ‘old’ computer (the one they are replacing) and determine how to do that on the new computer do exceptionally well.

To consider as you get ready to purchase

Budget – it’s important to decide how much you want to spend on your computer.  Once you shop, you’ll be able to determine a general budget amount.  You’ll want input from your technical support person to ensure you are not excluding important parts or services (i.e., do not exclude the cost of your technical support person if you use one).  Again, ensure you know every cost so that you are not surprised.

How long you’ll be using the system – if you’re looking for a system that will make it through a year or so, you may have success purchasing a system from a local store or local vendor.  If you’re looking for a longer timeline, ensure you plan for this.

Support of the product you are purchasing – if the system were to having operational issues (aka, quit working), how quickly do you need to have it working again?  The support plan is critical to understand so that you are not surprised.