Here are five details to consider when shopping for a computer:
1. Desktop or laptop? Yes, this is a basic question, but if you don’t know what you are looking for you will spin your tires for days on end. At some point you need to make a decision on which one of these options is best for you. The following should give you a quick idea of the benefits of each.
- Capable of doing more in terms of multimedia production – perfect for gamers, graphic designers, and music and video producers.
- Lower price than similarly equipped laptops
- Easy to customize
- More difficult to steal
- Much lighter for puposes of traveling and working or studying in different places
- Can still get a high level of features thanks to advanced technology
2. What are you using the computer for? This goes along with whether or not you should buy a desktop or laptop. Most people who are buying a computer for daily browsing and email are relying on laptops. The main reason for this is simple: a laptop can be taken anywhere without losing connectivity (for the most part).
What about for business? This makes your decision a bit more complicated. Small business owners, especially those who need to take their life on the road, may want to opt for a laptop. For example, I work full-time as a freelance writer and internet marketing consultant. I was recently in the market for a computer, and decided to buy a laptop for several reasons. First off, I am always on the go. With a laptop my work can follow along with me. Additionally, since I don’t need any advanced features or high processing speeds, a basic laptop is more than adequate.
Of course, there are businesses that are best run through the power of a desktop computer. Although you lose the mobility, you are going to save money on the purchase price. And if you are buying more than one computer, this is a very big deal.
If you are in need of a high powered multimedia system, a desktop unit is definitely the answer. Many high-end units have components that make it easy to function as a television, DVD player, DVR and much more.
Also, don’t forget this: with a desktop you can choose your display. Do you want a 27 inch monitor to make editing easier? What about for video gaming? If so, a desktop is your only choice, unless you buy a docking station for your laptop and hook up a monitor to the docking station.
3. Do I need to buy extras such as a mouse, keyboard, and printer? Once again, this depends on what you have and what you need. If you buy a laptop, for instance, your keyboard and mouse are built-in. Along the same lines, some desktops will come with these extras. Also, you may have accessories from past computers that you can add to your new unit. There is no point in purchasing a new mouse, for instance, when the one that you have is in good condition – you might as well save yourself some money.
Although laptops are more difficult to customize, especially if you are interested in portability, it is not impossible. For instance, with enough USB ports (most laptops have at least two or three) you can connect an external mouse, keyboard, and monitor.
4. Repairs. You may not want to think about it, but there is a chance that your computer may break at some point in the future. With this in mind, you have to think about repair options when making a purchase. The last thing you want to do is get stuck buying a new computer every couple of years. This is a waste of money.
Generally speaking, laptops are much more difficult to repair. If you don’t know exactly what you are doing, you will be stuck sending your computer back to the manufacturer. While you still need some knowledge to repair a desktop, it is much easier than you may think.
Also, think about this situation: if an internal component of your laptop breaks, such as the monitor, it is rendered useless. With a desktop, you can swap out your monitor and be back in business within a matter of minutes.
Computers are meant to last a long time, but you never know when something bad is going to happen.
5. Warranty. Every computer will come with some type of basic warranty. How long you receive this protection, as well as the type, depends on the manufacturer. You will have the ability to purchase an “extended” warranty direct from the manufacturer or through the store. This is one of those things that is split down the middle among consumers. Some people always buy an extended warranty; others avoid this at all costs. The choice here is yours. How hard are you on a computer? Will you be traveling with it a lot? Are you tech savvy enough to perform regular maintenance on the computer? If not, you may want to invest in the extended warranty.
I recently purchased a laptop from Wal-Mart that came with a one year manufacturer’s warranty. Additionally, the store also allows for returns and exchanges within 15 days. Although I opted against it, Wal-Mart also offered a two year protection plan for $99.88. If this is something that interests you, make sure you know exactly what it covers. To get a better idea of what some retailers offer in terms of extended protection plans, visit this Wal-Mart page.
In closing, I want to add a couple of points. Although I am a huge fan of laptops, there are definite pros and cons of both setups. My advice is this: purchase the type of computer that is best for what you are trying to accomplish. With the tips and information included in this article, you should have a better idea of what would suit you best.
If anybody has purchased a computer recently feel free to share your experience. Did you buy a desktop or laptop? Why did you make this choice?
(photo credit: thosesunshinedays)