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New computer hunting..tips?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I've had my computer since...2002? Anyhow, its really starting to go down hill so Im thinking I should have an idea of what kind of computer to get if it stops working. Anyone have any suggestions for good but not too expensive brands? I know computers have gone way down in price since I've bought mine so I'm hoping I'll be able to find something fairly decent for not too much money
post #2 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by MonaxLisa View Post
I've had my computer since...2002? Anyhow, its really starting to go down hill so Im thinking I should have an idea of what kind of computer to get if it stops working. Anyone have any suggestions for good but not too expensive brands? I know computers have gone way down in price since I've bought mine so I'm hoping I'll be able to find something fairly decent for not too much money
There are many brands you can get for great prices, such as Dell or HP/Compaq, but what you might need to think about is customer service. If you order from Dell or HP, you can get warranties, but (depending on the length of the warranty) that cost can be anywhere from $200-500 alone. I only mention that because you could, eventually, end up spending that much to have someplace like Best Buy or Circuit City repair your machine should anything happen to it.

Also, laptops are cheap as well. Are you looking for a new desktop or laptop?

My suggestion: Determine what your needs are. Are you taking classes? Are you using it just for Internet and email? Do you play computer games (beyond what you can find on here, )?

Another thought...are you wanting to order through the company, or buy from a store? I know it doesn't answer your question, but simply raises more, but the hunting starts with knowing what you need, what you're willing to spend, and if you want to wait for shipping or leave a store with one.
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
I've got a Dell laptop now. I'm definitely looking for a laptop, no gaming, but I do do a lot of digital photography, my camera is only 6MP and it reallly slows down my current computer. It's going to be for just regular mostly internet use and photos. I've been using the comparrison tool at Best Buy (I would like to buy in store this time) and it looks like a Dell or Toshiba would be a good choice and not too terribly expensive. I always get nervous when spending that kind of money though, so I try to get as much input as possible
post #4 of 25
Start putting money aside now. Around Christmas there should be some sales.
As for warranties - you may not want to buy an extended one. Anymore after two years the technology is considered old and at the point that you need to upgrade/replace anyways. Getting something fixed may be a problem if they no longer carry the part at that time. It's amazing that you've made one last since 2002, it should have died at least once 4-6 years ago.

Anything you'll get will be a lot faster then you have now. Expect it to come with Vista (you can get rid of that later if you want to), so you'll need a minimum of 2 gigs of ram. If you can afford it, get 4 gigs and save yourself some trouble since you'll probably use Photoshop or a similar program that really uses up the ram.
post #5 of 25
I Would get a laptop maybe a dell or something. The reason I would get a laptop is you can use it as a laptop or you can connect it to a monitor and keyboard and use it as a desktop
post #6 of 25
My suggestion would be NOT to pick the cheapest one you can. Things have changed/improved a lot but when I was in high school (probably about 10 years ago), I bought a computer. I got something cheap, but it worked well when I got it. Unfortunately, within a year or two, I wanted to get high speed internet, but my computer was too slow/lacking in features that it didn't work.

When I went away to university, I bought a computer. This time, I got something higher in price/quality/features. It wasn't top of the line, but I probably spent about $700 more than I could have on a decent computer. However, about 7 years later, that computer still works great (I should mention that I take care of my computer...regular scans and yearly formatting...and I had to add a bit of RAM). Actually, I think it runs better than the laptop I bought at Christmas time.

So, it may be worth paying a little more for a higher model or a similar computer with more features (best buy often offers 2 similar computers of the same brand, one cheaper and one more expensive.)

Other than that, RAM, RAM, RAM...the more you can get, the better. Even if you don't do gaming. The RAM required for gaming a couple years ago is now the same amount of RAM you would need to just run your computer. You can always add an external hard drive or other peripherals, but RAM is trickier to upgrade. You have to open up your computer (easy for a desktop, more difficult with a laptop)...but more importantly, the types of RAM change so often that it's often difficulty/expensive to find the matching RAM you need!

Look closely at the processors you buy!
post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by strange_wings View Post
Start putting money aside now. Around Christmas there should be some sales.
As for warranties - you may not want to buy an extended one. Anymore after two years the technology is considered old and at the point that you need to upgrade/replace anyways. Getting something fixed may be a problem if they no longer carry the part at that time. It's amazing that you've made one last since 2002, it should have died at least once 4-6 years ago.

Anything you'll get will be a lot faster then you have now. Expect it to come with Vista (you can get rid of that later if you want to), so you'll need a minimum of 2 gigs of ram. If you can afford it, get 4 gigs and save yourself some trouble since you'll probably use Photoshop or a similar program that really uses up the ram.
Normally I would agree with you regarding warranties, but if the OP can get a Dell machine with extended DELL warranties (service plan plus accidental damage), it'll be well worth it.

However, if the OP purchases the laptop from Best Buy, and they'll only offer one of their warranties, I wouldn't go for it. They are notorious for not honoring them.

Personally, if you (the OP) are looking for a Dell, I would order from Dell. Like I said, Best Buy is notorious for not honoring their warranties.
post #8 of 25
Any new computer should be fine with any camera you are using.

I generally don't get an extended warranty as I void them opening the case to add stuff

How much do you want to spend?
post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by MonaxLisa View Post
II've been using the comparrison tool at Best Buy (I would like to buy in store this time) and it looks like a Dell or Toshiba would be a good choice and not too terribly expensive.
Knowing enough about Dell, I'd go with Toshiba... and like the others said, load up on RAM... I'll say more on that further down. Dell is on par (in my opinion) with Gateway, in terms of quality of their components... not to mention their customer service... and it's not good either way... if I were to ever break down and purchase another PC (you'd have to force me), I wouldn't go near either Gateway or Dell. I'm just not impressed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by strange_wings View Post
Getting something fixed may be a problem if they no longer carry the part at that time. It's amazing that you've made one last since 2002, it should have died at least once 4-6 years ago.
*snerk* my prehistoric gateway piece of cr** laptop has died (hard drive), been resurrected, then the RAM upgraded only two years ago... I did it myself (bought RAM on eBay, works fine, need a second one... no money). The Gateway desktop, which is newer than the laptop, developed motherboard issues and is currently dismantled, awaiting total annihilation. I'll probably salvage the good components and shove them into something else someday...

When i upgraded the RAM, I only had to open a small compartment on the bottom of the laptop... I cleaned my hands thoroughly, removed the old ram from slot one, put the new card in, put the old card in slot two, closed it up and turned the computer on... voila! twice the speed (but still frighteningly slow)

Quote:
Originally Posted by zoeysmom View Post

Other than that, RAM, RAM, RAM...the more you can get, the better. Even if you don't do gaming. The RAM required for gaming a couple years ago is now the same amount of RAM you would need to just run your computer.
I just mentioned it above... you can get RAM for older machines... my laptop is older than the OP's (1999, bare bones model Gateway) and I found RAM on eBay... for a reasonable price. The disadvantage there is that I can only go so high... I won't mention it here, because ya'll will laugh me right out of this forum... I don't use it much, mostly for writing. It also weighs a ton, the battery doesn't hold a charge... etc... I want a MacBook Air *whines* I wonder if Santa will listen this year... I've tried to be good. I just hope my poor prehistoric Gateway will last one more NaNoWriMo (which starts in a week).

When I ordered my Mac desktop, I maxxed out the RAM, primarily because Mac's are harder to 'home upgrade' ... it can be done, but it's not easy... I'd rather let the pros do it. Max out the RAM, and if you can, get the largest hard drive possible. I had a 40Gb in my PC desktop... I killed that with my music collection... yeesh. I added a 200Gb second internal... then the motherboard had had enough... oh well. I can salvage the drives.

And I'll never upgrade to Vista... XP has enough issues... I push my computers enough that I'd be one to find the problems.

Have fun computer hunting... and take your time... Christmas is a good time for those sales...

Amanda
post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
Oh boy, lots of info!
I think the computer Im using now has 40GB of RAM (or maybe it was 60) and I've still got around 40% of it free. Im glad Christmas sales came up, I was wondering about that! Im expecting to have to spend around $700, not that I can afford it, but I agree about not going for the cheapest thing available. I've had really good luck with best buy, my mom got a cd player there (their brand) and it didnt work and they sent her an MP3 player as a free gift. We bought a few other things there too and havent had any issues. Having a Dell now, I'm not impressed at all with their customer service, aside from the fact that it's really difficult to understand their tech people, they've just never been that helpful. My laptop overheats and the response I got was "Oh that's a known problem for that computer"
Thanks for the input everyone!!
post #11 of 25
Ok, so the last poster gave a *hint* of a Macintosh plug, but I'm going to go all out.



I used PCs exclusively, running DOS, Windows, several flavors of Linux, for a long, long time. I switched to Mac in 2000 with a special edition blue clamshell iBook, and I've never looked back. I went over just in time to get on the OSX bandwagon at the very beginning, too.

Apple's products may not be the cheapest things on the market, but what you get is an all-around quality product. You also get a very stable operating system which works well for multiple users and has numerous built-in security features (it's based on BSD Unix after all).

ever since Apple started using Intel processors, it's been possible to 'dual-boot' and run both Mac OSX and Windows (XP service pack 2 or later) on the same machine, and the OSX install disc even comes with all the necessary drivers for your apple hardware to work seamlessly in windows.

I know it's been said elsewhere, but with MacOS you will be effectively immune to most malware & spyware. So far, the only real Mac virus found "in the wild" requires a high level of social-engineering in order to actually wind up on your computer (basically, you have to unzip it and install it, and enter your user password). See the wikipedia article.

So, that's my Macintosh plug. Oh, and if you want to try it out, and you have an Apple retail store in your area, wander on over and play with the display computers. The employees will be happy to assimilate... uh, I mean, show you around.
post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 
I sort of thought about a Mac, since it would be fantastic not having to worry about viruses etc. I havent looked at the price though (cant imagine) but isnt there still a lot of programs that only run on windows?
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by meowqueensdaddy View Post
Ok, so the last poster gave a *hint* of a Macintosh plug, but I'm going to go all out.



I used PCs exclusively, running DOS, Windows, several flavors of Linux, for a long, long time. I switched to Mac in 2000 with a special edition blue clamshell iBook, and I've never looked back. I went over just in time to get on the OSX bandwagon at the very beginning, too.

*snipped for brevity*

So, that's my Macintosh plug. Oh, and if you want to try it out, and you have an Apple retail store in your area, wander on over and play with the display computers. The employees will be happy to assimilate... uh, I mean, show you around.
I wasn't *going* to try and convert... but yeesh... You want old school, I started with playing on my brothers' Apple IIe, then got an Amiga for high school graduation. Went back to Mac (a laptop and a desktop), then thought i was going into the military (as an officer), so I bought the PC laptop (thank God i didn't get into the AF... I'd have hated it passionately, I thought I wanted the structure, but I digress). Then i got the PC desktop. When I wanted to try doing web design as a business (yeah... right), I went back to Mac. I doubt I'll ever look back again. I've even gotten my PC-loving dad to consider getting a Mac Mini... my brother is the Mac Guru in the family (dad's the PC guru, and I'm the internet guru).

I second the whole 'go to the Mac store and play for an hour' I love going in there and I'm already assimi- converted. My current iMac is still PowerPC, not intel. Of course, when I get my MacBook Air (someday, dang it), it'll be Intel... but I can handle that.

Amanda
post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by MonaxLisa View Post
I sort of thought about a Mac, since it would be fantastic not having to worry about viruses etc. I havent looked at the price though (cant imagine) but isnt there still a lot of programs that only run on windows?
The newer Macs are Intel... and as the other Mac lover (names slip my mind easily) mentioned, you can dual-boot Mac OS and XP... and Mac is catching up, in spades, to the number of programs... if the exact program isn't available, something very close is. I have MS Office on my PowerPC Mac (i.e. not Intel)... I also have Dreamweaver for web design (better than Frontpage by a mile), FireFox and Thunderbird for internet and email... what kinds of programs are you thinking of?

Amanda
post #15 of 25
We went for the cheapest price we could get & got a Dell. I'm not happy with it....doing it over again, I'd go for a more expensive/better computer.
post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RubSluts'Mommy View Post
what kinds of programs are you thinking of?

Amanda
I wasnt thinking of anything specific, just general programs like AIM or flash or all the regular day to day stuff you use. Im not very high tech so the whole dual booting thing is way over my head. I just checked the Mac website, too expensive for my Im afraid. Maybe they'll go on sale for the holiday!
post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by MonaxLisa View Post
I wasnt thinking of anything specific, just general programs like AIM or flash or all the regular day to day stuff you use. Im not very high tech so the whole dual booting thing is way over my head. I just checked the Mac website, too expensive for my Im afraid. Maybe they'll go on sale for the holiday!
about the only programs I've seen not available are Ms Internet Explorer, and MS Messenger (which hurts me a bit... I have lots of friends on there). AIM is available, as is Yahoo Messenger. Skype (internet phone) is as well. MS Office is available most likely because enough people stood up and said 'what the-?' So a few programming changes and licensing agreements (i.e. lots of lawyers) and we have Office on our Macs. Not cheaply, of course... but I also have Open Office (which is being persnickety right now, as I gear up for WriMo), on my Mac... although the older versions of it require X11, which I dislike, but it's not as bad as running OS9 within OSX. I had to do that briefly last year for a project. Annoying.

PC's have their uses (I could name a few in jest, but the hardcore PC'ers here might get mildly offended... I have friends who insult us Mac people on a regular basis). They're okay basic computers, which is what I gather all you really need.

Although, Apple does have refurbished computers... for slightly cheaper. Also some places do have them, not just the Apple Store. I can't remember if Best Buy has them (refraining from commenting on BB), but others might... and there may be sales... and they do have decent financing...

I think, for what you want (internet, WP'ing, basics), then a PC would probably do find. Just steer clear of Gateway and Dell. But then again, you've already figured that out, at least with Dell. Oh, and if they're still in business, avoid eMachines like the Plague. They're even worse than Dell and Gateway. I almost forgot about them... I had a friend who had one... that thing crashed more times in any one evening than my PC's crash in a year... bad computers.

Have fun!

Amanda
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by RubSluts'Mommy View Post
about the only programs I've seen not available are Ms Internet Explorer, and MS Messenger (which hurts me a bit... I have lots of friends on there). AIM is available, as is Yahoo Messenger. Skype (internet phone) is as well.
http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/14983
I think all the instant messenger programs are available on just about every OS you could use. You may need to fine tune them a bit on less common OS's but if you're using a Mac that won't be an issue for you.
IE is useless anyways, there are better browsers.

I use Linux and still use MSN - under gaim though, as I it's easier just to have one thing open and connected (and it was already installed ). aMSN isn't that bad, and runs on Mac too - it's pretty much a MSN clone. You could also check out adium, mercury messenger, or emesene.

For Windows only programs, there is the option of using something like VMware.
As for Apple catching up on programs - they didn't do anything of that sort. It's the software companies finally realizing that not all of their market are Windows users. So blame any lack of software on the software companies.
post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by strange_wings View Post
http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/14983
I think all the instant messenger programs are available on just about every OS you could use. You may need to fine tune them a bit on less common OS's but if you're using a Mac that won't be an issue for you.
IE is useless anyways, there are better browsers.

I use Linux and still use MSN - under gaim though, as I it's easier just to have one thing open and connected.
I guess MS just doesn't want to acknowledge the Mac version... I never find it on their website for Messenger... thanks for the link... I've been wondering...

Quote:
For Windows only programs, there is the option of using something like VMware.
As for Apple catching up on programs - they didn't do anything of that sort. It's the software companies finally realizing that not all of their market are Windows users. So blame any lack of software on the software companies.
True... software companies are finally figuring out that Macs are darn good machines and should have more software. I think I was referring to general Mac community... software companies included. When i had my first two Macs in the 90's, there wasn't much out there... now there's a ton of stuff.

Amanda
post #20 of 25
My advice- stay away from Dells! I've had more issues with mine!!!
post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by MonaxLisa View Post
I've had my computer since...2002? Anyhow, its really starting to go down hill so Im thinking I should have an idea of what kind of computer to get if it stops working. Anyone have any suggestions for good but not too expensive brands? I know computers have gone way down in price since I've bought mine so I'm hoping I'll be able to find something fairly decent for not too much money
first thing, is what is main use for a computer?
work stuff?, internet email?, gaming?

next budget, do you want laptop or desktop?
if desktop, i would suggest talking to someone in your area and have them bulid you one. normaly it can be cheaper and better parts used then what you buy at a store or order on line.
post #22 of 25
I use Msn Messenger on my Mac all the time and have Ie on it also.
I like Safari better though.
I had a Dell laptop before but he will never go online.
I like Sony laptops and they are very helpful on the phone.
post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by meowqueensdaddy View Post
So, that's my Macintosh plug. Oh, and if you want to try it out, and you have an Apple retail store in your area, wander on over and play with the display computers. The employees will be happy to assimilate... uh, I mean, show you around.
gotta agree. worked on PCs for years, got my 1st mac my 1st year teaching. i've never personally purchased any other computer since then. yeah, the school uses PCs, so i know how to use them - but i've always preferred my mac [even before i could afford the most recent ones].

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my macbook! got it in January. it was expensive, especially compared to a PC laptop - but i don't regret spending the extra $$$!
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by RubSluts'Mommy View Post
about the only programs I've seen not available are Ms Internet Explorer, and MS Messenger (which hurts me a bit... I have lots of friends on there). AIM is available, as is Yahoo Messenger. Skype (internet phone) is as well.
get Adium for your Mac. works w/yahoo messenger & MS messenger [and others, but those are the only 2 i know anyone on ].
post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by MonaxLisa View Post
I've had my computer since...2002? Anyhow, its really starting to go down hill so Im thinking I should have an idea of what kind of computer to get if it stops working. Anyone have any suggestions for good but not too expensive brands? I know computers have gone way down in price since I've bought mine so I'm hoping I'll be able to find something fairly decent for not too much money
Where do you live? If you have a Fry's nearby, I would recommend you check them for any refurbished computers. My last two were from them, dirt cheap, and as far as I could tell, actually brand new and upgraded.
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