rep_Computer_Buying_Guide222 by akintayo1


									Computer Buying Guide

         The stressfree guide
         to buying a desktop or
         laptop computer

     American Writers & Artists Inc.
                     Copyright © 2006 by American Writers & Artists Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form
or by any means, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any
information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

                                       Published by:
                               American Writers & Artists Inc.
                               245 NE 4th Avenue, Suite 102
                                 Delray Beach, FL 33483
                                   Phone: 561-278-5557
                                    Fax: 561-278-5929
            The Computer
            Buying Guide
Guide Objectives:
    •   What operating system is right for you?
    •   Laptop or desktop – which is best for you?
    •   See what you should look for when buying a desktop computer
    •   What to look out for when buying a notebook computer
    •   Learn if you can upgrade the computer you already own
    •   Get tips from the experts and see what they use

Nothing’s worse than going to the computer store and listening to a know-it-all salesperson
tell you to buy the most expensive computer in the store because the Radon graphics
accelerator with 128 megabytes of RAM is something he thinks you’re definitely going to
Instead of listening to a nerdy computer salesperson, who may be on commission or a sales
quota, AWAI’s Computer Buying Guide will give you a good idea of what you should look
for when you buy a new computer.
But before spending any money you need to decide on what operating system is right for you.
This guide will help you make that decision. Not sure if a laptop is right for you or if you
should stick with a desktop system? We have the advantages and disadvantages broken down
for you.
Ever wondered what the pros are using in their home office? This guide will give you an
insight and help you make the purchasing decision that is right for you.

                            Section 1: Windows or

Figure 1-1
What operating system is
right for you? It depends
on your and your clients’
preferences and needs.

                                Figure 1-1

                            One of the most common question is "What computer should I buy?" While this is a very
                            important question, it is the wrong one to ask … at least at first.

                            The first computer-related question you should ask is "Which operating system should I use."

                            A computer's operating system (OS) is the program that tells it what to do and how to do it. It's
                            what gives your computer its look and feel when performing basic functions like copying and
                            saving files, running printers and peripherals, searching for files, and so on.

                            It's also the part of your computer that allows you to run all your other programs - like your word
                            processing, design software, spreadsheets etc.

                            The reason you should choose the operating system before deciding on a computer is that you
                            cannot run the two best-known systems on the same type of computer.

                            The two best-known systems are (in alphabetical order) Macintosh - which runs, as you might
                            expect, on Macintosh computers ... and Windows - which runs on PCs. You might hear about a
                            number of other operating systems, such as Linux and Unix, but we advise sticking with either
                            Windows or Mac (or both).

                            Macintosh's current system is OS X. (The latest version is 10.4 or "Tiger.") Windows has several
                            different versions of its Windows XP system.

                            Some people are very passionate about which system they choose. Some are die-hard PC users,
                            while others won't use anything but a Mac.

                            You've probably heard that many graphic designers prefer Macs. However, both Macs and PCs
                            handle layout and image-editing software equally well. So there's no need to make your decision
                            on that basis alone. The Computer Buying Guide specializes on PCs using Windows systems.
                                                                                 Computer Buying Guide                     3

What is important is to choose a system that you are comfortable with and that meets the
needs of your clients and the printing bureaus they use. If you are a graphic designer and
already have clients lined up or a favorite printing bureau, ask them which operating system
they prefer. You might want to go with the one that most of them like best.

You can test a variety of operating systems at your local library, FedEx/Kinkos, or at an
Internet café. Or ask your friends if you can do a test run on their systems. See which one
seems easier and more logical to you.

If possible, ask other freelancers which system they prefer, and why - particularly if they have
used both. We did that with five of our graphic design experts. Here's what they have to say ...

   Lori Haller: For design work, large magalogs, and direct-mail campaigns, I use a Mac and
   work in Quark, Illustrator, and Photoshop. We also have InDesign and other PC/Mac
   software on a variety of machines. I use whatever fits my clients' specifications best.

   Roger C. Parker: All of my computers use Microsoft Windows. I want them to be
   compatible with the most widely used platform. I've heard stories about some software
   inconsistencies between versions and operating systems that convinced me to stick with

   Dennis Rome: Windows. Because I am a computer consultant, I had far too much money
   invested in Windows software before starting the Graphic Design program - so I didn't
   switch to Mac. However, a Mac may be in my future as income grows.

   Mike Klassen: Windows. That's just what I grew up with. Plus, I was a Microsoft
   employee, so I'm very comfortable with the system.

   Kammy Thurman: I use Windows, because that's what I learned on. But my sister (with
   whom I work) uses a Mac. She and a copywriter friend have just about convinced me to
   switch over to Mac.

One final consideration: If you buy a new computer, it will most likely come with the latest
version of its operating system pre-installed. If you buy a used computer, you may get an
older - sometimes much older - version of the operating system. In that case, make sure the
computer is new enough to upgrade the operating system software if you decide to do so.

                                                                                                   American Writers & Artists

                             Section 2: Laptop or Desktop –
                             Which is best for You?

Figure 2-1
Both laptops and desktops
have advantages and
disadvantages. Your
choice will depend on your
budget and work style.

                                               Figure 2-1

                             If you want a computer system that will serve you well for several years - one that you enjoy
                             using and that is part of building a successful freelance business - there are several things to
                             consider before making a purchase. Maybe you are looking into the purchase of a laptop, with
                             the flexibility to be able to work wherever and whenever you want. Or you prefer a stationary
                             desktop system in your home office. Both systems have advantages and disadvantages. Here's a
                             comparison table compiled from our own experts and Indiana State and Yale Universities:

                                                       DESKTOP                                 LAPTOP
                                                        lower cost                             portability
                                                 more easily expandable                   takes up less space
                                               better potential ergonomics        ability to work on site with clients
                                                       more secure
                                                       larger screen

                                The list of advantages for desktops is longer, but that does not mean it's the right choice for
                                you. The portability and smaller size of a laptop can be huge advantages, particularly if you
                                like working at your client's site, at the coffee shop, or by the lake.

                                The smaller size can also be a big advantage if your office space is limited - or if you're
                                temporarily forced to work on your kitchen table.

                                When deciding between laptop and desktop systems, your best bet is to try both and see which
                                one is better suited to your needs, your work style, and your lifestyle.
                                                                                  Computer Buying Guide                    5

If you don't know someone who will lend you a laptop, do a search online for "laptop rental."
Even if you do not find one that has the operating system you prefer, trying it out will still
help you decide if a laptop is really for you.

Now let's see what our graphic design experts have to say ...

Lori Haller: I use both a laptop AND a traditional desktop system. Sometimes when I need a
change of scenery, I'll use the laptop and take it outside. It gives me freedom to move around,
sit in a more relaxed position - and I really need that diversity if I am trying to land a
breakthrough format or come up with a winning new product launch.

Roger Parker: I do most of my work on my home and office desktop systems. I only present
from my laptop, and it's an old one. Many laptops have hard-to-use keyboards. Given the
volume of words I write, I need a full-size, ergonomic keyboard.

Dennis Rome: Laptop - I really like being portable, to be able to work wherever. I have a
high-end Sony VAIO. However, I do have a "backup" desktop system ready to go with all my
design software and fonts loaded in case my laptop has a problem or gets damaged. It also
serves as a great backup storage system for all my client files and documents.

Mike Klassen: I have both. I prefer a desktop because they're easier to expand with internal
and external hardware. My laptop simply serves as a backup or something I can take with me
to places like the AWAI Bootcamp.

Kammy Thurman: A desktop right now, but we're shopping for a laptop because we need it
for off-site digital photography sessions. I will also use it for my copywriting/design business
so I'll have more mobility - like being able to work from my deck in the mornings.

                                                                                                   American Writers & Artists

                               Section 3: Buying a Desktop
Figure 3-1
What should you look for
when you’re buying a new
computer? That depends
on what you want it to do.
Table 3-1: Desktop
Computer Buyer’s Guide
lists some of the more
important factors and
features to be aware of
when buying a new
computer. Just make sure
the information listed isn’t
too out of date!

                                 Figure 3-1

                               With so many factors to consider, deciding which desktop PC to buy can be a real challenge.
                               From components to software to accessories, new PCs offer a bewildering array of choices,
                               and for some folks, sifting through the large number of options can be daunting.
                               Table 3-1: Desktop Computer Buyer’s Guide will give you a good idea of what you should
                               look for when you buy a new desktop computer. The table contains solutions for all pocket
                               books: Budget, Middle of the Road and High End.
                               You should be able to find a “Budget” system for about $750, a Middle of the Road system
                               for about $1,250 and a High End System starting at $1,750.
                                                                                Computer Buying Guide                   7

Table 3-1: Desktop Computer Buyer’s Guide
 Factor           Budget             Middle of the Road                High End, Gaming
                     AMD Sempron or Intel     AMD Athlon64 or Intel    AMD Athlon64 X2 or
                     Celeron                  Pentium 4 6xx series     Intel Pentium 4 8xx
       CPU                                                             series
                     512MB                    1024MB (1GB)             2048MB (2GB)

                     17-inch CRT or 15-inch   19-inch CRT or           19-inch CRT or
                     LCD flat panel           17-inch flat panel/LCD   19-inch flat panel/LCD

                     64MB                     128MB                    256MB or more

  Video Memory
                     80GB                     160GB                    250GB or more

    Hard Drive
                     CD-RW Drive              DVD+-R/RW Drive          DVD+-R/RW Drive

 CD or DVD Drive
                     USB 2.0                  USB 2.0                  USB 2.0, Firewire

                     10/100 Ethernet, 56K     Gigabit Ethernet, 56K    Gigabit Ethernet, 56K
                     modem                    modem                    modem

 Included Devices
 Refer to AWAI “Computer Basics – A Step by Step Guide to learning Computer Basics the fun
 and easy Way” for a detail description of each of these components.

                                                                                                American Writers & Artists

                               Section 4: Buying a Laptop
Figure 4-1
What should you look for
when you’re buying a new
computer? That depends
on what you want it to do.
Table 4-1 Laptop Buyer’s
Guide lists some of the
more important factors
and features to be aware
of when buying a new
computer. Just make sure
the information listed isn’t
too out of date!

                                Figure 4-1

                               Deciding on which notebook to buy is even more confusing than buying a desktop computer.
                               That’s because there is much more variance in features and prices between various laptops.
                               Laptop computers can’t be upgraded as easily as desktop computers, so your decision is pretty
                               much final.
                               Table 4-1: Laptop Buyers Guide will give you a good idea of what you should look for when
                               you buy a new laptop computer. You should be able to find a “Budget” system for about $850,
                               a Middle of the Road system for about $1,400 and a High End System starting at $2,000.
                               Some other important factors to consider when buying a Laptop include:
                               •   Size
                                   Generally speaking, while convenient and cool looking, smaller notebooks aren’t as
                                   powerful or fast as larger laptop computers. If you travel frequently and need to lug your
                                   laptop around with you, you might want to consider a smaller notebook. If your laptop
                                   doesn’t move around much you’re probably better off with a larger model.
                               •   Battery Life
                                   A laptop’s battery life can range any where from 1 to 4 hours. Some laptops can even
                                   accept a second battery for extra long life. Battery life probably isn’t much of an issue if
                                   you only use your laptop when it’s plugged into the wall.
                               •   Warranty
                                   Laptop computers are notorious for breaking down. What’s worse, they’re not very easy
                                   to open and they have their own unique notebook parts, so they’re much harder and more
                                   expensive to repair than their desktop counterparts. Most of us hate the old three-year
                                   extended warrantee sales pitch, but if you’re buying a notebook computer the cost of the
                                   extra warranty is probably worth it.
                                                                                     Computer Buying Guide                   9

 •     Included Devices and Features
       Laptop computers usually have several devices and gizmos built-in—often more than a
       desktop computer! A modem and Ethernet port are usually a standard part of most laptops
       today. Some laptops also have memory card readers (especially useful if you have a
       digital camera or PDA), Firewire ports, and even wireless networking, known as WiFi. If
       you’re comparing various models, make sure that you know what devices are or aren’t

Table 4-1: Laptop Buyer’s Guide
 Factor           Budget                         Middle of the Road         High End
                      AMD Sempron or Intel       AMD Turion64 ML32 or       AMD Turion64 ML40 or
                      Celeron M,                 Intel Pentium M 740        Intel Pentium M 760
                      512MB                      1024MB (1GB)               2048MB (2GB)

       Display        14”                        15.4”                      17”
                      64MB                       128MB                      256MB

     Video Memory
                      40GB                       60GB                       80GB

      Hard Drive
                      CD-RW Drive                DVD+-R/RW Drive            DVD+-R/RW Drive

 CD or DVD Drive
                      USB 2.0                    USB 2.0                    USB 2.0, Firewire

                      10/100 Ethernet, WiFi      10/100 Ethernet, WiFi      Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi
                      (wireless networking), &   (wireless networking), &   (wireless networking),
                      56K modem                  56K modem                  56K modem, & Bluetooth
                                                                            (a next-generation
                                                                            wireless port)
 Included Devices

                                                                                                     American Writers & Artists

                              Section 5: Upgrading a
Figure 5-1
Computer upgrades can
get expensive! There’s a
fine line between when it’s
more cost effective to
upgrade an older
computer, or to simply buy
a new computer
Figure 5-2
Most computer upgrades
require that you, or better
yet someone who actually
knows about computers,
opens up the computer
case.                         Figure 5-1                                     Figure 5-2

                              When you upgrade a computer, you usually replace older components with newer
                              components to improve the computer’s performance. You can also upgrade a computer by
                              adding additional components, such as more memory or a second hard drive. Upgrading a
                              computer to improve its performance is often cheaper than buying a new computer. For most
                              upgrades you will need someone with a lot of computer experience to do the upgrade for you.
                              It’s often difficult to determine which is better—upgrading an old computer or simply buying
                              a new computer. If you’re an average computer user, plan on buying a new computer every
                              four or five years (sorry—someone has to break this news to you). By then, the cost of a new
                              computer will be less expensive than any effective upgrades you do.
                                                                                       Computer Buying Guide                        11

 So what can you do to upgrade a computer? The following table lists some of the more
 common upgrades.

Table 5-1: Typical Things to Upgrade on a Computer
 Upgrade            Description
                     Increasing the amount of memory in a computer is probably the most effective
                     and inexpensive upgrades you can make. More memory can significantly
                     increase the performance of your computer. 1GB of memory is all you should
   Memory (RAM)      ever need—for the next year or so anyway. Keep in mind that applications like
                     Photoshop like RAM, the more the better.
                     The hard drives in newer computers have become so huge that you may never
                     need to buy another one. If you do somehow run out of room on your hard
                     drive, you can buy a second one, since most computer can handle two or more
                     internal hard drives. Look into external hard drives (USB or Firewire) to provide
     Hard Disk       quick additional space or important backups.
                     It’s often better to buy a whole new computer than to upgrade the CPU and
     CPU and         motherboard. That way you get all new components all once—which is a lot
    Motherboard      cheaper than buying them all individually.

                     There are an endless variety of devices that you can add to a computer. You
                     can add CD-ROM, DVD, and Zip drives, graphics cards, tape backups, and
  Add Devices and

                                                                                                                 Quick Reference
                                                                                                             Make sure any upgrades
                                                                                                             you make to a computer are
                                                                                                             worth the cost—sometimes
                                                                                                             it’s simply better to buy a
                                                                                                             new computer.
                                                                                                             Upgrades to Improve
                                                                                                             Performance Include:
                                                                                                             • Adding more memory or
                                                                                                             • Adding a faster hard drive
                                                                                                             • Adding a new CPU and
                                                                                                               motherboard (usually not
                                                                                                             • Adding new devices, such
                                                                                                               as a DVD drive

                                                                                                         American Writers & Artists

                           Section 6: Customizing Your
                           System so it works for You
Figure 6-1
The CPU is the part in
your computer that does
the work. The more
memory you have, the
faster is your computer.

                              Figure 6-1

                           The following is a list of components mentioned on tables 3.1 and 4.1 and a brief description
                           of their function and selection criteria:

                           The Processor

                           Your computer’s processor (sometimes referred to its CPU or central processing unit) is the
                           part of your computer that does the number crunching.

                           The speed of these chips –called the clock speed – varies from around 800MHz (megahertz -
                           “mega” means “million”) up to more than 3GHz (gigahertz – “giga” means “billion”).

                           It used to be that the higher the number (3GHz is higher than 400MHz) the faster the
                           processor. And the faster the processor, the quicker your computer does tasks. This is no
                           longer true. An Athlon64 3500 running at 2.2GHz is generally faster than a Pentium 4 running
                           at 3.2GHz. The “3500” in the name indicates the processor performs as fast as a Pentium 4 at
                           3.5GHz, if such a part existed. Recently, CPU manufacturers (Intel & AMD, basically) have
                           moved away from displaying the GHz speed, and replaced it with a symbolic number. Web
                           sites like Tom’s Hardware Guide have handy charts that compare CPU model performances
                           on different applications and benchmarks.

                           All chips sold by Intel and AMD will run Windows. Of those, some will even run Windows
                           64bit, which will soon enter the mainstream when the next version of Windows (Vista) is
                           released. Buying a computer with a 64bit-capable CPU will probably remain current longer,
                           but it is not necessary. More important for graphic professionals is the new crop of “dual
                           core” CPUs. What this basically means is two CPU sharing one chip. The advantages are very
                           evident for people who run multiple applications at the same time. A user running Photoshop
                           and Indesign will be able to execute a complex filter in Photoshop and keep working with
                           Indesign without suffering any slowdown from the PC.

                           The following list briefly describes the selection of CPUs you are likely to find in systems
                           sold today:
                                                                                Computer Buying Guide                 13

    •   Intel Celeron D 300 Series: Lowest cost offering from Intel. It is not 64-bit capable
        and only single-core. Found mostly in budget systems. The mobile version, Celeron
        M, can be found on low cost laptops.

    •   Intel Pentium 4 500 Series: Quickly being replaced by newer models, it is one step
        up from the Celeron line. It is not 64-bit capable and only single-core.

    •   Intel Pentium 4 600 Series: Enhances the 500 series by being 64-bit capable.

    •   Intel Pentium D 800 Series: The latest from Intel, it sports two Pentium 4 cores per
        chip. It is also 64-bit capable and found in medium to high end machines.

    •   Intel Pentium M 700 Series: The mobile king from Intel. Found mostly in notebooks,
        it is very efficient ( a 2.0GHz M is faster than a 3.0GHz Pentium 4) and consumes
        little power. It is not 64-bit capable and only single-core, and currently being
        replaced by the “Core Duo” and “Core Solo” chips in high-end laptops.

    •   AMD Sempron: Lowest cost offering from AMD. It is not 64-bit capable and only
        single-core. Found mostly in budget systems.

    •   AMD Sempron 64: Adds 64-bit support. Still low end.

    •   AMD Athlon 64: The workhorse of the AMD family. Single core only but all 64-bit
        capable. Covers the whole price range, so refer to the model number (from 2800 to
        4000) to determine capabilities.

    •   AMD Turion 64: The mobile version of the Athlon 64. It competes directly with the
        Pentium M.

    •   AMD Athlon 64 X2: Dual core versions of the Athlon 64 family, these are the fastest
        CPU currently for sale.

If you are using your computer for generating and displaying an lot of graphics, you want to
choose a computer with the fastest processor you can afford… with one important adder: You
also want to get as much memory (also called RAM) as possible.

And finally, if you are looking for a notebook computes, stay away from those using desktop
CPUs. These consume too much power for any decent battery life, and they run hot. Stick
with Pentium M and Turion.

System Memory (RAM) and Storage (Hard Drive)

Many computer users confuse two very different parts of their computers, because they are
measured in similar ways. These are memory –commonly called RAM (Random Access
Memory) – and hard drive space.

Think of your computer as a woodworking shop. Computer memory is like your workbench.
It’s where you do your work. The more bench space you have, the easier it is to do the work.

If you have a small bench, you pile stuff on top of other stuff. It gets harder to work
efficiently. The same is true of your computer memory. The more RAM you have (to the
limits allowed by your computer), the faster and more efficiently you can accomplish your

                                                                                                American Writers & Artists

     RAM is measured in megabytes or gigabytes. As a graphic designer, you should try to get at
     least 1024 megabytes of RAM – more, if possible.

     So, when buying a computer, try to get as fast a processor as you can. But don’t skimp on the

     Your hard drive space is storage space. Even though it is also measured in mega- and
     gigabytes, it is not the same as RAM (memory). Hard drive storage space is like all the
     cabinets, drawers, and shelves in a woodworking shop.

     It’s where your computer stores finished and unfinished work, your pictures, documents,
     music, and similar things. It’s also where the computer stores your programs when you’re not
     using them.

     Hard drives are now relatively inexpensive. Try to get a computer with at least a 80 gigabyte
     (GB) internal hard drive. You should also consider getting an external drive that is at least that
     big for backups.


     For a graphic’s professional, this is arguably the most important component. Two factors are
     important in describing a monitor, size and resolution. A small monitor will quickly frustrate
     the user when working with large image files.

     There are basically two types available today, CRT and LCD panels. CRT monitors are bulky,
     but until recently have been the choice for graphics because of the resolution flexibility and
     color accuracy. It is getting harder to find good, large CRT monitors because the LCDs are
     taking over, but a large 21” screen that can support a resolution of 1600x1200 at 85Hz can be
     the designer’s best friend. The 85Hz refers to the number of times the screen is being
     “painted” per second. A value lower than 75 might be uncomfortable for some people because
     they might see a flicker.

     LCD screens do not have a flicker problem, since all the dots are “painted” at the same time.
     They are more expensive than CRTs, but take less space and recently have improved in their
     color accuracy. Still, a 20” LCD (1600x1200 resolution) can cost around $500 while a 24”
     LCD (1920x1200 resolution) will be just under $1,000.

     On a laptop, the only choice is an LCD panel. High resolutions might be better for graphics
     work, but keep in mind everything (icons, menu items, buttons, etc) will look smaller on
     screen. Those with tired eyes should try several at the store before committing.

     Graphics System

     Virtually all computers for sale today are very capable at dealing with 2D work: Photo
     editing, layout, web design, etc. The requirements for 3D work go beyond the scope of this
     guide, but be advised that just because a graphics card is very adept at 3D games it does not
     mean it will be any good at working with 3D graphics programs such as 3D Studio Max or

     Peripherals and Accessories

     All PCs today come with USB2.0 ports. The more, the better, because all kinds of devices can
     be plugged into your PC with USB: external hard drives, keyboards, mice, scanners, printers,
                                                                                 Computer Buying Guide                  15

memory card readers, etc. A Firewire port is useful mainly for people who work with video
files, since most cameras only transfer video with Firewire.

As with USB, most PCs are sold with at least one Ethernet port. Even if your PC will not be
part of the network, you might find it useful if you have a broadband connection to the
Internet. The standard speed is designated as 10/100, and it refers to the number of kilobits
that can transfer in and out per second. Newer systems will have Gigabit Ethernet (1000), but
this is only useful if the PC will be part of a network that is running at that speed. Your web
surfing will not be any faster because of it.

A CD burner is very useful if you plan to share large files with other people and for limited
backup. These days, a DVD burner is almost the same price and has the benefit of much
larger capacity (over 4500MB vs. 650MB)

Now, let’s see what our design experts are using:

Lori Haller:
I run my main business using a Power Mac G4. I use Mac OS X Version 10.3.9 with a 467
MHz CPU. I back up on a firewire drive and also onto CDs. Then every 3 months, I have it
backed up and kept off-site in a safe – so even if the place burns down, the artwork is always
properly archived.

Roger Parker:
I have three late model Dell computers, all with 1 gigabyte memory (RAM). The laptop is
considerably older, but adequate. A fast computer is a pleasure to use.

Get at least a 40GB hard drive. An 80GB drive is better, as graphics files quickly mount up.
The best insurance you can get is off-premise, automatic, backup. My primary computer is
automatically backed up to a remote archive every night.

Dennis Rome:
I have a Sony VAIO laptop (Pentium 4, 3.2GHz processor with 1 gigabyte of RAM. It has a
100GB hard drive. I also have a “backup” desktop system (Pentium 4, 3.0GHz, 300GB Serial
ATA hard drive, and 2GB of RAM.

Mike Klassen:
I have a Dell, Pentium 4, 3.20GHz, 2GB RAM and the built-in Dell graphics adapter. Tip: Get
a system with as much processor speed and RAM as you can afford. Anyone using Windows
plus software like Photoshop is going to endure lots of frustration on a slow system with the
minimum amount of RAM.

                                                                                                  American Writers & Artists

     Computer Buying Guide

     Section Summary

     Windows or Macintosh
     •   Both systems can handle design software equally well.
     •   Ask your clients for their preferences. This is important for smooth exchange of files.
     •   Test a variety of operating systems at your local library, FedEx/Kinkos, or at an Internet café.

     Laptop or Desktop – Which is Best for You?
     •   Laptops let you work wherever you want, but desktops are usually cheaper. Before you buy a
         laptop or desktop consider where and for what you will be using it.

     Buying a Desktop Computer
     •   The market offers an almost endless choice of desktop systems. When you compare prices, make
         sure that the components offered for each system are comparable. Table 3-1 will help you with that.

     Buying a Laptop Computer
     •   Laptops let you work and access the Internet wherever and whenever you want. However, battery
         life is often limited to 1-4 hours.
     •   Laptops are usually more expensive than a comparable desktop system and cannot be upgraded
         as easily.

     Upgrading a Computer
     •   Make sure any upgrades you make to a computer are worth the cost—sometimes it’s simply better
         to buy a new computer.
     •   Upgrades to improve performance include adding more memory or RAM, adding a bigger hard
         drive, adding a new CPU and motherboard (usually not recommended), and adding new devices,
         such as a DVD drive.

     Customizing Your System, so It Works for You
     •   Make sure any upgrades you make to a computer are worth the cost—sometimes it’s simply better
         to buy a new computer.

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