How To Choose A New Computer

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What computer should you buy? Are the package deals a good buy? Here's what you should know about choosing a new computer

In the market for a new computer? Don't pay for add-ons you don't need.

Retail stores and discounters often sell computers as package deals. Instead of getting just the computer CPU, you get the computer, monitor,  a printer  and possibly some software as part of the deal. Although these may be good deals for people buying their first computer, they may not be a bargain in other situations.

That's because  the computer, itself, may not have the bells and whistles you really want. For instance, if you're going to be using a lot of graphics programs, storing a lot of audio and video files, playing games, or expect to have several programs open at the same time, a computer  that is part of a package deal may not have enough memory, a fast enough processor speed  or big enough hard drive to suit you. Or, it may not have the version of Windows that's best for the way you plan to use the computer.  Upgrades to memory and operating system can add a couple hundred dollars to your initial purchase price.



Furthermore, all those "free" goodies that come with the computer may not really meet your needs. If you need a laser printer for office correspondence, or a fast inkjet printer, the low-end inkjet printer that comes "free" with the package deal won't do you any good. And if the package deal comes with a 19-inch monitor and what you really want is a 24-inch monitor, you'll have to pay extra for the upgrade. If you want want a wireless internet connection for a desktop computer, if the package you buy doesn't include a wireless lan, you'll have to buy an adapter and install the software to run it.

Unless you're buying your first computer or adding another computer to those you already own, software that's preloaded as part of a package deal may prove useless or unneeded as well.  And if you are buying your first computer, remember that you'll need to buy software or find legally free software or cloud computing solutions for essential tasks such as word processing.

Sometimes, of course, a package deal really is a bargain even if you throw out the printer or software that comes with it. To be sure you get the best price and the features you need, do your homework ahead of time. Make a list of the computer features you want such as CPU type and speed, memory, hard disk space, DVD or CD drives, speakers, monitor size, ideal weight (for notebooks), USB ports, built-in Bluetooth, etc. Below these specifications, list the monitor and printer you want, if any. Use your list of requirements to determine which computer or computer package deal to purchase. Then, shop around to get the best available price for the type of computer you want to buy. 

If you can't find a package deal with all the features you want, shop online or at stores that let you "build" your own computer.

For Further Reading
Here are several other articles you should read before you buy a computer:

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About the author:
Janet Attard is the founder of the award-winning  Business Know-How small business web site and information resource. Janet is also the author of The Home Office And Small Business Answer Book and of Business Know-How: An Operational Guide For Home-Based and Micro-Sized Businesses with Limited Budgets.  Follow Janet on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/JanetAttard.

 
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