It is that time of year again – back to school! Now is a great time to shop around for a new computer. One of the most common questions I get asked is: what computer should I get?
There is no easy answer to that, and my instant response is: well, what do you want to use the computer for? It is by looking at this that you can narrow down the options to find a computer to best suit you!
Rather than jumping in and telling you to get the biggest and the best, my first piece of advice is to set yourself a budget and get the best that you can afford. Computers come in a wide range of prices from under $500 to over $5000 and that vast range of prices lead some people to think they cannot afford a “good” computer. A good computer is one that suits YOUR needs, not someone else’s.
To narrow the choices down you should consider some of the following: What are you going to use it for? This question determines what hardware specifications you are going to need to perform those tasks. For example:
- Do you need to get onto the internet? This is almost a necessity nowadays, and every laptop from the $200 netbooks through to the $4000 gaming laptop can get you online.
- Do you need it to be portable? Laptops are cheaper than ever but still come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, so if you need it to be ultraportable as you will be carrying it a lot be sure to check the weight of the laptop.
- How long do you need between charges? If you carry your laptop around a lot you don’t really want to have to lug around the charger as well. So, check the battery capacity of your new laptop if this is important to you.
- Do you plan on storing lots of photos and/or video? These items take up a lot of space, so you will need lots of storage. Many laptops now come with dual hard drives to allow for additional storage, so consider one with this set up if you plan on storing a lot of data.
- Do you need to use DVDs? Many laptops don’t come with a DVD drive nowadays so if you need one you will want to add this to your list of must-haves. If you don’t use a DVD drive often you can always get an external one.
- Do you want a small or large screen? Screen size determines the overall weight and keyboard layout of a laptop. Larger screens are generally heavier but have the advantage of having a full-size keyboard making it easier to type. Smaller screens are more portable, but the keyboard is minimised to make it fit.
- Do you want to be able to plug in an external monitor or connect to your TV? Gone are the days when you had to be technically minded to connect your computer to your TV, nowadays you just need an HDMI cable and away you go. So, if you think this is something you will use ensure your new laptop has an HDMI port, or get an adaptor that converts to HDMI.
- Do you want a tablet or a touchscreen? Many people have multiple devices, iPad/tablet and a laptop. With devices like the Surface Pro, you can get a tablet and computer all in one. So, if you are considering multiple devices perhaps look at this option instead.
When looking for your new computer it pays to shop around. Many manufacturers offer great deals when you shop direct (this usually means online) so keep an eye out. If you would rather shop in-store check out what is on offer at various places and compare prices. Don’t be afraid to ask for a better deal, especially if you plan on buying additional items like a bag, keyboard, mouse, etc. Many stores are happy to work out a package deal if you buy in the same transaction.
I hope this gives you some things to consider. Next up will be what software do you need, so keep an eye out for that!
Remember internet safety is important so ensure you keep your computer up to date and have antivirus software installed. See my past post on Ransomware.