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Buying a Computer
I am wondering if I need a new computer. I bought my computer new in 2001. It is a Dell Dimension L1000R and it has Windows ME on it. I use AOL 7 (because the AOL support person I called when I used AOL 9.0 said it would work better with the other programs I had) and MIE 6 and still use dialup to connect to the internet. I am beginning to have problems all the time with it freezing when I go on and off eBay or Facebook and can't watch videos because they never load. I have always been reluctant to spend the money because I just don't know what I should get and worry that someone will sell me something I don't need because I am not particularly computer savvy, and frankly, I just don't have money to spend on a new computer. I am leery of always updating and buying the new version every time there is a new version of something, because then when does it ever stop? I am always getting messages that AOL caused an error in DLL 32 or something and I am wondering if it is just AOL, the incompatibility of different things installed on my computer or what? Does anyone have some simple or easy to understand advice? I feel like a sitting duck whenever I go into a computer store. Easy Target
If you need a computer for your business or personal life, it's time to think about upgrading the computer AND your Internet connection. It's going to be nearly impossible to watch any streaming content (meaning videos) without a high-speed connection. I have the lowest-cost plan through AT&T right now and I pay $15 a month for Internet. And new desktop computers can be had for well under $500, and most companies offer installment plans. DON'T buy a used computer.
You raised two other issues in your post. One is feeling like you are not computer-savvy and are going to be taken advantage of in a computer store. My suggestion is to do your research online instead of going to a store. Poke around the websites of several computer manufacturers (e.g., Dell, HP) until the terminology starts to look familiar to you and is less intimidating. You can even try Googling ''novice computer buyer'' or a similar phrase and see if there are websites that will help hold your hand through learning the different parts and terminology of a computer. When you're ready to buy, you can order the whole thing online without having to walk into a store at all.
The other issue you raised is feeling like computer/software companies are taking advantage of consumers by constantly offering new versions of things. Let me tell you, you are not alone in this frustration! Even the most computer-savvy users and tech geeks are frustrated by this. From consumers' perspective, it's just a way for companies to make money. From companies' perspective, it's their way of constantly improving their technology and offering us better and better services. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. The best protection you have is to gradually increase your knowledge and computer skills (again, just by reading and Googling on the Internet) so that you are better able to tell legitimate ''new and improved'' upgrade claims from illegitimate ones. Good luck! Computer mama
You could also try to get your current computer upgraded but often that involves expenses similar to just buying a new computer (licensing fees for Microsoft XP or Vista alone is pretty pricey).
Since you're a computer non-techie, it's probably best to get a new machine. There are many reputable local business who will sell you a machine without all the hype/sales pressure. In your case I think that's a better solution than going to a box store. And your best insurance against being over/under sold is to shop around.
Go to several stores, tell them your max budget to spend. Tell them what kinds of things you want to do with your computer. Get a written bid including full specs of what they will sell you. Make sure you get a price for all the software you need as well (Microsoft Office, photo editing, etc). Once you get several bids you should be able to make a decision as to which machine suits you. If you can't, you can go back to the stores and ask them to explain the differences. Those conversations should be pretty enlightening in terms of which sales person really wants to help you out (i.e. the cheapest price is not always the best deal).
Also please be sure to recycle your old computer when you get rid of it. Judiah
Yes, it can be daunting, but you are also paying money for a network connection that is positively prehistoric. For about the same money (or cheaper) you can get a DSL connection to the net which will allow you to watch movies to your heart's content.
There are plenty of resources out there to help you, and you don't even have to talk to a salesman to buy a computer.
From your message, I gleaned that you are using the computer mostly for facebook, ebay, some videos, some email, basically just general easy computer living. Right away you can scratch off all sorts of higher-end equipment. You don't need powerful video cards or surround sound video, you really don't.
I'd recommend looking at dell.com for an inspiron laptop. The basic model is a very cheap and powerful and is a fine computer that will do all you need it to do, probably. The particular model we bought is called the inspiron 1525. It does the job. Of course there are a million different computers out there and you can easily find one you like. For example, you could go into a computer store, find a model that you like, but not buy it. Then find the same model online for cheaper and have it delivered.
Just make sure you get some anti-virus and anti-spyware software. You don't even have to pay for that, either. We use AVG free and it protects us just fine - no monthly payments or anything. Don't Be Scared
Because I shared your experience, I disagree with the computer tech - the sooner you leave Windows ME behind, the better. For years, I dealt with friends' jeers at my bad system. I too am frustrated that we have to pay for upgrades that Microsoft built in by purposely issuing problematic products (nice business model - well, it obviously works for MS *grumble*). I also said I couldn't afford a new PC. In retrospect, I waited way too long.
Start fresh: dell.com (no salespeople) Get the base-priced laptop (Inspiron). Forget most of the upgrades - they're just fluff. Except for a RAM upgrade, which is necessary. *grumble* I paid $550 1.5 years ago, but I think prices have gone down.
But it's not just the new computer you need. Once you get it, avoid AOL and IE. They wreck computers! Download Firefox (free) and Firefox's NoScript add-on (free).
I have some extra PC advice, for free of course, if you wish to email me, but this post is a great start. I now have a computer that works well, after doing some research/experimentation.
If money is not a constraint, or you know for sure that you will use it in places on the go, laptops are great. From my experiences, most people buy a laptop because they like the small footprint on their otherwise cluttered desk, or the idea that they can use it around the house, or in front of the TV, or to watch movies in bed.
Laptops cost a whole lot more for the same computing power, or upgrade capability. They may offer some slight energy savings, but they are also more prone to getting dropped, and damaged, and also to being stolen very easily. In Berkeley we have spates of break-ins every now and then, and the reports we see almost always say the laptop was stolen (and wasn't locked, or password-protected).
If you buy a full-size computer and keep it under your desk, the only desk space needed is for the base of the monitor and a compact keyboard with built-in touchpad.
I cannot tell you how many of the people I have helped over the years were so enamored with the small form-factor of the laptop. but their budget dictated a far less capabable computer. Almost all of them, 2-3 years later wish they had spent less money to buy a full-size. They would have bought a lot more computer, for almost half of what they paid for a laptop. And almost all of them who thought they might occasionally need to take their laptop on the go, never had to, because where they went already had a computer they could use for their presentation, photographs, etc.
If money is tight, ask yourself if you REALLY need a laptop. (and if you have doubts, please ask the moderator for my email address). Nel
My oldest will start kindergarten in the fall. She has not had any real exposure to computers yet and I need to change that. I am not interested in the play computers. I want the real thing but have no savvy in this arena. I would like it to last for years to come without having to buy another one any time soon. A couple of questions: Which make/model do you suggest for kids and what learning software lines? She has 2 younger siblings (3 and 2) so I will want to get some software for them as well. Appreciate any and all suggestions. Not a tech savvy Mom
On a philosophical note, my boys (10,13,16) are all good students, athletes, voracious readers and yet the majority of arguments we have are over computer time. So many folks believe that in order to compete in our high tech world, the more and earlier exposure our kids have the better off they will be. We have developed a weird way of easing our children in to the world - we won't let them walk to the corner market yet we encourage them to sit in front of machine with access to all kinds of stuff - much unfiltered and of questionable content.
You have many years of computer issues ahead of you - no need to start early! Sorry about the lecture
I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who has email-only service on a machine such as Earthlink's Mail Station. My 80+ mother does not want a computer, but she is keen to have email. I've looked at the Mail Station website, and the screen seems really small. Is there any other type of hardware/email service out there? Thanks. L
I've had great success with Domino Computer on Beach St. in Emeryville (in Computer Currents, they're listed under DNet). Their prices are competitive. They're not the absolute cheapest for hardware, but they stand behind there work. Their service is fantastic. I've often walked out paying nothing when other places would have charged for labor or restocking. In the end, they've ended up being cheaper for me than the stores which appear to be cheaper in advertisements. I recommend them without reservation.
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