This computer nerd has learned some things this past week, buying a new laptop to replace his wife's DELL with the Best Windows version of all time, Windows XP. Here are the high points-- and I'll leave selling Macs to those who worship the big APPLE:
1. Buy your new computer at Best Buy. There are a couple other
good stores around, though, and you probably know of them. Prices are good and BB's Geek Squad supports the product...for a fee of course. Couple hundred bucks. Best Buy carries all the big brands, not just their house brands. Dell is no longer the PC darling. Sony and Toshiba are good. Samsung and Asus--a brand I didn't know but they make most of the internals for all the rest of the PC's and have started selling under their own brand name. HP won't even ship with Windows 8 but the rest do. Ain't a lot of desktops around anymore...but the new thing is an "All in One" that doesn't have a computer box. Just a screen with the computer in it.. and wireless keyboard and mouse. Companies seem to like it, but its sure not portable! Here's a 3rd party site to view.
2, Pay the money to buy the 2 year GEEK SQUAD contract that services your new PC and any 2 other devices at home--you pick which ones when you need the service. Especially because Win8 isn't the system you have learned how to back-door fix. Screw up Windows 8, like I did the first day, and it'll be worth its weight in gold. MS even makes it hard for Geeks to work on. We already got our money out if it after I tried to escape the Black Hand of Bill Gates' influence on password security.
3. Buy the newest features and the most memory and hard drive space you can afford. Ya don't replace your computer very often, so don't buy a discontinued technology on sale--it's already obsolete. We went with a Toshiba laptop with touch screen, lots of hard drive space and memory. I think it was about $800. More well dressed than the $300 ones. Wicked fast but not the VERY fastest which is overpriced. Ours came with a CD/ROM. Many don't anymore... you can get your software nowadays off the web. Get the biggest screen you can afford, and the most finger friendly, largest keyboard you like the feel of.
(a) If you hate laptop keyboards designed for tiny 5-year-olds' fingers, buy a wireless KEYBOARD and pretend your laptop is actually a desktop. If it comes with a wireless MOUSE, fine. If it doesn't buy one. I've had good luck with Logitech... keyboard and mouse, and separate, small silver/gray model M305 mices. Got 2 of em.
(b) If you're getting older and can't see so well, get a cheaper BIG MONITOR, bigger the better and forget about the touch screen crap. Plug it into your new laptop. Put the laptop behind your monitor, out of site. Some keyboards have an off-on switch.
(c) If you get a PC without a CD/Rom, buy a cheap EXTERNAL CD/ROM Read/Write...and you can use it on other devices later, like mini-laptops, etc. It too just plugs into your PC for power and to exchange data.
Important. Backing up--- or FIRE your home Computer Director when you lose everything! And it WILL crash eventually, or sooner. So buy a miniature 1-Terrabyte External Drive. Mines called "My Passport" by big maker Western Digital. Same size now as a thin pack of cigarettes, no plugging in AC adapters. It just goes right into a USB for both power and transfering. Perfect just to use it as an external, additional drive so that you have backup files in 2 places. (1) Your Laptop and (2) your External. Couple hundred bucks probably. How much is your data worth to you?
The Computer companies want you to send all your data up in the sky to their 'cloud'....for safety. Pay em by the month forever. An external terra byte drive will do the same thing...and you can plug it into all your PC's...and your friends' PC's too for backup or transfering. Its also a good way move the data from your OLD machine to your new one.
Back up your family PCs on it once a week. Give everybody a different directory for their own files....remember to back up "Data" on your C drive if you put it there, and USERS "My Documents" files inside "Documents and Settings", and Program Files too. That way, you can save your mail, music, photos, etc. You can get help porting over your Outlook on the web and where to find your old email.
6. Windows 8 sucks. Even more than Windows 7. They moved EVERYTHING...and try to get you to put all your programs in your START Screen. But there's a DESKTOP and it's not first. But you CAN put shortcuts on it and make it look pretty close to your old, comfortable Windows XP desktop. Be smart, and also create shortcuts pointing to your USER Documents/Music/Pictures/Download directories...to easily access them.
Windows 8 makes getting onto your home network a piece of cake. You not longer have to be a network administrator/guru. Windows will find your home Internet/Router Automatically and log you into it, so long as you know your router's password. Windows 8 works very nicely with the new wireless printers that connect to your router automatically too. Get the hang of FILE and DRIVE SHARING and all your home PC's can see each other on your network.
7. Of course always make sure your router that connects your house's computers to your Internet modem HAS a password...you don't want your neighbors snooping in your computers or using your internet for free! Get a new router about every 5 years... they work much faster nowadays, and once you have to reboot it chronically, time to get rid of it. If you got a newer big screen TV, it will probably talk to your router too and connect to the internet from the living room. Nice for Netflix! And they are also a WIFI for your smart-phones and ipods cutting back on what you pay AT&T when you're at home instead of lurking and roaming around town.
8. New Printer. We got a wireless HP printer last month after my last one wouldn't align its cartridges anymore. This one has its own 4x6 photo tray with an automatic feed for paper. Doesn't hold much paper...and the new technology has more than just 2 little ink cartridges (colors in one, black in the other.) This one has about 5...newer technology, better color. Better photos. The HP Photosmart 7520 is mostly plastic and only $150. Its wireless and hits my router. Not all printers do. So we have 1 printer for the whole family.
Put it anyplace and plug it into the wall. The router talks to it. Or plug it into your only PC through a USB port. Printers are all cheaper now but the printer companies make their money off the cartridges. This one uses 5 carts of various colors. They sell in $50 refills for the set and you can buy a higher capacity black one since you'll use it most.
Course now that my wife has a new computer, my old one seems pretty slow and clunky...I'll get a new one probably, keep the old one with it's XP around as a standby or guest computer and for legacy software that her Windows 8 can't read. Like 32 bit programs that weren't upgraded by the software companies to 64 bit. Labels Unlimited wont. Neither will Capeze Screen Capture.
Office doesn't come with disks anymore. It has a scratch off secret number can be used only once...and Microsoft downloads the whole thing from its website when you enter the secret number. (No more installing Office CD's on all your PC's without them knowing about it.) The Student/Home Office 2013 version doesn't have Publisher or Access. For another hundred bucks, the Pro version DOES, but yet it won't read old Office 2003 MS Publisher files. I don't see anything new in it but they did move everything around, of course, just to piss us off.
Hope this helps...got any questions or comments? Pray to Bill and reply or share if you wish. And enjoy the picture/meme I created with my $50 copy of "Snag-it" that captures stuff off the internet and computer screens very easily. Thats about all the software I bought...tho I did download the free versions of Google's Picasa to manage my 11,000 photos on my PC and the Internet, and also EVERNOTE to transfer files easily from one PC to the next, including my smartphones and ipad.
I hate Windows...always did. I miss CPM and prompted UNIX!