Tuesday, Nov 12 2013 06:00 AM

TechWire: What you need to know when buying a computer

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"I want to buy a new computer. What should I look for?"

Eventually, our computers, unfortunately, will fail us. Like all machines, our computers, smartphones and even tablets will likely fall victim to a software, hardware or other issue that renders them unusable.

When you make the decision to buy a new computer, what should you look for?

All of the new and latest technology can be rather intimidating. At first glance of a computer ad in the newspaper or at Best Buy, the very thought of terms such as HDD, RAM, GHz and CPU may make our heads spin. And because technology changes almost every day, it becomes more and more vital to understand the most important things you should pay attention to when you are in the market to buy a new computer.

One of the biggest decisions in buying a new computer is the Operating System, or "OS." If you have decided to use a Windows computer, then great! The only problem with buying a brand new computer today, if you have decided on using Windows, is the dreaded Windows 8 software. Whether you have been using Windows for decades and feel confident enough to tackle anything new, Windows 8 is almost an entirely different system. At first glance, there are many new changes that will confuse even the most advanced Windows user. There is no "Start" button and no "Start" menu. The entire system is setup much like a "smart phone" and there are "Apps" instead of "programs."

My recommendation is to go into an electronics store and take Windows 8 out for test drive to see how you like it. Otherwise, consider purchasing a slightly refurbished computer that comes with Windows 7 loaded instead and be sure to get a warranty with it.

When it comes to specifications, here are my brief definitions and minimum recommendations:

HDD (stands for "Hard Drive")

This is where your data such as documents, pictures and music are actually stored.

Minimum: 300GB

RAM (stands for "Memory")

This is an invisible place holder for processes. Any time you open up a program in your computer, it is stored into "Memory" or "RAM" until the processor can get to it.

Minimum: 3GB

CPU (stands for "Processor")

The CPU is the brains behind processing anything in your computer. From loading Windows, to opening up a picture, to loading a website.

Minimum: Intel Core "i5" or "i7" 2.0GHz

OS (stands for "Operating System")

As already stated, the Operating System is one of the most important choices you will make when buying a new computer. It is the software that is loaded onto the machine before you buy it.

Minimum: Windows 7 (Avoid Windows 8 unless you like it for certain)

These are by no means a limit to the technical "jargon" you will see and hear. However, the above recommendations are the minimum of what you should be looking for. By trying to get these minimum specifications in your next computer, you will avoid a lot of hassle and frustrations that many deal with upon their computer purchasing journey.


MATTHEW SGHERZI lives in Tehachapi where he has operated an IT business since 2007 (tehachapicomputers.com).


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