Desktops and LaptopsMost likely, your household has a computer or two that is used by everyone.  That’s fine for personal use.  However, if you have a home office, you need your own computer. You don’t want to be in the middle of answering your e-mails or writing a proposal when another member of the household suddenly interrupts you because they need to look up a movie schedule or do homework.

Before I discuss your options, let me state that buying a new computer is not the budget breaking experience it was in the past.  Prices are well under $1,000 for a state-of -the-art Windows computer while MACs will run slightly higher, based on your needs.

There are two types of computers; desktops which have a box and a separate monitor (there are a number of all-in-one models available), and laptops.  Desktop monitors vary in size and can be as large as some TV screens.  They are meant to be used in one location.

There are different types of laptops.  Their advantage is that they are space savers and, except for the larger models, mobile. The largest, usually weighing over 7 pounds, have monitors as large as 17 inches and are considered “desktop replacements.” They are not meant for mobile use.

The most favored group of laptops weigh under 5 pounds, with screen sizes in the 13”-15” range.  These mid-size models are not only space savers, but you can travel with them.  They are large enough to use as your main computer, saving on having to buy a second computer for the road.

The third type of laptop is called a netbook.  It weighs under 3 pounds with a 10” screens.  The keys are small, and are meant for people who need a full function computer for travel purposes only.

Tablets are in the news and growing in importance.  Everyone seems to want an iPad, and it has been dominating the tablet market.  As we look at it from a business perspective, it can be a useful tool for roaming around your home and on the road with Internet access either through Verizon or ATT or a wherever a wireless network is available.  Its features include the ability to use the Internet for e-mail, access your music, contacts and calendar information. However, despite Apple’s claims, it has not replaced the computer, since typing documents on a touch screen is a challenge.  Additionally, printing is an issue, and it does not come with any input devices such as a USB port although adapters are available.

The decision concerning what to purchase will be based on the nature of your business and whether you will be operating mainly in your office or on the road. The specifications of the computer (speed, hard drive size, etc.) will not be the determining factor in your decision, since they all have the capacity to address your individual needs.

All types of computers listed above come with a variety of specifications that can be quite confusing.  However, if you are concerned about cost, as we all are, there is no need to have the “latest and greatest.”

Speed is overrated.  The difference in either buying a computer with the fastest chip or one that is a step lower can be hundreds of dollars, and you will never notice the difference. The fastest and most popular chips are Intel’s i3, i5, and i7 models.  However, computers with chips from AMD are less costly and are fine unless you require a high performing model.

Memory (RAM) is probably the most important and least expensive component.  At least 3 gigabytes (GB) and, ideally, 4 GB is recommended.  Windows computers should be “64 bit” for maximum performance.

As for Hard disk space, 350 GB should be the minimum, although 250 is OK.  500GB is an option for large file storage.  Check the prices.

All computers come with USB ports to attach printers and other external devices.  The standard is USB 2.0.  However USB 3.0 is entering the market although, at this writing, there are few external devices that are able to operate at a faster speed.

Most laptops come with a built in camera for video conferencing but check before purchasing.  If you are buying a separate monitor either for a desktop or to use with your laptop at home, make sure it comes with the camera.  If your existing monitor does not include a camera, you can purchase one for under $100 that attaches to the top of the monitor.

The issue of Windows vs. MAC always comes up, and there is no clear answer.  Windows based computers still represent close to 90% of all computers in the market. Large corporations still depend on them since most major business applications (programs) are written for Microsoft Windows.  MACs are very popular for personal use, and many small business owners own them.  MAC desktops and laptops are more expensive.  However, as of yet, they are not prone to viruses and other malicious attacks and are regarded as easier to use. I own both, a Windows for my business and a MAC for personal use.  MACs can run Windows at an extra cost if you need a Windows based program.  However, if you include Windows on your MAC, you will need the standard anti-virus and spyware protection as discussed earlier.

If you have any questions about selecting a computer or any other technology issues, you can contact me at 917 921-4518 or by e-mail at

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