Sitting up, taking nourishment, it's gonna be a good day.
Up until now we’ve been getting familiar with computers, the idea of a computer and what is inside the beast. It’s all about gaining confidence so you won’t feel intimidated walking into a store. And it is intimidating, I know. The sales people are all young, fast talking and looking at you like you’re about offer them sardines and crackers for lunch. When you can cut them off at the pass with informed questions about what they have in stock, you have the advantage.
So, now that you know your macs from pcs and peripherals from cpu’s, it’s time to get serious. What do you want the computer to do for you? This one question will determine the actual horsepower you really need, how much memory and oh, yeah, of course, toss in that eye-blistering 34” curved screen please (or maybe not…).
Are you setting yourself up in a consulting business? That calls for a solid word processing program, lots of storage, a high quality printer and tons of speed but the monitor isn’t a deal breaker. If you’re doing presentations you may want to think about a PC for the latest Window’s Office suite. Apple has decent office programs but the spreadsheet and presentation programs don’t always play well with other systems. Plus the gold standard for most companies is Word: presentations, slides, spreadsheets, manuals, all need to be in a Word Office format. If this is your business, you can’t afford to have any glitches with a conversion program.
If this is a home office set up then dependability and a good quality printer are your main concerns. There are 2 basic choices in printers, Laser or Ink Jet. Laser printers give a smart looking finished product and are no longer limited to basic black. The downside of lasers is the cost of toner cartridges. There are shops that specialize in refurbishing cartridges for a bit of a saving.
Ink jet printers are less expensive to purchase and ink cartridges are less expensive than toner. Many Ink Jet printers have photograph quality print settings and really do a fine job. Gone are the days of wrinkly, over-saturated pages.
Consider what level of finish you need and factor just how much you want to pay for clean, crisp print quality. One big plus of the laser printers is they can do double sided printing which saves a great deal on paper costs. Ink jet will do double sided but only if you manually feed it back through. Doesn’t sound tough does it, but I can pretty much guarantee you will get pages upside down 2 times out of 3 unless you do a lot of printing.
A home office can save money on the monitor, going for something in the 20-21 inch size. The technology is such these days that it will be bright and large enough for your purposes. If you’re doing projects that require compiling graphics or online research, you might want to consider a 2 screen set up. It sounds extravagant but, trust me, once you start using 2 screens, you will find it indispensable.
If your home computer is the communication lifeline to family, friends and the curling club, then you really don’t need to worry about commercial grade word processing programs and a big ass printer. For emails, surfing the web, maybe watching a movie and, of course, weekly video conferences with the kids & grandkids, all you need is a decent amount of memory and processing power. Here is where you focus on the monitor as it will be your window on the distant world of family and friends. It isn’t the size of the screen so much as it’s resolution.
In terms of the actual computer, either a Mac or PC will work well for you in the family setting. The thing to consider is your pocket book and if your geek is family or a hired gun. Don’t count out using geek squad or the installation crew from wherever you make your purchase. I have even been known to call up our local cable tv technical help line for advice when hubby, the house geek, is out of town. But that is another post.
There is enough here to chew on for now and give you an idea of how to size up what you need and the questions to ask.
Feel free to ask me questions or tell me where I’m wrong…I’m a mom, I’m used to it. Anything you’d like to talk about or see a post about, just let me know.
Got to go, it’s feeding time for the house geek.