Fact Sheet 2: Brands to buy
a computer is a bit like buying a car: you don't buy a Jeep if all you need is a
Micra to pop to Sainsbury's now and then (unless you've got more money than
sense and image is all).
with computers, the model you buy depends on what you want to do with it. You
should first decide what you want to do with it, then buy the tools to do the
job. If all you want to do is a bit of word processing, some light web surfing
and to play a few games you'll need a different machine than if you want to
produce web pages, manipulate high-end graphics and do desktop
first brand decision to consider is whether to go for the Apple or the Wintel
(Windows/Intel) platform. If you're feeling adventurous (or are the sort of
person who likes taking things to bits and putting them back together) you could
even consider a Linux machine now. The Corel distribution will give you an OS
(Operating System), office productivity suite (WordPerfect) and Internet
connectivity with e-mail and a web browser (from Netscape) in a pretty painless
install process on more or less any hardware from a basic Pentium II on up.
have traditionally been expensive and used mostly by creative people in the
graphics and publishing industries. While this is still the case, Apple are
producing cheaper and cheaper machines suitable for home users. Anyone
interested in producing pictures or manipulating their home videos on their
computer should have a look at these machines - you'll get one for well under £1,000
nowadays - nearer £500 for the entry-level iMacs. They can also be recommended
for the 'customer-facing' parts of offices like reception desks since they look
so cool and trendy.
the Wintel camp, the biggest names include Olivetti, Dan, Gateway 2000, Dell,
IBM, Compaq and Viglen. Any of these will be able to sell you a good,
reliable machine which will perform any task you ask of it.
basic specification you should demand from any of the above, including the Apple
camp, is: a processor running at at least 350 and preferably
650 megahertz; a four gigabyte hard disc;
64 and preferably 128 megabytes of memory; a five-speed DVD-ROM. Other
components you should think about are the screen - most computers come with a 14
or 15 inch model, but it's well worth the extra to have a 17 or even 19 inch one
- a 17 inch screen can offer 30% more screen 'real estate' than the 15 inch
model; a colour printer - go for one which has separate colour and black print
heads; a modem if you want to connect to the Internet (but talk to your telecoms
provider about faster access methods).
look for a service contract which specifies on-site service, so you don't have
to take your machine back to the shop or, worse, have to post it back to the
manufacturer. Extended guarantees which cover second and third years are well
worth the few tens of pounds they'll cost, but it's probably not worth opting
for longer periods than this because the reality is that any computer you buy
today will be obsolete in three years time - but always ask about the potential
for upgrading your machine in the years to come.