Net Xpress: Think about what you need when choosing the right computer

September 14, 2003|SHEILA J. CLARK

"How do I choose the right computer for me?" That is a question I hear quite often. For most, it's all about bragging rights - you know, the new "trophy" to show off to all your friends. However, shopping for a computer with that mentality equals wasted resources and, more importantly, wasted cash. Not to mention the fact that it's also a poor way to make an important decision such as a computer purchase.

If someone asks me, I usually respond with the question, "What do you plan to do with the computer?" Usually the response I get is the same - e-mail, surf the Web and write a letter. With that response in mind, I would suggest a mid-range system with room to grow. But that isn't the answer most people would want to hear. No, it seems they would much rather for me to reply that they should run out and purchase a system with every possible bell and whistle on earth. However, I just can't oblige.


I'm one of the few who doesn't think that the system with everything is all you'll ever need. Technology evolves so rapidly that today's top-notch system will be outdated before you even open the box. Personally, I think a person should pick a computer based on individual needs.

For instance, why do you need a DVD drive if you never intend on watching movies on your computer? Or why buy a system with the most incredible graphics if all you want to do is read your e-mail or do some word processing? Your money would be better spent on something you might really need, like a printer, more memory or additional hard drive space.

A better way to approach the computer-buying task is to first write down what tasks you intend to use your system for. Next, decide which programs you need to have to get the tasks you listed done. Then go to a store or online and find the system requirements for the software you wish to use.

Remember to jot down the recommended system requirements, not the minimum requirements. By doing so, you will be giving your software the best performance opportunity. After this, check the sales papers and online stores to price compare computers that fit with your recommended requirements. Also, note what software comes with the systems.

With all of this information in hand, you should be able to make a solid and knowledgeable computer purchase for a system that meets your needs. You will be able to make your purchase with knowledge and hopefully not be bamboozled into buying whatever the salesperson's "flavor of the day" system is. Your computer purchase will be a sensible investment and not just another bragging trophy.

Patch alert

Three new critical patches for RPCSS were released Wednesday by Microsoft. An unpatched system allows complete control for a hacker. Go to for more details. Visit Microsoft's Windows Update site at

Net buzzz

* has decided to close its e-bookstore due to poor sales and limited technology. The announcement comes at the same time the e-bookstore celebrates its three years of existence. Customers are urged to download any outstanding purchases before Dec. 9. Read more at

MSN Live online events

Sept. 15: Chat with actress Kate Beckinsale at 7 p.m. Go to _feature.msnw?id=artist/katebeckinsale.

Sept. 19: Chat with rock band Fuel at 7 p.m. Go to

E-mail me at; fax me at (859)236-9566; or write me snail-mail at The Advocate-Messenger, P.O. Box 149, Danville, KY 40423-0149.

Central Kentucky News Articles