5 questions to ask to help you with your purchasing decision
We’ve all been through this before. There comes a time when our current computer needs to be replaced. It may be old and slow, or just slow, your laptop’s screen may have a crack or its battery is faulty, power surges may have damaged the power supply unit of your desktop or its warranty expired.
Before heading to your nearest store, consider your answers to these five questions as they will influence your decision on a new computer.
1. Is it worth fixing?
Determine the cost of having it repaired, especially if it’s outside its warranty. Screens, batteries and memory upgrades are costly unless they are covered under the warranty or as part of additional insurance you took out. A good guideline is that a laptop should give you more or less three years of good service whereas a desktop can last up to five years.
Take into account how long you’ve had the computer and whether it is worth spending about a third of its purchase price to repair or upgrade. On the other hand, if you spent a considerable amount on a high-quality machine it may be worth spending a bit more to upgrade it. Decide whether more RAM or a new graphics card will add a couple of years to its use.
2. What do you use it for?
The answer to this question will determine the kind of machine you’re after and how much it will cost you. Are you using your computer to simply surf the internet and reply to emails or to perform tasks and play games where graphics matter? The machine’s usage will influence the specs you’re after.
The modern family’s computer needs vary, from children doing homework and playing games to mom looking up recipes, dad planning the next family outing or mom and dad balancing the budget on a spreadsheet. Make a list of the machine’s uses and determine what its hardware and software capabilities need to be from there.
3. PC, laptop or tablet?
Tablets are great for surfing the web, watching videos, connecting on social media, playing games and reading but a PC or laptop is a better option to get some real work done, especially if you’re editing a document or working on multiple spreadsheets. Laptops are convenient as you can move them around, but they don’t boast the biggest screens.
The stigma of desktops being big and bulky is a thing of the past. CloudGate offers you the convenience of being able to sit on the couch and work using your TV as a screen. It’s also small and easy to unplug so that you can move it from a normal desktop screen set-up to your TV if you want to show videos to friends or play Android games with the family on a bigger screen.
If your work involves basic computer duties such as internet searches, emails and running word processing apps consider an affordable and compact PC such as CloudGate.
4. What about the specs?
There are three factors to consider. The memory or RAM, hard drive space and software. A good guideline minimum amount for a desktop’s memory is 4GB but it depends on the software you’ll be running on the machine. Look at the recommended requirements of the software and applications you intend to run – these specs are usually listed on the provider’s website.
Consider the size of your current machine’s hard drive and whether this was sufficient (go to the C-drive to see its size). Remember that the hard drive will need to be sufficient for the next couple of years. If you store loads of photos and videos and backup your phone or tablet picture library to your PC you may want to get a larger hard drive. A good idea is to backup your data in the Cloud.
The third factor is the software. To buy stand-alone software programmes is expensive, but they may cost significantly less if they’re included as part of a computer bundle. If you have the latest version installed on your current computer you can install it on your new machine provided you have the discs or license keys. Many software programmes are also downloadable from the internet at no cost. Another option is Google Drive that you can download for free and it gives you access to document apps and 15GB of free storage.
5. What about the ports and peripherals?
Ports and peripherals are specific to your needs. Here is a short overview of what you may need them for.
• USB ports: mouse, keyboard, monitor, hard drive, phone, tablet
• Micro-USB port: phone, tablet
• Ethernet/ RJ45 port: network cable
• Digital audio/ SPDIF port: speakers, home theatre system
• HDMI: entertainment set-up, big TV screen experience
• SD slot: photography
• Wi-Fi: network connection and Wi-Fi devices such as a keyboard, mouse, printer, phone, tablet
• Bluetooth: keyboard, mouse, headphones
We hope that these questions will guide you to make an informed decision when you’re in the market for a new computer.