Buying a New Computer

Don Trauger – Kennett

The last time I wrote about buying a new computer was for the August 2009 TV-Guide issue. Since then major changes have taken place.
Desktop computers with a monitor are still viable and are often slightly less expensive than laptops with equal specifications.

What can be confusing when shopping for a computer is the terminology and the technical specifications. Although space doesn’t allow for
a complete primer on the subject, I’ll tell you what you need to know.

First, decide whether you want a laptop or a desktop. Laptops offer certain advantages over a desktop. You get portability with plenty of
processing power. However there are disadvantages too. A somewhat smaller screen may strain your eyes over a period of time. A smaller k
eyboard makes for cramped typing. Glossy screens are great for sharpness and contrast but don’t sit with a sunny window behind you. The
glossy screen acts as a mirror reflecting the light from the window thus making the screen harder to see. Another item to consider is the
touchpad. A touchpad allows you to mimic the mouse. Some people have trouble using the touchpad and prefer to connect a real mouse to the
laptop. That’s fine if you typically use the laptop as a substitute for a desktop.

My minimum hardware recommendations for both laptops and desktops require that they have dual core processors. Dual core refers to 2 computer
processors in one package. Names like I-3 and I-5 made by Intel are best. Computers with I-3 processors can serve very nicely for everyday
computing needs such as Internet surfing, email, and word processing. An I-5 processor can handle all of that plus picture and video editing
and light gaming. An I-7 processor is the fastest and most expensive processor and is aimed toward the serious gamers. Choose a processor
speed of 2 GHz or higher. The higher the speed the faster the computer will run programs. Today’s operating systems and many programs run much
better with dual core or a higher number of processors (cores). More cores would offer slightly faster operation at a higher price. Although I
recommend Intel processors, AMD is very price competitive on the lower end of the price scale. An Athlon dual core processor is a very capable
performer and may be lower priced than a comparable Intel based computer.

A typical Internet, email, and word processing computer would have a 2 GHz or higher speed dual core Intel I-3 processor, 2 GB’s or more of RAM,
and a 500 GB or higher hard drive. A mid range computer would handle all of the previous tasks, and in addition, do photo and video editing and
some light gaming. It should have a 2.5 GHz or higher dual or quad core Intel I-5 processor, 4 GB’s or more of RAM and a 500 GB or higher hard
drive. There are many other options available for computers that help personalize it for your needs and of course add to the cost. A DVD drive
is a must; it comes with almost all computers. A 20-23 inch monitor for a desktop computer would be ideal. What I’ve outlined here would be
suitable for most HM residents.

Both laptops and desktops feature the Windows 7 operating system. Shop for popular brands such as HP, Dell, and Acer. Before going to a store
become familiar with a manufacturer’s line of computers by visiting their web sites. HP can be found at, Dell is at,
and Acer is at

To get answers to your questions about computers, please come to the PC Club meeting. The computer club
meets the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 PM in Hershey’s Mill Community Center.