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Old 05-23-2002, 02:40 PM   #1
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Computer Help

I need to get a computer. I sold my car. I have $1000. What do I buy? I don't understand them. All I care about is the internet and a cd burner. I think (should I care about something else?).

Help, please.

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Old 05-23-2002, 02:53 PM   #2
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Well, unless an ISP offer comes with the computer, the internet is a separate issue altogether, although you will obviously need a modem of some sort to connect to it. Most computers will come standard with a 56k modem.

Otherwise, I would suggest buying through the internet. Do a search. There are a ton of great deals all over the 'net. You could get a decent PIII 800 w/ 64mb ram, and a large (40+gb) harddrive for under $500. Just make sure it comes w/ a motherboard you can add stuff to later. Look to make sure if the deal includes a monitor. You might want one of those

I bought my computer through Pricewatch.com. I get lots of e-mail offers through http://www.computersurplusoutlet.com. They look pretty good. If you buy through a dealer outside your state, there is no tax (although definitely made up through shipping costs)
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Old 05-23-2002, 02:57 PM   #3
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You will also want at a minimum Windows '98 to come with it. Personally, I think most of the software bundles most computers come with these days are pure crap. But look into the software that comes with it as well.
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Old 05-24-2002, 03:01 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by muh2o:
You will also want at a minimum Windows '98 to come with it. Personally, I think most of the software bundles most computers come with these days are pure crap. But look into the software that comes with it as well.
None of the software (at least in my experience) is good.

By the way, you might want to look into custom-built computers. I haven't done it myself, but a lot of my friends have and they spent much less, got exactly what they wanted, and no excess software.

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Old 05-24-2002, 03:05 AM   #5
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You could also check Dell computers. You can customize what you want in your computer and have the price available to you. Instead of Windows 98, I would go with windows 2000, much more stable.

Instead of using the modem, make sure the computer has a network/ethernet card. That way you can hook-up with DSL/cable (which ever is available) If you're going to do a lot of internet stuff why not make it fast.

Good Luck!

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Old 05-24-2002, 03:06 AM   #6
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Thanks....I'm still confused, though. What websites are good?

I'm looking at CNet and still confused. Wow. I didn't realize how little I know about computers. I like work, where there's just one sitting there when I come in every day and it just does things and I don't have to know what makes it do that.
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Old 05-24-2002, 03:12 AM   #7
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try dell @ http://www.dellcomputers.com/

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Old 05-24-2002, 03:17 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by daafish:

Instead of using the modem, make sure the computer has a network/ethernet card. That way you can hook-up with DSL/cable (which ever is available) If you're going to do a lot of internet stuff why not make it fast.
I really want DSL/cable, but it's like $50/month here, which there is no way I can afford. Actually, I don't know what internet access I can afford.

This is frustrating. Maybe I don't want a computer.

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Old 05-24-2002, 03:19 AM   #9
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hmmm well I can't help ya out cause I live up here in the north - in Canada - and well you could bring your $1000 up here and get a supercomputer with that LOL!!!
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Old 05-24-2002, 04:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by meegannie:
Actually, I don't know what internet access I can afford.
your average (excluding the super-cheap, unreliable ones) dial-up isp will be about $20 a month. back when i had dial-up i had bellsouth. of course this isn't available in MD but i would look into the one in your area, bell atlantic i believe. i found them to be reliable, although i switched to cable in late '98.

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Old 05-24-2002, 05:18 PM   #11
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Thanks for the help, everyone! I'm looking into Dell now. I still have no idea what anything means and I'm about to smash something , but at least I have some guidance.
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Old 05-25-2002, 01:48 AM   #12
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Gateway makes a great PC, for a cheap price. Only problem you may run into is upgrading, esp. if you do it yourself. Most of the big PC makers (Gateway, Dell, Compaq) make it somewhat difficult to do. But that's further down the road anyway. Go with Gateway, I've recommended them to a bunch of people and they were very happy. Personally, I don't care for Dell, but thats just my opion.

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Old 05-25-2002, 11:03 AM   #13
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I've been a Gateway fan for years. Yeah, sometimes they make mistakes, but overall, I have found their computers pretty darn good for the price. I *love* my current computer (yes, I love it so much I *did* marry it ).

Dell is one of the best brands out there - and Gateway is probably their biggest competitor these days. Dell has the upper hand because of supposed quality. But I've heard my share of Dell horror stories. Therefore, for the price, I find I get more with Gateway.

In buying a computer, you really have to decide what you need. Some new computers, like those from Gateway and Dell, will often come with a year free of AOL. AOL isn't great, but if it's free for a whole year, then you are set as far as getting internet service. Previously, I used AOL simply as my internet service provider (ISP). That is, I connected to AOL and then immediately minimized the AOL program and used other programs (browsers, file-sharing programs, etc.) to interact on the 'net.

Almost all computers come with a 56K modem. This may be slow (by today's standards), but if you get free AOL, all you need to do is hook-up your computer to a phone line (via the modem), log on to AOL and you are on-line. It really is that simple.

If you want DSL, AOL actually makes a rather nice DSL package. You won't need an ethernet card either. They will send you the DSL modem and you just plug it into a USB port. I believe it costs about $20/month for the actual DSL service (and another $15 for unlimited AOL time - but you won't have to worry about that if you get a system that comes with AOL for a year). This is a far more affordable way of getting broadband. Of course, you might check to see if AOL has DSL in your area.

As for the computer itself, be sure to check that it comes with a monitor. A lot of these places on line (like "ecomputers") will have a great little system - but it does not include a monitor. Monitors ranged from $300 to $2000, depending on size and quality.

I would recommend going to a place like Best Buy and checking out all the computers they have (mostly Compaq or HP). See what type of monitor you want, what type of drives you want/need (CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, DVD-R). See what size monitor you want/need. See how many USB ports you will need. Discuss hard drives and RAM with the sales staff. This will give you a good idea of what you need or want in a system. Don't let the sales people pressure you though. Take your time looking for a system and do some homework. This is the only way for you to be truly satisfied with your purchase. Be warned though - often the prices at BestBuy do NOT include the monitor. So make sure you check that before you spend a lot of time comparing prices at various companies.

These days, I recommend a minimum of a 20 GB hard drive, and you should go larger if possible. I do a lot of video work and in a matter of weeks, I filled up 80 GB of my 110 GB drive (I had to delete some). Therefore, hard drive space is key. But if you are only interested in mp3 files and sufring the 'net, a 20-40 GB drive should be more than enough.

I also recommend a minimum of 128 MB of RAM. Again, try to get more if possible, especially if you are the type that runs multiple programs at once. But for what you described above, 128 MB should be plenty.

A 15" monitor sounds great, until you sit and stare at that small screen (as those often have slighly less than 14" of actual viewing screen). I need a larger monitor (I have an 18" visible screen at home and at work) as it really helps my eyes. But those cost more. Figure out what size monitor you can live with. Also, newer systems are coming with flat monitors. I don't just mean a flat screen, I mean the whole monitor is flat. This is because they are digital. I have a completely flat, digital monitor at home and a regular monitor at work (both the same size) and I can't tell the difference in screen quality. The big advantage though is that the completely flat monitor weighs a fraction of a regular monitor (which is like a small TV). Not only does it weigh less, but it takes up much less room and generates far less heat. These could be key issues when setting up your system.

Almost all computers these days come with at least a CD-ROM drive. However, many are now coming with CD-RW drives and DVD-ROM drives. The DVD-ROM drive is nice as it not only allows you to play all your CD's in it, but DVD's as well. And, a CD-RW drive allows you to make copies of files or music. If you don't need a DVD-ROM drive, then don't bother with it.

As for the processor, you want one that's fast enough for not only current technology, but for the immediate future. Therefore, I recommend getting at absolute minimum a 1 GHz processor. Getting a 300 MHz machine just won't work these days - programs need more power.

You also want a sound card and a decent video card. If the system comes with a sound card, it will also come with speakers, so don't worry about that. A video card is a bit more tricky and you might not be able to upgrade it (as it comes with the system). But get one that has a fair amount of memory associated with it (as it provides a better image). The best ones are 128 MB, but you will NOT need that. 32MB is more than enough.

Keyboards and mice are pretty straight-forward, but may I suggest getting an optical mouse? Newer systems come with an optical mouse. They are MUCH better than the ball mice.

As for software, I have Windows XP. I find it to be one of MicroSoft's best operating systems. ME (Millennium Edition) had many bugs, as did Windows 95 (and there are systems out there that still use 95). If you don't get XP, get Windows 98 SE (second edition).

My advice is to start here. This Gateway system is just a hair under $1000, but features 1 year of AOL, Windows XP, a CD-RW drive, a 17" monitor, a modem and an ethernet card (if you ever want to get a cable modem), a 2 GHz processor, a 40 GB hard drive and 128 MB RAM. It also has plenty of USB ports (something you'll need for connecting other devices), an optical mouse and some good starting software. You can downgrade from this system or upgrade from it, depending on how much you want to spend and what you need.

Also check out dell.com, hp.com (for hp and compaq systems) and maybe even ecomputers.com. This HP system is under $1000, but includes a DVD and CD-RW drive, 1.8 GHz processor, 256 MB RAM, an 80 GB hard drive, and 32 MB video card. It also has a sound card and speakers. Keep in mind, the systems I recommended might be too fancy for you - so do some homework as you might be able to find a far less expensive system.

Good luck! And if you are like many of us, once you get a home computer, you'll be hooked.

[This message has been edited by doctorwho (edited 05-25-2002).]
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