It is that time year again where you hear the collective sighs of relief from of all the parents sending their kids back to school. Of course, before the little one can shipped off to school there is the back to school shopping trip to fully stock them with all the necessary school supplies.
If your back to school shopping list includes a computer or laptop for your student you have probably been busy reading, researching and questioning everything you can about laptops and computers Ė feeling overwhelmed? To help steer you in the right direction I have a created a list of some basic (non-technical) questions you should ask yourself while researching a new system.
Once you have determined the answer to these questions you will be able to move on and determine the technical specifications for the system.
What will the computer be used for?
Will the computer be used mainly for creating documents and surfing the net or will it be used to create movies and intense graphics? The speed of the system along with memory, screen size, hard drive size depend on the answer to this question.
Applications such as word processing and surfing the net do not need as much power as creating movies or playing high-end games. Take this into consideration when selection a computer Ė donít get the Cadillac of computer when all you really need is the Pinto.
Do take into consideration the future use and life of the computer. While I donít recommend going high-end if you donít need it, I do recommend making sure the machine has enough power to last you a couple of years without having to upgrade or trade-in for a new computer.
Do you need a portable device?
Many people I know decide on a laptop as their main computer thinking that they are going to travel with the machine when in reality it ends up sitting on the desk never to leave the house. If you need to take a computer to class or to work then a laptop is the way to go else I suggest a desktop system.
While the idea of a laptop is great you get more power for the price with a desktop so unless you will (or need) carry the laptop around I strongly suggest a desktop.
What software do I need?
When budgeting for a new computer it is important to take into account the software that you will need and account for those costs. Many computers do not come with MS Office or graphics software installed which, if you need them, will have to be purchased with the computer. Depending on where you purchase the computer you can either order the software with the computer or purchase separately which can typically cost less. (See software recommendations links below).
Do I need any bells & whistles?
There are many components that either come with or can be added to a computer Ė almost all are useful but not necessarily needed. These can include wireless keyboard/mouse, camera, docking station (laptop), high-end DVD burner, media card slots, remote control, etc.
It is up to each individual to determine whether they need any additional or enhanced components for their system. For example, I love my wireless keyboard and mouse as it allows me flexibility (and no cables) but it is not necessary for operating the computer.