Welcome to Bay Area Gadgets’ “All Things Digital” blog post, created exclusively for All Reasons Moving. This contribution recommends using the August Back To School sales for upgrading all your PCs, not just those for returning students, at the best prices of the year. Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to Macs as Apple continually increases market share without competing on price with Windows PCs. But, for those not Redmond, Washington a dirty word, it’s value time. I’ll quickly explain why Back To School (BTS) offers a superior opportunity for upgrading than holiday sales. Then, we’ll talk about some about what to look for in that new notebook or desktop. The exciting part should be the knowledge that your new PC will offer you a faster, more productive computing experience. If you need help with selection, setup, or training, contact me for your options.
Back To School purchases typically involve investing in our children. We want the best, and if we can stretch a bit to give them the best tools for their education & development, we’ll make the investment. This means you’ll typically see great values on models offering sufficient horsepower to make it through the next 4-5 years. By contrast, holiday promotions are oriented towards Black Friday sales where the object is to buy that the least expensive PC for $399. If you’re a professional considering a PC refresh to get the latest software and faster performance, get the plastic ready for mid-august. Also, remember that Best Buy and Micro Center will typically offer extended financing during these times, so you can get no interest financing for 6-12 months at MC and 12-18 months at BB.
There are many options when it comes to notebook screen sizes and desktop displays. I’m not going to focus on the ergonomics, but remember to make sure the notebook keyboard is to your liking. They vary wildly. Also, if you use a wireless mouse, make sure the right side USB port is up towards the display not the bottom of the keyboard, so you’ll have clearance. When it comes to desktop PCs, there are lots of options for 22″ displays as standard equipment or a low cost upgrade.
What about the internals of your new PC? Both AMD and Intel offer exceptionally powerful “Dual Core” processors. Typically, you find AMD’s offerings at a lower cost than Intel. AMD has to deal with the perception they’ve lost their edge. Not so. If you see the word Celeron, run. They are stinkers. If you’re going desktop, consider a Quad Core model. This mates two Dual Core chips together for faster performance. Models with Quads have really fallen in price. Graphics performance is the way to keep your new baby sport for the next 4-5 years. Get a model with a dedicated graphics chip from ATI or NVIDIA. This is important for video enabled web pages and increasingly large photo files. Memory? Nothing less that 2MB is acceptable, but 3-4 is a worthwhile investment. Hard drive size isn’t a big deal as long a you get 200 GB+ for your notebook and 500+ for the desktop.
In my next post, I’ll cover the essential software you need to turn your new machine into a productivity monster. Your children and/or yourself will be grateful for the upgrade.