There are a few telltale signs that your home office computer needs an upgrade. If your machine still uses floppy disks to store and access data, you may need to look into a new machine. If your Windows operating system is the XP or Vista version or earlier, you should consider upgrading. If your machine is over five years old and takes much longer than a minute to boot up, it is probably time to look into some new equipment. Before you begin shopping, decide if you want a desktop or a laptop or maybe one of each. Look online or at your local brick-and-mortar computer store for multiple examples of each.
1Choosing a Laptop: If you are a student or a professional who uses a computer in the field, then you probably need a laptop. If you already own a laptop, but it is clunky and slow, if the picture is fuzzy or the screen cracked, take a look online at high-end, super-slim laptops. These new laptops might weigh only about 3 pounds or less and come with very fast processors, lots of RAM memory and, often, super-fast solid-state drives -- and a premium price tag. What they lack is multiple USB ports, optical drives or built-in DVD burners. Screens are relatively small, ranging only 10 to 15 inches measured diagonally. For less money, standard laptops are available with screens up to 17 and a half inches wide, built in webcams, three or more USB ports, DVD and even Blu-Ray burners along with security features like fingerprint readers. Some of the largest laptops can weigh 10 or more pounds and are often considered desktop computer replacements. Netbooks are yet another way to go in laptops; they're small and light with long battery life, but budget priced because they aren't loaded with the fastest, most capable selection of components.
2Choosing a Desktop: Laptops are great for working on the go, but if you are home-office-bound most days, a desktop computer with a large, backlit LED or Plasma monitor is the way to go. If your workday involves manipulating images onscreen, a desktop allows you to use a separate video processor card and increased memory for precise design and computer generated imaging. A large screen can aid you in managing spreadsheet applications and keeping multiple windows open at once. You will also have available to you the fastest CPUs in the consumer electronics market. If you spend the money you can get a laptop that outperforms most desktop computers, but they are far more expensive than an equivalent desktop and are not easily upgraded as are desktop computers.
3Identify Your Needs: To make the most of your computer purchasing dollar, decide what you need today and over the next two or three years. Do not add bells and whistles if odds are you will never or even rarely use them. Take a look at your keyboard and mouse. If they are in satisfactory condition and you are used to them, keep them. If you upgraded your monitor to a flat screen within the last few years, then there is no need to replace it either. If you are using your computer for school, whether a laptop or desktop, you will not require a Blue-Ray DVD deck, a high-speed hard drive or a top-end video or sound card. Unless you are working with graphic design, medical technology or rocket science, you will not need more than 2GB to 4GB of RAM. If you plan to teleconference, you will want to consider a built-in webcam. However, you may want to add a high-quality external webcam later. For writing papers or typing emails, surfing the Web and playing solitaire now and then, you will not require a super fast CPU; a simple dual-core Intel or AMD processor will suffice.
4Find the Right Price: You can find all kinds of computers and accessories on Internet shopping sites usually for excellent prices. Although brick-and-mortar stores try to compete with them, they can sometimes come up short. But buying online can also have its drawbacks. If you are not very familiar with computers, their peripherals and functional quirks, then you would benefit from talking face to face with an expert. A salesperson with a good technical background can be supportive in pointing out various accessories that might be helpful when setting up your new computer. Only brick-and-mortar establishments can offer that end of service. Also when some piece of equipment fails or breaks you know where to go to have it fixed. Consider these factors before deciding where to spend your computer dollars.