How to Find a Computer That Matches Your Needs

Article excerpt

Byline: David Sharos Daily Herald Correspondent

The computer world we're living in has put most of us in a quandary; we always want faster word processing, Internet surfing, games and graphics, downloading of movies or burning of CDs.

But unlike the microwave or DVD player that we can pretty much buy and forget for a while, the computer craze marches on. Every six months heralds a faster processor, more memory or revamped software.

With the pace of technology out-racing most of our pocket books, it pays to be savvy about computer purchases by trying to anticipate current and future needs. Here's what experts say is the best strategy.

"The most important buying strategy is to determine what you're buying the computer for," said Marty Rogers, show manager for Datasis Computer Rentals in Elk Grove Village. "There are consumers I've known that have the same computer from nine years ago, and others that feel they need a new one every year. Each may be doing the right thing."

Clearly, there are consumers driven to have the latest and greatest technology, from cars to computers, but for most of us the search for the best may be overkill.

"In most respects, it's impossible to keep up with the technology, and the best strategy is to buy a computer that fits your needs today, not one you're likely to grow into," said Ralph Warbel of Arlington Computer Systems in Schaumburg. "By the time you do grow into it, it will be obsolete, too."

Consider buying a basic computer package that doesn't skip on hard drive space or RAM, with a reasonably sized monitor and solid processor. Warbel believes processors change at a faster rate than almost any other part of the computer, but most applications don't require the latest upgrade.

"People who are using word processing or surfing the Internet for shopping or general information don't need a new processing chip," he said. "Most people who buy computers actually buy too much. They learn how to use a few applications and are comfortable with that. They're afraid to try anything else because they're afraid something will break."

Independent computer consultant John Noah agrees purchases should be based on what the computer will be used for and suggests consumers avoid the most expensive, top-of-the-line machines.

"Any time there is something brand new, it's going to cost the most, and there are going to be bugs in it, whether it's hardware or software," Noah says. …