Magazine article Information Today

Tap into Your PC's Potential. (Link-Up: At Home)

Magazine article Information Today

Tap into Your PC's Potential. (Link-Up: At Home)

Article excerpt

Are you making the most of your PC? Probably not, judging from my own observations and those of others.

To get a better feel for this, I talked with a product manager at Hewlett-Packard. HP recently merged with Compaq, making it the largest personal computer manufacturer in the world, according to the most recent sales figures from IDC, an independent market research firm in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Tom Markworth is responsible for HP's Pavilion line of desktop PCs, which are sold through computer superstores, discount retailers, consumer electronic stores, and office supply stores. Compared with their retail competition, HP's computers have always fared well in computer reliability surveys.

Markworth identified the following key areas in which people typically don't take full advantage of their PC's potential, in both home and business settings:

* CD-RW drives. Many computers today from various manufacturers come with these recordable CD-ROM drives, but some think of them only as ways to record music they find on the Web. You can also use them as an inexpensive way to back up your data.

* Keyboard. Some computers come with keyboards that provide added functionality, such as the ability to program in keyboard shortcuts. With the press of a single key, for instance, you can be off to your favorite news, shopping, or travel Web site.

* Faxing. You don't need a stand-alone fax machine to send PC-created documents or to receive faxes. A PC connected to a modem and phone line, using software that comes with Windows XP and other operating systems, can act as a fax machine.

* Broadband. Many PCs today come with network cards, which can save you money if you sign up for cable or DSL Internet access.

* Ports. Virtually all PCs today come with USB ports, a connection used to attach a printer, scanner, PDA, digital camera, or other peripheral device to a PC. USB ports are faster and easier to work with than previous technologies such as parallel and serial ports. Be sure to check if your peripherals have USB connections. Some PCs today come with even faster IEEE 1394 ports, sometimes called FireWire ports. They're primarily used with digital camcorders, but you can also use them to connect an external hard drive or optical drive to a computer. This can be a convenient way to transfer large documents or programs between a work and home PC. …

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