Spring is in the air (although you couldn’t prove it today) and to paraphrase Lord Tennyson, it seems like a Realtor’s® fancy has turned to … purchasing a new computer? In the past 7 days I received no less than 4 separate requests for help or information on how to purchase a computer. I think several of the requestors actually wanted me to go to the store with them! While that might have been fun, it sure isn’t practical.
A lot of people assume that I would automatically know what the right computer for them to buy would be. Some wanted me to offer an opinion on Computer A vs Computer B. That isn’t practical either as in order to do so, I would have had to have been on top of the ever changing computer market place. (I am not)
So, what I thought I’d do to help those who made the requests and to also help those of you considering a similar purchase, was to teach you how to buy a computer. I hope to make this general enough so that it withstands the test of time, and yet detailed enough so that you will feel empowered to make good choices when faced with the question of how to buy a new computer.
Given that there are desktops and laptops, PCs and Macs, Tablets and Convertible laptops to choose from, starting with what you want is a good beginning. I have located a free web resource that will help you make some of the basic decisions in the form of taking a simple survey. I’ve tried it, I like it and I recommend it to you. Although this is a good start, it isn’t the final answer, but go here anyway, take the survey and come back: http://www.pc.com/Shop/matchmaker#
Were you surprised at the number of possibilities that were presented? That is why I couldn’t possibly make specific a recommendation to you. Let’s narrow the field a little by tackling the minimum installed hardware that I do think should be in any Realtor’s® computer. To start with, whether you are looking at Mac, PC, Desktop, Laptop, Tablet or Convertible, stick with Intel brand processors. You could save a few dollars on an AMD equipped machine, but the Intel chips are faster and therefore the better bet.
Next, you will be much happier with a machine that has 2 Gigs of Random Access Memory (RAM) as it will allow the computer to do more and do it faster than a machine with less RAM. In the case of RAM, more is always better. Don’t attempt to save money by accepting less RAM.
You will want a large hard drive, as this is where your pictures, video, music, programs and other data are stored. A good minimum size is 200 GB. Hard drives are also rated in rotational speed. The current fastest drive generally available is 7,200 RPM (Although 10,000 RPM drives are available, they are hard to locate). An acceptable drive would be one that operates at 5,400 RPM, but hold out for the largest drive that runs at 7,200 RPM that you can find.
In order to get programs into your machine, it should have a CD drive installed as a minimum. You REALLY want it to have the capability of reading and burning both CDs and DVDs. Burning is useful if you want to create CDs or DVDs of your listings or marketing materials. The drive you want is called a CDR/DVDR drive. Sometimes called a Combo drive.
Planning on working remotely? Then you will want WiFi installed. Having Bluetooth installed is nice too so that you can connect your phone wirelessly to the computer. I’d stay away from the computers with built in AirCards or cellular modems as you end up being tied to a particular carrier. Better to use an add on USB AirCard for that purpose.
There’s more, but the info above is what I consider to be a baseline of hardware.
Now comes the sticky part…Mac or PC. I have both. I also have a pure Tablet as well as a convertible laptop. Which machine do I absolutely love and take with me as often as possible? The MacBook Pro. It not only is a Mac, but it is also a Windows XP Pro machine. More on that in another post. Assuming that you want to stay with Windows, which operating system should you buy? I have an opinion here too, and that is to stick with XP Pro. All of my desktops and laptops and Tablets run XP Pro, with the exception of one desktop that runs Vista. Which machine do I hate? The Vista machine. Too many problems and too many weird behaviors from that box for me to recommend Vista to you. Yes, you can still buy an XP Pro machine, but you will have to do it online as opposed to in a retail store. Dell is still selling XP Pro on most of their line (As are HP and Lenovo), at least until June 18th of this year (better hurry!) even though Microsoft has said that manufacturers can sell XP Pro on new computers until June 30th of 2009. (Microsoft will allow the manufacturers to offer XP on into 2009, but after June 30th it will be a “downgrade” process.)
So, now you have hardware and software suggestions…where do you go to compare machines? Check out this page http://www.pcmag.com/category2/0,2705,9,00.asp for laptops; this page for desktops: http://www.pcmag.com/category2/0,2806,4,00.asp; and this page for tablets and convertibles: http://www.pcmag.com/category2/0,2806,2379,00.asp.
Another good source for information on a wide variety of consumer electronics as well as computers is www.FirstGlimpseMag.com. This is a magazine that regularly gives you product reviews and buying guides on all sorts of equipment. It is worth noting that they have a relationship with BestBuy.
I hope that this is helpful to you in your quest to purchase new computer. Go ahead and leave a comment if there is something that I didn’t cover well enough for you.