Choosing Your Next Computer System

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show

Computers have become part of everyday life at work, school and home. Choosing the right system for your needs is key to getting what suits your usage, but not more than is necessary.

Featured in this Show

  • Knowing What You Want To Do Important For Choosing A New Computer

    Whether we love or hate our current computer, eventually, we’ll need to think about replacing it. But how do we know when to do that, and what should be our next purchase?

    Peter Greene is an independent computer consultant who spends time every month on The Larry Meiller Show talking offering advice on computers and other electronics. He shares resources and a monthly list of useful web sites on his web site.

    Getting a lot of errors messages on your computer is one sign that you may need to upgrade your machine. Those messages used to be pretty cryptic, Greene says, but now they are more user-friendly, and a quick Google search of the message can give you good information about what’s wrong. If the message indicates that your system can’t support certain usage, or you are running out of space, it may mean that it’s time for a new system.

    Depending on how old your computer is and how much memory it came with, you may find yourself hitting the upper limit, especially if you have a lot of media files like photos, video, or music. “In that case,” Greene says, “either you’re going to have to do some file management and get rid of some files, or back them off of your system, or you’re going to have to get a larger hard drive.”

    Gamers may also be frustrated as their computers lag behind the improvements made in their games. They may find that the performance of the computer is not keeping pace with the demands of the software. Greene says that upgrading the video card can extend the usefulness of a gamer’s system, as can increasing memory.

    Even users with newer computers can run into these problems. Even though the storage space increases with each generation of computer, the applications that we use are taking up more space as well. Especially when we are transferring files from a digital camera or smartphone. Sometimes those files are much larger than they’ve traditionally been because the quality is so much higher.

    Smartphones and tablets also come into play when deciding what kind of computer you need to buy. Many people are using those devices as a mobile replacement for computers. So if one or more of your devices is actually taking over some of the tasks that your computer used to do, you may not need as much capacity on your desktop or laptop.

    Greene says that instead of starting with what computer system to buy, we should back up a few steps. First, he says, determine your needs and goals by assessing what you use your computer for. Someone who uses their computer for streaming video, gaming, or doing a lot of photo or video editing will have very different needs than someone primarily using email, some web browsing, and basic word processing or spreadsheet programs.

    When you know what you want and need to do with your computer, then assess what software will give you the best options. For instance, some high-end video and photo editing programs are really made for Apple computer products and will work best on them, even if there is a PC version available.

    Once you have a list of the software that you’ll want to install, then Greene says it’s time to look at the hardware you’ll need to run it. By starting with needs and goals to get to software and finally hardware that you need, Greene feels that you’ll get as much computer as you want, but not more than you really need. And that will keep the cost down.

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Peter Greene Guest

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