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January 29, 2016

Buying a New Computer, 2016 Edition

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

It’s time to update my annual post on what to look for with new computer technology. Unlike the hectic 1980s and the frantic 1990s, not much is changing on the PC landscape in the middle of the 2010s.

Pretty much everything I wrote in last year’s post remains the same. I would offer that service and support remain a big issue, one that you shouldn’t neglect.

For laptops, I continue to strongly recommend the extended warranty; a 3-year warranty is ideal for a laptop, which includes those 2-in-1 model PCs.

Remember, an extended warranty is not the same thing as a service contract. Do not buy a service contract. It’s a waste of money. PCs do not need servicing, not like a car or major appliance. Any routine maintenance is done by the operating system and for more help you can always refer to one of my books, such as PCs For Dummies or Laptops For Dummies.

Brand names are getting tight. The big manufacturers of PCs are Lenovo, Dell, Asus, HP, and Acer. I still prefer to Lenovo, although their web store is just horrid. Lenovo features too many model numbers and variations to make buying a computer a pleasurable experience on the site.

If you really want the kind of service and support I recommend, please consider shopping at a locally-owned computer store. Any outfit that’s been in business longer than 10 years is worthy of your attention. They offer friendly service and support, which is a tremendous bonus. Their computers may not be the lowest-price systems in town, but being able to drop off a PC to have it fixed is a blessing. Also, local business deserve your support much more than the big box stores.

Today’s computers are good for about 5 years or longer. I generally get a new system every 5 years simply to enjoy the boost in speed. I’ve had PCs last up to 11 years, but after that span they just get too slow. Especially after 6 years, ensure that you’re backing up regularly. You don’t want to lose your data.

A new computer also gets you updated software, especially the operating system. Currently I advise Windows 7 users to keep that operating system. If you have Windows 10, accept the updates as they arrive. Mac users should update their systems with the new OS X or risk compatibility problems with your software.

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