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What Computer Is Best For Me?

In today’s technology environment, it can be hard to digest what each type of computer does and which is the most economical choice to make.

In this article I intend to layout the basic uses for each type of computer, and what you can reasonably expect to get out of them.

To start off, there are three types of computer you can purchase, a netbook, a laptop (also known as a notebook) and a desktop.

Netbooks

Netbooks are relatively new technology compared to laptops and desktops.They have been designed to be used by people on the move that require little out of their machine.Typically netbooks are about three quarters the size of a laptop and have basic processing power and memory resources for very limited needs.Of course, the size can be both positive and negative as smaller units mean smaller screens and smaller keyboards.

When it comes down to it, Netbooks are mainly intended for three uses, Office applications, internet and listening to music.  In effect a Netbook is very similar to a pocket pc phone (like an HTC) that is running windows mobile, as you can get similar results out of them both.

It is also best to bear in mind you’ll need some way of getting data on and off of a netbook.  You can choose from memory cards, memory sticks and an external DVD drive.  The best option here is an external DVD drive.  If you need to reset the computer back to when you first bought it you’ll only be able to do it with a DVD if you don’t have access to another computer.

Finally, due to minimal resources, you will have the most basic version of an operating system on the netbook.  A lot of netbooks still come with Windows XP, which is over 10 years old.  This is solely because a netbook doesn’t have enough viable power to run more modern operating systems.  The even larger effect of the minimal resources is the memory.  All netbooks have shared graphics, so although they have 1gb RAM at the moment, overall that will be less due to the graphics using a portion of it.

Below is what you can expect of a typical netbook.  You can buy ones with slightly more or less capability than that below, but use the below figures as a guide for seeing if the Netbook suitable for your intended tasks:

Battery Life 6 Hours
Graphics Shared
Processor Speed 1.6ghz
Memory 1gb RAM
Operating System Windows XP, Windows 7 Starter
Hard Disk 160gb

Laptops

Compared to netbooks ,which have limited capabilities , you can get a laptop of almost equal standing to a desktop computer, if you don’t mind shelling out money.Laptop specifications are incredibly variable and though they can be reasonably heavier than a netbook, there is good reason for it.With a laptop, what you want to use it for is the main factor in depending what you buy.A low end laptop will let you play basic games (nothing too recent that is big budget), music, use photo manipulation software, watch Bluray HD films (if you have a Bluray drive) and much more.They generally have over twice the amount of memory than netbooks and twice the amount of hard disk space.

You also have the possibility of having all the different versions of operating systems, so as far as Windows Vista and Windows 7 go, you can choose which version you would like on the laptop.If you are a gamer you can go for a much high specification laptop as the higher models allow for dedicated graphics memory (so it is not sharing the onboard memory used for general tasks).You can also get laptops with reasonable sound systems so that you don’t always have to be stuck with the typical tinny speakers a low end laptop comes with.Laptops also have the capability of an HDMI port so if the laptop has a Bluray drive and you have an HDTV, you can connect the laptop to your TV and watch High Definition content on a larger scale.

On the memory front, laptops have generally at least three times more memory than a netbook and the processors can go up to quad core.If this sounds alien to you, don’t worry.The more cores means you can run that amount of high demanding programs at any one time without it impacting the speed of other tasks.It’s essentially like having that number of separate processors, or if you are only running a single task, all the processor speeds added together.For instance a dual core 1.6 GHz processor is like having two separate 1.6 GHz or one 3.2 GHz processor.

Laptops are best suited for people who simply don’t have the space at home for a desktop but still want the capabilities of one.The only downfall is that due to it being non-cost effective you’d need to purchase a new laptop approximately every five years if you wanted to keep up with the latest software releases.

Below are the average specifications of a laptop, you should always look at any software requirements to see the laptop you’re buying is capable of running it.You can buy a higher specification laptop but this will of course increase the cost:

Battery Life 3-4 Hours
Graphics Shared or Dedicated
Processor Speed 2ghz dual Core
Memory 3gb RAM
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium
Hard Disk 320gb

Desktops

If you decide you’d like to go for a desktop computer then the world is your oyster.The problem with desktops is that you will need a desk to go with it. Additionally if you have very young children you are probably not going to get much done unless you have a desk to compensate for roaming hands.

That said, if space and small hands aren’t an issue and you don’t require the mobility of a laptop, the desktop is probably for you.

Desktops are fully upgradeable which means you can upgrade the memory, hard disk, sound cards, graphics cards, motherboard, basically everything.This means that you can take parts out that are old and put new ones in without the worry of it costing the earth.You can get monitors ranging anywhere from fifteen inches up to a massive forty-two. This is not to mention you can use projectors and the like if you are looking for an absolute monster gaming machine.Of course the average person doesn’t want such high specifications so if you are just looking for an average machine to do day to day tasks, play movies and games without wanting to max out your visuals, then the average specifications mentioned below are going to be adequate.

The only downfall of desktops is that they don’t come with wireless networking as standard.If you don’t have your router near your desktop and don’t want to have cables strewn everywhere, you’ll need a wireless adapter which usually costs around £20 upwards.You can also have your desktop permanently linked to your TV if it has an HDMI port on the back and if you happen to have a TV with a wireless receiver you can stream content from your PC to your TV effortlessly.

Like laptops , a lot of Desktops these days come with Bluray drives so you can watch HD films either on your PC or on a TV if you have one connected.As desktops are a lot more versatile you don’t actually have to buy a new monitor.If you have a monitor from a previous machine then you can buy a base unit on its own and just plug it into your current display.Overall a desktop will give you the most versatility in what you can do on your machine, but you won’t have the wireless networking a laptop or netbook offers without an external adapter.Obviously desktops are in no way easily mobile like laptops or netbooks too.

Below are the average specifications you can expect of a desktop machine:

Monitor 19”
Battery Life N/A
Graphics 128mb Dedicated/512mb Shared
Processor Speed 2ghz dual Core
Memory 3gb RAM
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium
Hard Disk 640gb

Conclusion

Overall I hope I’ve managed to explain the capabilities of each type of machine that is on the market currently.When it comes down to it if you only want to use your PC for internet and office applications, and don’t mind a small screen and keyboard, a netbook is best for you.If you want the capabilities of a desktop, or want a larger screen and keyboard than a netbook, but have no space then a laptop is for you.If you want the comfort of a desktop or want a PC that is capable of playing high specification games, then a desktop is for you.

Of course if you only want to do basic tasks but want the comfort, a low end desktop will do perfectly as well.Once you’ve decided which the best type of computer is for you, you can always talk to a store clerk for further advice on which is the best product for you.Hopefully this guide has given a little more information into what tasks each type of PC is best for, so you at least will have some starting point when you go and buy a new PC


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