Buying Your First Computer

August 20, 2013 at 9:30 am 8 comments

What Kind of Computer Should I Buy?

The first thing people ask my Human when they find out she’s The Chief Geek is “I want to buy a new computer. What kind would you get?”  Today,  I’m going to let the The Chief Geek herself talk to you about how to buy your first computer, to save you some time, money, and aggravation. Take it away, TCG!

Thanks “cc” (and can you please stop putting wet  “putty-tat-paws” all over the monitors)?

When it comes to buying a computer, you should not buy a particular computer just because “my friend has it”. You should get a computer based on what you’ll use it for.  My computers are for 3-D animation, video editing, software design and testing–and way too expensive if you only want one just to go on Facebook and the Internet.  So, unless you happen to have the exact same computer needs as your friend, there’s a good chance you will be wasting money buying something that won’t satisfy you.

Get a piece of paper and a pencil. Now make a list of the things you want to do on a computer. This list will be the minimum requirements the laptop will need to be able to do very well.

A Rule of Thumb for a long laptop life

If your eyes are wandering to buying a laptop (also called notebooks), you’re probably looking for it to last about 4 to 5 years before you need to buy a newer laptop (Unless you drop it, then it will be much sooner!).

With that in mind, a “Rule of Thumb” when it comes to laptop longevity is you’ll need to invest in a mid- to high-end laptop system, otherwise it will become slow and sluggish as newer operating systems and software become available (usually occurs every 2-3 years for PC, 4-5 years for Macs).

Are you new to computers?

A lot of people come to me saying they’re “soooo not computer-smart”. I’ve found most people who are like that and don’t mind learning something different, like going with Apple notebooks.

Yes, an Apple MacBook will appear more expensive than the PC counterparts, however with those costs you get:

1. Built-in web cameras and microphones.

2. Built-in wireless networking.

3. Software that includes photo albums, DVD creator, iTunes music player, a web page designer, backup & recovery software, and a music creator called GarageBand. These are not “trialware-try-and-buy”–they are for you to use as long as you want at no extra cost.

4. Low maintenance. You don’t need to have a Friendly Neighborhood Geek like me to tweak things as you do with Windows.

5. Resistant to viruses and spyware. This is a big problem, especially with recent attacks on PCs in the last two weeks I’ve been called on to fight. (I actually use a Mac to deal with these issues.)

It’s not all about Apple. Windows PC laptops come in a variety of features, prices and quality too numerous to mention here.  The software that most PC’s need (virus protection, word processing) is included but on a trial basis in laptops. When the” trialware” expires, you either have to A) pay over the Internet to keep the software running, or B) go out to a store and buy it. Without going into details, I prefer to go to the store where I can choose from different software brands and the software comes in a CD in case something happens and I need to reinstall it on my computer (which happens often).

Finger comfort

When looking at laptops, make sure the keyboard feels comfortable to you and the screen size is satisfactory.  Smaller laptops (or netbooks) are cute, lightweight and easy to carry, but a pain if you are used to typing 60 words per minute on a full-size keyboard and keypad. When you get to the store, go ahead and lay your hands on those laptops on display: go on, that’s what they’re there for.

iPads & Androids

My article “Tablet, Laptop, or Smartphone? Which works best for you?“, will give you “the 411” on whether you need one. If you plan to use it for school, check first with the school’s Administrator to see if their network and their software will work on these devices.

Just one more thing

If you do buy a laptop (PC or MAC), get a warranty that covers EVERYTHING–including that display, which is the most costly item to replace on a laptop.  Best Buy actually offers a laptop “bumper to bumper” warranty option. Laptops tend to get dropped, spilled, or stepped on unless you are a very careful person.

Another last but very important warning to students & teachers

Laptops are very mobile and you’d be surprised how mobile they become when somebody steals yours.  I use on my laptops Computrace’s “LoJack for Laptops” ( Just like the LoJack for cars, this is better security than any insurance policy if you’re a student or a teacher.

Just remember, when it comes to laptops the old saying “you get what you pay for” is accurate.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go feed the cat.

–The Chief Geek


Entry filed under: buying, computer help, electronics, grandparents, home, laptop, newbie, school, seniors, Technology. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1.  |  November 8, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my
    own blog and was wondering what all is required
    to get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
    I’m not very web savvy so I’m not 100% certain. Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated.


    • 2. cc  |  November 11, 2013 at 7:02 am

      Meow & hello, albertinaholloman. No topic is too off-topic in The Computer Cat’s Corner. And you have a very good question too. Actually, when a person buys a computer and uses the Internet, it’s only natural for them to want to share in the Internet as well.

      First, check out my series of articles titled CC’s Guided Tour of the Curious Blog Page, Part 1 . As for creating your own blog, how easy or hard depends on what you want the blog to do and where you want it to be. My asked my Human to help you find the best blog solution that’s not only easy, but easy on your pocketbook too.

      ~The Computer Cat


  • 3. Télécharger Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2  |  February 25, 2014 at 4:14 am

    This blog was… how do I say it? Relevant!!
    Finally I have found something which helped me. Thanks a lot!


    • 4. cc  |  February 25, 2014 at 4:41 pm

      Purrrrr and thank you for the “sardine”, Boyce!
      If you have any other “relevant” subjects you would like to read about, let me know. ~”CC”


  • 5. twitter followers zombie  |  February 25, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Ҭhanks forr some other informative web site.Thee place
    else could I get tthat kind of info written in such an ideal way?
    I have a project that I’m ʝuѕt now running on,
    and I have been aat the look oսt ffor such information.


    • 6. cc  |  February 25, 2014 at 5:24 pm

      Thank you for the nice “sardine”, Adrian.
      ~ “CC” The Computer Cat


  • 7. Leia  |  February 25, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Good post! We aгe linking to this particularly great article
    on our website. Keеpр up the good writing.


    • 8. cc  |  February 25, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      Purrrr, and thank you, Leia!

      Now you know that Gamers need a whole different kind of computer than what you will find in a computer store, and usually the best suited are the ones you build — or find a Friendly Neighborhood Geek to build for you — yourself. But if you or other Gamers have questions about gaming computers, let me know!
      ~ “CC” The Computer Cat



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