Buying Advice - Helpful Information
Here are a few tips to help save money and get the most for your dollar:
- When purchasing hardware that will interact with your senses, such as monitors, speakers, mice and keyboards, it's best to test out these devices in a brick-and-mortar store rather than to buying online. Will the keys on that keyboard feel comfortable and workable when you're working with it? How does that mouse feel when you're playing a game or simply moving it around? Television specs don't lie, but it's your eyes that can make or break the purchase. Additionally, purchasing such items online may be a disadvantage if you get a feel for the item but dislike how it appeals to your senses.
- Laptop batteries go bad over time, and careless users cause the cords on their chargers to bend so frequently that the cord(s) becomes frayed. If you absolutely need a battery right away, head to Best Buy or Batteries Plus. But if you can wait and want to save money, check Amazon and eBay for a wider selection and lower cost.
- Years ago, Best Buy was losing sales due to simple windows shoppers. These consumers were coming into their stores to look and feel their products, then going online to purchase the same items and much cheaper costs. While there's no law against it, there are benefits to be had by purchasing locally. Online vendors who own their own website can be reputable, but Amazon and eBay vendors have had their share of shady vendors. Sellers on eBay have even noticed eBay's policy changes that seem to favor shady buyers over reputable sellers. You end up paying more when you buy in a brick-and-mortar store, but you can also consider the extra cost as a convenience fee for not having to wait for the item to arrive, and the convenience of being able to take an item back to the store if it fails.
- Anti-virus programs are great, but they don't act as bullet-proof vests for your computer. Having more than one popular anti-virus program may also conflict with another installed anti-virus program, slowing down your computer even further. Generally its better to have one anti-virus program, then another program such as Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, which is a staple among IT professionals. Anti-virus programs are supported for one year from the initial install, and renewing them costs a few dollars. Check for deals every so often from reputable places such as NewEgg.com and TigerDirect.com (formerly CompUSA),. The website SlickDeals.net provides sales information on all types of items such as household items, electronics, food, subscriptions, and more.
- Generally it's not a good idea to buy used computer equipment from a thrift store. There's never any equipment to test them on, and most thrift stores have a no-returns policy. In the case of keyboards and mice, you have no idea of the eating habits of the previous owner or where their fingers have been. Unless you are well-suited for cleaning plastic or the device is a higher-end device, try to avoid buying these. With wireless devices, you'll need to ensure that the USB device (dongle) is included as well, otherwise the device may be useless. Logitech has a USB dongle called a unifying device, and some of their keyboards and mice may be able to utilize this. It's especially helpful if you already have one.
In the case of monitors, some older flat-screen monitors have a universal VGA port, but newer computers have video ports such as HDMI or DVi. You may be able to use a monitor with a VGA-only port by purchasing a VGA adapter (under $5), but the downside is that there's almost no way to test these devices. Unless you bring in a VGA cable or a Mac Mini with a cable for testing, you're gambling with the used product's functionality. However, most thrift stores are generous and should let you test out the equipment beforehand. Always check in with a sales associate first before bringing in your testing equipment.
- Children who use your computer have the capability to download unwanted items which can slow down and affect your PC's performance, even when you're the one using it. While you can create limited-access accounts, sometimes it's best to purchase a dedicated device such as a tablet for kids to use. Most tablets can handle the same software as their computer counterparts, usually don't suffer the same virus and malware effects, and don't suffer from elongated start up times and slow responsiveness. While they're not immune to improper handling and abuse that some kids project, they're far more affordable than a PC and can keep children entertained for days.
Buying Advice - Freebies!
- Eric's How-Tos - http://ericshowto.weebly.com/
This page consists of How-To articles using various hardware and software.
- OpenOffice - https://www.openoffice.org/
The global standard is Microsoft Office, but why pay so much money for a suite of applications? OpenOffice is freeware (no annoying ads or pop-ups bugging you to register or pay), and contains nearly all of the same features of Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, and other applications. Anything you create in OpenOffice can be imported into the Microsoft-equivalent program, and there are websites dedicated to OpenOffice help.
- Sumatra PDF - http://blog.kowalczyk.info/software/sumatrapdf/free-pdf-reader.html
Sumatra PDF is a light, lean PDF reader that takes up FAR less space than Adobe Acrobat Reader. Adobe pesters you to download its latest reader update so frequently, but you wont get those kinds of annoyances with Sumatra.
- CPU-Z - http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html
If you ever wanted to know up-to-date stats regarding your PC, CPU-Z is the program to use. You can view your processor's speed, check the speed of each stick of memory, and much more. You don't even need to be a power user to utilize it. (Be sure to click the "[version setup], english" link on the top right hand side.)
- Speccy - https://www.piriform.com/speccy
Speccy is a handy program that gives you more information about your computer in an -easy-to-read style and layout. If you've ever had to call Tech Support for troubleshooting, retrieve a piece of info about your system and didn't know where to look; Speccy will provide those specs easier and faster.