Computer: Help wanted!

I'm writing this post on my old computer which was delivered to me five years ago(!). This might be a laughable fact to you but this ol' machine has served me well up to this point. I have been able to do all that I wanted to do with it - surfing the net, blogging, being my jukebox (with tons of music in it), showing me movies, e-mailing, being my typewriter, storing my images, working PhotoShop etc - but now it's full and slow and just plain old. I'm beginning to fear that it'll collapse one day, very soon, with a great amount of stuff in it that I haven't backed up. Sure I have an external memory of 250 GB but it contains mostly my movies that has pretty much filled that memory bank up....

...so it's finally time to invest in a new computer.

Being a very "non-tech" guy this is not a totally positive situation to be in. A number of questions arises as well as apprehensions. What is there to think about and what pits are there to fall into. I mean, maybe I won't keep this one for as long as the other but I would hate to make a stupid buy. So basically I have two questions that I'd like some help with:

1. What should I get? What numbers should i look for in the descriptions?
- I want to get as much as possible for the least amount of money possible. Strange isn't it? Seriously. I do. However, having made it this far with a five year old machine it's pretty clear I don't need a super-duper top-of-the-line computer. But it has to be much faster to work with and it has to have a much bigger memory. As far as I understand it there are three major things to watch for 1. The processor 2. The hard disc memory capacity 3. The internal memory. Am I right or are there, in your mind, much more to watch for in the ordinary computer? Are there any common traps to watch out for.

2. What should I think about when it comes to switching from the old to the new? Any tips?
- Should I move free programs like for instance FireFox from one computer to the other or should I download anew? Pros and cons?

If you have any good advice for me and some spare time I'd love to hear from you. Cheers!



Feng (promising blog by the way!) recommends me to go here for guidance and that I download all programs anew ;) to the new computer. Feng also point out that Vista is crap so I should stay with XP. Your pieces of advice are appreciated, Feng.

Mod*Mom loves the Hewlett Packard Touchsmart PC - hmm, looks great of course and it's probably worth every penny but I wasn't planning on paying 1.600 USD. I think, without having checked too much, that I can get a pretty good computer (excluding screen etc) for less than 1.000 USD and that's more like what I'm planning. So, Mod*Mom, thank you very much for the tip but I think I'll wait until next time.

mc fox said: "I think you better shave! That will solve at least some of your pc-problems. Mine slowed up alot while being badly shaved." I guess mc fox means I should get rid of useless rubbish in the computer releasing some power that way. It would probably work, as it is completely stuffed, but it is time to get a new one anyway - but thanks mc fox!

Anonymous thinks I should get "an OLPC for 100 bucks and sell your old PC on eBay (for more)." A creative suggestion! However, would I get more?! I'm not sure. ;D

Signature CDM says: "There are always discounts on Mac minis, such as these: http://lowendmac.com/deals/best-mac-mini-prices.html. I have one, and it works great. If you max it out with memory (http://macsales.com is recommended place for purchasing and information on how to) then it can run both Windows and Mac OS X. Hook it up to your TV and it works as an entertainment center as well with Front Row and accompanying remote for all your music and video needs."
Thanks for letting me know, CDM. I should of course have said that this time it'll be a PC - once more... Maybe next time ;)

Roar of Norway says his philosophy when it comes to buying computers is to spend as little money as possible on a machine that meets your current requirements - this enables you to save money for repairs or replacement if you're unlucky and have an accident. This sounds very sound, doesn't it? He also says that to reformat is very important. I guess he's right - I've heard it before but I never have done it ;) For him something like a laptop with 15 inch screen and 160 GB hard drive and extra external memory would do it. I have also thought about getting a laptop but I don't really have the use for the portability right now. However I would probably bring it with me on occasion and it would crave much less space - so I haven't written a laptop off completely... Thanks for your insight Roar!

To be continued with your advice!



Feng said...

Hi Martin,

I always start here:
when looking for new components or a new box. The "budget box" guide finds the best stuff at the best price point. Even if you're not going to assemble it yourself you'll get a good idea of what numbers to look for in PCUs, memory and hard drive size to get the best deal.

If you're buying something already assembled including a Windows OS, make sure you can get XP instead of Vista ... Vista is a lot of nothing that just slows a box down.

Oh, and if you really want to have some fun get the "Hot Rod."

modmom said...

i'm no expert, but i am a webhog + i love the hewlett packard touchsmart pc. it's got everything built in like dvd burner + webcam. plus touchscreen is futuristic :)

feng said...

I forgot to say download anew.

There's nothing like a fresh install of every little thing, although if you have a highly customized Firefox (for instance) it might make more sense to migrate it over.

"Download Anew" would be a great name for a band.

P-E Fronning said...

Thanks both of you for taking your time to comment! I have updated the post with your advice!

feng said...

Thanks for the kind words.

As you know I am brand new at this blogging thing, but I'm adding content every other day and hope to have a fine depository of cynical artistry before long.

P-E Fronning said...

You are bookmarked! Keep at it!

MC Fox said...

Hi MartinQ

I think you better shave! That will solve at least some of your pc-problems. Mine slowed up alot while being badly shaved.

P-E Fronning said...

mc fox: Do you actually propose that I should have a shave? (I want to keep my tidy facial hair!!) Or do you mean that I should empty my computer from useless crap? I'm sure that I could make it run much better by doing so but I don't want to ;) Besides I would still be afraid it would break down any minute of old age. So I'm determined to get a new one. Thanks for your comment anyway! And Happy new year!

Anonymous said...

Try to get an OLPC for 100 bucks and sell your old PC on eBay (for more).

Happy shave, Fronning!

P-E Fronning said...

Dear Anonymous: Best advice so far!

CDM said...

There are always discounts on Mac minis, such as these: http://lowendmac.com/deals/best-mac-mini-prices.html

I have one, and it works great. If you max it out with memory (http://macsales.com is recommended place for purchasing and information on how to) then it can run both Windows and Mac OS X. Hook it up to your TV and it works as an entertainment center as well with Front Row and accompanying remote for all your music and video needs.

modmom said...

what is that object on the right side of your header? i'm guessing it's not an animal, so i've narrowed it down to vegetable or mineral :)

maybe you could have a contest to guess what it is

modmom said...

or is it a mussel shell? from musselsoup?

P-E Fronning said...

Mod*mom: 20 questions? Hehe, a contest would be good but I believe I've already told someone who asked before... but OK... hints (don't peek):

for 5 points

for 4 points

for 3 points
jordpäron (old Swedish :))

for 2 points
China is the world's largest producer

for 1 point

for 0 points
freedom fries

...so you see you weren't far off with vegetable. :D

modmom said...

that's a funny looking potato.
not an idaho.
are you sure it's not a prune?

P-E Fronning said...

Well, yes it's a bit scruffy looking. No it's probably not an Idaho one. But who cares? It'll probably make good brännvin!

Anonymous said...

Hei Martin!

Angående datamaskiner: du får sikkert like mange ulike anbefalinger som du får svar på denne posten. Min pc-filosofi er slik: å bruke minst mulig penger på en dugende maskin. Fordelen med dette er at man da sparer penger til å kjøpe ny pc, skulle noe uforutsett skje (støt mot pc, tekniske problemer osv). Tror de fleste pc-er idag møter de krav du har (jeg bruker min bærbare pc til akkurat de samme tingene). Som du skriver er prosessor, internminne og lagringskapasitet viktige faktorer. Enda en viktig ting å se opp for når man kjøper en pc er å vite på forhånd hvordan man formaterer pc-en etter kjøp. Dette er svært viktig ettersom en pc bør formateres årlig (dette fjerner rot og gjør maskinen raskere igjen). Enkleste formateringsmetoden er når dette er innebygd i pc-en (uten ekstra ekstern maskinvare som skal installeres); i alle fall er det slik for meg (siden jeg ikke skjønner meg særlig på pc-er). De siste tre årene har jeg hatt en Dell Inspiron, som jeg er meget fornøyd med (rask og med innebygd formatering). En bedre utgave av denne - med 160 gigabyte lagringskapasitet - koster for tiden 1000 dollar i Norge. Med mine beskjedne behov trenger jeg ikke bruke særlig mer enn det på en bærbar pc (jeg bruker pc-en til musikk og litt billedbehandling, samt surfing). Jeg investerer heller i noen eksterne harddisker. Western Digital har hendige eksterne harddisker til en god pris: "My book" med 500 gigabyte koster litt over 200 dollar i Norge. Mine "my book"-er har ikke sviktet til nå.

Altså ville jeg sjekket ulike tilbud hos Dell; der er det lettere å finne pc-er med mindre skjerm også (jeg bruker 15-tommersskjerm; lettere å reise med, pluss at man sparer en tusenlapp eller to i forhold til pc-er med større skjermer). Men de fleste pc-er på markedet idag gjør jobben helt ok. Selv ville jeg til og med vurdert HP, om tilbudet var godt.

Skriver dette fordi jeg trodde jeg måtte kjøpe ny pc en uke siden og jeg sjekket derfor kort markedet. Min pc falt nemlig i bakken og virket å være skadet. Men det løste seg ved at jeg dyttet hardt i dvd/cd-stasjonen. Nå fungerer den like greit som før.

Mitt tips til deg er uansett å kjøpe en ny pc nå. En fem år gammel pc vil alltid være på randen av sammenbrudd pga av alle oppgraderinger den har vært gjennom. Men formaterer du den og lar være å koble pc-en opp til internett, vil den fortsatt kunne brukes.

Håper forøvrig at Charlotte Kalla vinner skitouren idag. Og det er jaggu sjelden at jeg holder med svensker i langrenn! Gunde Svan, Wassberg, Mogren osv gjorde meg rent ulykkelig på 80-tallet... Men med tiden tenker jeg på dem som helter og tar meg i å savne dem. Rar grei det der :)


P-E Fronning said...

Mange tack för ditt meddelande! Jag tror också att den här maskinen som jag har skulle kunna brukas ett tag till om jag kastade ut all den fina musik jag fått från dig till exempel samt formaterade om den (vilket jag aldrig gjort). Men som du säger bör den bytas ut med tanke på fem års slitage.

Dell och HP kan nog vara fina märken att sjekke extra på.
Det syns som om allt på marknaden är gott nog för mina behov nu och en tid framöver. De allra billigste alternativen är nog inte att föredra, men mellanklass och över det. Jag vet inte hur priserna är i Norge men jag tror vi har en ganska fin konkurrens här så priserna är OK. En fin stationär dator i mellanklass hamnar på cirka 1000 USD plus. "Dual" processor, minst 2 GB internminne och hårddisk på 300-500 GB. Det tycks också som att jag skulle tjäna ganska mycket på att beställa från en internet-forrettning (;)) Moske kan jag få 1000 GB och quad-processor (vad det nu ska vara bra för)...

Jag tror jag börjar få lite koll på marknaden.

Det var fint att höra att du inte behövde köpa en ny dator i onödan. Jag hade precis samma upplevelse häromdagen med min mobiltelefon men gutten i affären tog ut batteriet och satte in det igen och då fungerade den igen ;D

Ja, vi får tacka för stödet från väster till Kalla som gjorde en toppenprestation. Men det är klart att det går bra när Gunde Svan är landslagschef :) Ni fick i alla fall glädja er åt den oslagbare Björndalen :D

Ett gott nytt år önskar jag dig Roar!

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