Computer Equipment

Written by Sarah Provost
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If you're a member of the Baby Boom generation, you may remember UNIVAC. This first commercial computer was built for the US Census Bureau in 1951. Taking up 350 square feet and weighing 29,000 pounds, this behemoth was the forerunner of today's notebook computers, smart phones and Palm Pilots.

There were only a few visionaries who believed at that time that some day a majority of Americans would have their own home computers. We passed that 50 percent mark in the year 2000. This astonishing explosion of technology has resulted in a rather bewildering array of choices for those who want to purchase computer equipment.

Begin with the Operating System

Our world is divided in many ways, but one of the more impassable gaps is the one between Apple users and Windows devotees. Actually, that should be the other way around, because those who have Windows use their PCs, while those who have Macs are devoted to them. Windows still controls 80 percent of the market, however, so compatibility issues guarantee its continuing dominance.

Apple people feel that their system is more intuitive and more easily understood than the Windows system. Despite controlling only 20 percent of the overall market, Apple is the leading supplier of computers for educational purposes in K-12. That fact lends support to the claims that Apple is more user-friendly.

Market dominance, however, assures that a Windows computer is more likely to be compatible with other hardware. Additionally, a computer using Windows is usually significantly less expensive in the initial outlay than a Mac. If you have already used one type of operating system, you'll probably stick with it. If you have never used either, go to their showrooms and give them each a test drive!

What Computer Equipment Do You Need?

Though most applications require the same basic hardware, you may want to tweak some components to reflect your intended uses. If you're going to be doing a lot of word processing, spreadsheets and the like, for instance, you'll want to pay particular attention to the clarity of the monitor. The ergonomic aspects of the keyboard will also be of primary importance for such uses.

If you're into gaming, on the other hand, you may hardly ever touch the keyboard. You'll want excellent graphics from your monitor, and lots of speed from your processor. You may also want to upgrade your speakers. Those who are avid about music will want to be able to burn CDs. Movie fans might want a wide-aspect screen to go with their DVD drive.

The important thing about buying computer equipment is to meet your current needs and realistically anticipate what you will need in the next few years. Buying more computer than you'll actually use is a waste of money. One of the best things about the incredible variety of equipment available is that if you don't need all the bells and whistles, you can select just this bell and that whistle.

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