Laptop buying advice, Skype.

Hi and welcome to the Occasional Aspiring Newsletter, published monthly or whenever I get around to it, whichever happens second…  Here I give you a little update on what I have been working on.

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Skype – I can’t believe how many I have set up recently.  Some use it because it is a much cheaper way to call long distances.  Some because you can video call easily and some because it has a really good chat (interactive e-mail) facility.  Whatever your reason, let me know if you want Skype set up on your computer and are not sure how to get the best value from it.  It works on PC, Mac’s and even iPhones.

Print Screen – A handy tip, if you want to save the information on a PC screen, for example an error message to show me (!), find the ‘Print Screen” button on your keyboard, click it then open up new e-mail or Word and select file/paste.

Facebook – If you have Facebook, you can now “Like” Aspiring Computer Services.  Try it now  ! J

Recently I have been asked a number of times; “ How do I choose a good laptop, there are so many options!”

In an attempt to reduce the decision making confusion you could follow this:

  • Choose a single retailer, say OfficeWorks, JB HiFi, Harvey Norman – it doesn’t matter which one, they all have a range and they all have ‘deals’, but just choose ONE and go there.
  • Decide whether your need a built-in DVD drive or not before you get there. (this tends to make the biggest single difference on weight/size)
  • If you have a brand preference (some like IBM’s or Dells etc) you may stick with this, as your old accessories like power supplies may be compatible – very handy to have a couple of these.
  • Try out different keyboards – they all feel different and that can make a difference to how you feel about the laptop over time.
  • Once you are in the store – if there is a good range from a single manufacturer, it is easiest if you tend to stick with this – i.e. moving up and down the range of a single manufacturer makes decision making much easier because you can see what spending more (or less) does directly to features/weight.
  • Despite what the ‘salesman’ will tell you, however much RAM is installed in the lower – mid price laptops, it is half what you need for reasonable performance.  If you can, double the RAM on the spot, or ask me to do it afterwards.
  • The big step changes in price are usually because the machines are lighter.  Small increases are usually for increased ‘performance’.  The exception being if you don’t need a DVD drive (see above), where you can get a ‘net book’ – small, light machine for on-line use only (Surfing, Facebook, e-mail, Google Doc’s etc) not for locally run applications (MS Office, MYOB etc).

Or, give me a list of any features important to you and a budget and I will locate the best value machine for you.  I usually charge one hour of my time to sort through looking for the best deal for you.

And remember, the best investment on any new computer is to have it ‘set-up’ correctly when it is new.   Brand new PC’s always benefit from a service straight away, updating all the software so it is secure (reducing problems down the track) and removing the unnecessary software. (Bloatware – so common on new machines now)

Until next time…. regards