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Chapter 1. Savvy Consumer Guide to Buyin... > Computer Buyer's Checklists - Pg. 4

Savvy Consumer Guide to Buying a Computer 4 Computer Buyer's Checklists After deciding whether to go with a notebook or desktop PC, the first thing you should do is go to your local computer store and check out what's available. Leave your credit card, cash, and check- book at home so you won't buy something impulsively. Read the system descriptions next to each computer, play with the keyboard and mouse, open the CD-ROM drive, and so on. Pretend you're taking the computer for a test drive. Once you have done that, read some computer ads and reviews in magazines, such as PC Computing and Computer Shopper. This gives you some insight into prices, known problems with existing brands, and any late-breaking technologies you should be aware of. To make sure you're considering the most important shopping issues, use the following buyer's guide checklists for desktop and notebook computers. Tables 1.1 and 1.2 list the most important considerations and favor power over price. If you're on a strict budget, you can make a few trade- offs. Don't let the techno-terms baffle you; just flip to the glossary at the back of this book. Table 1.1. Desktop Computer Shopping List Component RAM Hard drive USB ports IEEE1394 port Monitor Minimum Requirements 64MB (or more) SDRAM or DDR. Make sure you can add an- other 64MB RAM without removing existing RAM chips. 10 gigabyte drive with access times ranging from 8­12ms (mil- liseconds); the lower the number the better. 2 USB ports. You can plug in everything from a mouse to an extra hard drive in a USB port, so no system should be without USB. If you plan to connect a digital camcorder to your computer, make sure it has at least one of these ports, also called a FireWire port. SVGA, noninterlaced, 17-inch monitor with a dot pitch of .28 or