Share this Page URL

Chapter 1. Savvy Consumer Guide to Buyin... > “Free” and Cheap PCs - Pg. 8

Savvy Consumer Guide to Buying a Computer 8 · Scanners--When shopping for a scanner, consider quality first. If you want photo-quality scans, don't settle for less than 1,200 dpi color, although 600 dpi is sufficient for most general uses. Make sure the scanner is TWAIN compatible, so you can scan pictures into your documents, and that the scanner comes with good OCR (optical character recognition) software, so you can scan text. Before you buy, read some reviews. · Digital cameras--The latest popular toy is the digital camera, which stores your pictures on floppy disks or special memory cards. Quality and price vary greatly. When you're out camera shopping, check the maximum resolution of the photos (don't settle for less than 1 megapixel, about 1,280×1,024) and the number of photos you can store on a disk or card. Find out how much additional disks or cards cost. · Video modems--Are standard phone calls starting to bore you? If so, you can install a video modem, stick a digital video camera on your monitor, and talk face-to-face over the phone, assuming of course that the other person has a video modem. · Hand-held computers--If a notebook PC is still too bulky, and you don't really need to type a lot on the road, consider a hand-held or pocket computer. Many of the new hand-held devices come with the Palm operating system or Windows CE (a scaled-down version of Windows), both of which make it easy to navigate the device. Weighing in at less than a pound, a hand-held com- puter has a miniature screen and just enough RAM to perform basic tasks (usually about 8MB). Don't set your expectations too high. "Free" and Cheap PCs In the good old days (1998­99), companies literally were giving away free PCs! If you were willing to disclose personal and financial information to one of these philanthropic organizations, agreed to use the computer at least 10 hours each month, and would put up with a steady stream of online