It's end of year shopping and sale season again! This is also the time of year that I am frequently approached for guidance on home computer replacement or update shopping. Over time I've pulled my guidance together into a Computer Shopping Tip Sheet. This year, I am posting the information on my blog, and plan to keep it updated over time.
There are lots of options on computers, and comparing them online or in a store can be time consuming and frustrating. It’s always best to know essentially what you want before shopping. This will help you define what will work best for you. Often when computer shopping you’ll see specs to choose from, and this can often be more confusing than useful for general home consumers. The purpose of this post is to shed some light on the information you'll encounter during your search, and to help you make a better-informed decision.
Let's start with an example - you saw a great sale ad for this computer, but it may as well be partially written in Greek.
Sample Computer Sale Ad: Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Series: i7, 3.2Ghz, 8GB, 1T HDD, HDMI, DVD, Win10, Black.
Knowledge is Power! So let’s break that sample description down so you can make an informed choice:
Questions to Help You Define What You’re Shopping For
Now that you know some of the lingo you’ll be seeing during computer shopping: Here are the questions you’ll want to answer, and they will help you more narrowly define your choices.
A General Note about Price
Here’s what you might expect to find while shopping for Desktops and Laptops in 2017-18, VERY generally:
A General Note about Programs & Files
When you purchase a new computer, you’ll want your existing data and files on your new computer. This can be easily done, but know that you can only move files you have created – like documents, pdfs, spreadsheets, photos, videos, music, and so on. You can not move Applications that are installed on your current computer’s hard drive (like Photoshop, MS Office, Quicken, etc).
To get Programs or Applications from your old computer to your new one, you will need to re-install them (perhaps not an option on a new computer without a CD/DVD tray). Most Programs can be downloaded from their websites, and if it’s something you’ve purchased, you probably have a “security key”, license, or number printed on your installation CD or receipt. You should be able to Download those programs, and confirm your security number.
In other words: you can move any CONTENT (docs, images, info) you have created; typically you cannot move the APPLICATIONS that you may have used to create that information.
Now that you're an Informed Consumer, it's Time to Start Shopping
Make a Wish List of Options
Once you’ve defined some specifics and some options for your next computer, make a wish list of those items. It will make your shopping easier, whether online or in person. You don't have to have a preference defined for each component - keep in mind flexibility provides you with greater options. With that in mind, I recommend something like this:
Compare Your Choices
After defining your preferences and searching for options that might work for you, it's time to Comparison Shop. Use this Computer Shopping Workbook to help compare and contrast your shopping choices for smarter decision-making. The link will download an Excel workbook, usable also in Open Office or Google Sheets.
NOTE: This blog post and related Computer Shopping Workbook are based on my experience, and are intended as information and tools for general consumer level use only. Neither this blog post nor the sample Computer Shopping Workbook attachment imply any specific product or component endorsements or recommendations.
Do you have any Eureka Moments for computer shopping?
Please share them or any questions in the Comments section below!