Are you in the market for a new computer? Don’t know where to start or what you should be looking for? Well this post is for you.

As a technology consultant and coach  I often asked “What should I get?” If you have ever been in the market for a new electronic gadget you are all too familiar with the non help you get in the stores. You must realize that the clerks are there to sell a product and they will tell you anything whether they are on commission or not. You also have store personnel who have no clue at all. They just work there.
I want to share with you a few tips or questions that you need to have answered before you go in any store. Once you have these answered and settled in your mind you will be able to go to the store with confidence and more importantly knowledge. You will certainly come home with what you need and nothing more. So let’s dive in!

What Is The Main Use Of Your Computer? What Do You Need To Be Able To Do? 

This is where you really want to think about what you use your computer for and what are the basics that you really need. Do you need just email functionality or be able to browse the Internet? Do you use it strictly for business or do you need it for both home and business use? All of these answers to these questions will help flesh out the blueprint that you will need when it is time to go purchase your new computer. The answers will help you pin down what you really need and not be oversold by the salesperson or come home with something that you didn’t even want.

What Is Your Budget?

This is usually a tricky one for people. Most people fail here because they have not done any research to find out what are the going rates for computers in the first place. So that is where you want to start. When you go in a store just browse the computer section to familiarize yourself with what computers are going for. From the least expensive to the most expensive. You might also want to note what features come with each price point. Don’t be afraid to comparison shop. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket at one store. Remember knowledge is power! Once you have familiarized yourself with pricing then you can come up with what you are willing to spend for the features that you NEED in a computer.

How Computer Savvy Are You?

This is an important one. You don’t want to get a computer with a ton of bells and whistles when you have only mastered turning it on. Remember the sales person will make everything sound easy peasy to you but once you get home you are on your own. So you need to make sure that the computer you get is not bloated down with a lot of programs and other shiny tricks to the point where you get frustrated and don’t even use the thing because it is too over your head. It happens everyday. Or if you aren’t all that computer savvy think about getting some training either free or paid that can get you up to speed on what you need to know in order to operate your machine.

What Programs Will You Need?

All computers come with what is known as bloat wear. This is extra software loaded onto the computer that you didn’t even ask for. With that being said, you need to figure out what programs you will need that don’t come with the computer and are extra costs. The most important piece of software that you need is virus protection software. Do not skip this. Because it only takes one bad virus to ruin your new investment beyond repair. After that you will probably need a PDF reader which is free from Adobe and some type of Office Software like Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Excel, etc. But if you do not want to pay an arm and a leg for Microsoft’s offerings you can go the open source route and get Open Office for free that will let you read and save Microsoft Office file types. After you get the basics you can figure out what other software programs you will need depending on what you will be using your computer for.

What Accessories Do You Need?

Here you will need to know if you need speakers or a larger screen or if you will need to get a USB hub or a router of some type. Is your set up at home wireless? Do you need a printer or scanner? This is the time to answer all of these questions before you head out and get sold some riverfront property in Kansas! Only get what you absolutely need for your new computer and what you will be actually using.

Will I Need Help Setting It Up?

I’m pretty sure you will need help getting everything set up even if you follow directions. It just helps having someone else setting it up right the first time and making sure that everything works like it should. This is especially true if you will be setting up a wireless network in your home at the same time. So look into whether the store where you purchase the computer from offers this service or if you can get a neighborhood kid to come over and help you get set up. Don’t try to do it alone if you don’t know what you are doing because the last thing you want to do is ruin your new purchase because you plugged in the wrong cords.
Now for a word on wireless setup. If you decide to go wireless remember to have it set up with a password so that anyone driving down your street can’t just jump on to your open wireless network and possibly get onto your computer. It can happen. And if you go through a phone company to set up your wireless computing remember to choose a new password because everyone knows that they use your home phone as a password most of the time. Let’s make sure not to make it easy for the identity thieves out there.
After answering all of these questions you should now be in a great position to go confidently and boldly to purchase your new computer. Because you have done your homework and researched and thought about what you need you will not be oversold by a pushy or non-knowing clerk at the store. You will also not be sold something that isn’t compatible with what you have. You have all of the power and can now make an informed decision.
Even after all of the planning and research you still don’t feel comfortable going by yourself then by all means hire someone who specializes in this type of thing (hint, hint, ME) to come with you to the store to make sure that you are making the right decision. You can be in and out in under two hours depending on if you go to multiple stores. You can even have that person help you set up everything once you have made your purchase. You can’t go wrong with that.
I hope this post has given you some insight into choosing the right computer for your needs and given you the confidence and knowledge you need to make the right decision and purchase for your family.
If you are needing help in this area be sure to check out my Tecnology Organizing Services here.

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