Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Buying a budget PC - Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2008

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Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2008

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Buying a budget PC

QWe're looking to purchase a budget PC. Should we buy now, or wait until 2009, for the best deals?
—John in Toppenish, WA, listening on KIT 1280 AM

I'm getting a new PC for my dad for Christmas. Given all of Vista's problems, I thought I would get him Windows XP. He would be more familiar with it. What is your opinion of that?
—Pamela in Garland, TX, listening on KRLD 1080 AM

AToday, I'm presenting a twofer. We'll be looking at budget computers. The operating system is an important part of that.

Let's get the timing out of the way, first. I spec'd out a computer at Hewlett-Packard's site. It came to $519, including a 19-inch monitor. This is a great price; so great, in fact, that I didn't believe it. But I came up with the same thing when I double-checked it. I question whether you could do much better by waiting.

The recession will probably sock the computer makers. And they may cut prices further. But prices constantly fall, or computers grow more powerful for the money. I doubt that you'll gain much by waiting. The HP price is really reasonable.

Let's look at what you get for $519. We'll start with Windows, where there is always controversy.

I bought several machines for the office in January 2007. All are running Windows Vista. We have had no trouble with Vista. It has been as reliable as XP was on our old machines. So, I would take complaints about Vista with a grain of salt. Some people hate Microsoft, and are overly quick to criticize its products.

Furthermore, new programs are being written for Vista, not XP. Most of those programs will run on XP. But your father could have a problem down the road.

People naturally cling to what they know. But there is no good reason to reject Vista. Your father will see few significant changes.

Also, XP is available on relatively few computers. And you'll pay extra, if you can get it. So I would go with any version of Vista other than Basic. On the HP machine, I specified Vista Home Premium.

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Video of the Day: So, you think you know sports? This man may be the most amazing athlete ever. And you probably don’t know his name.

Cool Site of the Day: Members of the military can't access YouTube. How do they share videos? The Defense Department has a solution.

Digital Minute, on your radio: Viruses and other malware have never been a threat to Mac users. But that situation could change soon.

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Tip on the site: Looking to create a memorable slide show? You'll need the right software to make it happen. I've got all the advice you need.

Tomorrow's Tip, in your e-mail: Bring an old computer back to life

Kim :)

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