Show/Hide Toolbars

Help & Advice

Navigation: Buyers Guide

Other Points to Consider

Scroll Prev Top Next More

Below are several other areas to think about when you are purchasing a new computer, printer or broadband connection:-

 

Printer

 

inkjet_printer

When looking for a new printer, the main choice is inkjet or laser - If you want a reasonably cheap to run device that prints in colour then the choice is inkjet, if you need high quality black prints for say business use then a laser is a better choice. You can of course also buy a colour laser printer but running costs are very high so this would not be suitable for general home use

 

The most important thing to check before buying any printer is the cost of the replacement ink cartridges or toner as prices vary widely between different makes and models

 

You can also have an all-in-one device that includes printer, scanner and copier

 

My recommended makes/models can be found here

 

Operating System

 

 

 

 

 

windows

All new computers will come with Windows 10 - which is the latest version of Windows, it has a fully redesigned user interface and features to make it work seamlessly across all different types of device i.e. desktop, laptop, tablet and phones

 

My Windows 10 reference guides will show you all the changes and how to use the new features

 

You may also still find old stock running Windows 8/8.1 (which was the predecessor to Windows 10) - if purchased within the first year of Windows 10 release i.e. 29/07/15 - 29/07/16 then these models will be entitled to a free upgrade to Windows 10 but where possible I would advise you purchase a model that already comes with Windows 10

 

Make sure the computer comes with a 64-bit version of Windows installed as this works quicker, can make use of more memory (RAM) and all the latest processors are designed to work with it.  Some cheaper models sometimes come with a 32-bit version of Windows installed which limits the amount of RAM that can be used, and doesn't utilize the full capabilities of newer processors therefore are generally slower in everyday usage

 

Avoid any older models that come with Windows XP or Windows Vista (both of which are obsolete now) or Windows 7 which is outdated now and being replaced with Windows 10

 

Microsoft Office

 

 

 

 

 

office_logo

If you use Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Outlook etc) on your old computer then you firstly need to check that the version you have will be compatible with your new computer, and also that you have the installation CD and product code to hand:-

 

Microsoft Office 2003 will work with Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7

Microsoft Office 2007/2010 will work with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1

Microsoft Office 2013/2016 will work with Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 10

 

If you need a new version then you can choose from the options below:-

 
Microsoft Office 2016 Home and Student (includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote)

Microsoft Office 2016 Home and Business (includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook)

Microsoft Office 2016 Professional (includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access)

 

Best prices usually available via Amazon - click here to see suggested items in Amazon store
 
Or you could use a free alternative such as OpenOffice (link can be found here)

 

The other alternative often offered in stores is Microsoft Office 365 which gives you access to all the Microsoft Office programs and you automatically get any new versions when released - please bear in mind that this is a subscription service so you have to keep paying for it every year if not you will not be able to continue using it when it expires - so unless you really need all the Microsoft Office programs and always want the latest versions I would avoid this method as it can work out expensive in the long run especially if only needed for 1 computer - however if you want to use Microsoft Office on multiple computers (up to 5) then it may be worth considering

 

Finally if you have a laptop or tablet with a screen size less than 10.1" then you can download and use Word, Excel and PowerPoint Mobile for free from the Windows 10 Store - these are cut down versions especially designed for smaller devices and provide enough functionality for viewing and basic editing of Microsoft Office documents. For devices with larger screens you will need a Microsoft Office 365 subscription to be able to use these apps

 

Virus/Firewall Protection

 

 

AVG_box_small

One of the most important programs you need on your new computer is anti-virus and firewall software - to protect you from viruses, malware, hackers, online fraud and identity theft

 

There are lots of different products available but in my experience and from testing done (see here for report) the best choice is the award winning AVG Internet Security

 

Some stores such as PC World will try to sell you Norton when buying a new computer, often by telling you misleading information about it being the only one that banks support (this is not true), or by saying it is the best protection available - as my test report above shows and even a quick search on google, most people would not agree with this claim! - from many years in the business I hardly have any problems with viruses on machines protected by AVG, but I have spent a lot of time removing them from computers supposedly protected by Norton and McAfee to name just a couple

 

I also recommend avoiding any of the free alternatives if you intend to use your computer for shopping online or internet banking - most of these products do not provide enough protection for these activities

 

See the Virus Protection section for more information on my recommended solution

 

Data Transfer

 

data_transfer

Decide what data (documents, music, photos, emails etc) needs to be transferred and make a note to make transfer easier when your new PC is being set-up for you

 

Emails and email addresses cannot always be transferred depending on what email program you are using - see email section below for more details

 

You should already be doing regular backups of your data, if not details on how to do this can be found in my data backup guide

 

Internet Access

 

router

 

When buying compare price, monthly allowance and any extras you get such as inclusive phone calls, or Digital TV and as with most purchases the cheapest is not always the most reliable!

 

You will also need to make sure your PC is located near to a phone point as broadband does not work well (if at all) using extension cables - if you have a laptop PC then you have the option of wireless so you can use it anywhere (within reason) in the house so the location of the phone point would not be such an issue

 

See the Broadband section for recommendations and advice on changing provider

 

Wireless Connection

 

 

wifi

All laptops/netbooks/tablets come with wireless network connections - so as long as you have a wireless router you will be able to enter the wireless password (key) for that router and connect without needing a cable

 

Desktop computers do not normally come with a wireless adapter as they are usually situated near to the internet router so that they can be connected via a network cable

 

If your router is in one room and you intend to have a desktop computer located somewhere else, then make sure you choose a desktop model that comes with a wireless adapter or purchase a suitable USB wireless adapter to use with the new desktop computer

 

Alternatively you could get a phone company to install a phone point near to where the computer will be situated, so that it can be connected directly to the router using a network cable.  This would be the preferred and most reliable solution as wired connections are usually faster and less problematic than wireless because they don't suffer from interference or signal strength issues when located too far away from the router

 

Monitor / Screen

 

monitor

If you are replacing your desktop computer but keeping an existing screen, then you need to make sure that the new computer has the same connection as your existing screen (or at least comes with an adapter so you can still use it)

 

Some desktop computers connect using DisplayPort, some use HDMI (like you use with your TV), some use a digital DVI connector (white), whereas others still use the original VGA connector (blue)

 

So check the back of your existing monitor to see which cable/connection it uses to make sure it will work with your new computer

 

See this page for a picture of the different connections

 

Email

 

 

email_buyersguide

If you are currently using Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 then it is likely you are using an email client (program) called Outlook Express, Windows Mail or Windows Live Mail to read and send emails - all of these programs are obsolete and no longer exist in Windows 10 so you will need to consider this when moving to a new computer
 
You can either use Webmail on the new PC by visiting your internet providers website and clicking on email, or you can use a free email program such as the Windows 10 Mail app or eM Client, or if you are using your PC for business you could purchase Microsoft Outlook (part of Microsoft Office)
 
It is not always possible (especially with Webmail or if you are changing email provider) to transfer existing emails and contacts so you should print any emails you wish to keep and make a note of email addresses etc so these can be manually entered into your new email program in the event they cannot be transferred

 

Make sure you know your email account password as this will be needed when setting up / testing the email on your new computer - if you don't know it then contact your internet/email provider prior to my visit

 

Compatibility of existing peripherals and software

 

compatible

When buying a new PC it is always advisable to check that any existing peripherals you have (i.e. printer, scanner, webcam etc), as well as any existing software you wish to install on your new PC is compatible, especially if you are currently running an older version of Windows

 

Please email me hardware make/model or software title/version if you are unsure and I will check for you - or you can check via this website (http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/compatibility/CompatCenter/Home) or by looking on the manufacturers website

 

Also make sure you have the installation media (CD/DVD) for any compatible software you wish to install on the new PC, i.e. Microsoft Office (Word, Excel etc) - and also any serial numbers/product keys if needed to install the software

 

Surge Protection

 

 

 

surge_protector

When you put together a computer system, one piece of  equipment you should buy is a surge protector. Most designs serve one immediately obvious function -- they let you plug multiple components into one power outlet. With all of the different components that make up a computer system, this is definitely a useful device

 

But the other function of a surge protector power strip -- protecting the electronics in your computer from surges in power -- is far more important

 

If you computer and its peripherals are plugged in during a storm or power surge this could cause expensive damage, but if you are protected with a surge protector this will absorb any surges and protect your equipment from damage

 

Most good surge protectors come with a warranty to insure protected equipment against any damage

 

I would recommend Masterplug or Belkin