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Jewish World Review
Nov. 3, 2006
/ 12 Mar-Cheshvan, 5767
Shopping for the future
I suppose it hit me the other day when, in a grocery store, I noticed the
Egg Nog in the daily case - days before Halloween. The notion that
holidays are coming early this year now means holiday shopping begins
sometime around, well, the Fourth of July.
Or so it seems.
Whenever you get ready to do your shopping, here are some thoughts about
getting the right computer for someone else, or if you just want to give
yourself a gift.
First, plan for the future - the near future, that is. Sometime in 2007,
and probably sooner than we expect, Microsoft Corp. will ship Windows
Vista, its new operating system. You'll need a CPU chip running at a
minimum of 800 MHz for the basic Vista system, and 1.33 GHz for Vista's
higher-end configurations. Memory should be at least 512 Mbytes, but a
Gigabyte of RAM is required at the high end. You'll need a highly capable
graphics processor, and a minimum 40 GB hard disk drive, and a DVD-ROM
drive for the top Vista installation.
These are not impossible configurations; the PC at my left seems to meet
them. But you'll want to check out Microsoft's Web site,
www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/, to make sure that you've got - or are
buying - the hardware you need.
This is not limited to PC owners, of course. If buying an Apple Mac for
the holidays, you'll want to get one that can run the next generation of
Mac OS X, code named "Leopard." The good news is that since Apple makes
the hardware and the OS, their current models should do fine. Buying used?
Intel processor-based Macs with lots of RAM are your best bet, in my
Second, plan for expansion - if you want to. There are tiny PCs and tiny
Macs that'll make great adjuncts to your living room big-screen TV, and if
you get one with enough RAM and hard disc space, then you'll be fine.
Otherwise, buy a computer with room for growth: additional memory, an
upgradeable hard disc, and other changes.
Third, check for ports, the more the merrier. If you plan to hook up a
bunch of things to your computer, it's important, even vital, to have as
many connections on the device as possible. Yes, you can get a USB "hub"
to attach, but those generally require their own power source and become
cumbersome. Smooth and streamlined is the way you want to go. If you can
get internal wireless radios for both Wi-Fi networking and Bluetooth-based
accessories such as keyboards and mice, by the way, using the computer in
the rec room will be easier.
Fourth, make sure your computer has the best video output. VGA is fine,
but XGA and above are better: the higher the resolution, the easier it'll
be on your eyes, particularly on larger monitors. Again, think "living
room," because that's where I believe a lot of hardware will end up, even
if it's a year or two from now.
Fifth, security is important. If you can get a PC where you can lock the
kids out especially the younger children then it's less likely than an
"oops" will fry your hard drive or erase last year's tax data on April 14.
Also, look for computers with good software to protect against viruses and
"malware." Most of the ones on new systems are limited-trial versions that
must be renewed, but it's good to have protection out of the box.
Finally, relax and enjoy. Make the computer you buy a fun project - not
your second career and it'll be good all the way around.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.
© 2006, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com
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