Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The New Computer (Of Course, Money Saving Tips Included)

Since we have decided to extend our stay with the SIL for a few more months, I was feeling pretty sorry for hubby who had left his bigger laptop behind in the storage unit in favor of bringing his easy-to-carry netbook with him. Granted the netbook is great for traveling because it is so small, but on the other hand, hubby streams his TV shows from Asia every day and he could barely see the people's faces on his tiny netbook.

So off we went to Staples and bought him a basic yet fully functional Toshiba computer for a grand total of $399. The SIL went shopping with us and was properly mortified that we would buy a super cheap computer. She even carted us over to the Apple store to try to convince us that a MacBook Pro was the way to go. Now, a few years ago we would have clamoured for the coveted Apple computer and quickly swiped the credit card to the tune of $1500 plus then worried about how to pay the bill for the next dozen months or so but these days we are working on a cash-only basis and we have learned that if we spend all of our cash, we won't have any more to spend on other things that may come up. Here's what we did:
  • We checked the ads for Staples, Best Buy, Office Max, Office Depot, and Newegg to get an idea of the prices and types of computers that were available on sale. I also clicked on the customer reviews for the sale computers to see what other people had to say about them. Staples seemed to have the best prices so we went to the store to get a look at what they were offering.

  • We looked at a variety of computers with prices from $379 to $899. After determining what he actually needed the computer for (turns out not much, as he only uses his computer for watching television shows online, playing free online poker, and checking email once in a blue moon), we decided that the basic 4 gb/320 gb hard drive, 15" laptop would be perfect). Of course saving money was also at the top of our requirements along with getting a good basic computer, not an old or poorly rated computer). He chose the Toshiba which met all of his specs. It was a well reviewed computer that was on sale for $399 which kind of sealed the deal. Would he have liked the nice Apple computer? Of course, however we didn't think that it would be five times better than the Toshiba so it wasn't worth it to us to pay five times more money for it.

  • We got the laptop home and I proceeded to set it up. This included firing it up, registering it, then going into the add/remove program control panel and deleting all of the "crapware" off of it.

  • Next I clicked on 'windows update' and loaded the 50+ updates onto the computer (a long process with a low strength wireless connection!).

  • I then loaded Open Office onto the computer. The hubby may type a document once a year so doesn't need much in the way of an office suite. I have found the free Open Office program to be perfect for his needs.

  • I then went to and loaded the following FREE programs: AVG (anti virus), Ad Aware (internet security program), and VLC (a good media player).

  • Next I added other free programs that he uses: Chikka (for texting friends in Asia), Absolute Poker (free online poker), and Full Tilt Poker (hubby likes poker).

  • That's it! Now hubby has been happily watching his shows today while not having to squint at them. The computer works great, and at such a low price, we won't feel bad if we end up giving it to a grandkid sometime during our travels.

The moral of the story is that while it is nice to go top of the line, it isn't necessary. If he was a hard-core gamer/programmer/coder then we may have chosen differently but when you look at what you are buying, what you actually need the item for, and the price for what you are getting, you can be perfectly happy with a basic item that gets the job done.

And some side notes:

  • If you have a non profit, Tech Soup rocks! It provides very good software at super low prices (like MS Office Pro for $30!!!).
  • Other programs that I add to my computers: Skype, Yahoo Messenger, Firefox, Omni Format/PDF 995, drivers for my digital camera/printer/mini camcorder, and iTunes.
  • And a great solution to viruses: Occasionally I get a virus on my computer no matter how careful I am so here is how I fix it: turn off the computer, turn it back on and hit the F8 button repeatedly until you see a DOS screen. Arrow down to 'start computer in safe mode with networking'. The computer will start but the screen will look a little funny. Click on start, all programs, system tools, system restore. Click on restore computer to a date before you started having problems with your computer. Follow the steps and your computer will be restored. It will turn off then come back on to its original condition and you will have gotten rid of the virus. Also, any documents you have downloaded or changed will stay the same and won't be deleted. Works like a charm!
  • For everything computer-related that I want to know, I first Google my query (this is how I learned about the virus fix above). If that doesn't get me the answers I need, I go to reddit and type in my question there (someone in their many hundred thousand hive mind will know the answer).

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the computer setup and virus re-setting tips! My MIL needs the latter. ;-)