Help me pick a computer
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Feb 2, 2014 at 8:17 am #1312765
Right now I only have an ipad and really like it, but it has it's limitations; the small amount of storage, the lack of ability to deal with some formats, like AVI, and the fact the once I download pictures from an SD card, I cannot " suck them back out". If I erase my card the only way I have to get my pictures on a thumb drive is to upload them to flickr! then go to someone else's house and download them from Flickr ( because it keeps the original largish file) onto their computer and then on the thumb drive.
I mainly need a computer that can store a lot of pictures and short videos in AVI format,organize them etc. Good resolution would be nice. DVD player, burner would be a plus.
Laptop, desktop, all in one…..I visited Best Buy yesterday and left almost as clueless and when I went in.
Does Windows 8 really suck?
Oh, yeah, under 500 would be great. It's not a lot of money, but I don't think I need anything fancy.
Please consider that I am not a tech. when you reply :)Feb 2, 2014 at 8:54 am #2068921
she has a radio show. oriented towards non tech people. I think she's pretty unbiased
You got to get Windows 8 because previous versions are being phased out and will gradually be supported less
4 G memory – it doesn't cost much extra and it's more difficult to upgrade. My laptop doesn't have enough memory which makes it slow and it's just not worth upgrading.
500 G hard disk?
you should be able to get something for $500 – maybe Dell or HP?
I have a Toshiba Satellite but sort of don't like itFeb 2, 2014 at 12:10 pm #2068993Bob GrossBPL Member
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
First of all, there is the discussion about Apple OS products versus Windows OS products. If you were an educator or in a few other narrow occupations, then that decision would be obvious. For the rest of us, Windows OS machines are the way to go for practicality.
In general, lots of people want to get rid of big tower case machines and move toward some laptop-size machine. Or worse, they want to get into a tablet computer. If you really need the portability, then go for it. Otherwise, in a big case you get a cheaper cost and more versatility.
It also depends a lot on what you are trying to do, like which software applications you intend to use. You can plunk down a lot of cash trying to buy Photoshop and similar software packages.
Whenever I am buying a new computer, I use this guideline: I figure out what I think I need, and then I buy something that is about 20% more. More disk, more RAM memory, bigger display, etc. That makes each computer last longer before it is obsolete.
Basically, you can make a better decision about a computer purchase today if you can guess about what you will be doing with it a year or two into the future.
–B.G.–Feb 2, 2014 at 1:08 pm #2069009HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: The West is (still) the Best
Work is 99.9% Windows/PC based as far as I can remember since the 1980's… but for the past several years, I used Macs at home with "Office for Mac" added if I needed to do anything after-hours in a spreadsheet, presentation, or Word Processor. Why? The Mac is pretty fast when I want to get online vs. a PC where it goes through its routines before being ready. Not saying Macs are completely hassle free but they are easier to deal with than PCs when things go wrong.
Updates are automatic in Mac whereas PC requires aftermarket anti-virus software. A Mac is more money up front, … but I haven't had to replace a Mac unless physically destroyed. Macs are Intel-based so learning a new computer program at home, I just used a VPN (virtual network) and ran a PC desktop from my Mac several hundred miles away (probably a little beyond what you need).
Media plus graphic and commercial art types tend to go with Mac as well due to memory (though the new "retina Macs" had limits to additional memory iirc from a distant Wired column). Think most gamers prefer PC, .. plus there's more add on software available for PC.Feb 2, 2014 at 1:17 pm #2069012Justin BakerBPL Member
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
Have you considered buying used? There are a lot of old computers out there that people are looking to get rid of. I wouldn't recommend buying a used laptop because if it breaks you are sol but a desktop makes it easy to replace broken parts. My local computer shop had a few refurbished computers for pretty cheap.
There is also the option of buying parts separately and putting a computer together yourself. Cheaper and you get exactly what you want but not easy if you've built one before.
Your right that you don't need anything fancy. The only reason to have a fancy computer is for using powerful rendering programs or for video games.
Macs are expensive for what you're getting.Feb 2, 2014 at 2:53 pm #2069038
Oh gosh, where to start. Hmmmmm. Well, for your uses, Windows is not going to be any more practical than a Mac, since you don't work in an office environment. Kind of a wash.
But, really, you can play AVI files on your iPad. You can directly transfer photos and other files from your iPad to a networked drive, to a networked computer, or to dropbox or another cloud storage service. You can get small form factor network drives these days, so you could carry it around instead of a thumb drive. You can stream movies and pictures from a networked drive or computer to your iPad without having to go through iTunes.
So, pretty much, you can do just about everything you want to without having to get a computer.Feb 2, 2014 at 3:12 pm #2069044
Got your point about the AVI, but still not enough storage for my pictures and videos and the problem remains that I cannot extract pictures from the ipad onto a thumb drive.
I was hoping to get something sooner than end of February, but thanks for the offer ; I am almost completely out of storage even though I have deleted over half of my pictures.Feb 2, 2014 at 3:18 pm #2069045Greg MihalikSpectator
@greg23Locale: ColoradoFeb 2, 2014 at 3:23 pm #2069047
"the problem remains that I cannot extract pictures from the ipad onto a thumb drive."
But Kat, you can, that's what I was saying up above.
The one on the right is a wireless thumb drive. With the free SanDisk software (available on the App Store), you can transfer files from your iPad to the drive, and from the drive to the iPad. It also works as a regular thumb drive.
The one on the left is a small wireless hard drive with an SD card slot. Again, with the free software you can transfer files from your iPad to the drive, and from the drive to the iPad.
Either one costs $99 for the 64GB size.
You can also get a 1TB Seagate wireless drive [http://www.seagate.com/external-hard-drives/portable-hard-drives/wireless/wireless-plus/] that when coupled with the free Seagate software (available on the App Store), allows you to transfer files from your iPad to the drive, and from the drive to the iPad.
Cost around $179.Feb 2, 2014 at 3:30 pm #2069051
Thanks, I will look into that. I need a computer where I can keep my pictures, not just in a thumb drive. I want to be able to see them at home, instead of taking my thumb drive to someone else's house to look at them and organize them. I want to able to have them all, file them, make albums etc.
I would like to able to burn a DVD of some of the pictures, at some point.Feb 2, 2014 at 3:34 pm #2069055
"edit: the ifile app is the magic piece that makes this work."
FWIW, the only issue with this is that you have to jailbreak your iPad in order to use this software, which some folks don't want to do.
"My wife (artist) is struggling with her first iPad, so by default, I'm the "look up" guy."
Feel free to have her ask me questions, I (or a graphic artist, Mac using friend of mine) might be able to help with most things. Happy to PM you my email address if you'd like.Feb 2, 2014 at 3:37 pm #2069057Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
I would get a Dell laptop with a breakage warranty– stuff happens. Buy all the processor speed and RAM you can afford– it will be outdated all too soon.
My desktop is an old Dell machine running Vista Home that my wife abandoned. I maxed out the RAM and installed a new hard drive. It does everything I need for Web and office work.
Doesn't your iPad offer Cloud storage? You can store 5GB there for free. There is Google Drive, Photobucket, Flicker, etc, etc. You can attach them to emails on a free Yahoo account with 1TB storage. Your Internet provider may have storage offers too.Feb 2, 2014 at 3:46 pm #2069062
I do have Flickr and Dropbox but I don't want my photos in the Cloud. I used to have Apple laptop and liked how I could have all my photos right there with me. I made albums , as I do on my ipad, but much more pictures.
The other day I had 1600 photos and 250 videos from a camera , most of them false triggers, but they were too much to download on my ipad to even look at, so I had to take my card somewhere else and do the tedious job of looking through them to see if anything good was on there. Also, I had no idea what was on my videos as there were in AVI format and were not visible on the ipad. I would like to be able to look at the pictures and videos and only download what I want. I could not do that with a big file on my ipad.Feb 2, 2014 at 5:09 pm #2069092Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Me, I run a Dell tower from a few years back, and I run Windows XP Pro.
I will NOT downgrade to any of the more recent versions of Windows: too much loss of functionality.
Yeah, I'm biased.
Every 3rd-party program I use has a primary backup in a Utilities directory. That is, I copy the CD or whatever to the hard disk, then install from there.
I put in a second 400 GByte drive inside the box and I use Second Copy to do full system backups every night – scheduled, automatic, no hands. I do one incremental backup, which copies everything without deleting anything in the backup file, and one image backup. If I lose the system or the system disk, everything bar Windows is on the backup.
PS: BEWARE network drives: some of them rely on a key in your PC. If the PC crashes, you have NOTHING. I lost a lot that way.Feb 2, 2014 at 8:40 pm #2069183Gregory AllenBPL Member
@gallen1119Locale: Golden, CO
I was a PC geek from 1984 until 4 years ago when I made switch to Apple. I owned a variety of brands, but ran MS DOS then Windows from the beginning. Most of my desktops were Dell, Compaq, HP, or self-built. Once I started into laptops, I owned Dell and Sony. Four years ago I purchased a MacBook and everything changed. Compatability with work (still PC-based) was a little challenging at first, but has improved. Now, the only machine in our house running Windows is my son's home-built, high-power, gaming rig. We have one iMac, 3 MacBooks, 1 MacBook Air, 2 iPads, and 5 iPhones. Everything, from all these devices backs up automatically to a Airport Time Capsule. Photos and documents are redundently backed up to the cloud and/or and external drive stored in a fireproof safe/box.
Granted, it is a significantly higher initial investment, but my life as the home IT Support manager and lead tech has never been easier. Life of each of these devices has far exceeded their non-Apple predecessors, 1.5 to 2.5 times. Knock on wood, but I don't think I've lost a file or photo in 4 years. I definitely can't say that about my PC years.
Just my $0.02…Feb 2, 2014 at 9:14 pm #2069194Mitchell EbbottSpectator
Roger, you really do need to upgrade from XP soon. Microsoft is officially and totally ending all support and security updates for it on April 8th of this year, and I guarantee you hackers are already storing up exploits. As soon as that date hits, it's going to be a smorgasbord for the bad guys of the internet. Any exploits that remain unpatched as of that date will be eternally usable.
Unless you physically disconnect your backup drive from your computer, it will be just as vulnerable as the rest.
I feel your pain, I'm partial to XP myself, but Windows 7 is actually quite nice if you can get hold of a copy.Feb 2, 2014 at 11:55 pm #2069227Jeremy and AngelaBPL Member
@requiemLocale: Northern California
Windows 7 is a reasonable move from XP. I tried Windows 8 because I had need of a specific disk encryption feature, and was not pleased with that excretion they call a "start screen". (I see there's an app called Classic Shell that may help with this.) Edit: Essentially Windows 8 was designed for touchscreen users, and those stuck using mouse and keyboard will feel the pain.
I ran linux on the desktop for many years, then bought an iMac. I'm happy, and I have VMWare if I need to fire up another OS. My only gripe is with the Apple file browser; fortunately I rarely need to use it. These days the biggest reason to buy a PC is if you're a hardcore gamer or have specialized hardware (trail cams? lab equipment?) to control. Edit: for some reason many hardware tends to come with 90's era software.
Oh yes, backups! After getting a computer, this is one of the most important things to square away. Have at least one or two external drives for this, and store one off-site. In terms of software, I'm partial to Crashplan.Feb 3, 2014 at 6:42 am #2069248
Thanks everyone for the suggestions and sorry for getting impatient, which was due to my lack of understanding and not doing the work to get there.
So on one hand I am prone to getting an "all in one" for that price since it seems easy and should do the job I need it for. Plus in a year or two most devices might seem outdated so my investment would not be huge.
On the other hand I wonder if I should spring the money and get an iMac , also all in one, and enjoy it more – probably less problems and I am used to Apple…but will it still be worth my investment two years down the line?Feb 3, 2014 at 7:54 am #2069268
Do all of the apps you use work on an imac?
Some programs don't work on imac. Maybe there's a Windows simulator mode on imac?Feb 3, 2014 at 8:02 am #2069273
moving to next pageFeb 3, 2014 at 8:04 am #2069274
From previous page:
"On the other hand I wonder if I should spring the money and get an iMac , also all in one, and enjoy it more – probably less problems and I am used to Apple…but will it still be worth my investment two years down the line?"
I'm partial to Macs, of course, but new iMacs aren't 'really' all-in-ones anymore. Yes, it's a computer and screen in one 'box,' but iMacs no longer have an internal CD/DVD drive, you need to buy one separately (Apple sells one, it's called a SuperDrive). I don't see that as an issue, but you should know that if you're expecting to have an internal drive.
As far as will the investment be worth it two years from now – yes. That is the nice thing about Macs, they hold up well and continue to run 'current' software a few years after they were introduced.
"Do all of the apps you use work on an iMac? Some programs don't work on iMac."
Hmmmmmm. Let's see, currently she only owns an iPad. Apple makes those…… So I'm guessing……Feb 3, 2014 at 8:17 am #2069283
of course the universe is bigger than just you, Kat, and I : )Feb 3, 2014 at 8:36 am #2069287Paul MagnantiBPL Member
@paulmagsLocale: Colorado Plateau
re: Classic Shell
I installed it on my wife's Win8 machine and it works beautifully. Makes Win8 working like Win7. Which begs the question of why Win8 :)
I love Macs. Beautifully made, works well and few compatibility issues vs a Windows machine.
Having said that, I bought my wife a budget Dell that was on sale (with a 17" screen no less; she likes the larger screen) as you do get more for your money. I put in an additional 4 GB of memory (8 GB total) and a solid state drive. I had access to a licensed copy of Win 8 as well. So for a little over $500 she now has a good, solid machine that is more than adequate for her needs.
I work as an IT geek during the day, so I am admittedly comfortable swapping in extra memory, an SSD and configuring an operating system without all the crap thrown on by laptop manufacturers. An equivalent Mac, even used, would have been considerably more $$$.
Macs are in many ways superior to Windows machines…but they do cost a pretty penny for what you get IMO. Even if you are not comfortable with swapping in memory and such, it is amazing what you can get for ~$700 in a Windows laptop. Even the budget laptops aren't half bad out-of-the-box.Feb 3, 2014 at 9:05 am #2069293Ben CBPL Member
Has anyone used this yet? Its very light and cheap and has a keyboard. I understand it has a Google operating system. I am kind of stuck with windows to some extent because I work off a windows server. But for purely personal use, I might consider one of these. They are amazingly cheap.Feb 3, 2014 at 12:52 pm #2069388Jeremy and AngelaBPL Member
@requiemLocale: Northern California
What's a CD? Is it like some sort of giant memory card? I remember going through old boxes and came across some shiny disks labeled "CD-R 700MB". I wasn't sure what they were, so I just sent them to the tech museum in San Jose.
My work Macbook is a mid-2010 model; my home iMac arrived in 2008. The Macbook needed a logic board this past summer (covered under warranty); the iMac needed a replacement hard disk a few years back. At present I don't feel any need to replace either machine.
Doug has a point; I don't think Kat has any special software requirements. Firefox and Adobe Lightroom should cover 90% of usage, and both are platform agnostic. (VMWare with a licensed copy of Windows is not cheap, but it lets you play in both worlds if needed.)
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