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I need advice on purchasing a new computer

by karenmetfan / January 1, 2005 6:21 AM PST

Well, after losing EVERYTHING on my computer yesterday and not being able to get a copy of WORD and Powerpoint that is compatible with WINDOWS ME (found 1 on-line for about $60.00 more than the 2003 edition which of course is incompatible with ME) and the fact that I will lose some necessary items if I were to upgrade to XP, I think at this point it makes sense to just buy a new computer. Problem is--I don't know what "brand" to go for.

I have a Compaq (which would now be HP) and it has served me well for about 5 years. I have a friend who has had many problems with her Dell. My brother suggested e-machine, which I may be able to get at BJ's Warehouse of all places. Can anyone make some recommendations to steer me in the right direction?

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Please explain why you
by Ray Harinec / January 1, 2005 7:04 AM PST

can't get a copy of Word and Power Point compatible with ME. Sounds as if you already own a copy and for some reason think that it is not compatible with ME.

As an aside, Emachines is now owned by Gateway. I have no idea whether or not Gateway has changed their systems. Surprisingly, I found the newer eMachines were good deals for the money. Many say that they were crap. [crappy systems are defined as whatever system the person is having a problem with]LOL The fact is that it is difficult to make crappy computers and stay in business. For the money [and rebates] they are as good as many other lower priced systems.

You can also pay big bucks for a system and have just as many problems.

Most uncorrected problems are simply due to the fact that no competent tech has really worked on the system.

You can get great help in these forums, as long as you provide enough details of the symptoms. We don't start by telling you to reinstall the Operating System [unless it is the correct thing to do, which is seldom].

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to make a long story short
by karenmetfan / January 1, 2005 7:50 AM PST
In reply to: Please explain why you

Tech support from HP told me to reinstall ME. Upon following her advice I lost everything. Word did not come installed on the computer but on a separate CD, which I loaned to a friend and never got back--she insists she doesn't have it and gave it back to me, but I don't have it. I went out to the store today and bought 2003 Office, which is not compatible with ME (didn't realize it until I got home and tried to install it--I know stupid mistake)--I'm splitting the cost of this with my brother. After going to Microsoft's site to look into XP and using their upgrade wizard (or whatever the heck they call it) the report came back that I will lose several pieces of hardware. At this point it just doesn't make sense to keep purchasing things to repair this computer when I can spend a similar amount of money on a new one.

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Well, I'm more stupid. I, in fact ,did not
by Ray Harinec / January 1, 2005 8:19 AM PST

know that Office 2003 isn't compatible with ME.

Now you'll buy another computer that will simply give you a recovery CD with tech support whose first step will always be to reinstall the operating system. Unfortunately that type of buy really is the most economical solution.

A few years ago we were able to convince a lady from Kentucky to embark upon building her own. It was a long but fun thread. She ended up buying all the parts from Monarchcomputer and having them assemble and test it for her. She got a system that she knew every interior item that was there and why that one. Unfortunately you can buy a Dell, HP et al with excellent performance for a lot less money.

Best to buy one of those and, except for warranty action, come here to do your troubleshooting. When people tell you that they use cheap parts remember that they buy in huge quantities and also get some good parts for a low price. Between them all it is the luck of the draw, but the the exception of an actual lemon they can all be repaired.

One of the Moderators in these forums Jeff Marchi is a real Dell supporter and has posted info as to what period of the month or quarter Dell gives the best deals. If you see one that they say is for 3 or 4 days only, believe them, and jump on one when you see a really good deal. Watch them through every advertising medium and you will find some great deals within a month or so.

And of course, you are not stupid.

The new computers are really advanced in every aspect when compared to five years ago, and probably cost less.

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let me see if I understand
by karenmetfan / January 1, 2005 8:30 AM PST

Would you recommend a Dell? I'm reading posts on the Desktops forum right now and most of the people who posted (at what I'm up to) are pro Dell. I'm probably going to just jump right in and get one right away since I use it for work quite a bit (in fact probably more than I use it for play)--I'm a teacher (lesson plans, reports, etc. are done on my computer and can't be done right now without Word Sad ).

Building one from scratch is just way over my head. I also want to try to keep the price down if I can. This was not an expense I planned on right now Sad I understand things when put in "non-techie" terms, but too much information starts to make me feel a bit overwhelmed. I really appreciate all the help.

Honestly, I didn't think to trouble shoot here. I thought going right to the horse's mouth, so to speak, was the thing to do. Oh, and it was stupid of me to purchase the product without checking to see if it was compatible. Of course, I didn't think it wouldn't! Silly

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Yes, I think that Dell is likely
by Ray Harinec / January 1, 2005 8:56 AM PST

the lesser of the evils. LOL As I said before all computers that give the owner a problem are crappy, no matter what make.

They like many others have their tech support offshore in India. Like others, they have many layers of support. Seems as if [for all of the co's] the first level tells you to reinstall the Op Sys and hope that they never hear from you again.

If you get to the third level person you may get excellent help. But also, always post the questions in these forums.

Best of luck, hope you get a really good deal.

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It's just your luck !!
by Shiraz / January 1, 2005 9:11 AM PST

You can look at brand names and try to pick a good system but sometimes the least expected can provide all the quality and stability you need. It pays to read reviews in some of the PC mags. I went to the 'Toys R Us' chain store and picked a Medion notebook (German make) after reading a good review. P4 2.66, GeForce FX5200 graphics, loads of RAM and some good software, great machine, no problems and all at a good price, so there!!

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by karenmetfan / January 1, 2005 9:19 AM PST

thank you! HP's tech support is over in India as well. The 2 guys I was on the phone with commented about the tsunami and the staggering number of dead.

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HP computer cheap
by crazeebob2000 / January 10, 2005 6:19 PM PST

I just bought a new HP model# a705w for my nephew at wal mart for $502.00 tax included. It has a celeron D processor@2.93 gigs 256ddr ram and a 40 gig hdd, its really fast. i kept the old model# xt963 also purchased at wal mart in 2001. This old one still works fine too. I may be pro-HP, but i tend to stick with a dependable machine. Oh, by the way, both machines have windows XP home ed. You can spend a lot more money but I think you'd be pleased with the HP machine from wal mart. Happy hunting.

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by steve66 / January 1, 2005 2:49 PM PST

I have been through a few.........a dual-floppy Leading Edge XT (there's a brand name from the past), then an AST (another defunct company), then a Gateway and a Dell. The Dell 4100 lasted me four years, and it was a workhorse. Finally its nagging problems and eccentricities (no doubt a combination of age and too much tweaking, shareware downloading, bla bla) caught up with it. Or caught up with me, I guess you could say. I considered another Dell and also did a lot of online buy, circuit city, etc. Finally I settled on a Sony Vaio, good price with rebate, and the features I wanted, most notably the ability to convert VHS to DVD, which my new girl does flawlessly. To get to point #1, I was really happy to walk out of Circuit City with a computer in a box. With a no-questions-asked return policy. No shipping worries, UPS chits and the like. Just in case. Well, point #2, not only has the machine been perfect, but the few software issues I have run into have been handled in online chat by Sony with aplomb. Maybe they're in India, I don't know, but they are instantly reachable 24/7. And the Sony support site is one of the best I've seen, drivers constantly updated, fixes for things added, Sony support seems real attentive. As dessert, add the 19-inch flat-panel Sony monitor I crazily overspent on, and I now take my meals at the computer. I can't get up! Seriously, think about a Vaio.

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sony vaio
by karenmetfan / January 2, 2005 2:37 AM PST
In reply to: Dell

I'll look into them and do a comparison Steve. Thanks. I just came back from BJ's Wholesale to see what they have and the VAIO was more than the HP's and the Dell.

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by steve66 / January 2, 2005 4:05 AM PST
In reply to: sony vaio

check the rebate situations. I got $100 each on the computer and monitor, and they actually did come.

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Steve66--what do you think of this?
by karenmetfan / January 2, 2005 4:39 AM PST
In reply to: VAIO

This is the one I was looking at on Sony's site. No monitor with it.
Sony VAIO Digital Studio? PC RS720G

$ 1,099.99 as low as $28.00/ month
$1,059.99 after $100 mail-in rebate!

With the monitor: PCV-RS720G with 17? XBRITE LCD Display


$ 1,499.98 as low as $38.00/ month

Save with instant and mail-in rebates--Save $250.00 on the RS720 Desktop Solution Bundle (after instant and mail-in rebates) This bundle includes a PCV-RS720G Desktop and a Sony 17? 2 LCD Display SDM-HS74P/S
To Save $250 on your RS Desktop Solution Bundle:

Purchase the PCVRS720GKITP
Receive a VAIO Desktop mail-in rebate of $100 for the PCV-RS720G. Click here for rebate coupon
Receive a $50 mail-in rebate for the SDM-HS74P/S. Click here for rebate coupon
An Instant Bundle rebate of $100 (already included in sales price)
Flat Panel LCD
The large viewing area and XBRITE LCD Technology provide you with brilliantly crisp images and unmatched picture quality. The images are sharp whether you are working, playing games or browsing the Web. The innovative floating frame design complements any office or room.

If I'm understanding the rebate correctly it's just a matter of purchasing this computer with this monitor bringing the price down to $1249.99, which would wind up being about $5.00 less than the Dell. You can burn CD's on this one as well as DVD's, correct?

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What do I think?
by steve66 / January 2, 2005 6:58 AM PST

I think it's great, because that's my machine! It sure has everything I need/want. From what you've said before, it would definitely meet your needs and more. And that's the monitor I got (except it's the 19-inch version). It is gorgeous. I don't know about the instant rebate, but the mail-in ones would work for you as long as you follow the instructions explicitly. Circuit City has both the comnputer and monitor in its web site. In fact, you'll see a review from me. e-mail me if you go ahead with this and we can talk about how it goes.

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by karenmetfan / January 2, 2005 7:03 AM PST
In reply to: What do I think?

This may be the one I get instead of the Dell. I printed out info on both and am going to bring it in to work and show a couple of computer people.

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by steve66 / January 2, 2005 7:10 AM PST
In reply to: Thanks

cool. always good to get various opinions. as you know, there absolutely are comparable Dells and HPs, almost exact, in fact.
this level of machine is sort of the "flavor of the day" at this time, with the processor speed and RAM and whatnot. As I indicated before, I really liked bringing home the boxes myself. And, although this is worth absolutely NOTHING, it's a very cool-looking computer. with so many going to black, Sony has stayed with silver. and the monitor matches perfectly. it's just cool to look at!

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by karenmetfan / January 2, 2005 7:23 AM PST
In reply to: Sony

That's why I came here. Like I said to Ray and Grif last night, I haven't a clue what "brand" to go for. I start hearing all the tech talk and get bleary eyed. I was so incredibly frustrated, depressed, overwhelmed, etc. yesterday at the very idea of having to do this. Now I just want to get it done. I have a friend who has the VAIO and he loves it as well. I sent him the info on both of the computers for him to look at too. Thanks so much. All the help I have gotten here has been much appreciated.

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by steve66 / January 2, 2005 7:06 AM PST

oops, just read your post again. yes, it burns CD's like a dream (Sonic software). burning issues were one of the things that finally did my old Dell in. it also burns DVD's (both + and - as well as rewriteable) with the Click to DVD software, also included. there is a recent Click to DVD upgrade on the support site that you'll want to install. it's a quickie. one other little bonus.....the machine is already fixed up with windows XP sp2 (security update) so you don't have to worry about that. and three months of anti-virus, anti-spam and norton firewall. it's a nice software bundle, which was one of the selling points for me.

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by karenmetfan / January 2, 2005 7:26 AM PST
In reply to: DVDs

I just bought a 10 pack and wanted to make sure! I have all of my reports, IEPs and lesson plans on them as well as pictures of my students, classroom materials, family members, etc. The last thing I need is another technical problem to have to figure out Silly

I don't really care about that software bundle so much. I have NAV and McAfee Firewall which I like--at least it works for me. It can get annoying at times, but when I compared it to others online before buying it got a better rating. I do like to do my homework before blowing my money Happy

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by karenmetfan / January 2, 2005 7:49 AM PST
In reply to: CD's

I looked it up on Circuit City and B & H (which is here in NYC) and so far the best price is through Sony itself. I like the idea of being able to take it home with the same day--that instant gratification issue--but if I can save some money I'll go through Sony.

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let me make a correction on the pricing
by karenmetfan / January 2, 2005 8:36 AM PST
In reply to: pricing

I just completed the pricing info--via Sony's site it would $1560.82 (forgot about shipping and tax!--with 2-4 day shipping which was only $25 more). Via Circuit City (and it's available at one near me--a bonus Happy ) it would be $1533.66 (with the rebates deducted--$150 rebates). The Sony winds up being about $300 more than the Dell. Now the question is, is the Sony worth the extra $300, which at this point is not that much--is it a better machine with better customer service or is Dell (although what I've read about customer service bites).

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Don't mess with Del!
by stonehkm / January 2, 2005 6:39 AM PST

You get Intel only and AMD is the best dollar for dollar buy and Intel graphics stink.
Emachines offers the best buy for an AMD 3200+ processor with 512MB of DDR ram. They have a decent graphics (integrated) 64mg (shared) video, with an open AGP 8X slot if you are a gamer and need a powerful video card. With a 7 in 1 media reader, all the USB outlets you could want and 160gig HDD you can't go wrong and can buy for less than $600. Another good source is Cyberpower. If you customize their 8500SE gaming machine and reverse engineer by downgrading components to what you NEED you can buy for less than $600 + $65 shipping.

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Karen, My Guess....You'll Like XP Better
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / January 1, 2005 8:29 AM PST

Office 2003 should work fine on a new computer and if you've saved backups of your previous files, transferring them to the new computer shouldn't be difficult and they should work fine with the new Office version.

As to which computer you want, it's your choice. If you play intense "games", get one with a bigger Pentium or AMD processor and more RAM. If you don't play games or use extensive graphics programs, then one of the cheaper processors and less RAM will work good. Either way, I wouldn't go less than about 256 MB on the computer as XP requires a little more..(Personally, I prefer at least 512 MB even on a normal home computer which isn't used for anything more than surfing and office uses.)

By the way, you can still find "Compaq" vs "HP" computers. Although the company has "merged" and many of the parts are the same, they are still two distinct units. My home computer is a Compaq, (2.6 GHZ Celeron), was purchased about a year ago, and works great for basic stuff. One problem with brand name computers: They put all sorts of extra software on the computer, some of which is not needed. On the other hand, sometimes they throw in extra software which you'll really appreciate. It becomes your "chore" to remove all the junk software when you get it running.

If you want something a little better made, try checking at local shops for custom made computers..You can tell them exactly what you want in it and have only the basic software installed. It will probably cost a little bit more, but you don't know for sure till you check around.

Hope this helps.


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by dinoc / January 1, 2005 9:11 AM PST

i say buy the biggest computer you can for the least amount of money, biggest i mean by processors and hard drives and ram, and for god sakes if they offer an upgrade on ram at point of sale please do, you can never have too much ram, but you can get home and find you have too little if you run the high end proograms such as PHOTOSHOP< COREL... and the likes of those, i prefer to build my own, cause i know who was in it and what was done, then when i rumn into problems i always ost to these forums, cause almost all the time its information thats true and friendly, and given by people who enjoy sharing there knowlege with us less forunate ones who were not blessed the the smarts to stay in school(LOL). to keep from rambling, ive had a e-machine that i never had a problem with and thats when 833mghtz was the bomb, anyone remember?
the term system ius crappy, sould really be stated as "system operator is crappy. lol
good luck in your search, hope things get up and running in no time

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what do you think of this
by karenmetfan / January 1, 2005 9:15 AM PST

Well, would you consider Free Cell, Spider Solitaire or some games on Yahoo or MSN (such as Collapse or Gem Drop) hard core Silly LOL

I use the computer for work stuff (lesson plans, reports, IEPs, creating activities on Power Point and 2 other programs I will get from work), email, surfing the net, downloading and editing pictures (for both home and work) and just some basic stuff (like doing taxes).

In looking at Dell and just putting together what I would want on it this is what I came up with.


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Is the free upgrade just a 48X burner
by Ray Harinec / January 1, 2005 9:41 AM PST

or is it a combo drive [burns CD's but also reads DVD's at 16X???]

$18 for a SATA 80 vs 40 IDE sounds pretty good.

Why get a monitor, you can use the one you have to save some money? But, if you want the LCD go for it. Make sure that by Flat screen they mean LCD. Both the CRT and LCD monitors can be called flat screen.

Don't know what road runner is. If it is dial up you just need the modem [they are all called faxmodems, you could set them up to receive faxes on the computer].

1394 adapter is called Firewire [except by Microsoft, they call it something else because it is a MAC development]] Used by some/many digital cameras and camcorders as the means to download from the camera. If you had choice when selecting camera or camcorder firewire would be best choice.

To save, I would live with the onboard graphics rather than the PCI express, for what you are going to use it for. If you get into high end video work you could add the PCI Ex card later.

The trial version of PSP will cost later to keep using it.. By then you can download and install Irfanview a free one.

Just some thoughts.

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the computer
by karenmetfan / January 1, 2005 10:05 AM PST

Yes, the upgrade Dual Drives: 16x DVD-ROM Drive + FREE UPGRADE! 48x CD-RW Drive is a combo drive if I understood it correctly. Plays and burns CD's and plays DVD's.

I haven't a clue what this is: $18 for a SATA 80 vs 40 IDE??? Is it something I would need?

The monitor--okay, this may be a stupid question, but is a Comaq monitor compatible with a Dell computer? Okay, I know that's a stupid question, but bear with me Happy Also, it's not LCD, just flat panel. The computer's in a small space, so it would help with that. I had started to consider buying anyhow, I figured why not.

Roadrunner is my cable modem--internet access. High speed and love it. Should I have another modem installed though as a backup?

1394 adapter is called Firewire --I have a canon digital that came with it's own software. I also have a couple of picture programs (Microsoft's Picture It and Adobe's Photo Deluxe {love this one}). Do I need it?

PSP (Photoshop?)--it comes with it. There's no option to not choose it. It came on the computer we have in my classroom as well. That's a Dell.

I didn't see an option for adding additional USB's. I have 2 in front on my Compaq and use them.

I appreciate all this help!

Here's the updated info on the computer from Dell, the price went down a little.

Dell Dimension 4700 Series Pentium

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I would guess that it has plemty of USB 2.0 ports
by Ray Harinec / January 1, 2005 10:44 AM PST
In reply to: the computer

Most computers of that power do. Check the photos for front panel ports.

What type of port does your camera use to download to the computer?? Very likely it uses USB if you haven't heard of firewire [IEEE 1384] by now.

Again if it is a flat panel CRT [not LCD] monitor, why get one at all [if it reduces cost]. Basically all monitors will work with any system. It may ask for drivers, but use the defaultPNP driver and then go to the Compaq [HP now} site and download the monitor driver] I JUST REALIZED that I may have mis understood your comment on the monitor. Was the Compaq / Dell compatibility related to using your old monitor. [which you can] and what is not an LCD type, the one that Dell is offering, or your existing monitor, or both???

The SATA is Serial ATA, [the hard drive] the latest hard drive technology, and to double the capacity for $18 and get a higher speed drive seems to be a good deal. JUST NOTICED that this version of your list does NOT include the option to upgrade to the SATA drive. I see why you are getting confused. Check on this again, that was a good deal.

Worries me that if the specs keep changing [on their part], how to be sure what you are getting. When you order make sure they send a confirming parts list for your final approval.

Ain't you excited about 6 months free AOL? LOL

I assume that you removed the PCI X video card option from the list, or is it no longer offered. Dell deals can change fast.

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i changed it a bit.
by karenmetfan / January 1, 2005 11:09 AM PST

okay, if you're sure the monitor would be compatible (no issue came up, doesn't didn't know) I'll listen to you Happy although at this rate what's another couple hundred bucks Silly

the camera uses a usb cable
Oh, here's the info on the tower itself--it does have 2 front USB's Happy
"The NEW DimensionTM 4700 powered by Intel

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My suggestion re the monitor was
by Ray Harinec / January 1, 2005 11:27 AM PST
In reply to: i changed it a bit.

to simply save you money, not to deprive you of the joy of having a nice light, easy to handle, flat screen LCD monitor. LOL

Note that the no extra charge "Video Card" is not a card at all. It's circuitry is in a chip on the motherboard [mobo]. If you decide to add a video card later, you simply go into the BIOS and disable the onboard video. You haven't mentioned anything that you would be doing that would warrant a PCI X card at this time. PCI X is new technology and as time goes by, the PCI X video cards will get even better and their price will drop. The slot for a PCI X video card will still be on the mobo for later use.

With PCI X , SATA, AND DDR2 you have the very latest technology. DDR2 memory is substantially more expensive than standard DDR. This leaves the road to future upgrades open for a few years. Probably makes the price a little higher.

Just let us know when you make the final buy, and then let us know how you like it after a few weeks.

Rememvber, if you reply to this thread weeks from now when it is on page 3 or 4 or?? it will still percolate to the top of page one when you post.

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by karenmetfan / January 1, 2005 11:35 AM PST

I know and appreciate you are trying to save me money. I cannot say enough how much all of your help is appreciated period. Happy

As soon as you said I could go into BIOS you lost me Silly I can go with what comes with the computer, assuming I understood you correctly Happy

I plan on calling Dell tomorrow to check the price difference if there's a teacher discount and also running it by our computer people at school. It doesn't help to have as many eyes look at it as possible. I will definitely let you know what I do. Odds are this is the one I'll get.

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