The most difficult task when buying a new computer is convincing your spouse that you really, really need one.
I cant help with that part of the equation. Im terrible at it. I would tell you a success story about how these explanations go if I had one. I dont.
But I may be able to help you with shopping for a new computer:
Do you actually need a new computer? Replace a computer only when it can no longer do what you need it to do in a satisfactory manner.
What kind of computer do you need? Desktop or laptop?
Desktop computers offer more power for the money, are less fragile and easier to customize. Also keep in mind that desktop computers do fine if left running 24/7. Laptops tend to run hotter.
How much can you afford to spend on the new computer?
A lot of the extra power and graphics youll get with higher-priced machines often wont get used in your home, so why pay for it? Any new machine you buy from about $600 to about $800 will have plenty of RAM and a fine processor. So you cant go wrong.
Because weve set a budget, we can now look at whats out there in our price range. I suggest you start here: http://reviews.cnet.com/. Im a fan of this site and have found that unlike the puff pieces you may find elsewhere the reviews are honest.
Create a list of three or four computers that seem to fit your criteria. Do that based on the recommendations at that site, prices and on how well each machine fits your needs. At these price levels, all the machines have some weak spots and some strong points.
Google research your candidates and spend some time searching other sites. That way, youll get some other opinions and some idea about price.
Now spend some time in stores. Take your list of candidates and be sure to note the specifications for each machine processor speed, size of the hard disk, how many USB ports, whether it has a video card or uses built-in video capability.
Check competing models that match or exceed the specifications of the machines you selected. Keep your credit card in your pocket. This is only a looking trip.
You may have found some new candidates for your list. If so, search the Web again and read as many reviews as you can about the new candidates.
Now compare price and performance. Make sure youve paid attention to nontechnical items such as warranties and how the warranty works. Award extra points if the company will send a technician to your home to fix major problems.
Its time to buy. Check prices both at stores and online.
Well, youre done. Now all thats left is convincing your partner you need it.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Bill Husted writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.