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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Gang,
I'm getting ready to take the big plunge and would like all the feedback you guys can give in helping me make an awfully big decision. Several of you out here know I'm a writer and things are progressing quite nicely. As a matter of fact, its now to the point that I'm now ready to purchase the "computer of my dreams." This is where--you--the big guns come in!!

I know what I'm hoping to find in a system, the reasons for them but for the life of me, I have no clue as to where to look, or what to buy. With that said, I also know that regardless of my purchase, its going to be obsolete "by industry standards" due to changing technology. That may be a true statement "by industry standards" but by "Red's standards" it'll be the dream system I've always wanted and will finally have with your advice and feedback.

Listed below is what I'd love to have in my dream system.

I'd like 3 but would prefer 4 partitioned drives. I'd like c: drive to be the largest but I'd also like separate drives with decent storage space where literary info gathering data can be placed along with rough and edited drafts, final copy, music, program downloads and pictures. In essence, I'd like these drives to be large enough to accomodate all I want and still have room there to execute various functions as well.
The ability to burn both CD's and DVD's. I'm thinking that if I can burn the CD's I'll have another source of backing up any written word for the book thus guarding my work and easing the chance of a mental meltdown with accompanying heart attack! The ability to burn DVD's is just for me for fun!
A scanner
The ability to fax documents from within the system.
I do play games on the web just to relax and give my brain a break. Eventhough I love great graphics as much as the next person, they're not an integral part of my system. I don't have anything to do with the illustration end of things but they would be nice to have.
A wireless mouse? Are they as great as everyone says or do they just use up a lot of batteries?
A printer that is dynamic! I'd like one that can do everything including the windows! Something that can print out quality documents as well as photos. Needless to say, the document printing clarity and ability is paramount for me since it will be coming from my printer to the publisher. It definitely needs to be one that has a reputation for being dependable.
A flat screen monitor--are they everything I've heard? Is it literally the lack of space they take up or is the clarity they deliver worth their weight in gold? Something easy on these eyes really would be wonderful.
Because of the funds being spent, is purchasing an additional warranty the way to go as well?

What I've passed on to you above are a few of the definites I know I want. With all the combined experience and talent on this sight, the knowledge you guys possess is limitless and that is what I'm asking to draw upon.

Is it reasonable to assume a price range between $1,250 and $2,000 can acquire what I want? Would that cost cover the new keyboard, monitor, mouse, scanner, printer and tower? Are we looking at the high or low end of those figures?


I know there is everything from Dell, E-Machines, Hp's, you name it; the list is endless. If you had a choice from all the manufacturers out here and their products, who would get your vote? What home personal computer system would you buy and why?

Would you purchase a system "on line" or would you rather go to a local store--a computer location--or say a Sam's Club?

As always, thank you so much for taking time from your busy schedule to help me make the right decision.
 

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Vetustior Humo
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Your spec's won't be hard to meet. And you don't need a super-high-powered machine so you'll be on the lower end of your price scale. I'd be tempted to go to a local small computer shop and tell them everything you want except the price. Let them come back and suggest a price that includes warranty service.

Then again, the printer and scanner are usually cheaper at a big-block store or online. So you might consider going that route for everything. Really the only thing not standard is partitioning of the harddrive. And the good folks here at TSF can walk you through doing that.

You didn't mention software.

Wireless mice are great but they do run through batteries unless you get rechargables. Its good to have a usb mouse available as a backup.

I'll leave it to the real experts here to suggest brands and models.
 

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Vetustior Humo
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Another thought:

Since it appears that your livelyhood is tied to the work you save on the computer, you might think about redundant storage devices (harddrives). This way you're covered if one fails. Again, the smart folks here can make suggestions on how to do that.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
It reads "Moved"--Moved where please?

I knew I had set my post for email notification but when I saw no replies, I thought it best to come to the site. Sure enough, and thank you Yustr for your advice. What a great idea about asking the great people here about partitioning the drives for me! You get a prize for that idea! :sayyes:

I'm a little confused about why it was moved however and what that basically means to the post. I sent a PM to a staff member here on the site before posting thinking that my request was a little left of center and asking before posting was the way to go. I was advised to place it in "Other" and thought I did it correctly. Keyword here might be "thinking" and that's what went wrong. :laugh: :4-dontkno

I'm sorry for posting here again in the same place but since I've searched and only find it here, I don't know where else to go to see what I did wrong and how to correct it.

Does anyone know if there could be other replies by chance I'm not aware? I'm apologizing in advance for having made a mistake and would appreciate knowing what I did so it doesn't happen again.

Thanks.
 

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Its still here in "other", If it moved it slipped back :grin: Most of the topics are for problems with PC's hopefully you will never have to post in those too often.

If you are going to be very consistent in your data backup and want a ready made machine then a Sony Vaio desktop might be something to look at. They offer very large storage solutions in their customize your own PC section.

Otherwise I would suggest looking into a professionaly built custom workstation with large capacity redundant data storage.

The printer is another issue since it has to look good and have color. Alot of printers do very well in the print quality department at reasonable prices but the cartrige price eats you alive. The higher quality color laser printers are expensive.

It is clear you are going to spend alot of time on this machine so ergonomics is important, a good Display, Keyboard and Mouse is something you will probably want.

In my opinion $2000.00 is a bit low for what you described. All that hardware and software adds up.
 

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My opinion Dell is probably the best for a mass produced machines. I am currently employed at an all Dell shop (besides a few Gateway tablets) and their customer support is fantastic. Right now some of their consumer tech support is offshore but they are planning to bring it back to the states because of complaints.
But as the above suggested you might check with local shops on a custom built unit. Check references of the shop. You don't want to get a sytem that they installed inferior parts into. Much like taking your car to a mechanic, there are shady computer shops out there. Check their warranty, see what it covers, length, price, etc.. I have also encountered system builders that will seal the case so you can't open them. The only problem with this is, if you decide to add a card in the unit, you have to take it to them and of course, they will charge you to add it in. If you are computer savy, this is what you don't want.
DVD burners are pretty much the norm these days and if you don't have one, they usually can be had for under $50.00. Most DVD burners will also burn CDs.

I think that wireless mice are getting better on battery conservation. I have a Microsoft Wireless Intellamouse Explorer for about 2 months running on the same batteries that it was supplied with (energizer alkaline). Logitec makes one that comes with a recharger saddle so when you are not using it, park it in the saddle and its recharges.

Flat panel monitors are starting to get to be the norm these days. If you buget can cut it, get 2 monitors. I have a dual display and I don't think I will ever go back to a single monitor.

Printers. Its hard to get a good, solid, permanent document from an ink jet printer. I have found it cheaper to buy a quality inkjet for photos AND a good laser for documents. In other words, an HP7550 Photo Smart for $75 and a HP2100 Laserjet for $100. I don't like all-in-ones because if something happens to one thing, it's all done. If you do opt for an all-in-one get one with a document feeder. You'll be glad you did.
 

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I can't recommend Dell because of my all-negative experiences with them. And the support is good only if you're a business customer. If you're a regular buyer then your support is routed overseas to Habib.

A custom system is a great investment because they use higher quality parts, can be upgraded easily, and cost much less. You can get the system you WANT rather than settle with what a retailer has.

Just about and DVD writer can write CDs as well. A good brand to look for is Plextor. I've had one for years and it still performs like it's new.

I'm not big on wireless devices mostly because I don't like the battery consumption, the weight, and the fact that they can get lost easily if you are messy.

When it comes to displays I always go with CRT except in laptops where it's not really an option. if you plan to do heavy multitasking then a dual-display setup is perfect. I use two computers comprising 3 displays now. It's still not enough!

I recently bought a new inkjet from HP and I LOVE it. it's fast, has great output, and I just love HP's printers. Their computers I can easily do without. And like Joe mentioned, an all-in-one system may appear attractive but you're SOL when one function dies. The individual components are cheap and are better suited to their tasks than the ones in an all-in-one.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
You Guys Are Awesome!!!!!!!

The only thing I can say is WOW!!!!!! Its now 6:11a.m. and I'm like a kid at Christmas!!

Barry, Ebackhus, Joe and Yustr, you have no idea how much I appreciate all the information you've given me. WOW! just doesn't seem to cover it but that WOW is sent to ya'll from the heart.

Ebackhus, I agree with you on their printers. I've had an HP, Dell and Epson. The HP was great, I LOVED the Dell and the Epson...they can keep and like you, they can keep the HP computers as well :sad:

Joe, that "inside track" info on local computer shops, again, I must be living on another planet because I had NO CLUE things like that were done out here. It never crossed my mind they could seal it and, of course, as you said, they'd be the only ones who could do whatever is needed. Sitting here tonight I really started thinking and realized just how bad this can be especially for an unsuspecting female such as myself. Unfortunately, I'm coming to realize it isn't just computer shops doing things like this. Thanks to you Joe, anyone who reads this will be forewarned on what to look for so they don't become another statistic.

Can't you just see these guys as I walk through the door? They're thinking here comes an easy mark! You know that $ sign that's going to light up over their head? Its going to have enough juice sent to it to light up the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center!!!! BUT what they DON'T know, is I've got the Varsity squad on my side! They just completed an undefeated season, won the National Championship AND they're pumped!!! In case you're wondering, that's you guys!!! :heartlove :smooch:

Ok gang, here comes the questions and I know they're gonna be stupid ones but please just remember, this is so very important to me and I'm still learning, ok? Here goes:

1. You guys have talked about that if the budget can handle 2 monitors go for it. Now, I use Mozilla' Firefox browser and absolutely LOVE it! I can tab to my heart's content and it works great. What it is about using 2 or even 3 monitors that ya'll like so much? Wouldn't you need to have a 2nd system hooked up to this 2nd monitor as well for it work?

2. Let's say I want to add additional components down the road a bit. Right now, I have a "novice beginner's digital camera." No joke, sis sent it to me for my birthday and I LOVE IT but it takes a USB port to operate. How do I make sure I'll have all the required ports available when they're needed? Must they be USB ports? Can a port be added or installed if needed? If not, what do you do for an additional "outlet?"

3. DVD/CDRW: I've learned from you guys that the CD-RW is something that will "read and write" data. I can delete etc. so that it is reuseable. See I was paying attention in class! :laugh: A lot of what I'm seeing, including ya'll's tips, are geared towards DVD's and utilizing the monitor basically as a TV screen. Now gang listen, that is something I don't understand. To me, and this may be a "chick thing", not sure, but to me you watch a DVD when you put it into the DVD player, turn on the TV, kick back and enjoy the movie on a screen that is bigger and the color is better. Are the DVD's we discussed the items I need for space storage? Would a DVD be considered as ya'll have mentioned "redundant data storage?" If ya'll are considering the DVD usage as space storage for me, would that replace my idea of multiple drives?

4. I have made a few decisions thanks to you guys. Frankly, I'm not going with any "all in one" anything. The printer/scanner, photo printer, anything that can stand alone will be doing just that! :wink: You guys are absolutely right, when 1 goes, everything goes! Joe, help! I did scope out on-line the HP LaserJet 2100 and they have discontinued them. Do you guys have any suggestions on other good, reliable units that you personally prefer? From all I've gathered from you guys, I believe the general vote wins that it'll be a Laser Jet, right? I agree and Laser wins hands down! What about refills? I know I've tried "generic" ones and it was a complete disaster. I was wondering if you can recommend the best route, maybe its the route you guys take, that you think would work best for me. Is there any type of "rule of thumb" to judge how long a laser printer works vs. an inkjet? I do understand it depends on the amount of printing you do but I'm talking a general example. Am I looking at say $100 per refill?

5. The other decision is I'm going with the flat screen for sure. :sayyes: Regarding the monitors, are they called "flat" because of what I call the "picture tube" protruding out the back?[/B] :4-dontkno Sorry gang, its the only way I know how to describe it. Please explain to me the difference between a 17 and 19 inch flat screen monitor. Does that 2 inches make such a difference in the monitor and its operation, resolution, etc?

6. Have any of you had any experience with the "ergonominically correct" keyboards? I've been seriously considering one but know no one that has either used or has one in their possesion. I can type 120 wpm generally without errors but know that my wrists have been suffering lately with these marathon bouts at the keyboard.

7. The most important decision of all has yet to be made but I'm definitely leaning in the direction of having the system made my way. I do know I won't be at the mercy of retail and what they have to offer so the only part left to decide is the make and model. I do LOVE Dell but within my circle I've been hearing a little buzz about EMachines. Any thoughts in that area? Do you know who makes them, HP, Dell? Anyone know if an EMachine can be "made to order" like a Dell?

8. Regarding software, I know I'll be using Windows XP. Believe it or not, as I've been told, there is an actual program for screenwriters and novelists within MS Word 2003 and it isn't a template. :4-dontkno Have any of you heard anything about this? What are the properties or functions in the MS Word 2003 version? Unfortunately, I haven't seen this but am dying to know if any of you know the validity of what's been told to me. Could you suggest a means of finding software? What I'm asking is there a method you may use to try out various software sorta like "try before you buy." Are any of you familiar with programs that you think would be benefical to a system such as what we're putting together for me? I know I'll be doing much more than just writing with my new system which is why I'm asking. You guys come in contact with all kinds of neat interesting stuff and I'm hoping that there are some things you may have come across that would be a "must have" for someone like me. Of course, I'd be interested in those pertaining to novelists but really would be interested in all areas.

Also, since I'm almost 100% sure that I'm going to have the system built to "our" :smooch: specifications, any ideas regarding what if anything is included? Would Windows XP be downloaded and installed? If so, would the disc be given upon purchase for startup if something should happen? OR would the XP be buried within the system and I'd have to burn it to a CD?

I can't begin to thank ya'll enough for your help, patience and willingness to share to make this huge decision a lot less scary. Can't wait to see what ya'll come up with next!!! :pray:
 

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Ok on the CD/RW or DVD/RW, these are disk burners. The CD/RW has about 700mb of storage capacity per disk and the DVD/RW much more. For your application it is used to backup your work on CD. You can buy CR-R disks which can only be written to and CD-RW which can be erased and re-written but only a limited number of times. IMHO the CD-R's are much more reliable long term.

So if you write a chapter then burn it to CD it is vitually preserved forever regardless of what happens to your PC. Plus it is portable so you could take it to another PC and place the files on it should the unthinkable happen.

Although a rare event a redundant storage Hard disk configuration can go bad and all the data could be lost, not so with a CD that is burned and properly stored.

I have never used a DVD burner but on CD/RW you can make an open ended disk which files can be added to until the disk is full. You can copy the full CD to create a second copy if needed. Keep in mind that a CD-Rom drive cannot read DVD's so if you want dual CD drives make them both DVD drives, one read/write and the other a reader.

Video cards with true dual monitor support can display one thing on the first monitor and something else on the second monitor. You could have Word open on one and Firebird on the other. This is not to be confused with a video splitter cable where the same thing is displayed on both monitors.

The monitor is your window into your PC, if you are going to be sitting close to it then a 17" flat screen should be sufficient for your needs. Do not skimp on the monitor, you are going to be staring at this thing for hours at a time.

Some keyboards come with straight keys, others the keys are slanted inward from the bottom to the top, still others have the entire keyboard split into 2 sections like the Microsoft keyboards. It is something that you just have to try for yourself to see what best suits you.

You need to demand that you get a genuine Windows XP disk for installation on a new computer in either retail or OEM vesion with the PC. You also need a CD with all the proper drivers for your hardware in your PC aswell as CD's for any bundled software that the system comes with.

Having a custom computer built from a small computer store has it's pitfalls. Some of these places use the cheapest hardware available. These devices are often unstable and prone to repeated crashes. This is why I suggested a Sony Vaio or other reputable PC manufacturer.

Sometimes it is best to go to one of the large chain stores like Fry's or Best Buy who employ technicians that can handle issues with a new PC and can install additional hardware if needed. They also offer service plans so that should something happen to your machine you can take it back to them for repair or replacement.

This is where your CD backups can come in handy, if they have to replace the hard drive or the entire machine you can reload your work on the new system and lose nothing.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
It Finally Kicked In!

I have been putting off and putting off buying any ink (I'm completely out) because I knew I'd be getting a whole new printer system right? Well, after Barry's last post, I broke down and bought 2 cartridges--1 black and 1 color--Why? Because I completely understand everything you wrote for me Barry!!! I'm totally amazed!! I'm printing out ALL the advice y'all have given me. I'm going to be SOOOO READY when my new "baby" is ordered! :laugh: :sayyes:

Its like, with you guys and all you've written to me, a lightbulb went off in my head tonight! No kidding! I really DO understand what y'all have been saying to me and it all came together tonight with Barry's post. :sayyes: I even went so far as to go back and re-read the other posts. I wanted to see if it clicked and boy oh boy, did it!!! It felt like a floodgate opening! I was soaking up every bit of information that was out there from you guys. :smooch:

Well, I've got a 103 degree fever, summer cold of all things, I think, and feel like I've been drug through a keyhole! Maybe this fever is why I understand things now, it just killed off that part of my brain that was just hanging out doing nothing and being completely useless! :grin:

After thinking about it tonight, I believe I understand what's happening now. When you guys start talking the "jargon," I know I didn't want to ask stupid questions but knew I had to ask in order to understand. The cool part of it is, I found that y'all bring yourself even with the level of a novice so they can understand. I might be a little slow on the uptake but when I got it--I got it!

Again gang, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you do for us here and specifically for me on the Forum. If anybody else has any advice, I'm ready for you now!!! I'd love to read more!! You're the greatest!!!!
 

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I don't know if it's been mentioned before...
But have you looked into RAID redundancy? Considering how important your data is to your livelihood, backup is an absolute necessity- imagine being almost done with a piece of writing and then have a hard drive fail for whatever reason-it would be unthinkable. Redundant RAID is basically two or more drives mirroring the same data- so if one goes down, the other one still has your data intact. It won't protect against accidental deletion, so you'll just have to be careful with that, but it'll pretty much guarantee you won't lose your data from mechanical failure. You'll also want to get a really good antivirus program (I recommend AVG) and a firewall.

Also on the topic of screens: You're probably going to be spending hours upon hours sitting next to it, so why not go for the best? And by the best, I don't mean an LCD- there are nice ones out there, but they don't even come close to high end-CRTs. I would also recommend a good glare filter, as spending hours staring at a screen can cause nearsightedness and is just plain bad for eyesight (believe me about the nearsightedness, I'm only 17 and it's starting to happen to me).

Multiple monitors are a very convenient feature- you can have a browser open in one window and a word processor open in another- and it's more convenient than actually having a second computer because you don't need to switch between two sets of keyboards and mice in order to access each one.

Also, don't skimp on the keyboard- go to a computer supply store and try a bunch out. Obviously, pick out the one that feels best, take it home, and type. If you find your fingers are hitting the wrong keys, try a different keyboard. Some really are cheap, like the one I'm using now. Others have a feel to them that you just can't top, like a PC/AT keyboard I have that actually clicks when you type, and it's super-accurate because you have to come down on it with some force in order to get a character out of it.

Hope this helps.
 
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