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L.Srikumar Pai
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Guide lines to purchase and use  a Computer

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It is the ambition of each educated individual to purchase his own Computer, since computers are now needed in almost any field. What are the configuration required for the  computer ?. It varies depending upon the requirement. Generally, you should purchase a computer which can handle Word-processing, spreadsheets, layout publishing programs, graphics and Internet access. 

Before purchasing a computer, please read our Free Computer basic course to be familiar with the common terms which you will come across.

Do you need a NEW computer?

The computer industry is one of rapid change. Every month new models are offered with faster processors, more RAM memory  and larger capacity hard drives. All new computers come with built-in CD-ROM drives , and many offer DVD-ROM drives which can play standard audio CDs, DVD movies, and install a growing number of software titles being distributed on DVD-ROM format. 

One of the first considerations you should make when deciding on what type of computer to buy is whether you want to use any specialized software. By looking first at software applications, and researching what the system requirements are for those applications, you can ensure that the computer you purchase will help accomplish your goals. If you will primarily be using the Microsoft offices ( such as Word, Excel. Access, Power Point ), Graphic software's such as Photoshop, Autocad etc., the minimum hardware requirements below should be more than adequate.

What brand and model should I buy?

First, you must decide between the Macintosh computers and a Personal Computers. Personal computer  use Windows as the operating system. Macintosh computers use different operating system. The vast majority of people use personal computers with Windows operating system. In general, most software you encounter will be for Windows95/98 /2000/ XP systems . Also check What type of computer your friends or colleagues use? . This will also gives you little guidance.

Next, consider whether to buy the least expensive system or one that will have a longer, more useful life. More powerful models, while somewhat higher priced, have the processing power to take advantage of future software advances. If you can afford it, buy for the long term.

Guidelines to purchase Computer



WHETHER you are looking to buy your First computer or upgrade to a newer one, have a good think about what you want to do with it.

This is going to determine the features you look for in a machine and the amount you'll need to spend.

Compared to a year ago, there are some very powerful computers around. For home users, there are many mid-priced machines which are full of features that will keep the whole family happy.

And many of the features that you once had to pay extra for now come as standard, so you don't have to get a computer especially aimed at film buffs to get a DVD-drive, home video-editing software and plenty of power.

Computer manufacturers are stuffing their machines with extra add-ons in an effort to attract buyers and if you know what you're looking for, you can make the most of the offers.

With a reasonable price, you can expect to get a powerful all-round computer which can handle word processing, graphics, Internet and e-mail. school projects and homework, games, a spot of home-movie making and organizing and editing digital photographs.

You'll also get a DVD-drive and a re-writable CD-ROM for recording your own music CDs or saving photographs on to disk.

If you're just after a machine which will allow you to do some word processing and surf the Internet, you needn't spend as much. There are plenty of models which leave out the multimedia bells and whistles and reflect this in their lower prices, Virtually any new computer - certainly any mentioned here - will come with all you need to get connected to the Internet and send e-mail straight away.

Follow our guide to the features you need to understand before you buy. 

Explaining the features


This is the brain of your computer and determines the speed at which it will work. Processor speeds are measured in Mhz (Megahertz) and Ghz (Gigahertz), and I,000Mhz is equal to I Ghz.

Two of the biggest processor manufacturers are Intel and AMD. Intel makes the well known Pentium processors - the most recently launched being the Pentium 4. Intel also makes the Celeron processor which is a cut-down version.

AMD makes the Athlon processor, the fastest of which is the Athlon XP. It also makes a cut-down version, the Duron. It was once the case that a Pentium processor was really the only type worth having, but recently AMD's Athlon has been delivering very high speeds.

"The Athlon XP machines are the fastest we've ever seen," says Ursula Tolaini, reviews editor of PC Advisor. She recommends the Athlon processor

Generally, for home use , a processor speed between 800 Mhz and 1.4 Ghz is plenty.

 RAM - Random Access Memory.

This is your computer's temporary memory. The more RAM You have, the faster your computer will be, and the more applications you will be able to use at the same time.

RAM is measured in Mb (Megabytes). Don't go for less than 128 Mb RAM.


This is your computer's permanent memory, where all your personal documents, photographs or music files are stored alongside program files which are needed to operate the computer.

Hard disk space is measured in Gb (Gigabytes). Since the interest in digital photography and digital music has grown, there's been a greater demand on hard disk space, as it is these sorts of multimedia files which take up a lot of space.

In comparison, word processing documents take up a fraction of the space.

20Gb of hard disk space is certainly more than enough for everyday use. But if you plan to do a lot of work with pictures, music or video, it's worth going for as much memory as you can about 40Mb should be enough to start with. 



The modem allows you to access the Internet and send and receive e-mail as well as faxes using your computer. Any new computer will have an internal modem with a cable which plugs into an normal phone socket. The fastest modem available is 56Kbps, and this is what you should be getting. Anything slower is best avoided. 

MONITOR- Computer screen

A 15-inch screen is pretty much standard but you are likely to come across plenty of models offering a 17 -inch screen. Flat screens are fantastic space savers but they cost more. 



Just like CD-ROM drives, DVD-ROM drives are now standard in new computers. DVDs (Digital Versatile Disks) use the same tray as that used by CD-ROMS. This can hold far more information than a CD-ROM, so you can get a whole feature-length film on to a DVD. If you Nave a DVD facility on your computer, you can watch films on it, and make use of software with lots of interactive music and video.


If you have a re-writable CD-ROM facility you can save information from your computer's memory on to a special recordable CD. You can use this facility to create your own Music CDs or keep digital copies of your photo albums on CD.


These are responsible for all the images, and sound on your computer.

All computers come with standard graphics and sound cards which are fine for ordinary work, browsing the Internet and playing many games.

However, if you intend to play lots of graphics, intensive games, it's worth making sure you've got a powerful graphics card. A favorite among gamers is the nVidia GeForce 2 or 3 chip. If the computer you want doesn't come with a powerful chip, you can get the manufacturer to add one but it will cost extra.


Around this time you are likely to see lots of computers sold with a number of freebies thrown in such as printer, scanner, digital camera or software. This is known as bundling and if you shop around you can get some good deals. Bundled items tend to be discontinued products which you may not end up using - what use is a black and white printer when you actually want a colour one?

Don't let the freebies play too large a part in your decision. Make sure the computer you're considering buying has all the features you need.

If you discover it doesn't have enough power to run the software you want to use, you will have wasted far more than you can save by getting a load of freebies.

However, do look out for deals where you'll get some good productivity software such as  Microsoft Office, which will allow you to start using your computer as soon as you get it home.

All new PCs will come with the Windows operating system ready-loaded. The operating system is responsible for making a computer work. You may find some computers come with the older Windows 98 operating system, while others have Windows-ME or the just launched Windows XP. Go or Windows ME or XP if you can, as both include some video editing software and multimedia enhancements. Windows XP has also been designed to be a more stable system, so it's less likely to crash. 


There are two types of warranty - on site and return-to-base, which typically cover you for a year or two. An on-site warranty is best, as it means an engineer will have to visit you to make any repairs.

With a return-to-base warranty, you will have to pack up your machine and take it to the manufacturer's nearest service centre for repairs.

This means you could be without it for days or weeks depending on the problem. Check that your computer manufacturer has a telephone help- line to call if you're having a problem. Make sure the help- line operates during evenings and weekends when you're most likely to be at home using your computer.

(Courtesy: Times of Oman-By Hala Khalil )

PROCESSOR Intel Pentium 4 - 1.0 GHz. to 2.0 GHz
RAM 128 MB 
HARD DISK 20 GB to 40 GB
CD ROM DRIVE 52X Multimedia CD-ROM drive
MODEM 56 Kpbs
MONITOR 15" OR 17"
KEYBORD w/104 Keys
SOUND CARD  32-Bit, PCI,3D, Pnp sound card, Speakers, MIC and headphone
  • ANY OTHER as per your profession

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