This is tough making a new computer purchase. Any help?


A family member is planning to make a new computer purchase and we have been going around and around about it. We know basically what we need it for...for personal organization, surfing the internet, downloading music, talking to friends across country, maybe taking some courses online. No gaming, no photo editing, although in the future there could be storage of photos. Maybe an occasional download of a movie, if there is room on the hard drive. Although never having done that, I don't know what it requires and what you can actually view the movie on, but it is of interest.

Here is our dilemma. The person who the computer is for, has never used a computer at all and is a novice. They don't know if they will enjoy using it or be frustrated trying to learn to use it and troubleshoot it when necessary. We already have a laptop in the house, and that could be used to learn on, but he is worried that he will do something with the machine that will cause a serious problem and then our computer will not work and we would have to replace ours. Ours is out of warranty and running well right now and is needed to connect to work often. He would also like to take a computer class, and we assume you need to take a computer to the class, or at the least, have one to practice on at home.

So, is it more practical to take the class, use our machine to learn on and then make a more informed computer purchase, but risk our machine, or should we just get the computer and let him start on his own from the beginning? Of course, the other option would be to give him ours and get a new one, but then he won't have any technical support with his machine. Which to me is essential when just starting out. I am happy with my machine right now and don't need anything new and have it customized to our needs and find the process of doing that necessary but tedious and time consuming. But it is almost 5yrs old and if something breaks on it, I would feel I should just buy new at that point, rather than fixing a computer out of warranty.

We looked online at Dell computer systems because that is what we have now, and the prices sounded the $600. range. But when you look at the specs, and talk to people, it seems with the new Vista OS that is just out, you need a whole lot more machine than the $600. model. Plus, by the time you add in more warranty, damage protection, more RAM, etc to accommodate the Vista and provide enough tech support and even just 2 yrs of warranty, now you are up to $800.

Then we read Consumer Reports and they suggest the tech support is better at Apple or IBM and their machines are in the $1200. to $2,000. range.

My head is spinning! Any and all input welcome.



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