The 2001 holiday season may be the best ever for people with the need - and the money - for a new computer.
Prices are at rock-bottom levels and deals abound as manufacturers and retailers scramble to boost sales slowed by the economy and other consumer concerns.
Good basic models are available for $600 to $700. About $1,000 will buy an upscale computer with a larger monitor, better audio, and features like a CD-R drive for “burning” music and data discs.
Consumers, however, may be wary about making major purchases this season, and unusually value-minded when they do.
Most people probably don't need a new computer. Consumers often buy because they're tired of the old computer and want the latest technology. One of my home PCs is 6 years old, uses Windows 95, and has a 200-megahertz (MHz) processor. Yet one family member still uses it, quite happily, for word processing, e-mail, and Internet work.
A new PC can be necessary for people who:
To get the most value for your money:
Finally, take a look at the Macintosh models made by Apple Computer (www.apple.com). They are famously user-friendly with their own new operating system, OS X, that in some ways tops Windows XP. Remember, however, that Windows PCs account for more than 9 of every 10 computers in use today.
Michael Woods is the Blade's science editor. His column on computers and technology appears each Saturday. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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