Tips and Guidelines for Making Informed Computer Purchases

  • Do some research. Before you buy a new computer, be sure to read the consumer reviews and look at price comparisons. CNET is one place to find reviews. Consumer Reports magazine is another place to look. MySimon is a great place to do price comparisons.
  • Know the basics. A grasp of computer hardware and software fundamentals can help you make informed decisions. If thinking about hardware specifications is new to you, then you might begin by focusing on three essential things:
    • Processor speed. The faster the processor, the more quickly it can process computations.
    • RAM (Random Access Memory). More memory lets you run more applications at the same time without slowing down your computer.
    • Size of hard drive. The larger the hard disk, the more data you can store. The How Stuff Works Web site has easy-to-understand explanations.
  • Make your computer purchase decisions make sense for your patron computing environment. You should ask yourself: How will the library’s computer be used? How much software will be loaded on it? What sorts of applications will run on it?
  • Be sure to get any possible discounts. You may be able to get a lower price by purchasing your computers as part of a group or through an existing county or statewide contract. For software purchases, be sure to take advantage of donated and discounted software available to public libraries through TechSoup Stock.