What Brand of Computer Should I Get?

Next to understanding the type of computer you need, which I discussed in a previous article, perhaps the next most important decision (and common question) is what manufacturer or brand with which to invest your money, and within that, the which specific model to purchase.

This is one of those questions that also keeps changing over time. I’ll review some of the alternatives, starting with one of the most fundamental questions of all.

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What Kind of Computer Should I Get?

It’s nearly new computer time at the old bunkhouse. What to do? What to do? Laptop? Desktop? Mac? PC? Dell? HP? How many gigabytes? CD? DVD? It’s been eight years for me.

This is an extremely common question. In fact, I’ll bet anyone who’s the tech in the family or neighborhood gets asked this same question more often than they would perhaps want.

The problem, of course, is that there’s no single answer.

It depends on your needs and your budget. And as technology is ever-changing, it even matters when you ask the question.

I typically ask myself this question about every few years as one computer or another needs replacing or simply comes to the end of its usable lifespan.

So rather than give you a definitive answer that doesn’t exist, let me instead walk you through some of the things you should consider when it’s time to get a new computer.

In this multi-post series, we’ll start with the most basic of questions…

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Do I even need a computer?

Why do I need a computer? I surf, I shop, I follow auctions, I email and I download photos from my point-and-shoot camera. I have an online bank account, which receives my directly deposited pension check. I also occasionally use Open Office to compose and print a letter. That’s it – no games, no design programs, nothing. I’m a digital Neanderthal who recently started using a tablet. Will a tablet do what I need without the seemingly never-ending hassles of the Windows operating system?

Everything you’ve described can be done on a tablet.

While the demise of the desktop computer has been grossly overstated in my opinion, scenarios like yours are certainly candidates for just using a tablet. I know several people who do.

However, it’s my opinion that you may replace the seemingly never ending hassles with Windows with a completely new set of hassles based on whatever tablet technology you pick up.

Read moreDo I even need a computer?

Can I ignore Windows 8.1 and stick with Windows 8?


I have an Asus all in one purchased in August 2013 with Windows 8. I had a few issues after updating it to Windows 8.1 which I was not able to solve even with the help the Asus technicians, who I might say are pretty much useless, so I reinstalled Windows 8 and all is fine now. My question is this:  Can I stay with Windows 8 and ignore the update message for 8.1?

Yes, you can stay with Windows 8 but I’d rather you didn’t. And I think in the long run, you’d rather upgrade too.

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How do I migrate to a new machine?

Hi, Leo. Surely you get asked this many times a day. I’m using Windows Vista, 32-bit presently, and I want to move to a new Windows 7 or possibly Windows 8, 64-bit desktop computer. I’m backed up to an external USB hard drive. What is the best way to migrate so as not to lose my emails, bookmarks and so forth? Is it possible to migrate straight from the external hard drive to the new 64-bit OS? I know that not all things are compatible between 32 and 64-bit but I’m just wanting to make this as seamless as I can. Thanks in advance for your help.

Unfortunately, seamless is a word that I’m really reluctant to use when moving to a new machine. We can move most of what you want, but the steps to do so aren’t what I’d call “seamless”.

Read moreHow do I migrate to a new machine?

Should I upgrade to a 64-bit operating system?

I just installed a new board and CPU that is 64-bit capable, but I have a 32-bit operating system. Would it be worth the time to go to 64-bit? I have 16 GB of RAM that (from what I read) is not being accessed with the 32-bit OS. Is this something to be concerned about?

“Concerned” is hard for me to judge, as is whether or not it’s worth your time to go to 64-bit.

Ultimately, you have to ask yourself some tough questions. How much time would you feel like spending on this? How much money is involved? For instance, if you’re running Windows, you may have to buy a new copy of the operating system. How much do you use your computer?

Let’s talk about what that might involve.

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How do I remove a failed Windows XP install?

I have a computer with Windows 98 and I wanted to install Windows XP. It did the whole install right up to the very last part – the initialization. It then said there was a fatal error. I wanted to remove XP, but it won’t let me do so. It said to cancel when Windows restarted, but there is no place or option to cancel, so that I can remove XP and try to put 98 back on. Can you please help?

Well, probably not. When it comes to installing operating systems, there really is no such thing as an “undo.” Installing an operating system is a massive task and it has a significant impact on the computer.

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Should I upgrade to Windows 8?

Windows 8 has caused a fair amount of excitement on the interwebs and some of it seems to be fairly polarized – there are those who already love it and those who can’t stand it, often without having even seen it in person.

It’s not surprising really because Windows 8 represents a fairly radical change in some of Windows’ most common user interfaces.

Should you upgrade? Well, that gets you my most common answer ever:

It depends.

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