Choosing the Right Computer
With the wide range of laptops, desktops and mobile devices out there today, it can be quite difficult to decide which device is best for you or you school. While many education and corporate organisations are opting for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environments, standardizing on a certain device can also have its benefits, especially on price when making bulk purchases.
What do you need it for?
What you plan to use the device for has important implications for your decision, so make sure you carefully consider what you would like the device to do and what is important to you.
Will you mainly be performing office and admin tasks such as emails, writing and filing documents?
Do you like to play computer games or use simulation software that might have a higher than normal graphics requirement?
How important is mobility?
If you need to be mobile, you’re more likely to go for a laptop or tablet.
Generally speaking, however, the more compact and lightweight the device, the less room to fit in the more powerful components, so you will always be faced with something of a tradeoff between functionality and mobility.
What about battery life? Will you have access to power when you need it?
Can it run your software?
All software should have a technical specification list, which indicates the requirements and compatibility of that programme.
If you know what software you will be installing, be sure to check that the computer you are considering conforms to the requirements. If you’re buying software from us and you’re not sure of the compatibility, as us to check for you.
Things to consider
When comparing laptops and desktops, here is a run-down of the basic components you will be looking at.
Operating System – Windows is the most popular OS worldwide, while Mac has a dedicated following. Be sure that the software you want to run supports the OS you choose. The choice is largely a matter of budget and personal preference.
Processor (thinking speed) – The brains of the computer, measured in gigahertz, or GHz, will determine the intensity of the activity you can run. The more advanced graphics-intensive activity you’d like to do, the faster processor you’ll need.
Hard disk (the storage memory) –Storage for all your documents, videos and other files and software is measured in gigabytes (GB). In general, the more storage, the better, although there is something to be said solid state vs optical hard drives.
RAM/Memory (the thinking memory) – Temporary storage used for keeping running software – if your RAM isn’t enough for all the programs you’re running, you will notice that your computer runs slow and seems to be always “thinking”.
Graphics Card (visuals) – Handles all video. If you’re running simulations or games you might require a better graphics card.
Ports (connection points) – Make sure that your computer has the appropriate type and number of ports for the other devices you’ll be using, such as external hard drives or data projectors.
Warranty (getting it fixed) – How long is the warranty? Is there an extended warranty option? Where are the repair centers? What is the online or telephonic support like?
What else do you need?
Do you need a mouse or keyboard?
Will you be doing video conferencing or recording audio? – in which case you might want a microphone and speakers. Do you need a scanner? Webcam? DVD player/recorder?
Overcoming Barriers through Computer Accessibility
Perhaps you are choosing a device on behalf of someone else, or maybe you have specific needs that must be addressed. It is important to consider the physical and visual ability of the user when choosing a device. In many cases, a computer equipped with the right assistive technology can enable a child with special needs to succeed in a mainstream education environment. Edit Microsystems specialise in assistive technology that allows persons with disabilites to live independent, productive lives. Contact us to arrange for assistance with choosing a device.
Visual Barriers: Blind and Low Vision
Do you need braille?
Our Braillenote range of computing devices for the blind offer independence, accessibility and productivity for braille users. The Braillenote Apex is a standalone refreshable braille computing device for reading and writing, as well as performing common tasks such as internet access and email all in braille.
Would you like to use screen reading or magnification software?
Our Supernova software can provide screen reading and magnification for individuals with low vision or blind users that require speech output.
Edit Microsystems offer the widest range of access technology for individuals with physical disabilites, from adapted mouse and keyboards or switches to advanced head mouse devices and eye tracking technology, as well as mounting solutions.
At Edit Microsystems we pride ourselves in being able to cater to all ages and abilities, please contact us to discuss your specific requirements. Our range includes software for those with dyslexia or reading difficulties, as well as AAC programs to help you communicate.
Most accessibility software and hardware devices have specific requirements in terms of what device and operating system they can be used with. We recommend you check your specifications or contact us before making a decision on a computer or mobile device.
Ready to Decide?
If you have a good idea of what you need in a computer, give us a call or send us an email with your specifications – we’ll find you the right device at an affordable price. We supply a wide range of popular branded laptops and desktops to suit your needs and budget. Don’t forget to ask about our current specials.
Download a printable, shortened version of this buying guide to take to the computer store
Computer buying guide_editmicro