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  1.    #1  
    OK, tech folks. I'm typing right now on a Dell P166 w/ MMX, 64 meg RAM. I tell you that not for pity, but for you to gain an understanding that I don't necessaryily need/want the latest technology.

    On the other hand, I'm moving into a new house and want to install a home network (with this as one of the terminals). I figure I'd better get a newer computer to act as the hub, and I also want to install DSL (I'm on 56K right now).

    How cheap can I go and still have some degree of satisfaction with my computer and network? I've seen Emachines as low at $375 for a 733 Mhz Celeron with 64 meg RAM - that's awful competitive in my book. Dell and Compac also have some pretty nifty deals around $500-600.

    My P166 has been fantastic for (no lie) 4+ years. I don't want the latest and greatest - just enough to "get up to speed".

    Your input/advice is welcomed....thanks!
  2. utz
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    #2  
    I think most people can do just fine with a really basic computer, but I have two sugestions on areas to splurge. First get a good monitor. I just upgraded my computer in December, and I got a 19 inch flat screen Samsung monitor (<$300) that I love. If I could only have gotten either the monitor or the new computer, I definately would have gotten the monitor. A good monitor is the number one upgrade in my book. So I would sugest getting a cheaper computer and spending more on the monitor. Second, RAM is too cheap now days, so get at least 256MB. I have seen ads for 256MB of PC133 RAM for $50 all over the place. So you can by a basic computer with 64MB or 128MB and upgrade it for very little money.

    Justin
    Utz -- (Pronounced 'ootz', it means good, happy, etc. in the Mayan language of Cakchiquel)
  3. #3  
    Morris:

    Your decision will depend on what you want vs. what you can afford. If all you need is a system to do basic functions: web browsing, e-mail, word processing,....then the world is your oyster, my friend!

    My advice on brands: STAY AWAY FROM Emachine!!! They are a total POS (and that doesn't stand for Palm OS, if you catch my meaning). Avoid Compaq Presarios if possible. My choice for a good all around consumer PC with decent performance, reliability, and quality in your price bracket, would be the HP Pavilion. Forget about DELL. You will have to pay for both tax and shipping if you buy a DELL. So my advice is to stay with retail. Another good system to look at is the SONY Vaio PCV-J100.

    Any questions, ask away!
  4. #4  
    What do you want to use the machine for?

    Here's how I prioritize a computer purchase:

    1) What software do you need to use? budget it.

    2) What monitor do you need? budget it.

    3) What computer will adequetly run the software you need and will last until your next planned upgrade? budget it.

    4) Find a GOOD desk and chair. budget it.

    You shouldn't need a full computer for a hub, though that may not be a bad idea...you could certainly use it as a central file server. An old 486 with linux on it will work just fine for that.

    Your desktop computer, well, again, it depends. As foo said, eMachines are POS. That said, they're dirt cheap. So if you don't mind the fact that emachines are basically disposable, go for it.

    Personally, I like Dell. They cost a bit more, but you get a MUCH better machine, along with good support.

    If 'cheap' is your overriding priority, then good luck. Remember, you get what you pay for.
    We're all naked if you turn us inside out.
    -David Byrne
  5. #5  
    Originally posted by homer
    Personally, I like Dell. They cost a bit more, but you get a MUCH better machine, along with good support.
    DELL builds very high quality systems. I'm thinking of buying a Dimension 8100 to replace my old Pentium II 350. But I think for Morris's needs/budget, it's just overkill. He will pay an additional $100 for the tax and shipping alone. For his price range there are better, more economical, choices to be found through the retail channel. Circuit City and Best Buy offer discounts and rebates on certain systems. When your shopping for a $400-500 computer, your never going to get the latest and greatest. But for some users, that's fine. It's more important to buy a system that you are comfortable with and fits your needs than to simply go for the fastest machine on the market.

    DELL is my choice, but that's me.
  6. #6  
    Foo:

    Good points. However, I feel that it is worth the extra $$$ for good support. Best Buy and Circuit City can not support computer systems at all. They tend to do more damage than anything when attempting to fix your machine.

    If Dell can't fix it in a timely matter, then they send you a new one. I like that a lot.

    PS, I thought your next computer was going to be an G4?
    We're all naked if you turn us inside out.
    -David Byrne
  7. #7  
    Originally posted by homer
    PS, I thought your next computer was going to be an G4?
    I'm still weighing my options. Haven't decided what I will do just yet. There are still too many problems with OS X (and a lack of commercial apps) to keep me from jumping to a G4, yet. I still plan on waiting for MacWorld next month before making my decision. But I don't like what I see with Apple's current pro line. The G4s are ridiculously over-priced and under-featured. I'm hoping that will change now that Apple is going to kill off the Cube (which is exactly what I expected them to do, and rightly so). At this point the DELL 8100 offers far..far more bang for my buck than the G4. For $1500 I can get the 8100 with these specs:

    1. 1.5ghz P4
    2. 128MB PC800 RDRAM
    3. Nvidia GeForce 2MX video (with TV Tuner)
    4. 60gig ATA/100 7200 RPM Hard drive
    5. Combination CD-RW/DVD-ROM
    6. Harman Kardon speakers (with subwoofer)



    For $1700, I get these paltry specs on the low-end G4

    1. 466mhz G4
    2. 128MB PC133 SDRAM
    3. ATI Rage Pro video card
    4. 30gig ATA/66 5400 RPM hard drive
    5. CD-RW
    6. NO SPEAKERS!


    That's one hell of a gap! I really do love Apple's products, and I'm totally pumped over OS X and the Apple Stores. But I don't see any logic in dumping my hard earned money on a product that doesn't offer the features or performance that I desire. Another thing that bothers me is the mixed answers I keep getting among Mac enthusiasts regarding processor speeds. One person will tell me that 466/500Mhz G4s are screaming fast. Another will tell me they are terribly slow, and that I should go for the fastest speed available (733mhz). That has me scratching my head. The same is true of OS X. Some will say it runs beautifully. Others will say it's slow as molasses. And my primary apps (Dreamweaver/Fireworks/Flash) are not yet available on X.

    Like I said, I'm not giving up just yet. For now I will hold out until MacWorld, but I am not going to lower my standards just for Apple. You have to remember that this is a much bigger decision for me because I would actually be "switching" to a Mac as my primary system. I have to choose carefully before I make the leap, and I certainly have believe that I am getting the best machine for my needs. I'm not convinced that the current entry level G4 is a good product. If I were just looking to buy a Mac to play around with OS X, we wouldn't be having this discussion. I would go out right now and buy an iBook. But since there is transition issue, I have to look before I leap.

    I have to admit, I'm shocked by how many web designers are using Macs. It seems like every design firm I talk to is doing their work on a Power Mac. And those that use PCs admit they are very interested in OS X.

    I literally change my mind on an hourly basis. One minute I'm tempted to buy the Mac...the next minute I want to call it quits and buy the PC. My biggest concern is that I buy another PC..and then wish I had bought the G4. On the other hand I'm afraid if I buy a Mac..I may regret it. Life was so much easier when I was a PC zealot!
  8. #8  
    Also, if you splurge for $200 or so more, you can get your own DSL equipment. Many of them act as a router, so you wouldn't need to have a machine as a hub, just plug them all into the router.
    Soul Raven - "Små hjerne, stor glæde"
    Wherever you go, there you are.
  9. #9  
    Get a G4 cube when Apple starts dumping them. At least it'll make your life interesting.
    -Joshua
    I've decided to become enigmatic.
  10. #10  
    DON'T get a cube. They suck. The really do.

    I think they were a great experiment, and am glad that Apple made them, but there are so many things wrong with them.

    They're a decent little machine if you have no intention of ever hooking up a perpheral or adding a card, othwerwise, they were pretty useless machines.

    Looked nice, though.
    We're all naked if you turn us inside out.
    -David Byrne
  11. #11  
    hey foo, here's my $50 worth.

    Originally posted by foo fighter
    For $1500 I can get the 8100 with these specs:

    1. 1.5ghz P4
    <snip>
    6. Harman Kardon speakers (with subwoofer)

    For $1700, I get these paltry specs on the low-end G4
    1. 466mhz G4
    <snip>
    6. NO SPEAKERS!
    1) While I wouldn't say the speeds you noted are at all comperable, the processors used in Macs and C's are of different types and it's really not useful to compare their speeds based on Mhz.
    6) Mac come with a built-in speaker; though it's not much, it's there. PC's require external speakers for any decent sound.

    But I don't see any logic in dumping my hard earned money on a product that doesn't offer the features or performance that I desire.
    Yes! EXACTLY! Too many people buy a computer based on all the fancy words they see. It's more important to get the computer that DOES WHAT YOU NEED IT TO DO. (okay, I'll calm down now. puff ... puff ... wheeze ...)

    Another thing that bothers me is the mixed answers I keep getting among Mac enthusiasts regarding processor speeds. One person will tell me that 466/500Mhz G4s are screaming fast. Another will tell me they are terribly slow, and that I should go for the fastest speed available (733mhz). That has me scratching my head. The same is true of OS X. Some will say it runs beautifully. Others will say it's slow as molasses.
    It's kinda relative. My old PerformaMac was deathly slow compared to my G4 when performing similar tasks. The Ataris I cut my teeth on would likely be considered slow today, but they didn't seem so at the time (this was back when software was simpler, and furry little creatures from Alpha Centauri were real furry little creatures from Alpha Centauri.)
    When the G3's came out, I heard from one of my newspaper contacts who'd been given one to replace her two-year-old Quadra. She said the difference in speed was phenomenal. But, she was doing the same tasks on the new computer as she did on the old. Others might get a faster/better/more powerful compuiter, and up-the-ante and demand more of it than they did their old computer. Bingo! It'll seem slow.

    And my primary apps (Dreamweaver/Fireworks/Flash) are not yet available on X.
    I believe (but someone may easily refute, 'cause I didn't bother to go check) that anything that works under OS 9 will work under OS X's "Classic Environment." Which is pretty much just an OS 9 emulator.

    Like I said, I'm not giving up just yet. For now I will hold out until MacWorld, but I am not going to lower my standards just for Apple.
    hey! lower!? why you ... where's my hammer ... got some smitin' to do ...
    Just jesting. You should do what works best for you. There'll be a learning curve if you switch to the Mac; while there will be similarities to Windows, OS X is also relatively untried and there's not much out there for reference.
    Now, if you could get one of last January's G4's, with OS 9.1 and the SuperDrive, at a reduced price, you might be in biz real darn quick.

    I have to admit, I'm shocked by how many web designers are using Macs. It seems like every design firm I talk to is doing their work on a Power Mac. And those that use PCs admit they are very interested in OS X.
    Macs tend to be more powerful and have more powerful applications when it comes to graphics and design work. Also, many designers just use them because that's what the majority of print shops, advertising agencies, newspapers and magazines are already using, and it's easier than coping with compatibility issues. (This is my opinion based on several years of Mac design work.)

    I literally change my mind on an hourly basis. One minute I'm tempted to buy the Mac...the next minute I want to call it quits and buy the PC. My biggest concern is that I buy another PC..and then wish I had bought the G4. On the other hand I'm afraid if I buy a Mac..I may regret it.
    Whichever computer you get, remember there are emulators available for both platforms. i.e., you can run Windows on a Mac, or Mac OS on a PC, depending on the software you get. I've forgotten the name of the Mac-on-a-PC app, but for PC-on-a-Mac there's Virtual PC and SoftWindows.

    Life was so much easier when I was a PC zealot!
    The claw is our master! You must obey the will of the claw!


    (now that I've totally usurped this away from Morris' question ... Sorry about that!)
    The light at the end of your tunnel has been disconnected due to non-payment. Please remit funds immediately for restoration of hope.
  12.    #12  
    Ah, the digressions...

    Getting back to my line of thinking, I've got a couple more questions:

    1. What's so bad about Emachines? Is it prone to failures/crashes? Does it not work well? Does it have innate software incompatibilities? Or is it that it cannot be upgraded?

    2. If not Emachines, who else makes the best "Value" (read: cheap) PC's? I'm seeing HP, Dell, Compaq...any others? Off-brand manufacturers?

    3. I can't go with Apple, so please leave that out of this thread. It's a fabulous product, but I'm already in bed with WinTel products.

    Thanks again for the feedback!
  13. #13  
    There is a reason eMachines are so cheap. They use cheap parts and cut corners.

    Basically, an eMachine is what you get...there is no easy way to upgrade those things.

    I wouldn't use the words 'value' and 'cheap' interchangably.

    Again, we need to know what, specifically, you plan on using the computer for before we can recommend a computer for you that would be your best 'value' purchase.

    that anything that works under OS 9 will work under OS X's "Classic Environment." Which is pretty much just an OS 9 emulator.
    That's true on paper. Not everything works well in OSX, though. I couldn't get Flash to run at all. For the record, I belive Macromedia just released Freehand 10 for OSX, so I would assume they're getting the rest of their product line ready for launch.

    I, too, am waiting for Macromedia to get in gear and get their apps out for OSX before I switch full-time.
    We're all naked if you turn us inside out.
    -David Byrne
  14. #14  
    Felipe
    On the road to 5,000 posts
    Life is what happens between Firmware releases.
  15. #15  
    Originally posted by Morris
    2. If not Emachines, who else makes the best "Value" (read: cheap) PC's? I'm seeing HP, Dell, Compaq...any others? Off-brand manufacturers?
    I have relatives and friends of varying levels of computer ability using Gateways that are happy with them. My brother, who is somewhat ... closeminded regarding systems other than Windows, used to be a Dell fan but his last Dell system was a lemon, so he switched to Gateway.
    The college I worked at preferred Dells, but also had Compaqs around.

    3. I can't go with Apple, so please leave that out of this thread. It's a fabulous product, but I'm already in bed with WinTel products.
    Sorry; that was more for foo fighter's benefit.
    I'll try to stay on target ... at least after this:

    Originally posted by homer
    Not everything works well in OSX, though. I couldn't get Flash to run at all. For the record, I belive Macromedia just released Freehand 10 for OSX, so I would assume they're getting the rest of their product line ready for launch.

    I, too, am waiting for Macromedia to get in gear and get their apps out for OSX before I switch full-time.
    This press release bears out what you said about Freehand 10. Elsewhere on Macromedia's site they talk about having presented OS X versions of their products and that they are dedicated to continuing their Macintosh products. Doesn't explain why they recently bought Windows-only Allaire, tho.
    Last edited by Yorick; 06/18/2001 at 11:34 PM.
    The light at the end of your tunnel has been disconnected due to non-payment. Please remit funds immediately for restoration of hope.
  16. #16  
    Doesn't explain why they recently bought Windows-only Allaire, tho.
    Homesite is the preferred text editor for HTML on the PC side of things (BBEdit on the Mac) and both products were originally shipped with Dreamweaver as 'companion' programs, so that is a logical purchase.

    ColdFusion is great, and probably THE competitor to ASP right now. It's not platform-specific to write coldfusion, so I imagine we'll be seeing some nice ColdFusion integration with Generator, Dreamweaver, and UltraDev.

    What's scary are rumours that Microsoft is interested in Macromedia. (I have NO idea if there is ANY legitimacy in those rumours).
    We're all naked if you turn us inside out.
    -David Byrne
  17. #17  
    Originally posted by homer
    Homesite is the preferred text editor for HTML on the PC side of things (BBEdit on the Mac)
    I knew that ...


    and both products were originally shipped with Dreamweaver as 'companion' programs, so that is a logical purchase.
    but, I didn't know that. thanks.
    The light at the end of your tunnel has been disconnected due to non-payment. Please remit funds immediately for restoration of hope.
  18.    #18  
    Apologies for not telling you intended uses...

    I'm a garden variety basic user. Intended applciations include:

    - Microsoft Works/Office suites
    - Internet browsing (I'd like to do more A/V, but current computer limitations don't facilitate that)
    - Quicken and TurboTax
    - Syncing to Visor
    - Digital picture editing/scanning/etc.
    - CD-ROM applications - references, maybe a game or two, virtual museum tours, etc.
    - Adobe Acrobat Reader
    - Maybe web page design/editing - something I don't do right now, but I'd like to try
    - VERY basic desktop publishing - newsletters, Christmas letters, etc.

    Hope this helps.
  19. #19  
    Based on that usage pattern, any low-end system will do the trick. As I said before, I would go for an HP Pavilion. HP makes its own CD-RW drive and virtually every system comes with one (you should definitely get a disc burner). You can get a nicely featured system for under $700. Compaq offers some nice deals as well, but if I had to choose between HP or Compaq, I would definitely go with HP.
  20. #20  
    eMachines computers are worse than Packard Bell computers. They are Yugos of computers. Compaq is only slightly better. Don't get any of these.

    Go with a Dell. Best customer service. Slighly better than Gateway or IBM. Not sure about HP.

    The money rule of buying computers is spend AS MUCH AS YOU CAN POSSIBLY AFFORD. You'll always be happier with a faster CPU, bigger HD, bigger MONITOR, etc.

    For YOUR usage, a $1000 computer should do nicely. Dell has great refurbished computers with great warranties. Dell promises NEW quality, thus the warranty is the same as a NEW computer.

    http://www.dell.com/us/en/dfh/offers...x_special4.htm

    yeah, i wrote that ...
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