In the market for a computer

I am looking for a computer that:

is less than $500 USD;
will work in Slovakia with no or minimal issues;
that has a webcam that will work with skype.

Moved from General Questions to In My Humble Opinion

General Questions Moderator

Otto, I am not a computer geek, but you might want to try finding one locally (shouldn’t be all that hard to do in Madison, Wisconsin!).

I have a student who bought all the best, high-end components separately. on-line, for under $400. He slapped it all together and claims he has a computer that would normally cost thousands of dollars if bought as-is. Might be worth paying someone a few bucks to do the same for you.

You looking for a desktop or a laptop?

Either one, probably a desktop would be better but if laptop is more economical (or if there is a laptop with the option of adding a separate or wireless keyboard) that would be good.

While building a computer for yourself can save some bucks, you’re not going to get that big of a return for investment on 400 dollars. That being said, Otto, if you have rudimentary computer knowledge, or know someone who does, you can harvest some of the parts out of your current computer (depending on age, you might be able to keep the hard drive, power supply, RAM, video card, fans, and/or optical drive) and save some money there. If down the road, you need more power, most of those are a breeze to switch out.

A good local independent computer store can almost certainly provide a suitable machine at an attractive price. If they happen to have a good used one in stock, there may be considerable savings for the quality level. And you’ll have options besides Vista.

Will you be needing a Slovakian keyboard?

I have no rudimentary computer knowledge and this would be in addition to my computer. It’s a gift for a Slovakian friend whose computer is on its last legs and I want to try to surprise him for his birthday next month with a new one on a limited budget. He actually works for a computer repair shop and might be able to assemble components but asking him about it would sort of ruin the surprise.

That is an excellent question. I have no idea. I was thinking that the character sets would be part of the software, not the hardware. Maybe I need to get him everything but a keyboard and let him decide for himself.

This is suddenly sounding quite complicated. Perhaps I should just send him the money and he can buy something locally.

Unless his components fell off the back of a truck, your student is exaggerating to the point where I’d call it flat-out lying. The best, high-end video card alone is going to run you about $1400 online. When you’re talking about the very best of everything, it would be quite easy to run up a bill of over $5,000 in components seperately purchased online at the best prices available - and that’s before you even buy a monitor!

Try a Shuttle KPC if he’s not going to be using it for games.

Now that looks interesting. And if he needs some special keyboard for Slovak it’s so far under my budget that I could pick it up for him.

Oh wait, that’s not as interesting as I first thought. You have to buy the monitor and the keyboard and what-not separately? Wow. Adds up fast.