What's new in new computers?

My Mom has roped me in to help her shop for a new computer. I did my research when I bought my computers, but the last one I bought was in 2003 and I don’t know a thing (it seems) about what is good these days. I don’t know what her budget is, but for now lets assume less than $1000.

She doesn’t game. She would like some sort of card reader for her Sony digital camera (memory stick). She does email, internet surfing, and a little word processing. A new monitor and a printer are also being purchased.

She has been looking at Dell, specifically the Inspiron (sp) 5100. Good or bad? I go to the Dell site and there are so may “add ons” that a $750 computer ends up being a lot more money after all is said and done. Plus, their warranty is only 90 days - is that normal these days?

I was going to take her around to some computer stores (Best Buy, Comp USA…etc) and look at some of the stuff there. How are those brands? I remember a few years ago eMachines and Compaq were basically crap; have they improved? How about HP (didn’t they merge with Compaq?). I’ve heard bad things about Dell customer service, true?

Basically, I know a little about computers, and it has been awhile since I really paid much attention to them. My Mom knows even less.

I just want to be able to steer her towards something reliable, and not too expensive.

sounds like a recipe for an iMac…

Except an iMac wouldn’t have a memory stick reader. I’ll run it by her, but I doubt she’ll go for an imac. She’s 62 and I don’t know if she wants to learn a whole new OS.

I think you can get external USB 2.0 Sony memory-stick readers. I acknowledge your point about learning a whole new OS though.

To answer your OP question: SATA (serial ATA) hard drive architectural support.

I didn’t see the Inspiron 5100 on the Dell. I use the Dell Latitude, and haven’t had any real issues, but it’s more expensive than what you’re looking at.

Considering the circumstances, I would stay away more the Mac OS. (Which hurts to say, I’ve been a Mac fan since the early days, and only started using Windows a couple of years back)

Are you looking for a laptop? the Inspiron is their laptop model, and there isn’t a 5100 model. You also mentioned buying a monitor, so perhaps you’re looking at their Dimension 5100, which is their middle of the line product. Dell also have cheaper models, would one of those be enough? It sounds like she’s got very minimal needs.

Idonno. I don’t upgrade my PC until I can’t run software (IOW games) I need on it. I bought my current PC in 2001 and it’s still fine. The only thing is that I might want to get a DVD burner, a new graphics card and a second hard drive.

Yeah, I do mean the Dimension. I have been spacey all day. She thought about a laptop, but is leaning towards a desktop.

The computer she is currently using is my old Gateway from 1998 with Win 98 and it is not worth dicking around with it anymore. The Cd-ROM is broken, the printer is a POS, there is no HD space left, and it is slower than molasses. Time for a new one.

How can I get the stuff from her old HD to a new one? Her CD-burner quit working a long time ago, that is how I’ve done my data transfers (or through my wireless network), but tht option is not available. I know the old HD can be taken out, but I have no clue how to hook it up to the new computer. There must be an easier way - I hate messing with hardware.

If the old one is still connected to the Internet (or even just to a home network), you can use software like AIM or Netmeeting to send all the files over.

Or, if the files are small enough, you can copy them onto her camera’s memory stick and then use the card reader to copy them onto the new computer.

If you absolutely must remove the HD, the easiest thing to do would be to buy an IDE-to-USB converter cable (they sell for about $15 these days). You would still have to remove it from the old computer, but at least you don’t have to install it in the new one.

What’s new in computers? In your price range, really nothing, other than a general lower price.

Multi-format card readers are popping up more and more on home PCs. Otherwise, if it’s an acronym, it’s probably not important for your mother to know about.

For the most part, hardware development has been stagnant. Processor speeds have been at the point where increases are just not useful for home users doing email and web browsing for a couple of years. The most significant changes are really insignificant for home PCs:

SATA (a means of connecting hard drives) makes for somewhat easier wiring inside the box, but no significant performance difference in garden-variety home PCs.

BTX - just a different arrangement of the internal parts.

SLI - lets hard-core gamers run two video boards together for increased performance. Currently at silly-expensive levels.

You don’t like playing around with hardware–but in my experience at least, putting together a computer is no more difficult than putting together Ikea stuff.

If you really want bare minimum hardware, but that isn’t going to go out of date soon nor made from non-brand-name parts; build a computer. All you need is an intel mother board with a graphics card and ethernetsocket or modem built in, CPU, RAM, a box with a power source in it, and a hard drive. (And mouse and keyboard.) And indeed, at the same time as you put in the new harddrive, you just put the old one in the slot below it.

Which I really like; I’ve got a 2 year old computer that can still play top of the line games. I don’t think there’s ever been a period like this in the last 15 years!

As for the OP, I’d say scrimp on the computer itself (though lots of RAM is great, I upgraded to a gig recently and it’s made the biggest difference in things like Outlook Express even) and buy the biggest flatscreen monitor she can afford. I recently bought a 17 inch flatscreen and it’s made using the computer so much more pleasurable…!

I agree with Silentgoldfish - you don’t need to make sure you get the best of everything, so you can still be gaming in 5 years’ time. A Gig of RAM if you can afford it (don’t worry if you can’t, it’s easy to upgrade later), and a big monitor. Large-ish hard drive is a good idea too.

I would imagine that for the most part, it’ll just be your mum using it. Which, if she’s anything like my mum, means she’ll install things on it, get new programs, add this, friend’s copy of that etc, and never actually do a tidy-up. This is where the extra RAM stops you needing to give it a service every now and again.

I got one at Fry’s for $8. I stash it in a desk drawer and plug it in when I need it. Can’t beat the convenience.

There’s not that much to learn. If you can explain how to map “control-C” to “command-C”, that’s 75% of it right there.

For what your mom does, just go to Walmart or something and pick up a $500 dollar box there, and 512 stick of memory from Newegg for $40 or so - I reccomend Corsair Value Select. - that will get a Sempron 3000+ box with a 17" CRT.