Comparing Options for Buying a New Computer

A guide to help computer users learn their options and determine the best computer type for them.

It's that time of year when one can get an amazing deal on a new computer. Not only are the deals aplenty, but it's a great way to get a tax deduction for those purchasing computers for work.

With all great sales come various options from which to choose. How does one know which computer to buy? The first step is to determine your needs. Someone who is using the computer for social media and email correspondence is not going to require the same specifications as someone who uses their computer in a work-related capacity such as record keeping, data analysis, research, project management, data storage, and more.

Many people are left with numerous questions when they begin their computer shopping. With so many options to choose from, where does one begin?

The first step is to determine your needs. You may not realize the vastness of computer options available today. Gone are the days when you are glued to a desk using your computer. With the new products allowing for portability, mobile printing, and other features, the possibilities are endless. Don't tie yourself to the same product out of familiarity; consider your options and make an informed decision as to what type of computer best suits your needs, whether it's a desktop, laptop, handheld or tablet PC.

Make sure you get a computer with the right specifications.  Often advertisements have low priced computers with slow entry level processors, which will be disappointing.  We recommend the Intel i3, i5, and i7 processors for best performance.

Desktop Computers are named for their use -- that is, they are designed for use at a desk or tabletop.

Desktop Pros

  • Separate components
  • Ease of upgrading computer
  • Standard size keyboard and mouse
  • Cheaper to replace by component
  • Fastest processor, better performance for the money

Desktop Cons

  • Larger, takes up more space
  • Many wires
  • No portability
  • Lost data risk during power outage due to lack of battery, but you can buy an external UPS battery backup


Laptop Computers are lightweight, foldable PCs that allow use on the go.

Laptop Pros

  • Portability
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to store
  • Built-in power source
  • Less wires
  • Built-in webcam

Laptop Cons

  • Costs more than an equivalent desktop
  • Can negatively affect posture and cause discomfort
  • Smaller keyboard
  • Some smaller ones do not have a 10-key number pad
  • Mouse track pad is not as easy to use as regular mouse, but you can buy an external regular mouse.
  • Screens are smaller than desktop monitors
  • Potential damage from dropping or spills
  • Potential for loss/theft due to mobility


Smartphones are battery-powered computers. In the last few years, smart phones have replaced the PDA.

Smartphone Pros

  • Small enough to fit in your pocket
  • Ability to enable password protection
  • Convenience to check e-mail and surf the web when on the go
  • Access to contacts and calendar when on the go
  • Smartphone versions of PDAs offer telephone, internet, and text message capabilities

Smartphone Cons

  • More expensive than regular cell phone


Tablet PCs are probably one of the most sought after PCs in the last several years. With the release of the iPad, users realized the ease of portability, not only with the device itself, but also their entire office.

Tablet PC Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Less potential for breakage (when compared to laptop hinges, etc)
  • Great for professionals who need to jot down a few quick notes
  • Portability
  • Not only can one send/receive emails, play games, read e-books, and surf the Internet, but these small PCs allow the user to create, store, and even print documents.
  • Touch screen
  • Apps for just about everything
  • Boots faster than desktop, laptop, and PDAs
  • Sleep button allows the tablet to hibernate, yet be instantly awakened when needed
  • Battery life is usually longer than laptop, though this varies by make and model

Tablet PC Cons

  • Risk of dropping, losing, theft
  • Cost can approach a low end laptop computer
  • Touch screen can be scratched
  • No keyboard/mouse, which can be awkward to use
  • Limited Ports
  • User may struggle with a 10" screen if they have been used to a larger monitor.

Don’t forget you need to transfer your data from your old computer to the new one. Your data can be transferred, but all programs require installation with the original CDs and license codes. Regardless of the type of computer you choose, be sure to contact your professional computer service technician to ensure the job is done correctly.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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