We know first hand that technology is expensive, but it’s also an investment because these little gadgets are meant to last you a long time. So, when setting up a home computer, are there ways to pinch pennys? We asked our Computing editors for some tips on where to save on computing accessories, and where to splurge for the long run.
Laptop and Desktop
The core of your home computing system, a computer is definitely worth the investment because the cost of repairing a cheap and easily broken one can amount to higher costs in the long run. By splurging on a strong laptop or desktop with high quality specs and upgraded software, you’re setting yourself for a device that should last you 3-to-4 years or even longer. Would you rather buy a new cheap laptop every year or just one awesome computer that you don’t have to constantly set up or transfer information out of? Trust us: the cost is more or less the same.
The tablet/laptop hybrid is a relatively new configuration currently offered by a variety of well-known manufacturers like Lenovo and Asus. By either storing the keyboard into the monitor, or allowing the two to separate from each other, it’s a one-time cost that gets you the functionality and processing power of a computer with the mobility of a tablet. Yes, cloud services can help link accounts together so you have access to the same files across different devices, but hybrids allow you to keep all your files in one place and you never have to trade productivity for media consumption.
This one is a bit more of a judgement call that requires good research before the investment. Operating system updates are meant to help you work better, use all the new features your computer is capable of, and help with bugs previously unaddressed by the former OS edition. By being stingy and cutting back on OS updates, you could be missing out on the full potential of your computer. And why spend all that money on a great computer if you can’t maximize its capabilities?
Small hard drives are obviously cheaper, but let’s face it: The more you use your computer, the faster you’ll fill these babies up. Splurge on a large hard drive – 1TB to start would be ideal – and use Internet superstores like Newegg and Amazon to help you find the best deals. In addition to external hard drives, you can utilize free services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon Cloud Drive, and Box to help alleviate some costs. Keep referring some friends for extra free space.
You invested in a fancy new computer, so why not have a grandiose monitor to show it off with? Because televisions and monitors are getting cheaper every day that you really don’t need to spend the big bucks on quality displays. Unless you intend to use your monitor as a TV, save money on this one. If you’re concerned about brand names, AOC, Asus, Samsung, LG, and Dell all offer affordable, quality monitors. If you’re still obsessed with resolution, you can trade monitor size for picture quality.
If you simply must get some cushion or massage while you’re working on the computer, get yourself a massaging chair pad that you can use with any seating in the house. Besides, sitting for too long is bad for you, and if you get yourself something a bit too comfy, you might never want to get up from it.
There are plenty of routers these days with extra fancy USB and touchscreen menus, but they’re unnecessary. This is the kind of gadgets that you set up once and shove in a corner, so there’s no reason to spend extra money just because they look good. Find the one that can expand your wireless Internet signal to the distance you require, and don’t worry about the speeds – speed issues with your home network usually have more to do with your Internet service provider, not the router itself.
Unless you’re an pro gamer or an artist, an expensive mouse really isn’t a must for your home computing set up. Laptops these days are made so the trackpad is more responsive than ever, and by using an average external mouse, you might miss out all the touch gestures and shortcuts built-into your device.