Buying the Perfect Computer – The FIRST Time

So you’ve finally decided it’s time for a change. No matter
what advice you follow that old work horse of a desktop
computer you have has outlived its usefulness with slow
loading applications and a continuous rise in operation
noise.

Searching for that Perfect Computer can be about as much fun
as purchasing a new car and about as frustrating also when
sorting through the various brands while trying to decide
which “bells and whistles” best fit your needs. Besides all
that trying to return something that is so large can be both
inconvenient and very difficult to do. So making the right
decision the FIRST time is the wise path of choice.

For starters you’ll need to decide what you want to do with
your computer. Are you into the video game scene or are you
someone who likes to just surf the internet and occasionally
do some book keeping with simple word processing software?

If you’re into video games you’re going to want a machine
that can handle the high level of graphics and superior
sound quality. On the other hand if you’re not into all
that high adrenalin stuff you can probably get by with a
less expensive system. Although, if you want to stay on the
safe side I would recommend going with something more
“high-end” so you don’t have to spend another large chunk of
change to upgrade the system you just bought.

There are two basic routes you can take when purchasing a
new computer.

1) Purchase a “Brand Name” Computer
2) Purchase a “Clone” Computer

A “BRAND-NAME” computer is one that is manufactured by a
company that is recognizable by name.

Some Advantages/Disadvantages of “Brand-Name” computers
include:

Advantages:

Customer Support- If you are experiencing problems with your
computer you will have the option to contact a
representative of the company that you purchased the PC from
to get help in solving your problem.

Customer support is probably the best reason to buy a
brand-name computer.

Warranty- Having a warranty is always nice since it acts as
a type of security blanket for you.

In case a part on your computer should fail you should be
able to get the item fixed at no charge just as long as the
warranty has not expired.

Read and understand a company’s warranty policy BEFORE you
purchase a computer from them.

This way you’ll have a good understanding of the procedures
to follow in case a problem should arise.

Pre-installed Software- Many companies will include software
packages that are all set up and ready to go for you on your
computer.

Although, a disadvantage of buying a brand-name computer
with software pre-installed is that you usually end up with
more than fits your needs and usually just results with the
wasting of space on your storage device.

Additional Support- Most brand-name computer companies are
also able to provide you with web sites that may provide you
with current software updates, user manuals, or basic
troubleshooting help.

Disadvantages

The use of Proprietary parts- the term Proprietary refers to
products that are unique to an individual company and that
company only.

So if a part was to malfunction on your computer after
warranty and you needed to replace it you could not just go
to your local computer store and purchase any old part even
if it was intended for the same function as the item that
failed.

You would be forced to buy the exact same item that came out
of the computer or else the computer would more than likely
cease to function correctly.

Having to buy proprietary parts usually involves the need to
place an order which means you’ll have to wait for the part
to arrive or you’ll have to send your computer into the
company or an authorized dealer of that company for
repairs.

People with a home based business would probably not be too
happy with that situation at all.

Integrated/On-board parts- In the computer world when you
hear the word integrated or on-board it means that a
particular part such as the modem or sound port where you
plug in your speakers, is built-in or part of the computer
main board (Also known as the Motherboard).

This means that if any of these items should fail, you can’t
just remove them from the computer and replace them with a
new part. They are usually soldered directly to the main
board and are stuck there.

Although, some computers do provide a way to disable a
malfunctioning device which will allow you to install your
own store bought device to take the place of the broken
part.

From a computer technicians point of view this is not always
easy to do.

It just depends on what brand of computer you currently
have. Meaning some are easier to work on than others.

A “CLONE” computer is a clone or a copy of its brand-name
counterpart with the exception that instead of company
specific or proprietary parts, the items used to make a
clone computer are from several different companies instead
of only one.

Let’s say that if you were to go to a local company that
builds “clone” computers, and you tell them what you need,
chances are they don’t use parts that are specific to only
that type of computer like the brand-name computer companies
do.

This is a good thing because it means that they will
probably use components that are interchangeable with many
different brands and are easy to come by if needed.

Some Advantages/Disadvantages of “Clone” computers include:

Advantages:

Cost- compared to brand-name computers the clone will
generally be easier on your pocket book when purchasing one
with similar features as its brand-name counterpart.

This is most likely due to the money that is saved by not
offering the high-end customer service. Although, that may
not be the only reason for the lower prices.

Easily Accessible Replacement Parts- Since the clone
computer was built with parts that are not any one company
specific, you can buy parts for the clone computer that can
be used even if the brand is different from the one that was
in the computer when you originally bought it.

NOTE: Before you buy any parts, it is necessary to make sure
that the replacement parts are compatible with your
particular computers system requirements.

Either consult the manual that should have came with your
computer or get help from a knowledgeable friend or repair
person.

Disadvantages:

Warranties- Unless you purchase a service plan you will
typically not have as an attractive warranty as you would
with a brand-name computer company.

Whatever you do just make sure you understand how long the
warranty is for and as to what kind of repairs the warranty
covers before you make the purchase.

Customer Support- With brand-name computer companies you are
usually provided with a 24-hour toll free number that you
can call if you have questions or concerns with your
computer.

Clone computers are more than likely not going to have a
24-hour help service, but rather you will be forced to only
be able to call during regular business hours.

Also, it is more than likely that there will not be any one
website that you can go to in order to find out information
concerning troubleshooting questions you may have.

For service it may be necessary to take the computer back to
the store that you bought it at or you may have to do some
research on the individual parts that went into the computer
and visit the manufacturer’s website for troubleshooting
tips.

Finally, if all else fails you can certainly take what you
have learned from this article and being that you know what
you need now, but don’t know where to go and get that
“Perfect Computer”, the best resource at your disposal are
the very men and woman that work at your local electronics
shop.

It is their duty to help you get hold of that “Perfect
Computer” that best fits your needs. All you need to do is
tell them what you plan on using that computer for and they
should be more than happy to help you from there.

Netbooks vs. Notebooks

The smaller the word, lesser the computing power, lesser the speed, and lesser the price. The difference between a notebook and a netbook is as subtle as the difference in the words. Many believe that there is no specific difference between them; it just depends on what one chooses to call them. When laptops hit the market, they were ‘lap’tops. They shrank in size and began to be called notebooks. Today, the words ‘laptop’ and ‘notebook’ are used interchangeably. Similarly, as notebooks reduced in size, they got the name netbooks. Well, this is what the common perception is. But the truth is slightly different. There are certain differences between netbooks and notebooks in terms of not just their word-lengths; but also their size, computing power, speed, hardware and operating system compatibility, networking support, and other features. Before we begin with a discussion on netbooks vs. notebooks, let’s understand them, one at a time. Here’s an introduction to both notebooks and notebooks, followed by a discussion on the differences between them.
Netbooks
Notebooks
The Difference

An Introduction to Netbooks
Netbooks belong to the class of subnotebooks or small ultraportable laptop computers. Netbooks are inexpensive in comparison to laptops and other modern-day computers. They entered the computer market in 2007 at surprisingly low prices. What made them relatively inexpensive? Well, they lacked certain features and had less computing power. Their screen sizes ranged from 5 to 10 inches diagonal, they had smaller keyboards and they weighed around 1 kg. Netbooks have less powerful hardware. They lack features like optical hard drives; some do not even have the traditional hard drive. Instead, netbooks use solid-state storage devices. Most netbooks use the Intel Atom processor. The processor speed ranges from 1.2 to 1.6 GHz. Which operating systems do netbooks support? Windows XP is the first most popular operating system that netbooks are shipped with. The second most popular OS is Linux. ASUS Eee PC, a line of ASUS netbooks, has demonstrated the use of Android platform and has planned to develop Android-based netbooks. Chrome OS by Google is being foreseen as the next netbook-specific operating system. FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and Darwin are some of the other operating systems that netbooks run on.

Netbooks are ‘net’books; their target customers are those wanting easy Internet access. The ones available today support wi-fi networking and some support broadband or dial up Internet access as well. Most netbooks have modem and Ethernet ports and can be used on telephone and wireless networks. They also have bluetooth connectivity, which makes it possible for them to be a part of mobile networks. Some of the latest models of netbooks have built-in 3G, which makes them capable of using mobile broadband services. However, their low-resolution and small-sized screens limit the browsing features making netbooks slightly less user-friendly to an Internet user.

Now, about netbook performance. They do face certain performance-related issues due to limitations in their processing power and feature set. When it comes to running Flash along with certain other software, say a virus scanner, there is a noticeable drop in the computer’s speed. Similarly, if you try to open too many applications at a time, there is a substantial drop in speed and performance, and switching between files takes a lot of time in such cases. Working on image files is not a problem in netbooks, but working with video files is. Video editing and the encoding or decoding of videos takes a lot of time on netbooks. Some of these performance issues are related to the low memory capacities that netbooks possess.

All in all, netbooks are suitable for limited use. Their low weight, compactness, and portability are their virtues. Also, they come at relatively lower prices. They support both wired and wireless Internet access. Their only limitations are that they are less feature-rich and their processing powers are less. Netbooks are recent entrants in the computer market and they seem to have a promising future.

An Introduction to Notebooks
Notebooks belong to the class of portable computers or laptops. Laptops are notebook-shaped lightweight computing devices; perhaps their shape gave them their name. Older notebooks were heavier but modern ones weigh between 3 and 12 pounds. Notebook computers are classified on the basis of the purpose for which they are designed and their feature set. Notebooks specifically designed to serve as substitutes for desktop computers, are referred to as desktop replacements. Desktop replacement notebooks are similar to desktops in their functionality and performance level. They are close to what desktops are and hence are less portable; they are less of ‘notebooks’. Subnotebooks also belong to the class of notebooks. They are portable, smaller in size, and lighter in weight, for which they have smaller screens, small-sized hardware components, and less number of ports. Netbooks, as already discussed, also fall into the category of notebooks. In fact, netbooks are laptops designed for Internet use. As you already know, they have limited features, they are lightweight, portable, and cheap. Netbooks are cheaper than notebooks.

Now, for some of the basic notebook components. Notebook motherboards do not have expansion slots that desktops have. The functionality is implemented on the motherboard itself. It’s quite an ‘everyone knows’ kind of a fact that notebooks possess less processing power and computer memory. Most notebooks are powered by an internal rechargeable battery. Most of the recent ones use lithium ion or lithium polymer batteries. Generally, the battery life is 2-5 hours after which it has to be charged using an external power supply. Notebooks have advanced power-saving features that desktop computers lack.

Modern-day notebooks have 12-inch display units that use active matrix displays. Newer laptops are equipped with LED screens that consume less power and offer wider viewing angles. CD and DVD drives are the standard media drives that notebooks come with. More commonly, they have Blu-ray drives. Notebooks have physically smaller hard disks. Some newer laptops use flash memory-based SSDs. A touch pad and a pointing stick are the most common input devices that notebooks use. Laptops have USB ports, an external monitor port and an Ethernet network port. Most notebooks are Wi-Fi-enabled and provide easy Internet access.

The advantages of notebooks are quite a few. After portability which is their biggest advantage, come easy Internet access, low power consumption, and a good battery backup. On the other hand, there are limitations in the upgradeability of notebooks, and their processing power and speed are lower in comparison to desktops.

Difference between Netbooks and Notebooks
As we know by now, netbooks are portable computers, specially designed for Internet use, while notebooks are a class of laptop computers. Netbooks are lightweight laptop computers designed for web-based applications. They lack features like optical drives, big screens, and high processing powers, which notebooks possess. Simply put, netbooks are lighter and cheaper notebooks.

Netbooks use less powerful hardware in comparison to larger notebooks; some notebooks have solid-state storage devices instead of conventional hard drives that are heavier and more power-consuming. While netbooks have 8 to 32 GB storage capacities, notebooks come with memory capacities in the range of 80 to 160 GB. Netbooks have less processing powers than notebooks. They cannot take up processor-intensive tasks, which notebooks can. Netbooks are primarily aimed at remotely accessing web-based applications and supporting Internet browsing and emailing facilities. When it comes to netbooks, it is more about remote Internet access, due to which netbook computing relies on access to servers and requires less powerful client computers. This is not the case with notebook computers. In technical terms, notebooks are based on the concept of cloud computing. Interestingly, though netbooks boast of being different, what they use internally is an Intel Atom notebook processor.

The use of netbooks in the education sector is on the rise. Owing to their small size, less weight, and portability, netbooks are best-suited for use in the education sector. Besides providing easy web access, netbooks are ideal for academics-related tasks like word processing, creating presentations, tutorials, and running multimedia applications. This makes them an ideal choice for application in the learning field, giving them an added advantage over notebooks and conventional computers.

Moral of the story; netbooks are not notebooks. They are different. The difference lies in their processing powers and speeds, their storage capacities, and their efficiency. Netbooks are meant for Internet use. And that, in no way means that they can replace notebook computers. Netbooks stand out because of their ultra portability, ease of web access, and moreover, their cost. Nowadays, netbooks are being shipped with Windows XP, with an intention to boost their popularity among the masses. This was not the case a few years ago.

After this discussion on netbooks vs. notebooks and the pros and cons of each, you must have realized the difference between these two computing devices. Both netbooks and notebooks are technological wonders in their own right. In fact, mobile computing is in itself a technological innovation.

Top 7 Companies that Manufacture Gaming Computers

Companies that manufacture gaming computersGaming computers are completely different from traditional PCs since they are solely dedicated for playing video games. Such machines need to be extremely powerful, i.e, they should be well-equipped for heavy gaming, allow easy upgrades, have super-cooling mechanisms, look good, and above all, have an exceptionally high speed. There are many companies in the market that manufacture such computers that are custom-made to satisfy the demands of the gaming enthusiasts. Here, we discuss some of the best and most popular gaming computer manufacturers to help you decide which ones are worth having a look.

Alienware

Alienware Corporation is one of the leading manufacturers of high-performance gaming computer systems headquartered in Miami. It was founded by Alex Aguila and Nelson Gonzalez in 1996, but was acquired by Dell, Inc., in 2006. Some of the company’s products namely, “Area-51”, “Aurora”, “ALX”, and “Lightspeed” have gained immense popularity within a short time frame owing to their exceptionally high performance that has appealed the target audience. The company makes use of cutting-edge technology processors, graphics cards, and hard drives that are crucial for heavy gaming applications. Their systems range in price between USD 799 and USD 5000.

Maingear

Maingear is a privately owned computer manufacturing company based in Kenilworth, N.J. It was founded by Jonathan Magalhaes and Wallace Santos in 2002. It sells custom-made gaming notebooks and desktops, and high-end workstations. Maingear boasts of exceptional one-on-one personal customer support, which its competitors lack. It has earned immense recognition in the form of numerous industry awards including the 2014 Intel Mobility Innovation Award for its Pulse 17, a super-thin, super-fast gaming notebook computer.

Falcon Northwest

Falcon Northwest was established in 1992, and since then, it has gained a strong reputation for making custom-built machines for gaming enthusiasts. Some of their renowned products include Mach V, Talon, FragBox, and the latest being the Tiki, which incorporates the fastest single-graphics card configuration. The company manufactures and provides adequate product support to their customers from their headquarter Medford, Oregon located in the Pacific Northwest.

DigitalStorm

DigitalStorm is one of the high-speed gaming computer producers in the market, which has been in the gaming industry since 2002. The company works in compliance with the accreditation standards of the BBB (Better Business Bureau), and has consistently retained an ‘A+’ rating. It offers a range of products that are priced between USD 600 and USD 5000.

Lenovo

Lenovo is a Chinese PC manufacturing company, which was previously known as ‘Legend’. This is one of the biggest brand names in the world today, having a vast array of products ranging from innovative PCs to mobile internet devices. Their gaming products include Lenovo Y series laptops, and Lenovo K Series, Lenovo B Series, and Erazer X Series gaming desktops. These series offer a variety of models with different configurations that cater to the specific requirements of the consumers.

Origin PC

Origin PC has been making custom gaming desktops and laptops worthy of playing the latest games since the time it was established in the year 2009. The company is co-founded by Kevin Wasielewski, Richard Cary, and Hector Penton, who were once the employees of Alienware. The company claims to deliver high-end gaming performance by making use of the latest revolutionary technologies for assembly. One of their products named ‘GTX TITAN Z’ uses the fastest ever graphics card manufactured by NVIDIA.

CyberPowerPC

CyberPowerPC is one of the fastest growing computer systems manufacturing companies based in L.A. The company has a myriad of customized gaming systems that use cutting-edge technologies, yet are available at wholesale prices. Along with this, they also offer a very good after-sales technical support to their customers.

The aforementioned list will help you shortlist the best options for choosing your gaming computer. Simply look for the features you want to have in your machine, and you will surely find the appropriate match.

Uses of Computers in Space Exploration

Uses of computers in space explorationDid you know?
It would be impossible to have the Hubble Telescope in space, had it not been for the advancement in computers and space technology. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which will succeed Hubble, will be launched soon, which is accompanied by advanced computer systems and software, that will help us further reveal the enigmas of the universe.
Computers have led to major advancements and breakthroughs in space research. Every aspect of space technology, be it designing a spaceship, its control and navigation, or compiling and processing data, has all been done by computers. The complicated arithmetical computations needed to fly spacecrafts, monitor the work of astronauts in space, keep them alive, and analyze as well as interpret the collected data, would be extremely difficult and take a long time, if not for computers. In fact, computer technology and space research have grown together, to take astronomy to new heights, wherein we are able to unravel some of the numerous mysteries of the universe.
Getting Into Space
Designing the Spaceship
Computers help design the aircraft which is made from equipment that is customized and highly sophisticated. This spacecraft has to endure various threats, and numerous technicians and engineers plan its design and working very minutely. After the spacecraft is built, it is run through many automated tests, which are created by computers to simulate cold, vacuum, and vibrations, that it will encounter in space. Once it passes all these tests, it is ready to be launched.
Planning and Preparation
Space missions need accurate planning and calculations of the trajectories, propulsion, and path that a space vehicle will take. It must be defined precisely after considering the motions and gravitational forces of various celestial bodies. The time, amount of fuel, duration of the mission, everything needs to be exact. Even a millisecond of miscalculation can prove disastrous. Considering all this, computers are used to carefully plan and prepare the mission.
Fixing
The craft has in-built software for diagnostic tests and updates, that are constantly run to check the status of the equipment. If encountered with a problem, it reports it to the team on Earth, which will give or suggest a solution to that problem and get it solved. Many problems would go unreported, if not for computers, which could prove disastrous to the mission.
Navigation
Placing a spacecraft at the exact accurate position, its trajectories, etc., all need to be precisely calculated. It is done in three dimensions. The engines that need to fire up, their time and duration, are all taken care of by computers. The navigation of the spacecraft and keeping a spacecraft on its course is something that computers monitor and keep in control 24/7.

Imaging and Space Photography

Computers, with the help of large telescopes, capture high quality images of planets, the Earth, moon, asteroids, stars, comets, galaxies, other celestial bodies, and unknown matter that exists within the universe. Digital photography has changed the ways of astronomy, as we can alter the images and colors, use filters and satellite information to view the images more clearly. It is possible to enlarge images and see more than we could with our naked eyes. The famous Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched by NASA in 1990, continues to transfer thousands of images of the cosmos to Earth, with the help of computers. If calculated, 120 gigabytes of data is what we get from the Hubble Telescope, every week.
Data Analysis and Storage
Research data is so vast and huge that, manual storage of this data would take years. Computers play a vital role in the compilation, storage, and sharing of this information. This technical information is collected, organized, and maintained effectively by computers, for scientists to be able to stay updated and gather real-time information all around the world. Various astronomical phenomena like black holes, quasars, or even sunspots, have unique signals and patterns. Computers sift and sort out data regarding these patterns on their own, so that the work of space explorers becomes easier.
Communication and Robotics
Communication with the mission craft is done with the help of computers. Keeping in touch, transferring data, power management, motion, movement, sending and receiving new data or programming, is all done with the help of computers. The robots or rovers that are sent on a space mission are manipulated, controlled, and guided by computers.
Life Support for Astronauts
The living conditions and environmental control systems of a spacecraft use computers to monitor the devices that keep the atmosphere in the spacecraft healthy and liveable. The humidity controls, oxygen sensors, carbon dioxide purifiers, thermostats, and other devices, are kept in check by the computers. If any problems arise, the crew is immediately alerted, and the problem is rectified.
Constant Vigilance
Computers constantly monitor objects like satellites, rockets, debris, etc., which revolve around the Earth. They keep a track, detect, and help identify various celestial bodies that orbit Earth. They help catalog the data sent by various surveillance satellites and space control centers.

The United States Space Surveillance Network (SSN) contains powerful radar sensors, highly effective computers, and tracking devices, that are constantly on the watch, and send and receive a steady flow of information from the satellites and centers.