Computers

Common computer terms you will hear: 

Glossary of computer terms: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_computer_terms

  • Hardware: the physical parts of the computer, or anything you can physically touch, such as monitor, mouse memory cards, keyboard, etc.

  • Software: instructions and programs the computer uses to run.

  • Memory: both the physical part of  the machine that stores information, and also how much it can store. Often called RAM (Random Access Memory). You can generally add to a computer's memory by adding memory boards or deleting programs and information you no longer use.

  • Virus: a type of computer program that "infects" your computer and can spread to another. Viruses can cause a lot of damage by slowing down your computer, stealing private information you have stored, or causing you to be unable to use your computer. Virus infect your computer through your clicking on an infected attachment, going to a website that has a virus, clicking on a pop-up and/or agreeing to download programs, not updating your virus protections, or illegally downloading movies, music or games from suspicious free sites.

    There are anti-virus programs available, both free and by subscription, that will help protect your computer and remove viruses or other malware, but none of them are going to protect your computer completely 100%. The main anti-virus programs you can pay for are Norton and McAfee.  There are many free antivirus programs- this website has reviews and where you can download the program.
  • DVD: a storage device that looks like a CD, but holds at least 6 times as much information.

  • USB drive (also called a thumb drive, jump drive, flash drive or pen drive): a portable storage device that fits into a USB port on your computer. You download files you want to take with you.

  • Printer: You probably will want to print off things you find on the internet, emails, forms, etc., so you will need a printer. You can get a printer that just prints black ink, or for more money, you can get a color printer. Printers are ink-jet or laser. When you are looking for a printer, don't forget to look at the prices of ink- inkjet printers are cheaper to buy, but the ink can be very expensive. Laser printers use toner; the cartridges are expensive, but you get a lot more pages printed than with ink. For a comparison of printers and information on how to choose one, click here.

  • Mouse: the computer mouse is the device used to point and click on something on the screen. They can be wired or wireless. Laptops have a touchpad to use instead of a mouse, but you can purchase a mouse to use on a laptop.

Choosing a computer

Take a moment to think about the sort of things to do on your new PC, as this will help to decide which features your system will need.

If you only intend to run basic tasks - browsing the web, sending emails, running office-type software like Microsoft Word - then the good news is that most computers, even at the budget end of the market, will be able to cope with your requirements. You will want to consider how much RAM (memory) a computer has, what sort of monitor is large enough for you, and what does the computer come with, or what will you have to buy separately, such as mouse, keyboard, speakers, graphics cards, etc.

Many smart phones can serve as computers, for checking the internet and email. For more information on smart phones, click here.

Operating system

The operating system (OS) for a computer is the software that runs the programs. The two most common in the U.S. are Microsoft (Windows) and Mac (Apple). You will have to decide which system is best for you. As a general rule, you will have more computers to choose from in a wider price range if you choose something running Windows. There are only five machines from Apple at this point, and they tend to be more expensive.

Kinds of Computers

Desktop

Prices for new desktop personal computers (PCs) start as low as $200 and range all the way up to and over $5,000, but most people have a $600- $750 box, including monitor. You still need to make some choices when it comes to CPUs, memory, hard drive capacity and graphics technology. And a PC you buy today could very well last you for three to five years.

Tablets

Tablets are computers that are smaller than a laptop but larger than a smart phone. You can do all the things on a tablet that you can do on a larger computer, but it is much easier to take it with you. Screens on tablets are between 7" and 11", diagonally from corner to corner. Tablets can have a shorter batter life and smaller memory than larger computers, but that really depends on how you use the tablet, what programs you run, and how often you have it turned on. Tablets can cost between $350-$700.

Laptop computer

A laptop computer is more portable than a desktop, but not as portable as a smart cell phone or a tablet. Laptops have all the components of a desktop computer. such as a keyboard, monitor, speakers, etc. built in. There is a wide price range for laptops, anywhere from $275 to $1,500.

Where to buy a computer

There are many options for where to go to buy a computer, from large electronics store to local small businesses. Where you go will be based on convenience, what you are looking for and what prices or sales are at each location. Some larger places to buy a computer are: 

Computers

Common computer terms you will hear: 

Glossary of computer terms: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_computer_terms

  • Hardware: the physical parts of the computer, or anything you can physically touch, such as monitor, mouse memory cards, keyboard, etc.

  • Software: instructions and programs the computer uses to run.

  • Memory: both the physical part of  the machine that stores information, and also how much it can store. Often called RAM (Random Access Memory). You can generally add to a computer's memory by adding memory boards or deleting programs and information you no longer use.

  • Virus: a type of computer program that "infects" your computer and can spread to another. Viruses can cause a lot of damage by slowing down your computer, stealing private information you have stored, or causing you to be unable to use your computer. Virus infect your computer through your clicking on an infected attachment, going to a website that has a virus, clicking on a pop-up and/or agreeing to download programs, not updating your virus protections, or illegally downloading movies, music or games from suspicious free sites.

    There are anti-virus programs available, both free and by subscription, that will help protect your computer and remove viruses or other malware, but none of them are going to protect your computer completely 100%. The main anti-virus programs you can pay for are Norton and McAfee.  There are many free antivirus programs- this website has reviews and where you can download the program.
  • DVD: a storage device that looks like a CD, but holds at least 6 times as much information.

  • USB drive (also called a thumb drive, jump drive, flash drive or pen drive): a portable storage device that fits into a USB port on your computer. You download files you want to take with you.

  • Printer: You probably will want to print off things you find on the internet, emails, forms, etc., so you will need a printer. You can get a printer that just prints black ink, or for more money, you can get a color printer. Printers are ink-jet or laser. When you are looking for a printer, don't forget to look at the prices of ink- inkjet printers are cheaper to buy, but the ink can be very expensive. Laser printers use toner; the cartridges are expensive, but you get a lot more pages printed than with ink. For a comparison of printers and information on how to choose one, click here.

  • Mouse: the computer mouse is the device used to point and click on something on the screen. They can be wired or wireless. Laptops have a touchpad to use instead of a mouse, but you can purchase a mouse to use on a laptop.

Choosing a computer

Take a moment to think about the sort of things to do on your new PC, as this will help to decide which features your system will need.

If you only intend to run basic tasks - browsing the web, sending emails, running office-type software like Microsoft Word - then the good news is that most computers, even at the budget end of the market, will be able to cope with your requirements. You will want to consider how much RAM (memory) a computer has, what sort of monitor is large enough for you, and what does the computer come with, or what will you have to buy separately, such as mouse, keyboard, speakers, graphics cards, etc.

Many smart phones can serve as computers, for checking the internet and email. For more information on smart phones, click here.

Operating system

The operating system (OS) for a computer is the software that runs the programs. The two most common in the U.S. are Microsoft (Windows) and Mac (Apple). You will have to decide which system is best for you. As a general rule, you will have more computers to choose from in a wider price range if you choose something running Windows. There are only five machines from Apple at this point, and they tend to be more expensive.

Kinds of Computers

Desktop

Prices for new desktop personal computers (PCs) start as low as $200 and range all the way up to and over $5,000, but most people have a $600- $750 box, including monitor. You still need to make some choices when it comes to CPUs, memory, hard drive capacity and graphics technology. And a PC you buy today could very well last you for three to five years.

Tablets

Tablets are computers that are smaller than a laptop but larger than a smart phone. You can do all the things on a tablet that you can do on a larger computer, but it is much easier to take it with you. Screens on tablets are between 7" and 11", diagonally from corner to corner. Tablets can have a shorter batter life and smaller memory than larger computers, but that really depends on how you use the tablet, what programs you run, and how often you have it turned on. Tablets can cost between $350-$700.

Laptop computer

A laptop computer is more portable than a desktop, but not as portable as a smart cell phone or a tablet. Laptops have all the components of a desktop computer. such as a keyboard, monitor, speakers, etc. built in. There is a wide price range for laptops, anywhere from $275 to $1,500.

Where to buy a computer

There are many options for where to go to buy a computer, from large electronics store to local small businesses. Where you go will be based on convenience, what you are looking for and what prices or sales are at each location. Some larger places to buy a computer are: