Besides The New iMac, Some Upgrades To Consider Right Now


Apple (AAPL) unveiled the new iMac April 28, and it’s more powerful than ever. Marketed as having “Beauty, Brains, and now more Brawn,” the machines boast an updated processor, faster graphics and cost between $1,199 and $1,799, depending upon monitor size and memory. It’s the first major upgrade for Apple since August 2007, and will probably keep its products flying off the shelves.

But before you run out and splurge, take heed. Indulging in a brand new iMac might not be the most valuable upgrade to fit your life and your wallet. Here are some other key upgrades to consider:

Companies like Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and Canon (CAJ) are manufacturing printers that are both fast and affordable. “If you’re holding onto that three year old, $99 dollar ink jet and suffering through a one minute [per page] print time, it might be worth it to drop $99 dollars this year and get another printer that prints twice as fast,” says Andy Walker, editor of Cyberwalker. Toner often costs more on older machines due to limited supply, so if you’re paying premium to supply your old printer with ink, it might be more economical to upgrade. And, many older model printers aren’t compatible with the latest computers, something to keep in mind if a new computer is in your near future.

Cell phones
A phone is no longer just a phone, so consider enhancing your mobile options. “If you’re going to splurge, get a new PDA,” says Darren Litt, vice president of the venture-backed mobile startup, MeetMoi. “Some new phones, like the iPhone, have real web browsers on them allowing you to surf the real web, not a trimmed down text version.” Additionally, most PDAs like the BlackBerry (RIMM) come equipped with GPS which allow you to search maps, directions, or even for people and places near you. But an outdated phone will keep you out of the PDA party. “Verizon, (VZ) Sprint (S) and AT&T (T) have been upgrading their data networks with superfast connections,” says Walker. Cell phones that are over two years old aren’t taking advantage of the newer networks, which enable you to download music, search Google (GOOG) and access GPS. And opting for an all-in-one package “eliminates the need to worry as much about how much data you use or how many text messages you send,” says Litt.

Video Cards
Playing a god on the game Black & White (ERTS) or slaying a dragon on Warcraft (ATVI) is faster and more interactive when your PC (MSFT) is running on enough memory. New computers can generate images on the fly, but older models run game programs through the computer’s main memory, often slowing things down. “Spend money on new card with 256MB of RAM, and all of a sudden the video intensive applications will perform that much better,” says Walker.

Download Updates

Updates are available for most devices, and downloading them will keep functionality up and eliminate annoying bugs and problems you’ve encountered with the hardware. Don’t forget to download updates for drivers as well, which communicate between your computer and external devices like printers or scanners. “And the little geek secret of chip set drivers is something people often forget,” says Walker. Chip set drivers basically run all the processes on the motherboard, and “when you do chip set driver update you might get some performance enhancement.” Look for it on your computer’s manufacturer’s website.

All of these updates will give you a boost, but if your computer is more than two years old, it’s going to struggle with the latest software. “Old computers might not have the horsepower to keep up,” says Walker. “It’s like running a V8 engine on an old V4 Honda. (HMC) "The number one thing to give computer more life is to add RAM (memory capacity), and if you buy an extra chip it will upgrade multimedia functionality. But at the end of the day, running the latest version of Photoshop (ADBE) on a machine that’s two or three years old will limit the capability of the computer, making that brand new iMac look even better.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also be interested in checking out: How To Get Your First Job Bonus To Go The Extra Yard, The Skinny On Macbook Air, and Battle Of The Super-Lightweight Laptops Continues.


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