The Best Computer Buys of the Year

  • Now is the Time to Buy

    Now is a good time to get a deal on a computer without sacrificing performance and key features. Because changes to newer model desktops, laptops and netbooks are mostly cosmetic, buying a slightly older version may save consumers some money. The September issue of Consumer Reports features shopping advice for computers and printers, includes Ratings of 200 models and discusses the latest features in each category.  The full report is also available at www.ConsumerReports.org. Note: Consumer Reports has no relationship with the advertisers on this site. —Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org or check out Consumer Reports’ electronics buying advice. Photo Credit: blakespot
    Checklist for Picking the Right Computer
  • Checklist for Picking the Right Computer

    Whether shopping for a newer model computer or buying one for the first-time Consumer    Reports says there are things to consider before making a purchase.  For instance, there’s not a lot of difference in speed between laptops and desktops, so weigh the better ergonomics of a desktop against the convenience of a laptop.  Here are some other things to keep in mind when shopping. Match a desktop to needs. Full-sized desktops are feature-laden but take up lots of space.  A slim or compact desktop will save space.  All-in-ones are the most compact but often cost more. Pick the right laptop size. If portability and price are priorities and workload is light, consider a 10-inch netbook.  For heavier work, a 13-inch laptop is a better choice but will cost more.  Most people find the best balance of price, power, and portability in a 14- to 16-inch laptop.  A 17-inch or larger model works well as a replacement desktop. Weigh a laptop’s ergonomics. Try a laptop out in a store if possible and pay special attention to the keyboard size and layout.  The touch-pad should be large enough for the finger to traverse the span of the display without lifting.  Make sure the touchpad buttons aren’t too difficult to press. Note: Consumer Reports has no relationship with the advertisers on this site. —Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org or check out Consumer Reports’ electronics buying advice. Photo Credit: koalazymonkey
    Laptops for Under $600
  • Laptops for Under $600

    Consumer Reports recommends the Toshiba Satellite T235-S1352, $580.  It was an excellent performer in tests, had a battery life of seven hours, a generous hard drive and a large 16-inch display all at a low price.  Another good choice is the Compaq Presario CQ62-209WM, $400.  It’s a bare-bones model with good performance and a price that can’t be beat. Note: Consumer Reports has no relationship with the advertisers on this site. —Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org or check out Consumer Reports’ electronics buying advice. Photo Credit: toshiba.com
    Desktops
  • Desktops

    Consumer Reports tested full-sized, compact and all-in-one desktop computers. The Compaq Presario CQ5320Y is a great deal at $350 – it’s a bare-bones computer that performs well and has a large, 500 GB hard drive.   For a compact desktop, Consumer Reports recommends the Dell Inspiron 580s, $500, which has excellent performance, however, the brand has had the worst tech support.  Another good choice is the HP Pavilion Slimline s5310y, $460, which has a lower price and more storage.  The Apple iMac 27-inch MB952LL/A, $1,700, was the top-performing all-in-one — it’s pricy but has a large, excellent display. Note: Consumer Reports has no relationship with the advertisers on this site. —Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org or check out Consumer Reports’ electronics buying advice. Photo Credit: dell.com
    Netbooks
  • Netbooks

    The models Consumer Reports tested are all suitable as secondary computers for performing routine tasks.  The best offer lighter weight, larger keyboards and trackpads and longer battery life.  The Toshiba Mini NB305-N442BL, $380, has better ergonomics than most other netbooks, so it’s more comfortable to type on and battery life was a respectable 7.25 hours.  The Asus Eee PC 1015PEB-RD6O1, $330, also had a long battery life at 9¼ hours and its light weight (2.7 pounds) makes its portability excellent. Note: Consumer Reports has no relationship with the advertisers on this site. —Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org or check out Consumer Reports’ electronics buying advice. Photo Credit: toshiba.com
    Printers
  • Printers

    Consumer Reports recently tested 112 printers and found several speedy, economical all-in-one printers for less than $150.  They produce high-quality photos and text and can save space and money compared with a separate printer, scanner and copier. When shopping for a printer, consumers should assess all costs.  An inexpensive printer can be pricey in the long run if print costs are high, so factor that in when choosing.  All-in-ones copying function is fine for casual use.  Their scanners should be adequate for print originals.  Most of the models Consumer Reports tested were very good for scanning. The HP Photosmart Premium CD055A#ABA, $140, is an all-in-one inkjet that is very good for printing photos and text.  It has a large LCD, which is helpful for cropping photos without a computer.  The Lexmark Prospect Pro205, $120, another all-in-one inkjet, prints photos quickly and cheaply and has a built in fax. Note: Consumer Reports has no relationship with the advertisers on this site. —Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org or check out Consumer Reports’ electronics buying advice. Photo Credit: Amazon.com
    Tips for Printing Cheaply
  • Tips for Printing Cheaply

    Note: Consumer Reports has no relationship with the advertisers on this site. Four tips for printing cheaply with any printer 1.      Avoid the Arial font which uses more ink than Times New Roman and other fonts. 2.      Print in draft mode on both sides of the paper. 3.      Printing in grayscale or “use black only” mode minimizes the use of color ink. 4.      Recycle spent cartridges for a refund or credit at an office supply store. —Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org or check out Consumer Reports’ electronics buying advice. Photo Credit: Velo Steve
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