That visceral urge to purchase a new machine

I'm convinced that in the life of every computer owner there comes a time when there is a visceral urge to purchase a new machine. There may be no logic in this whatsoever, except for the gut feeling that something new and faster will work better than what we presently are using. I now have come to this point and my whole being is focused on the quest for a new computer.

First, I think I will reject the advice of some of my Irvine Valley College classmates to make my own computer. This might be an interesting adventure. Places like MicroCenter have lavish displays of all the parts that could be used to construct a new machine. There is a profusion of motherboards, chips, power supplies and hard drives, including the necessary components to make a water cooled computer. But a recent article in PC Magazine advised that it is more cost effective to purchase a "factory built" computer from almost any of the recognized suppliers than build your own. So, off to the Internet.

You probably know that I am partial to one particular manufacturer, mainly because of their 24/7 customer service even though some of this has been outsourced to overseas. But it still is free and I am beginning to be able to translate the accents.

I am looking at a desktop computer. There always is the question about using an equivalent laptop but I feel that they are too difficult to service. You can't just take them to Con at Universal Computer Service and have them worked on. Usually they must be sent back to the factory for service.

But purchasing a desktop is not that easy. The manufacturer's web site lists a number of machines. I am not interested in playing video games so I am not looking at the top of the line computers. These are configured with all the high end accessories to make video gamers happy. They are super fast and have super audio and video that make the game characters fly across the screen. Not for me. Also, very expensive. My grandson can get his own machine.

I have settled on the Model 8400 as having the flexibility I desire. Pressing the "Customize It" button now takes me to a page that has a thousand choices. Wow.

To start with, there is a choice of four processors. All are Pentium 4's but each one is faster than the other. Just a hundred dollars more for the next fastest up to $890 for the super fast, gaming chip. Then, do I want Windows XP Home or Professional operating system? An $89 difference. Do I want Word Perfect or Microsoft Office Basic? Only a $149 difference here.

I'm not going to bore you with all the choices, but I think you get the point. Hundreds of choices, each with just a slight increase in cost. Of course, the final inducement is a $250 mail-in rebate and free shipping. They sure make it enticing.

I'm going to save it for a future column to let you know if I reject all common sense and press the "Buy It Now" button. I'm really tempted but there's still that little inside voice that says, "really?" Stay tuned.

If you would like to hear more about this desire to purchase a new machine or other computer topics, visit "Coffee and Computers" at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. 'C' Street, any Friday morning starting at 9 a.m. Bring your questions or just come in and visit.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.


Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at:

Return to Doc's Home Page