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28 pieces of computing advice that stand the test of time

Mark Sullivan | Oct. 4, 2012
Technology never stops moving foward. Hardware gets faster, and operating systems gain new features and (we hope) finesse. This is natural computing law.

Look to last years model for a better value

Tech manufacturers always charge a premium for the latest and greatest hardwareand typically you don't really need the world's fastest processor, graphics card, or I/O technology. So do yourself a favor and consider buying hardware that was best-in-class during a previous manufacturing cycle. It will likely be heavily marked down, but still wholly capable and packed with performance.

Skip the extended warranty

Don't be a sap. Extended warranties are designed to prey on your fear that the hardware you just purchased is already on its death bed. From a return-on-investment perspective, extended warranties almost never pay offexcept for the companies that sell them.

Read the manual

You might be surprised at what you can learn by reading user manuals. Its natural to just jump right in and begin doing the things you expect a device or application to do, but I've found that by reading the manual I can learn about features and functions I didn't know existed. Reading the manual can increase the benefit you derive from your device, and make you feel a whole lot better about buying it.

Consider the total cost of ownership

This maxim mostly applies to purchases of printers and subsidized phones. If you intend to do a lot of printing, pay close attention to the cost and efficiency of consumables, namely the ink or toner. And if you're investing in a new smartphone plan, consider what you'll be paying month to month...

Resist the urge to impulse-shop

A tech geek is never more dangerous than when perusing the aisles of a brick-and-mortar hardware store. If you absolutely must purchase a new toy in person, make sure to do your research beforehand. Don't be swayed by the razzle-dazzle of salespeople, and arm yourself with deep product knowledge before you enter a store. Also, always ask the retailer to match lower Internet pricing, if you can find it. (You'll want to bring your smartphone with you.)

Keyboard shortcuts: Use them, love them, live them

You can work far faster (and look way cooler) by mastering keyboard shortcuts for the programs, services, and operating systems you use every day. To learn these shortcuts, check out PCWorld's numerous articles containing keyboard shortcuts for every major OS and many popular applications. Get started with Windows 7 shortcuts.

Build your own

In many cases, building your own PC can be a less expensive proposition than buying a prefab systemand even when it isn't cheaper, building your own ensures that you get the precise configuration that fits your needs (this is especially true for gaming PCs). PCWorld frequently publishes building guides, so you'll never be able to claim we never showed you how!


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