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PC Rescue Newsletter October 2008

As long term subscribers will know, we love tinkering with this newletter. Last month, as result of fiddling with the September newsletter, many people didn't receive it. Our apologies to those who missed out. If you suspect you have missed it, we post all the newsletters online on the website.

This month we have our regular October review of computer specifications and budgets. This year though, we have possibly the worst financial crisis in a generation so we focus on how to save money on your computers. We also have a run down on the latest MacBooks.

Computer recommendations

With Christmas only ten weeks away, it's time to revisit our buying a computer recommendations. As always with the computer industry, the hardware specifications have improved in the three months since we last looked at the market, although there are some suprises in laptop pricing.

When putting together the specs, we look at a system that will allow the average home or business user to get three to five years use out of the computer. This means the specs and budget are somewhat more than the cheap price systems you'll see advertised.

For desktops, we've cranked the memory up from 2Gb RAM to 4, the hard drive we've pushed from 300 Gb to 500 and the screen size from 20" to 22". This has kept the price for our ideal desktop system at $1800.

Interestingly, laptops have gone up in price. This is mainly due to the memory increase. It's now quite clear that manufucturers are recovering margins on cheap systems by making higher profits on upgrades.

While this hasn't affected desktop pricing, it's really made a different to the cost of the portables. Added to this, the falling Australian dollar is pushing prices up, as we see with the new range of Apple MacBooks.

Computer services

Need a computer tech? We can get technicians to help you with your home and office computer problems anywhere in Australia.

If you need a new computer set up, a virus removed or would just like to make sure your computer is running as it should be, we can help you.

Call 1300 798 957 and our call centre can arrange a visit or online service.

New Apple portables

One of the messages from the computer spec study was the Apple MacBook range was getting tired and falling behind the Windows machines in the same price points.

So it wasn't a surprise that, the day after releasing our computer specs, Apple announced their new MacBook range with improved screens, video capabilities and bigger hard drives.

One noteable point was the price of MacBooks has gone up between 15 and 20%, this appears to be to be due to the dollar falling and we can expect similar price rises in other products.

Quite a few pundits were predicting Apple would announce a low cost netbook to compete with the Asus EeePC and Dell A9, that wasn't to be and it makes sense as Apple tend not to play in the low margin, cheap end of the market.

Overall, the new range of Macs is welcome refresh of their product line, but right now it's hard to see a compelling reason for Windows users to switch.If you are interested in the new MacBooks, Apple compare the products here.

Ask a question

Our sister website, IT Queries answers common computer problems.

If your computer has a frustrating problem, have a look for an answer at IT Queries. If you don't find one, just ask on the IT Queries site and we'll get a solution for you.

Dell joint the netbook wars

Netbooks are the fastest growing segment of the computer market right now and Dell have been behind on this. The new Latitude A9 is their first enty into this market. We haven't had an opportunity to test the product out but netbooks are an important part of the market and worth a look at if you need a cheap, portable computer.

Jargon of the month:Netbook

The fastest growing sector in the computer hardware industry is the netbook category. Netbooks are cheap, light and low powered laptops designed to spend most of their time connected to the Internet where most of their data is stored. Almost every vendor, with the exception of Apple, now have a model on the market.

Netbooks are terrific little units and meet the needs of many users. If these will work for you, they are well worth look at.

We have more tech terms deciphered on our Jargon Buster page. If you have any jargon you need explaining, please contact us.

Computer books

Who says you can't get a good computer manual? Our Dummies books are available online. If you want to learn more about your computer, we have the answers.

The current version of PCs for Dummies covers Vista computers and the earlier version covers Windows XP. So we can help you get the most from both versions of Windows.

Fake Microsoft updates

Microsoft and a number of security vendors are warning about emails purporting to be security updates that are doing the rounds. This is a frequent problem and if you receive one of these it's best to ignore them and good spam checkers will put them in the bin for you.

Keeping your system up to date is importand and you should check on the Windows Update site at least monthly for any updates.

Speaking Services

PC Rescue's Managing director, Paul Wallbank, can help your business or community group get more from their technology. Contact us for more details

Topics include

Future office: Where will our offices be in twenty years time
The elder guru; exploding the myths of the digital divide.
Ten ways to revolutionise your business IT

What does it all mean? cutting through computer jargon.

Computing in tough times

There's the smell of recession in the air and when money gets tight, computer spending is usually the first thing to get cut. This usually isn't necessary and for businesses can actually be a mistake.

It's possible to cut spending without compromising your systems, here's some quick ideas.

Turn the things off

It's so simple, yet so many people don't do it. In an office environment simply turning your computer off when it's not in use can save over 75% of energy costs.

Another simple trick is to turn off peripherals like scanners and printers when the computer isn't in use. Most modern peripherals go into sleep mode when they aren't in use, meaning they could be using power for days without being used. So plugging them into a power board with an on/off switch makes it easy to turn them off.

Stop printing

The paperless office is still largely a myth. But that doesn't excuse you from minimising the amount of paper you use. It's estimated the average office worker uses 50kg of paper a year.

Cutting that by 50% saves ten reams of paper a year, at least $50 a year or 5000 pages. The cost of power and consumables at least double this.

For households with inkjet printers, the cost of consumables is even more. Reducing the use of these helps the environment and saves costs.

Review contracts

Internet and mobile phone costs have plummeted in recent years. If you haven't shopped around on what you're paying for your plan then you are probably paying too much. We've seen people save over $1,000 a year simply by calling their Internet provider.

ABC Radio Spots

Our next Sydney 702 Weekend spot will be at 10am on October 26 where we'll be looking at the costs of a new computer. The next Nightlife is on Friday, October 17 at 10pm where we'll be talking about the new Internet domains.

If you'd like to offer any suggestions about topics or improvements to the shows please contact us.

Next month on the website

In November, We'll be looking at what to do in a computer crisis and how panic is your greatest enemy. If you have a topic you'd like us to discuss on the websites, Smart Company blog or the radio spots please contact us.

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©Technology Publishing Australia, 2008