Recommend New Computer

Hello, I was hoping that someone here could recommend a solid mid-range home desktop computer for me.  I have a monitor and printer; all I need is the computer itself.  I mainly use the computer for E-mail/MS Office applications, tracking my finances, using music, etc., applications on my iPhone, burning CDs/DVDs, and the Internet.  I have a few questions:

1.  Which processor would you prefer -- AMD Athlon versus Intel Dual-Core?
2.  What is the substantive difference between Dell's Inspiron and XPS series?
3.  How can I transfer the songs, etc., on my iPod and iPhone without losing my rights to them?
4.  What is the best home computer I can buy for $1,000?
5.  Is there one brand name that you'd prefer over all others?

I understand that this is somewhat off-topic but my computer has been driving me nuts lately and I'm going to throw it out the window by the end of the week.  Any advice you guys can give me in terms of buying a new home system would be great.  Thanks.
rjtwilleyAsked:
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Frosty555Commented:
1) Intel dual core, is my personal preference. I find the AMD athlons to be somewhat inferior to the intel processors. Although AMD has made many leaps and bounds lately in their processors. In all fairness, and considering that you are not using your computer for anything terribly intense, they are equivalent. My personal preference is the intel dual core because I have that in my own laptop and I am thoroughly satisfied with it.

2) Both are dell laptop models. The inspirons are dell's residential low-grade laptop model. They are the cheapest, and in my opinion also the worst. I find the inspirons are not as well built. Keys fall off, button graphics get smudged off... things start breaking. I dunno it seems to me like they use inferior parts in them.

BEFORE the windows vista age, Dell Inspirons came with Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005. Now they all come with Vista Home Premium.

The next step up from the inspirons is the Dell Latitudes. This is Dell's business class laptop. Designed for business/productivity. They come with powerful processors, memory and larger hard drives, but not as much in the way of video cards. Nor do they have fancy webcams and media bars built into the keyboard like the inspirons. But they are awesomely rugged, and have excellent batteries. My latitude d820 with a 9 cell battery gives me 7 hours, which is fantastic.

The XPS model laptops are more gaming oriented. They have slightly more stylish cases, They all have better, dedicated video cards and more ram, but you pay for it of course. I don't have personal experience with the XPS's but from their specs they are gaming specific laptops. Their batteries are nothing to behold, though you can of course upgrade the battery to a larger one.

3. Not sure about this, but regardless of the answer, it will be the same no matter what computer you buy.

4. Personally I suggest you go to TigerDirect.com (or tigerdirect.ca), and take a look at their desktop pc's made by eMachines. They are a fantastic deal. For what you said you are intending on doing on your computer, even their lowest grade computer at $300 will suffice nicely for you. If you want to spend more like $500, you can get quite an excellent computer that is more than powerful enough for all internet surfing, internet games, email, word processing, and also powerful enough to play most games on their lower graphics settings.

5. For laptops.... I guess I like dell. Yes. Shoot me. I like dell. I don't like their inspirons, they seem prone to trouble, but their dimension desktops and their latitude model laptops seem to be fairly rugged and powerful. HP is also a good brand for media-related laptops (playing dvds, making home movies etc.). I find Asus laptops are pretty good for games, and Acer makes some great tablet laptops.

As for PCs... I go with eMachines all the time, bought online from tigerdirect.
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rjtwilleyAuthor Commented:
Thanks -- I'm looking for a desktop.  Aren't XPS and Inspirons desktops, as well?
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Frosty555Commented:
Heh, so they are. Inspirons and XPS systems the laptop model always strikes me first.

The same thinking goes though. The inspirons are the much cheaper model. You can get one as cheap as $400, but they have integrated graphics cards, less memory, less powerful processors. They are still oriented around media, such as playing DVDs or movies, surfing the internet, etc.. Be wary of the fact that since they are cheaper, they may be more prone to breaking down.

The XPS systems are more powerful, specifically tailored towards games. The desktops look like they al feature quad-core processors (four processors :O), huge amounts of memory (they all look to have 3gb at least), video cards with dedicated processors, and all that fun stuff. Excellent for playing the most intensive of games. Totally overkill if all you wanted to do was surf the internet, play simple games, use microsoft word and listen to music.

And I still say intel is better than AMD ;).
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PeteJThomasCommented:
I agree - I'm just putting in my 10pence worth, not looking for any points.

Intels processors have finally taken back the crown in my opinion. AMD were leading the performance war for some time prior to the release of the Core2 processors.

And I also agree that If you must buy a pre built PC, Dell are one of the best to go with, as you can fully customise your machine through their website, making reductions or adding things that you want.

It's best to play about on their website actually, choose different models and see what adjustments the website will allow you to make. You might be able to go for one of the slight more expensive models (invariably built better) but remove some of the extras you don't need, reducing the price back down to a reasonable level.
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rjtwilleyAuthor Commented:
Thanks to all -- one final question:  the Dell site offers a few different versions of Vista:  Vista, Vista Home Premium, etc.  In your experiences, which one provides the greatest reliability?  
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Cam_Man595Commented:
Have you considered moving to a Mac?  I made the switch about a year ago and I haven't looked back.  You should go and look at a Mac just to see if you might like it.
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PeteJThomasCommented:
It's more about your needs with the different editions of Vista than anything else - I would say that all editions are equally 'reliable', the only difference being the features available to you - Each version has different features, with Vista Ultimate being at the top with ALL features available.

Take a look through the following link and see if which one sounds like it's got what you need... If it's just for home use and the things you mentioned earlier, then Home Premium is probably the most suited, but some people prefer to go all out regardless and get Ultimate anyway (like me!)

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/editions/default.mspx
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PUNKYCommented:
If you can afford, I recommend the Vista Ultimate version which contains most of everything.
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Frosty555Commented:
Microsoft has a comparison just for you: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/editions/choose.mspx

Vista comes in Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate. Home Basic is a very very stripped down version of vista. Only recommended if your computer is quite low in the resources end. Home Premium is the most common, it supports the "Windows Aero" fancy graphics. It has tools to make DVDs, Windows Media Center, and comes with games. Business doesn't have any of that, but it does have tools to faxes/scans, remote desktop, backup software, and other business collaboration tools.

And ultimate has everything bundled into one. It's good to note that ultimate does NOT have anything that either home premium or the business versions didn't have. It's just the union of the features in the two versions.

For a power user who want everything, ultimate is the best. But most laptops ship with Home Premium and that is more than sufficient. Just stay away from Home Basic because it doesn't have Windows Aero... or much else.
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