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Buying a new computer?

Buying a new computer?

20 April 2015

When buying a new computer it’s a great time to have a think about what you need so you can make sure you get the right machine for the job.

Hardware

There are three main types of computers you can buy;

  • Notebooks (also called laptops) - You buy a notebook when you want mobility but don’t want to sacrifice functionality. Notebooks have around a 3 year life as there is a trade-off between available space and capability. Due to the smaller space they tend to cost more than a desktop of the same capability. Most notebooks now have touch screens.

  • Desktops - A desktop can be configured in many ways. On one hand, it could be incredibly simple (and cheap!) or on the other it could be a complex more powerful setup for specific workloads (say graphic design or CAD work). The majority of office PC’s would fall towards the lower cost end. Touch capability is usually an added extra on a desktop and the lifetime is usually around 3-5 years.

  • Tablets - Tablets are ultra-portable touchscreen devices that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Software is installed easily via apps which are purchased from an app store. Typically tablets are known for being consumers of information (e.g. reading email and browsing websites) rather than creators, however this is changing slowly. Tablets are a great option for specific uses; e.g. creating invoices while on site with a customer or keeping in touch while away from the office.

In terms of specifications, there are three main components to check;

  • CPU – how fast the computer will “think” or process data; generally the bigger the better. Be aware of mobile specific options which operate more slowly, but give you better battery life.

  • RAM – how much data the computer can work with at once; the bigger the better. For a desktop or notebook, we suggest an absolute minimum of 4GB, 8GB is preferred, and 16GB will future-proof the machine for a while.

  • Hard drive capacity/size/HDD – This is how much data you can store on the computer. Desktop hard drives are now generally around 1TB (terabyte), up to 4TB. Notebooks are usually 500GB, and tablets will vary between 32GB, 64GB and 128GB (i.e. much smaller). For desktops/notebooks, check whether the hard drive is a SATA or a SSD; SSD is a much faster (but more expensive) technology. Notebooks really benefit from SSD’s as the hard drive whereas for desktops it’s good to have your operating system on a SSD but store your data on a SATA drive.

Platform and Operating Systems

For notebooks and desktops, the predominant platform is still PC/Windows, however with an increasing trend of cloud based accounting systems accessed via browsers, we’re seeing more take up of the Apple/OSX platform.

Microsoft Windows 8.1 operating system can be driven entirely by touch if necessary.

With tablets, the two main platforms are Apple iOS (think iPads, iPhones), or Android (say Samsung’s S-Series of phones or N-Series tablets). Microsoft are also in the tablet space now with a machine called the Surface; it’s a beefed up tablet that runs a full Windows 8.1 operating system, and the cost is equivalent to a middle of the range notebook.

Software

At the end of the day, the type of hardware and the type of platform/operating system you select may be driven entirely by the programs you need to use.

Always check what platform your programs need to run on before you buy the machine – whilst there are options around virtualisation (running a second operating system on top of the first), they require a higher level of know-how and increase the number of things that could go wrong.

Most major software vendors will release software on a variety of platforms, however it’s easy to get caught out. Before you go shopping, make a list of what programs you’re currently using (or need to use), and check the vendor’s site to see if they offer a version for the platform you’re intending to use.

With a trend towards web applications, the platform and hardware becomes largely irrelevant, and what internet speed and browser you use becomes more important. Popular browsers are Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari and Firefox.

Mobile apps historically have less functionality than the web based application, however this is changing as vendors start to push more and more into the mobile apps. Watch this space!

Table of Platforms and Accounting Programs

PC/Windows Mac/OSX Web-based Mobile app

MYOB AccountRight*

MYOB AccountEdge

Xero

Xero Touch

Phoenix

 

Intuit QuickBooks Online (QBO)

QBO Mobile

Banklink

 

MYOB Essentials

MYOB On the Go (links with PC app

Reckon Accounts

 

MYOB Essentials Cashbook

AccountEdge

*We call MYOB AccountRight a hybrid as it has the option to synchronise/store data in the cloud, which allows the ‘On The Go’ mobile app to access live data

If you’d like more information on this topic or need a hand ensuring you get the right machine for the job, contact our Business Systems Specialist, Liam Smith in our Dubbo office on 02 6884 6499, or via email lsmith@boyceca.com.

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