I have helped several people buy new computers lately. I don't sell computers or any other hardware so I am more of a personal shopper than a salesman when it comes to guiding people through their purchase.
I think it's funny how gadgets always seem to yield more gadgets. Here is a short flowchart of how this process works.
1. A client calls and says that they need a new computer. They ask my advice on what they should get for just basic stuff like email and word processing. "I don't need anything fancy."
2. I suggest a basic system that will handle all of their needs and a little more.
3. I setup the new system during which time they notice that there are digital camera card reader slots on the front, a DVD recorder and speakers.
4. At this point I start smelling smoke as they begin to see more possibilities for their system.
5. Questions start coming up like: "So, this computer will work with a digital camera?", "So, what would I need to do to copy all of my old VHS movies to DVD?", "Can I make a CD of just the songs I like from all of my other CDs?" or "What would I need to make greeting cards?"
6. The answers to each of these questions, and many more, require additional hardware, software or other gadgets.
7. The client then buys a digital camera so that they can use the card slots on the front of the computer.
8. They then get a color photo quality printer that will handle greeting cards.
9. They buy a tripod and extra memory for the camera.
10. Special paper is purchased for greeting cards.
11. They have so much fun with the pictures from the camera that they decide to buy a scanner so they can make Christmas Calendars from old pictures for everyone in the family.
12. They buy Adobe Photoshop Elements so that they can do special effects with with their new photo projects.
13. While in the software aisle looking for Photoshop they see that Microsoft has a new flight sim.
14. They spend hours playing with the flight sim, but it is difficult and unrealistic to fly a plane without a yoke, so they head back to the store for a joystick.
15. After playing with the realism settings the flight sim graphics stutter a little. The fix for this problem is to install a dedicated video card.
16. Once the graphics are better then they buy a few more games, some of them require that more RAM be added to the system.
17. In the mean time they see an ad in a magazine for a sewing machine that hooks up to the computer and does embroidery of any image from the computer.
18. The new sewing machine also can connect to a Palm Pilot so that you make use it at sewing parties and share patters.
19. The new Palm Pilot will also play MP3s and it can connect to a GPS.
20. They rip their entire CD collection into MP3s and fill up the Palm. At this point they decide that an iPod would be a better use as an MP3 player because it will hold more music.
21. Using the Palm as a GPS is fine for small navigational helps but it doesn't feature the power of a stand-alone GPS device.
22. They buy a new GPS but it doesn't work in the car or give audible directions so they get one of those too.
23. Now that they are enjoying portable gadgets they start to see the benefits of having a laptop.
24. The laptop helps but you can only use the Internet in areas with WiFi. To get email and Internet while traveling, they see a need for a better cell phone that can do email, Internet, maps, text messaging and more.
25. The cell phone takes video so they begin to take short little videos while they travel.
26. They take so many videos that they see a need for a new digital video camera.
27. The new digital video camera takes very nice video but the video doesn't look that great on the old dim TV.
28. The new TV is very nice, but the picture is a little fuzzy since they don't have an HDTV package on their cable service.
29. They call for pricing and find out that satellite service is cheaper and offers more channels.
30. There are so many channels and so much to see that they feel the need to get a DVR that will record all of their shows so they can watch them later.
31. The new DVR offers the ability to stream the shows through a home computer network so that you can watch recorded video on any computer in the house.
32. They setup a home network and decide to share a printer between the desktop and the laptop. They quickly get tired of having to turn on the desktop computer every time they want to print something out from the laptop.
33. They buy a computer with a network card built in to solve the problem.
34. They see irony in the fact that one of their computers is a portable laptop, but they have to sit in the same place with it while they use it at home because it is hardwired into the network.
35. They buy WiFi router that will allow them to use the Internet on the laptop from anywhere in the house. They are overwhelmed by the convenience of the laptop and they hardly ever use the desktop computer. In fact, they almost fight over the laptop.
36. After buying a new laptop, they notice that the built-in card reader on their laptop doesn't support their digital camera's memory type.
37. The new digital camera takes such high resolution pictures that they fear running out of room on their laptop.
38. They buy a new external Hard Drive for backup.
39. On their travels they get tired of carrying two laptops, a cell phone, an MP3 player and a Palm Pilot.
40. They buy a Treo that does everything and they are able to leave their laptops at home or at the motel when they travel.
41. By this time they decide to go back to desktops because the don't really need to take their computers with them when they travel and TVs have become so cheap that they have a nice TV in their office where the sewing machine and desktop computer are.
42. The original desktop is too old so they hand it down to a grandson who is starting high school and they give the older laptop to a daughter who is starting college.
43. They buy a new desktop to go with the sewing machine, but the cable connections have changed and the new computer won't support the old sewing machine.
I think I will stop there. I just realized that I have been using the same keyboard and mouse for seven years. The new ones have more buttons. I'm off to the store.