stop waisting money

Everybody is forever asking the question; which is the best machine I can buy?  The actual question you should ask yourself is; which machine and model is perfect for the purpose I need it.  You see, the short answer to this fundamental question is; there is no best machine to buy, there is only the wrong choice you could have made.


I have personally seen store rooms full of computers that were never used for the purpose that they were built for, 1000s and 1000s of Rands (ZAR) wasted and even worse I have seen a lot of people bragging about a machine that costed them 1000s and 1000s, just to learn later on that they paid for functions that they will never ever use in their life. 


So what am I trying to say; you bought a Ferrari, but only have the potential of a VW Beetle 1965 model.  A complete waste of money and effort.  Then I am not even going to refer to the institutions that buy state of the art equipment, but install only the minimum capable Operating Systems and Software – that is the worst case of wasted expenditure.


So let us look at the following situations so to prepare yourself better before entering a shop to buy any computer related equipment.




The only true difference between the different types of laptops are the actual size and what is made available related to that size.  Each type of laptop, regardless of make, have all the different model types (Atom, Duel Core, I3, I5, I7) available, so don't think that the difference will be in the price.


Laptop 15.6" screen  (15.6" screen, DVD writer, extended num-keypad, average battery lifetime, heavy and big).


Laptop 14" screen (14" screen, DVD writer, no extended num-keypad, better lifetime than 15.6" screen, thinner and lighter than the 15.6" screen).

Netbook 10" screen (10" screen, no DVD writer, no extended num-keypad, much longer battery lifetime, very thin and very light)

You do find more sizes available however the above-mentioned are the most common to be found in South Africa.


Laptop 15.6"screen  Notice the extended Num-Keys.  This type of laptop is wonderful for when having to type a lot of numbers (book keepers, financial departments, HR registration of ID and employee numbers).  The screen resolution is usually +1300 in width.


Laptop 14"screen  It has no extended Num-Keypad, however the machine is smaller, thinner and lighter than the 15.6".  It is ideal for any daily administration and general work.  The screen resolution is usually +1280 in width.  You may purchase a Num-Pad accessory to complete the keyboard.


Netbook 10"screen  This is a much smaller and lighter type of laptop.  The reason why it is called a Netbook is because it is network reliant.  It has no DVD drive, so installation of software is done via the network.  Due to that it is so small and versatile it is much more usable in highly mobile requirements.  Never however underestimate these machines, they are very powerful and when in an office with an external screen and keyboard, they are just as versatile as any other computer; however it then entails additional costs.  Screen resolution up to 1024 pixels in width only.

It is very important that before you buy the machine, test the keyboard and see if it is comfortable or not.  Remember the size of the keys are also influenced by the actual size of the machine.



You know now which type of laptop; now the model.  You will have to choose one of the following:


ATOM.  This is a slow processor that is primarily used for general administration work.  Games usually are limited to very basic games only - this is ideal for students just requiring doing some typing and printing.


2 or Quad Core.  This is a faster processor and meant for general administration work, more advanced programs and games.  This is a good office computer and for limited gaming.  Perfectly priced for any general usage.  Usually 2 Gig of RAM, but 4 Gig ram is just sooo much better.


i3.  This is a good processor with fast speed.  The ideal choice for any type of business and good for gaming.  Well priced for the user that requires more speed, especially when using graphic programs and games (compatible with 70% of all games).  Usually 4 Gig of RAM.


i5.  This is a well-balanced machine between work and gaming.  It is excellent for video editing and large 3d rendering programs.  The perfect choice if you need speed for graphical programs such as video editing, advanced 3D graphic programs and requires a good gaming machine that will be compatible with 90% of all games.  Usually 4 or 8 Gig of RAM.


i7.  This machine is tweaked for gaming and advanced 3D rendering programs (video editors).  Extremely fast and perfect for any type of game available.  This is also the most expensive machine amongst the selection.  Usually 8 Gig of RAM.


My opinion is that any business will be satisfied with the 2 Quad or i3 machines.  Remember if you give a gaming machine such as an i5 or i7, to a worker at your office, the chances are good he/she will be playing games and therefore install unauthorized software.  A tip to any computer programmer; do not buy the i5 or i7 and expect your clients to have the same results and speed as you.  Purchase the 2Core or i3 (maximum) so to test your software on machines that the average person owns.



It is not the make that differs, it is how which functions that make available to you in support of your machine.  Other differences are; quality of Web-Cam, keyboard layout (please test the keyboards, some keyboard layouts are hateful), amount of USB ports, type of USB ports, speaker quality, display quality). 


You need to look for the following in a laptop before buying it:


Build-in WebCam.

Build-in Mic.

USB Ports.  At least 3 ports (USB 1 is slow and out-dated - white in color; USB 2 is much better and faster than USB 1 - black in color; USB 3 is extremely fast - blue in color).




VGA & HDMI ports (so that you are able to plug in external screens/LCD projector).  Be careful of buying a laptop with only a HDMI port as most external displays and LCD projectors don't have HDMI.  You must look for both or VGA only.


WIFI & BlueTooth.  Ensure that the machine has both WI-FI and Bluetooth adapters.


Drivers and Adapters.  Some computer makers such as LENOVO and ASUS supply you with the computer's drivers (drivers are the software establishing and running your graphics, sound, processor, touchpad, etc. etc. etc).  This is crucial to have as you may reload your computer yourself should it ever be needed (a virus that deleted or corrupted your drivers, need to reinstall your computer, etc.)  If you don't have these drivers you will have to pay R480+ just to have this installed again.  When you open MY COMPUTER, you will see a folder on one of the drives called DRIVERS and APPLICATIONS.  Immediately get a blank DVD disc and burn these two folders on that disk to be your backup disk.  I have seen many computers that were "fixed" that never worked the same as when the owner bought it, simply because the people who "fixed" it did not have the correct drivers.  I personally will never buy a computer if I don't get the drivers (either on disk or available from the disk).  A wonderful REAL free driver program (must be connected to the Internet to download the drivers) is Driver Booster (  Be careful as MOST driver programs only scan and identify the drivers, but once you click INSTALL, you must pay.


RAM.  This is what speeds up a computer when processing a large or lot of data/processes.  You will notice that when you buy a game it always refers to the RAM and well, if you don't have enough, then you just can't use that program/game.  Irrespective of your model, you need at least 2 Gig of RAM (Windows 32 Bit machine) to have an effective computer.  If you have a Windows 64 Bit machine, you need at least 4 Gig of RAM.  The 2 GIG of RAM is good enough for a Windows 64 Bit machine, but will lack if you bought the computer to play games.


As soon as you buy your computer and switch it on, create a RESTORE POINT (1st point).  Should something happen, and if anything can happen, it probably will happen, you can reset your machine to that point and recover the computer.  If you don't have a RESTORE POINT, you will either lose your computer or pay a LOT of MONEY to fix it.  There is no RESTORE POINT when you switch it on for the first time.  You need to create the 1st one yourself.  To create a RESTORE POINT, enter RESTORE POINT into the Windows Search Bar and select CREATE NEW RESTORE POINT.




When you buy a 2nd hand laptop:


Check the battery - does it still work and for how long.


The Windows are probably already registered - if it is not registered you will not be able to alter the desktop image and every 5 minutes will you be reminded to activate Windows.


Software such as MS Office is probably already installed and registered.


Confirm the anti-virus to be up to date and scan it (full/complete scan).


Ensure you get the drivers with the machine - if no drivers and you don't know how to find and install them then DON'T buy.


Confirm all the keys are working.


Check the hard drive for any unwanted software and data.


Ensure that all ID and passwords (auto-log-in and auto-password saver) are disabled and cleared from the computer.


Ensure that all the USB drives, DVD Drive and Memory Card reader works.


Confirm the password if any when you switch on - if the owner doesn't know the password OR the computer is reloaded with an unauthorized copy of Windows OR the machine has NO DRIVERS installed, it probably is a stolen machine.


When you buy a new laptop:


When you switch it on for the first time, Windows will have to be registered (if it is Windows 10, then prepare for 5-8 Gig of downloads before you may use it - you will receive the UPDATE NOW popup until you do).


95% of the Software that comes with the computer is either trial (only allowed to use it for 14-30 days for instance the MS Office package) or freeware versions (you have it with limited functions and resources - buy to use complete program).  When you buy a new computer, you must tell yourself something until you believe yourself ... THIS COMPUTER HAS NOTHING, I MUST STILL PAY FOR IT!!!


You only need 1 anti-virus installed on a computer - in fact if you have multiple anti-virus programs, they will see each other as a virus.

As soon as you switch it on, run the updates and registrations - don't install any other programs yet.  Now create a SYSTEM RESTORE before you continue.  If you run into any trouble, simply call that RESTORE POINT and your computer will be as you set it by that restore point.

Remember, DO NOT ALTER THE WINDOWS operating system, otherwise, your guarantee will expire - this includes any form of updates - if you strip the machine, you lose the guarantee.


Remember Windows 10 is also known as the DATA killer. It ALWAYS updates and a daily update could be 1, 2 and even 5 GIG of data depending on how outdated your computer's Window is.





To have a computer without a printer is like having a

sports car without a turbo.  You will at some point have

to print something, even if it is just one page.


Fortunately, when you buy a laptop, especially these ones on contract, you get a printer with it.  There is a reason why you get the printer for free.  The printer is actually costing very very little, the ink tank or toner is what is making the money for that brand.  The average ink tank contains about 15ml @ a cost of R450, that means that a liter of that ink will cost you R29'700.00


Basically, you don't buy a printer for the printer, you buy according to the cost of the toners/ink tanks - some printers will cost you R700 and you get ink with it (most of the time demo), however, the ink for that same printer could cost you R1800 for the set - it is as if you are buying a new printer every time.




Ink Jet (without scanner):  Used for high-quality printing such as photos and posters.  They make use of ink tanks (2, 4, or 5).  Some of these printers are able to print borderless paper (no border).  They are also made to print on much more material than a laser printer such as t-shirt transfer paper, photo paper, direct DVD printing, etc.  These printers are ideal for daily printing (some printers are actually cheaper per page than LaserJet printers) and perfect for photo printing (very costly).  When printing in draft mode, it is actually the same speed as laser printers, but not the same quality (documents).  Some printers (like certain Canon models) can even print back-to-back automatically.  Average page printing (draft setting) ranges up to 3000 pages per ink tank set.


Ink Jet (with scanner).  These printers can be used like copiers.  You will however notice that the average quality is not as good as the Ink Jet printers with scanners - if I may compare a CANON IP720 which has a DPI (quality) setting of 9600x4800 whereby the best Canon with a scanner I could find so far is at DPI 4800x1200.  Average page printing (draft setting) ranges up to 3000 pages per ink tank set.  The average cost per ink tank ranges between R300 - R700.


Ink Bottle Printers.  Instead of an ink tank, you use ink bottles to fill the ink tanks.  These printers are much more expensive than the other printers, however, the ink is MUCH less expensive, so you save in the long run (pending on the number of prints you make).  You also print a WHOLE LOT more pages on one set of bottles - some of the printers can print up to 13000 pages (draft setting) per ink tank set.   An ink bottle (uses 4 different colors) cost between R200 - R450.  The quality is usually DPI 4800x1200.


LaserJet Printer.  These printers are made to print documents and posters.  They make use of toners (mono-black or color - 4 toners).  They are not made to print on photo paper and special paper such as t-shirt transfer paper.  Laser printers are very costly to maintain and the toners are very expensive.  Good quality is however obtained at fast speeds.  Cost per toner cost between R650 - R4500.




The major difference is the quality.  The quality is measured in DPI which the higher, the better.  The average is 4800x1200 DPI.  Photo printing should be at least 9600x4800 DPI.


Another difference is the software - some printers have excellent supporting software; printer control, printer maintenance, photo editing software, photo album software, etc.




The DPI, the higher the better.


Be careful of 3-1 printers, if the scanner breaks, the printer breaks as well.


Supporting software - make sure that the software that you get with the printer has a maintenance software package so that you may service your own printer.  If you don't get that function, you must send your printer away at a great cost to service it (printers such as Canon and Epson has maintenance software included).


Confirm the price of the cartridges/toners - don't be surprised when the cheaper the printer, the more expensive the cartridges/toner.

Be careful of printers such as Brother - they have a cartridge & drum to be replaced - cost of a new drum after every 3-6 toners; R1800 average - confirm if the printer (laser) is using a drum & toners.


Some printer makes (HP) has an expiring date on the cartridges and believe me, once your insert that cartridge into the printer, the computer's system date will be confirmed and if that date has expired you CAN NOT USE IT!!!


Confirm the total pages capable of being printed per set of cartridges/toners (remember that is according to draft setting).


Do not buy a photo printer (such as the Canon IP series) if you are not going to make money using it as a photo printer - it will become a very expensive hobby otherwise.


Some printers are Windows Version reliant - in other words, some printers don't work with for instance Windows 10 - confirm according to your Windows version.


A borderless printing printer is the best and provides the best quality.

You do get printers (inkjet) that can print back-to-back for instance the Canon IP4900 & IP7240.


A printer should STOP printing if one of the ink tanks run dry, not just continue without indicating it to you.  Some printer makers simply continue to print without that color, therefore wasting paper, ink and time as the quality will be poor without that color.


When buying a 2nd hand printer; take note of the following:

all printers, especially inkjet printers, CAN ONLY PRINT SO MANY PAGES IN TOTAL, then it WILL STOP due to the ink absorber being full.  To test the ink absorber:







Open the printer (even laser printers).  You will see on the plastic surrounding the ink tanks/laser toners will be clean from any ink/toner.  If it is colored, especially blue, then the darker the more has been printed with that printer.




You must print 1 page per week at least to prevent the printer heads from clogging.


Do a maintenance run (using the printer software) once every two weeks at least.


Do not let the printer stand in direct sunlight.


Be very very very careful of refill ink - there is no guarantee and the quality is just not the same.


When you install your printer for the first time; SET THE PRINT QUALITY to DRAFT.


If one ink tank runs dry, replace it as soon as possible before damaging the printer head.


Use the correct type of paper, don't use laser printer paper on an InkJet and visa-versa.



Productivity is measure by the speed of work, accuracy and knowledge of work.  


The following methods may be implemented to improve the abilities of your computer users:


Duel Screen.  To add an additional external screen to your computer will increase your effectiveness.  It feels as if you are splitting your computer into two with a central network in between.  You may now open multiple programs and work simultaneously on them.  Much more work is being done at much less time.  All laptops have a VGA and/or HDMI port, so just plug in an external screen and set the screen to EXTENDED mode.  Now the mouse cursor will move between two screens from left to right and you will be able to open 2 full desktop-sized programs (the same or different) and work with them simultaneously.











INTERNAL NETWORK (MAPPED NETWORK).  You can create an ad-hoc network or locally mapped network for all your computers to share.  You only need a computer that will act as the server and the other computers may (via WI-FI) log onto it and share a common folder.  Now the users may share documents.  You may also share a printer amongst all the computers, therefore saving on printer costs and better control over what is being printed.







External Mouse and external keyboard for laptops.  It is a proven fact that the touchpad on a laptop slows down productivity and is not as accurate as an external mouse.  If you use laptops without Num-Pads, using a fully extended key external keyboard will increase productivity as these keyboards work much better with any user.








Training.  Ensure your personnel are well trained in using computers and the software and understand the security protocols and do's & don'ts related to computers.  Ill trained personnel will lead to data losses, corrupted files and programs on the computer, loss of equipment due to negligence.  The better trained your personnel are related to computers related aspects, the better users and more effective workers will they be.

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