Buoyed by demand for low-cost and portable computers, 2006 is firming up to be the fourth consecutive year of double-digit growth in worldwide PC shipments. Leading industry analysis firms IDC Worldwide and Gartner expect worldwide PC shipments to rise by just over 10% this year to roughly 230 million units. The current competitive environment strongly favors consumers, as retailers are looking to price cuts (not innovation) to spur demand.
As always, there are a variety of (new) terms, computer types, brands, and configurations awaiting you. Each configuration comes with a different price, and there is wide dispersion of PC prices. The Microtel Web site (www.microtelpc.com) offers Linux-based systems for under $300, while many of the major PC makers offer high-end gaming systems for over $5,000. For most, the price you pay for a new computer will be somewhere between these price points, which still leaves a lot of territory to cover. With a little education and a little planning beforehand, you can narrow your search and, hopefully, reduce the time and headaches you may otherwise experience in trying to locate the system with the proper mix of power, flexibility, and affordability you are looking for.
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