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Computerized Investing > November/December 2004

Computer Systems for the Individual Investor

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by Wayne A. Thorp, CFA

If you are contemplating whether it’s time to replace your computer, you are not alone. A spate of PC replacement purchases is driving PC sales this year. Information technology industry research firm Gartner, Inc. estimates that almost 100 million personal computers will be replaced in 2004 and another 120 million or so in 2005. Overall, Gartner’s latest estimate calls for total PC shipments to be in excess of 187 million units in 2004, an increase of 13.6% over shipments in 2003. Gartner estimates that more than 30% of personal computers are now at least three years old and many have operating systems that are no longer supported or are about to lose technical support. Expanding mobile technologies are also driving consumers to purchase new computers.

Our annual computer guide is geared toward the mainstream investor who is performing investment tasks or analysis such as portfolio management, stock analysis, and charting, as well as general-purpose Web surfing, E-mail, word processing, and spreadsheet building.

For the first-time PC buyer, choosing among the multitude of options you have for computer types, brands, and configurations can be an intimidating proposition. From the ultra-cheap Microtel Linux-based systems sold at Walmart.com (www.walmart.com) for under $300 to the $3,000+ high-end media center systems, the choices are seemingly endless. For the vast majority of individuals, the right PC lies somewhere between the lines (extremes); however, this area is still quite expansive. With a little research and education, you should be able to reduce the time and frustration that might otherwise arise in selecting a system that offers the right balance of power and flexibility to serve your current computing needs as well as your needs in the years to come.

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