Buying Wisely For Your Office

Choosing the right hardware to make your workplace a success

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So you’ve found the right space for your home office: desk, chair, outlets, lighting, etc. are all in place. Now it’s time for the hard choices hardware choices, thee is. Of course, there’s no ready formula to tell you which combination of electronic appliances will make your home office a success, but a mixture of foresight and common sense will put you on the right track.

When you’re thinking about outfitting a home office, it’s wise to prioritize your needs. Do you have a computer already and only need to upgrade its memory or add a modem? Maybe you just need a better, faster printer. Starting from scratch, the hardware needed for a complete home office will cost $2,000-$4,000 (depending on the nature of your business). However, if you decide to purchase hardware based on what is most important for your home productivity, the cost can be spread out. The most important components can be purchased first, while the lowpriority items can wait until there is sufficient need.

Just as in building the foundation for your office, the most important consideration (besides cost) when purchasing hardware is what you’ll be using the office for–in the short and long term. The computing demands of somebody who’s running a business from home are greater, and more expensive, than those of someone who merely wants to finish that company project in the leisure of their own home.
One thing is sure–you’ll need a computer. But what kind’ Well, if you plan on doing a fairly large amount of desktop publishing (print or Web site design), video or music editing the choice is clear–an Apple PowerMac. Generally more expensive than PCs, Power Macs are the best choice. Expect to spend $2,000-$3,000 for a well-equipped machine in the 130MHz-180MHz range (monitor not included). But don’t forget, Mac clones are now widely available from companies such as Power Computing, Motorola and Radius at prices roughly 15% lower than the Apple machines.

However, if your needs lean more toward traditional business applications–word processing, spreadsheets, accounting, etc. with only an occasional newsletter–a PC will suit your needs. “A machine running on a 486 is the bare minimum that people should be thinking about for their home office, says Livia Givoni, vice president of Outsource Solutions Inc. in Waltham, Massachusetts, which provides database management services. “Many of our employees are virtual and none of them work on anything less than a 133MHz Pentium.” Most of the firm’s employees work from home rather than a central office.

If you already have a computer and have no qualms about its performance, then there may be no need to upgrade your system, as long as it will come through in the clutch. However, home office neophytes just getting equipped should purchase a PC with a 133 MHz Pentium processor. It will offer enough processing power and speed for most home office applications. Computer prices are continually falling and you should be able to find a fully-equipped 133MHz for around $1,300 (monitor not included). But features such

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