I’ve got a new computer and I can hardly believe how much faster it is than the laptop I’ve just pensioned off. I admit I’d slipped into tolerating the limitations of the old machine – is that a tendency of people who work from home, not upgrading when we need to?

Anyway, in the best tradition of home based businesses looking for value for money, we bought this new setup on eBay for one half to two thirds of what it would have cost elsewhere. OK, it’s not all new – second hand monitor – but the basic box is new and has all the grunt I need now.

And I do like using a real keyboard again!

A couple of thoughts arise about all this, namely the value of using time effectively and the need to get equipment that works for you.

Using time effectively

Initially, we tried bidding on a couple of computers on eBay but this proved to be time-consuming and frustrating. And now that I was about to get a new computer I was becoming more aware of and annoyed by the limitations of my reasonably faithful but now very slow old laptop, so the longer the process dragged out the more frustrated I was becoming.

By finding a fixed price deal and seeing it was an excellent price we were able to use our time better and also to develop a conversation with the seller – who then threw in a couple of extras at no additional cost. We will probably go back to him when we need more equipment.

I understand that some people get a kick out of bidding on eBay, but my question is, if you can get a great deal at a fixed price, is it worth your time to bid at auction for a (possibly) better deal?  Remembering the old saying that time is money, I know what my answer is.

Getting what works for you

As a certified non-geek, I know that my limited knowledge of computers has been a drawback when it has been time in the past for upgrading. So I’ve been fairly dependent on geek friends to tell me what I needed and even supply it.

This time around, I decided to do some homework and figure out what I really wanted for my business activities, not what someone else thought would be good for me. I should say that my partner Suzie, who as well as being an artist is actually much smarter than me about computers, helped me considerably with the research. But I did focus on establishing just what I needed the computer to help me with.

As a result, I now have a computer which may not be great shakes for a gamer or a graphic artist, but will do what I want it to do and will do that effectively – predominantly text documents, blogging, online research, email and managing some other, web-based services.

I also figured I did not need to spend an extra $200 or so on a flat panel monitor when I could get a flat screen CRT monitor virtually thrown in as part of the total package. Really, the footprint story for flat panel monitors is no big deal for me.

But the biggest shift for me was realising that I don’t need a laptop/notebook. That meant I could get a lot more computing power for the money I was outlaying – and more easily adaptable/upgradeable – by buying a big box to sit on the floor by my desk.

Fact is, I used to see having a laptop as a symbol of my freedom to work anywhere. Not any more. My enthusiasm for the ‘laptop means I’m free’ picture started to wane on my last trip to the USA, which included a trip from West to East and back again. It wasn’t just the problem I had finding a power socket adaptor – that’s a story in itself – but rather the inconvenience of schlepping this machine, in a backpack for ‘convenience’ (hah!) and going through all the rigmarole of post 9/11 airport security.

I now know that with so many neat, mini storage/transport devices for data and with Internet cafes in most places I go, plus Internet/wireless enabled PDAs, I really don’t need a laptop – not for now anyway.

So here I have this not so elegant, bulky box on the floor and even bulkier monitor on my desk, and I’m as happy as a pig in mud.

For business equipment, my motto now is – get what works for you, not what the computer salespeople tell you would be ‘Great!’.

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