Buying an inexpensive computer

I provide my services to customers of all shapes and sizes — meaning various expectations and budgets.

While I would continue to stress that a computer from Apple, while more expensive on the front end, will end up costing less on the back end I am well aware that a Mac may be cost prohibitive for some. The least expensive Mac, the Mac Mini desktop, starts at $699 (without keyboard and mouse).

So I want to share with you today my top 3 picks under $600. One disclaimer I should make: if you haven’t purchased a new system in 5+ years, the days of having a “free” monitor included with your computer are long gone. Choosing a monitor is quite personal. You could get a decent 17 or 19 inch for about $129 from the same company you purchase your computer, or However, you may be looking for a wide screen monitor or one that is really good for reading documents. Those will cost more; you could pay $200 – $400 for a premium monitor if you wanted to. All of these systems are priced without monitors.

1. Vision Computer. I can’t say enough nice things about this company. My customers who have purchased from them have been blown away by their kindness. All desktops include a 3 year warranty. In case you have never heard of Vision, they have been established in Atlanta, GA since 1991 and advertise on the radio, nationwide.

Their Atom 3306 and Velocity 3040 models ($499 and $579) would be well worth a look. Do not choose a computer with Windows 7 Starter — Windows 7 Home Premium or Business only please!! Windows 7 Starter is a limited function version of Windows 7.

2. Dell Optiplex desktops

For at least a few years, these are the only Dell desktops I have recommended. The Optiplex line is a staple in large corporations around the world. Known for their reliability, Optiplex desktops come with a 3 year standard warranty. Check this link out.

From that selection, I am a fan of the model # 160 and 380 desktops. With Windows 7 Business or Home Premium, either of these systems will come in right around $500. (Don’t choose the Windows Vista option, please. It’s a tease to save a few bucks up front and end up with a pound of headaches later)

3. And now we move on to portables. Here I’m talking about really portable — a 10 inch netbook with a keyboard. You won’t write your next novel on a netbook, but they are great for relaxing in your easy chair or computing on the road — e-mail, web, and a little bit of work too.

I am a big fan of the Dell mini 10v. The point here is not to run Windows on a netbook; that is actually a pretty miserable experience!!

However there is something very special about the mini 10v — it has nearly identical specs to the previous generation of MacBooks.

So…. drumroll please, this means, you can technically (but not officially) run the Mac Operating System this Dell netbook!!!

My wife uses hers like this every day. No need for a $1000 11-inch MacBook Air. However, like I said this solution is not officially blessed by Dell or Apple. Thousands of users and numerous websites dedicated to this concept ( prove that this works.

What you would need to pull this off:

A. Dell Mini 10v — sold currently through the Dell Factory Outlet $259 to $279

B. Your own licensed copy of the latest Mac OS 10.6 — $30 for the CD

C. An expert and about 2 hours of their time.

So, for about $400 — you will have a really awesome netbook, that looks and feels like Mac. The name on the street for these modified systems is HACKINTOSH.