It often amazes me that in a world of ever increasing costs, we can purchase a computer that is more powerful, smaller, faster, and less expensive than previous models. The reason for this is two-fold:
- The computer industry quickly learned that in order to survive and grow, they would need to develop faster and better products. This led to innovations in the technology, manufacturing, design, and product development. One additional point that is often overlooked is that the very technology being developed was used to improve the product. We now have programs to write programs, programs to design and develop hardware, and hardware to manufacture the products.
- Computers are still in their infancy; many feel we are still in the Model-T era when it comes to having a mature product. With the ability to manufacturer inexpensive and fast memory and very fast microprocessors we can now explore areas beyond our reach just three years ago. These include true three dimensional displays, holographic displays, tactile feedback devices, accurate voice recognition, and real life simulations at prices we can all afford.
Now the big question is, should you wait a little while longer to get a new computer or is it reasonable to assume that today's product will be upgradeable to take advantage of new features coming onto the market over the next few years?
If you plan on buying a new computer in the near future, I would suggest you purchase one with a minimum of 64 megabytes of memory (more if you can afford it), and an upgradeable processor such as those found on pentium II class machines. I would also suggest that any machine you purchase be designed to support the following:
- Universal Serial Bus (USB). This feature is designed to replace the serial and parallel connections (printer and external modem connections) that have been used with PCs since the beginning. The USB allows you to attach up to 127 devices such as printers, modems, the mouse, scanners, and joysticks without creating the hardware conflicts we experienced in the past.
- Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP). The AGP is a redesign of the methodology used to manage the graphics displayed on your screen. This new design dramatically improves the speed of your display, which will allow you to have photo-realistic images in place of the graphics we now see.
- High-speed disk controllers such as DMA-33, firewire, or ultrawide SCSI. These subsystems allow you access your disk drives at speeds unheard of a couple of years ago.