What should I buy?


#1

I think it’s about time to get something nicer than my three-year-old Win98, PII-360, 128MB-RAM system.

I need to run Microsoft Word (not an equivalent), so Linux is out. And I’d rather not switch over to Mac, much as I like those computers. So this needs to be a PC system.

Privacy matters to me, so what little I’ve read about XP makes me disinclined to get it. Or have its more controversial features been muzzled?

I would prefer an English-language operating system that handles Chinese well, because although I often work with material that contains Chinese, I don’t know enough computer-related characters to tweak a machine with a Chinese-language OS. I’ve heard Windows 2000 can switch interface languages, just like Office 2000. That would be ideal, I think, if it’s still available. (Can XP do the same?)

Do I save enough money getting some hole-in-the-wall computer store to build a system for me that the extra cost of the operating system doesn’t wreck my budget? Or should I buy a more expensive name-brand system that comes with an OS? (Or should I stay with Win98? My copy of it is legit.)

Games don’t interest me, but I do need to do occasional graphics- and memory-heavy work with Photoshop and Illustrator.

I may just stick with my current Vision Lab CRT, which is quite nice.

Price limit: around NT$30,000, though I’d prefer NT$25,000.

Suggestions please.


#2

Ok well if you are after some office work type of machine, word processing and the sort id go for the following. I would not myself buy a brand name package deal “Dell” etc, you pay too much for the brand name and get in my opinion, a pretty name tag on the box for the price.

OS Windows XP - Sorry i dont know what scares you
about it. Its in my view
the BEST OS you will find. Can
display Chinese and let you input
in Chinese using a LOT of
different methods. win98 = BAD

CPU - Duron 800mhz and up
Its cheap and cheerful. Has
enough grunt to do what you are
after.

RAM - 512 MEG DDR RAM - DDR not SDR, its faster.
Anyway 512 at least.

Hard Disk - 40 Gig 7200 rpm. Any brand would do.
40gig minimum for
space.

Video Card - Geforce 2 MX - Good enough for what
you want, and is good
value card for games.

Monitor - If you are happy with ur current one
keep it. If not, get at least 19",
they are nice and cheap now. If 19"
seems too big, 17" then, good value.

Thats just the brief basics of what id suggest. Seems to me you want a word processor, can use to do some photoshop whatever work and get on the web, mabye print stuff etc. That basic setup is cheap and will cost you less than 25,000, my quick guess 15,000 and up. Its not the fastest, but then your not paying through the nose for it. Dont get any brand name box, its a rip off.
Also what i suggested in my view isnt CRAP. Thats not a dodgy arse machine that wont do what you want. Im using something VERY similar to what i listed, actually its a bit slower and does me fine for games which i love playing, burning cds, surfing the web and lovely OFFICE work. Im sure a lot of people will give you some advice, thats just 2 cents worth, good luck.


#3
quote:
Originally posted by cranky laowai: I need to run Microsoft Word (not an equivalent), so Linux is out.
May I ask why by all means you need Word? Do you have to rely on special macros? If not, maybe you could try OpenOffice ([www.openoffice.org](http://www.openoffice.org)) - its free, so what could you lose? A friend of mine is using it on Linux - among others also for writing Chinese...

quote[quote]And I’d rather not switch over to Mac, much as I like those computers.
[/quote]
Mac OS X supports Unicode and does that in a very fine way - and you can get Word even on the Mac…

quote[quote]Privacy matters to me, so what little I’ve read about XP makes me disinclined to get it. Or have its more controversial features been muzzled?
[/quote]
MS seems to be slowly shifting its billing system to a pay-per-use method. One of the logical steps toward that target is the way XP and its applications are registered. Although, afaik, there seems to be a patch/crack to avoid the registration.

quote[quote]I would prefer an English-language operating system that handles Chinese well,
[/quote]
Win2000, WinXP and Mac OS X (The previous Mac OS versions were not bad either, but afaik did not support Unicode) will do that after relatively easy additional installations.
Linux can do it too, but will require a bit more work and knowledge.

quote[quote]I’ve heard Windows 2000 can switch interface languages, just like Office 2000. That would be ideal, I think, if it’s still available. (Can XP do the same?)
[/quote]
Afaik, yes.

quote[quote]Price limit: around NT$30,000, though I’d prefer NT$25,000.
[/quote]
If there wasn’t this limit I would say: Get an iBook and enjoy…


#4

I use win 2k and win xp pro. I have to say that win 2k is a lot better than win xp pro. I had more crashes/lock-ups with win xp pro than win 2k. I would recommend win 2k hands down. win 2k also contains different keyboard input packages.

duron and celeron cpus are not recommended since they have less cache memory on the cpu. the prices of cpus don’t differ that much so I wouldn’t recommend the durons and celerons. AMD chips tend to be cheaper than Intel chips. I’ve had two AMD computer and they work well. The only problem with AMD chips is that they tend to be hotter than Intel chips. That becomes a problem in Taiwan during the summer months. If you have enough fans cooling the cpu you should be ok.

512meg of ram is recommeneded. especially if you are going to run graphics programs. DDR is faster and cheaper than SDRAM.

ATI video cards tend to be better suited for video work. Geforce is more for games. Geforce MX cards are lower end cards than TI cards.

one concern for harddrives is the speed/heat. 5400 rpm generates less heat than 7200 rpm. If you are getting a lower capacity drive, it’s much easier to get a 5400 rpm drive.

some motherboards now contain ethernetcards, video cards, and sound cards built into them. They tend to be smaller but the problem is that these motherboards tend to have less expansion slots and the video cards and sound cards tend to be limited in functions. If they break, you have to use the expansion slots for the replacement and that limits your expansion slots.

The configuration of the computer depends on what you need.

Mark


#5

Re. needing MS Word specifically: I’m a copy editor, and that’s the format I must work in 99 percent of the time, because that’s what almost everyone here uses. File conversions can be a pain. The “track changes” feature is also useful. (Perhaps OpenOffice has this, too. I should check it out. Thanks for the link.) Also, well, my wife is comfortable with Office but not other programs and I have to share the computer with her. Most Office programs are quite good, but I wish I could cure her of wanting to use that virus-magnet Outlook.

Actually, I have an AMD right now, not a Pentium II. It’s worked fine – other than that I’ve had a lot of bad luck with the mini fan on the processor. They keep going out of alignment or dying altogether. I’ve already replaced it three times.

Just want to double check on this: If I get an English-language OS (Win2000 or XP), I can view and input Chinese in any program that would otherwise allow it (such as my text editor), not just Office and other MS software? What will I need to do so? Nothing extra at all? A free download of the Chinese IME? Another program I must pay for (e.g. Twinbridge)? Something else?

Thanks to everyone for the responses so far.


#6

Confirmed: You do not need to migrate to Windows XP to input Chinese on an English system. Windows 2000 has all the language packs necessary. I currently have US English, Thai, Simplified and Traditional Character support, all part of standard W2K:

Control Panels > Regional Options > Input Locales

Then you need to select one or more of the following for Chinese:

Chinese(Traditional) - Phonetic
this is for zhu4 yin1 fu2 hao4

Chinese(Traditional) - New Phonetic
this is for han4 yu3 pin1 yin1


#7

Yes Windows XP english version will let you do everything you want. Type and view in Chinese whatever you can think of. Just requires you to select and install the East Asian Language packs found on the CD. Im using Win XP English verion and no problems at all.


#8

All of this comes as good news, thanks.

Would there be any point in waiting for the computer show at the beginning of next month?


#9

Personally id say no price wise. I havent been to too many comp shows, but from what I can remember the pices werent the best ive seen. Again depends what you wanna buy. If you’re after some brand name stuff then i guess yes. Also at least ALL the stuff you want will be in ONE place. Guang Hua is fun to buy pc stuff at but i hate busting my arse walking all over the place just coz different shops have different prices and sometimes wont match other shops prices. I guess if you can wait it wont hurt, in theory comp stuff only gets cheaper, except RAM which is like a bloody roller coaster sometimes


#10

The computer “show” next month is not the type you’re thinking of. It’s a computer “exhibition”, meaning that they don’t sell anything. Although sometimes the stores in Guang Hwa will lower prices for that.

Here’s what I think:

CPU - Duron 1Ghz - lower speeds are hard to find and not much cheaper. Athlons are quite a bit pricier.

Motherboard - integrated sound, ethernet and ATA 100/133. Maybe integrated video too

RAM - 512 MB DDR - SDRAM is on its way out, get a motherboard that takes DDR RAM

Video card - cheap nVidia. ATIs are expensive and nVidias are relatively powerful and have good driver support.

Hard drive - 40-60GB 7200RPM ATA100/133. Even though they run hotter than 5400 RPM, you won’t be waiting around for your files to load. Trust me, you’ll see the difference.

Monitor - if you’re changing your monitor, buy a good quality, flat screen (not LCD panel) 17". This is going to be the most expensive. I recommend name brands such as Samsung, Viewsonic, etc. While I love Taiwan brands (nationalism), the quality simply isn’t there yet. If you don’t like having a hulking thing on your desk, spring for a LCD (again, brand name will save you headache in the long run)

Price: About 10,000 for everything except the monitor.


#11

Thanks again for all the recommendations.
I ended up with a P4-1.6 system running Win2K (English edition). 512MB DDR-RAM, 60GB IBM 7200.

After seeing how beautiful those Samsung LCD monitors are, I knew I’d be wanting to upgrade once I could afford it. So I splurged on a relatively expensive video card that can also handle DVI. (I know that’s not necessary for LCDs, and that with most it wouldn’t make any difference. I’m just trying to look ahead.)

My problem now is that I can’t get the old Chinese Win98 computer to network with the new Win2K system. (I have lots of files I want to transfer, and don’t have a CD-R on my old system.) I bought a hub and changed some Win98 settings so that my C-drive is marked as sharing its files. But the light on the hub never comes on for the old system, though it does for the Win2K computer. Very frustrating, esp. since I can’t read lots of the Chinese well enough to play with my settings until I figure it out. Any advice?


#12

Are you using the NetBEUI protocol on both network cards ? If you have enabled NetBEUI on both your 98 machine and Win2k machine it should work if it is bound to the network card (don’t bind it to the dial-up adapter). It can be tricky - best to get someone to come round to your place and sort it. Sometimes you have to type the name of the machine into the address bar of Windows explorer - often the network browser can’t see the machine even if it’s there.

Another reason I use Win2k: NetBEUI is a pain to install on WinXP - doesn’t come as standard.

If the light on the hub isn’t coming on you might have a faulty cable.


#13

Hi Cranky LaoDa,

Did you build your PC yourself or buy it as a whole package already setup? I usually build my own. I am currently waiting for the latest Asus microATX motherboard P4B533V which I see on their International website (ie in Taiwan) but which hasn’t actually arrive in Hong Kong shops yet.

You can save quite a bit of money if you build your own system unit. You can also thus get/afford the latest GeForce 4 Ti graphic wonder. Just too cool.And yes it is of course DVI output enabled. In HK the cheapest GeForce 4 Ti card retails around HK$1300 dollars. Asus is expensive as you probably know. That is around HK$2000. The most expensive (the Asus8460) is around HK$3000. Maybe if you know anyone flying here to renew their visa, you can get them to courier some for me. Asus should be cheaper in Taiwan surely.

First to add to “Hexuan” above. He is quite right. If you only got two PCs connected via a typical hub, you need to run the Netbeui protocol on both cards instead of the Windows2000 default which is of course TCP/IP. Netbeui is the least troublesome protocol to set up before WinXP. If you want to run TCPIP, you need to set at least a fixed IP address for each of the network cards eg.“192.168.0.1” for the first PC and the other PC should be “192.168.0.2” etc… To do this you need to go to the “Properties” of the TCPIP protocol and click the tab for setting the IP address. I thought you were the technical type, no? You were the one who told me how to set webpages for Unicode fonts, remember? I haven’t been posting much because of my own workload. Also hexuan had another point, it is much easier To Do the networking for you if you are not use to it, then “explain” like we are trying to do now on pen and paper. Bound to leave some detail out which you will be searching high and low for -oh so frustrating- I know. After you set the IP address you should be able to ping the other PC quite easily. If not check the cables as well. Make sure the PCs are showing or belonging to the same Workgroup setting. Make sure also that the user you use to connect the two PCs have sufficient authority. I normally just go for the administrator. Share out the folder of everyone access etc.

Windows XP Pro is actually very good for managing Chinese characters. (I recently had to install 13 copies for a local company, as well as one Imac running OSX The Imac was of course another world They didn’t want a traditional Windows Server).

XP Pro fulfils yours/my dream requirement of managing Chinese in an All English OS better than Win2000. The idea of the “Locale” in Windows 2000 is further improved again in Win XP Pro. In XP Pro, you don’t even have to install Big5 fonts at the OS level for the OS to be able to run Big5 originated programs. I wonder what I am saying make any sense to you at all! Imagine in the past with Windows98 or Window ME, you had to buy the Trad Chinese version to be able to install/run/see programs like DrEye which has menus all written in Big5 fonts. Well you couldn’t also install DrEye properly in Windows 2000 English either without installing Big5 fonts for the OS “interface” . Now you can actually install DrEye or similar Taiwan Chinese software programs written only for trad Chinese/Big5 platforms in WinXP Pro (International Eng) and run them alongside MSOFFICE (Unicode). Too cool. Yes no need for Richwin or Twinbridge or anything like that anymore. Try Q9, the Chinese Input software I suggested sometime back. Since the CC and CE Dictionary that comes with this input software was from Taiwan (ie Big5 fonts) it was not possible before to install and see in Windows 2000 (ENG) but now it is all visible in WinXPPro. Again I sound like a Microsoft advert.
An OEM version of WinXP Pro in HK is now retailing at just over $1300 versus the same or slightly less for Win2000. I would plonk for the XPPro.


#14

Hold your horses everyone! cranky lao wai: Before you go around messing around with your settings you should check some hardware items first.

quote[quote]But the light on the hub never comes on for the old system, though it does for the Win2K computer.[/quote]

This means that there is no physical (electrical) connection between the hub and your old computer. That means 1)You have a bad cable 2)You have a bad port 3)You have a bad/wrongly configured network card 4)Any combination of the above. The first thing you want to do is to figure out what’s wrong . It may be that you are plugged into the wrong port on the hub.

Once you get your lights working, here’s the tricky part. Getting Win2k to access Win98 files has been hit and miss for me, it appears to be much easier the other way around.


#15

The cable doesn’t seem to be faulty, because it’s exactly the same one I use for my DSL connection. Perhaps that reveals my problem. Do I have to somehow adjust how the network card is set up to switch from DSL to network with my other PC?

NetBEUI is enabled.

I’ve tried moving the cables from port to port. Do I need to reboot each time, or is moving them enough?

I didn’t build the system myself, but I didn’t get a brand either. I just followed the advice from the helpful folk in this forum.

quote[quote]I thought you were the technical type, no? You were the one who told me how to set webpages for Unicode fonts, remember?[/quote] I'm pretty good in HTML and CSS, but I suck when it comes to hardware and Windows systems. My geek credentials were once pretty good, as I worked as a programmer while in high school and learned FORTRAN back in the days of punch cards. And I had some friends who could rival Captain Crunch for phreaking and hacking. But somewhere around Win95 I gave up exploring, thinking it took too much time for too little return. (Messy, messy Windows systems.) Part of me feels deeply ashamed and tells me I should be reading slashdot religiously.
quote[quote]Also hexuan had another point, it is much easier To Do the networking for you if you are not use to it, then "explain" like we are trying to do now on pen and paper. Bound to leave some detail out which you will be searching high and low for -oh so frustrating- I know.[/quote] I think I'll probably end up having to get someone to walk me through this over the phone. Or maybe find a local geek who can set this up for me. But I appreciate the advice, everyone, and maybe will get this working yet!
quote[quote]Make sure the PCs are showing or belonging to the same Workgroup setting. [/quote] Both are labelled "workgroup".
quote[quote]Make sure also that the user you use to connect the two PCs have sufficient authority. I normally just go for the administrator. [/quote] Admin, yes.
quote[quote]Share out the folder of everyone access etc.[/quote]Done.
quote[quote]That means 1)You have a bad cable 2)You have a bad port 3)You have a bad/wrongly configured network card 4)Any combination of the above. [/quote]Probably 3 or 4, I'm guessing.

And after all this works, I need to figure out how to get the new system on the Net. But one step at a time…


#16

Ok, one step at a time. First step: Get the “Link” lights on your hub and network card (NIC) working. The link lights indicate a purely electrical connection that is independent from software. If you don’t have link lights there is almost no chance you can get your network to work. You shouldn’t need to reboot.

1)Unplug the cable from both hub and NIC and plug them back in again.
2)Check to see if you have link lights on both your NIC and your hub port. If you have lights on one but not the other, you have something strange going on. If you have lights on both, you’re (theoretically) good to go.
3)Make sure that you are NOT plugged into the uplink/crossover port on your hub (usually first or last). Just to be safe, plug into something in the middle of the hub.


#17

I’ve been busy and haven’t had time to mess with this lately. But now it’s time to plunge back in.

OK, the lights on both cards and the hub are on. (The old cable wasn’t fully wired, it seems, so I bought a new one, which works fine.)