Purchasing a new desktop computer can be a confusing experience for a real estate agent with technology changing so often. You may be wondering what technologies are best. Or will the computer meet your current and future real estate needs?
So instead of recommending an actual desktop computer, I have outlined some minimum requirements and recommendations for a solid, sensible real estate agent desktop computer. This way, no matter which brand you prefer, you will be able to shop with confidence.
While I do not recommend any specific computer brands, I do recommend purchasing from a company that allows you to fully configure your system. Dell and HP are 2 prime examples. This will give you the most flexibility. When you walk into a store and buy a pre-configured system, you may be paying for more than you need or be forced to upgrade components at a later date.
Microsoft Windows Vista has been out for over 7 months now. At this point, it is ill-advised to recommend purchasing a new computer with the aging Windows XP operating system installed. You may need to download updates for your current programs or purchase the latest version, but that may be a blessing in disguise.
There are 4 editions of Vista that you will likely come across (Basic, Home Premium, Business and Ultimate), but real estate agents should only consider Home Premium or Ultimate. Both of these editions include the multimedia functionality that has become essential real estate technology.
The Ultimate edition includes all Windows Vista functionality, including full system backup and remote access capability. The additional functionality can be well worth the extra $80-120.
When it comes to the latest processor technology, Intel Core 2 Duo is the only way to go. These processors are far superior to anything that competitor AMD has to offer. Any Core 2 Duo chip will be more than adequate for the average real estate agent’s needs.
Windows Vista is a memory hog! Because of this, don’t skimp on RAM or you will regret it very quickly. Spring for 2GB of RAM to give Vista the elbow room it needs.
Storage space is inexpensive, so go big. As multimedia technology (i.e. Videos, Photos and Podcasts) become more abundant in real estate, you will need this extra space.
Just as Windows Vista eats up memory, it also uses a tremendous amount of video processing power. This means you should pay attention to the video card in a new computer more than ever before. Cheap, integrated graphics cards are not going to satisfy. For a computer to handle any real estate technology tasks that you can throw at it, make sure you purchase a discrete (dedicated) video card with 256MB of memory or more. Video cards from either NVIDIA or ATI are the best bet.
Sound Card and Speakers
Sound cards and speakers are areas where you can skimp and save a few bucks. Unless you are really into music, go with a basic, integrated sound card and simple speakers.
Every desktop computer should have a DVD-RW drive. These versatile drives play and record CD’s and DVD’s. While you might not think you will ever need to burn a DVD, think again. With over 4 GB of storage space per DVD, they are a wonderful media for file backups. Also, if you have yet to use video in a listing presentation or open house it is only a matter of time before you do. A DVD-RW drive will surely come in handy.
You may be tempted to upgrade to a Blu-Ray or HD DVD drive. I would advice against that as they are expensive and who knows which format will prevail (do you remember Beta?).
There are few things in your life that you will stare at as much as your computer monitor. Get as big and as high of quality as you can. Widescreens are the latest trend in monitors. Buy at least a 20” widescreen or spend a bit more for a 22”. Compare contrast ratios and response rates. The higher the contrast ratio and the lower the response rate, the easier it will be on your eyes.
Keyboard and Mouse
Would you benefit from a wireless keyboard and mouse set? Are you left or right handed (some mice are right hand specific)? Would additional function buttons make you more efficient (I need a back button on my mouse)?
No matter what you purchase, at least buy an optical or laser mouse (no more mice with the trackball inside).