Peripherals and Operating System
This content was originally featured on Amdmb.com and has been converted to PC Perspective’s website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.
There are many types of peripherals that you can connect to your computer for some added functionality, but the most common include printers and game controllers.
This is a topic that I most definitely like. There are three major types of printers – inkjet, laser, and dye sublimation.
Inkjet printers are the cheapest and most common of the three types. They are used for everyday home and office work. A good inkjet printer will have both a black and a color cartridge (in the printer at the same time) and will have a decently high speed of black printing (12-20PPM) and color w/ a resolution of at least 1200×1200. My favorite company producing inkjet printers has to be HP ( http://www.hp.com ). They are extremely reliable and have extremely good print quality as long as you don’t buy the one for $39.99.
Laser printers are generally used in offices and home offices for quickly and efficiently (cheaply) printing black & white pages. Laser printers are expensive in initial cost of buying the printer, but pay off in the long run because they can print thousands of pages on one toner. As for a company making laser printers, HP wins my business again with their outstanding printers and support.
Dye Sublimation (dye sub) printers are used to produce ultra-realistic photos. While costing quite a hefty bundle, some offices that do photo printing or need extreme color quality will be willing to invest in a dye sub printer.
Game controllers such as steering wheels, joysticks and gamepads have made gaming much easier and more enjoyable. Choosing your game controllers isn’t necessarily a difficult choice, but one of preference. Many people prefer a joystick or a steering wheel over a gamepad due to the digital restrictions on a game pad. Joysticks/steering wheels allow for analog movement and small adjustments in direction while gamepads force you to either ‘go or not go’ in a direction rather than making a smooth transition. Logitech makes great steering wheels in their MOMO line. Unfortunately, Microsoft recently dropped support and production for their Sidewinder line of joysticks and steering wheels (of which I own both). The Microsoft Sidewinder Precision Pro 2 is my personal favorite joystick, but they are going off the market, so snatch one while you still can.
Choosing an OS is generally not that difficult, but some people are now looking to alternatives to Windows, or reasons to upgrade to a newer version of Windows, so here’s a fairly simple breakdown.
- Windows 98 SE
- Windows ME
- Windows 2000 Pro
- Windows XP Home / Pro
- Windows 2003 Server
Windows 98 SE
Windows 98 SE is an older DOS based operating system, but still has the best compatibility with games. Unfortunately, 98 SE isn’t very stable or supported by Microsoft anymore – so don’t get your hopes up for updates, they’re not going to happen. Because of the limitations in 98 SE, any more RAM than 512MB is pretty much useless. Also, 98 SE can not use the NTFS file system.
One of Microsoft’s largest failures (only second to Bob), WinME was quickly pulled from Microsoft’s lineup. It supposedly combined all the great features of 98 SE and Windows 2000 into an operating system that was designed to help people transfer from the DOS / Win 9X days to the new NT based Windows 2000. Unfortunately for Microsoft, they rushed WinME and it ended up as a dismal failure. In fact, the only thing on Microsoft’s site still about WinME is how to uninstall it. Do not buy this OS (if you can find it) at any cost.
Windows 2000 Professional
Windows 2000 and Windows NT created the dawn of a new era in computing. They no longer used DOS as a base for the system, but moved to a more stable, quicker, and better programmed NT kernel. Supporting the NTFS file system, NT and 2000 provide a much higher level of security and better data storage than ever thought possible in the Windows 9X days. While extremely stable and rugged, Windows 2000 does have its faults. It isn’t compatible with many games and a lot of DOS programs. The best use for Windows 2000 is a computer that is going to be abused and thrown as much trash at it as possible – because it can take a beating and keep on going.
Windows XP Home / Pro
Well, here’s the most current OS for home users from Microsoft. It’s similar to Windows 2000 in most respects – stability, NTFS support, based on the NT kernel, and fairly rugged. The main differences between 2000 and XP begin with eye candy and support for older programs.
Windows XP Home and Windows XP Pro differ in a couple of ways. Windows XP Pro has certain networking technologies that are not included with XP Home. Windows XP Pro also has support for more than one processor while Windows XP Home can only support one.
Windows 2003 Server
Windows 2003 Server is Microsoft’s latest offering in enterprise and server operating system software. Basically, Microsoft has innovated their .Net strategy into an operating system similar to Windows 2000 Server with some security enhancements.
While it is improving everyday, Linux is a difficult operating system to setup and use. Distributions (flavors) of Linux include Debian, Redhat, Mandrake, Slackware, Gentoo and several others. There is one thing about Linux that makes it stand out more than anything: it is free. It is downloadable on the Internet from sites such as Debian.org for the Debian distribution. What you have to do is download the .ISOs and burn them using a program like Nero – you’ll have to make sure that you burn it as an image (in Nero you go to File / Burn Image).
Some of the advantages to Linux over Windows include the operating system being more robust and stable, Linux serves better as server software than Windows, and it is less likely to be attacked due to added security and fewer virii. The main downsides to Linux are that it is generally user-unfriendly and that there is no true ‘support’ for it – mainly because the distributions are developed by people around the world working together instead of a single large company producing a product. For beginning Linux users, Redhat or Mandrake will be best. For more advanced folks, Debian, Slackware, and Gentoo will be better solutions. For more information on Linux and how to get it going, refer to your distribution’s documentation and make sure to check out our Linux forum.