by January 4, 1998 0 comments

Now that you have a basic
PC configuration decided, it is time to look at
additional components—items that add more oomph to
your PC! There are a lot of accessories available in the
market. Which ones you choose depend upon the kind of
work you do. Here’s a list of most of the additional
accessories that are becoming quite popular in the
market.

SCSI
cards

SCSI devices are very
common in niche areas like graphics and multimedia, as
well as on network servers. If your motherboard does not
have a built-in SCSI bus (thereby adding to its cost!),
you need a SCSI card. Some SCSI devices like scanners
come with a bundled SCSI card. Though some of these
devices are also available in parallel port
versions—like scanners, ZIP drives, etc–the
SCSI versions are often preferred due to their superior
performance. The sad part about SCSI is that there are
too many standards around. SCSI-I, SCSI-II, Fast SCSI,
Wide SCSI, Ultra SCSI, SCSI-III, and combinations of all
these may just help in confusing you. If you are planning
to get SCSI devices for your computer, go in for a SCSI
III card, as that is the latest one. SCSI cards from
Adaptec, such as the 7880 and 2940 UW are among the
popular ones, as they are very easy to configure, and
most of the operating systems support them.

Ethernet
cards

This is an absolute must
when you have more than one computer in the same
premises. There are hundreds of network cards out there.
Out of these, the NE2000 compatible 10 Mbps ISA cards are
the cheapest. But these can be a pain to configure
because of the need to manually do the IRQ settings. That
is why we recommend going in for PCI cards, preferably a
10/100 Mbps one. They are slightly more expensive than
the ISA ones, but they were the most hassle free cards we
found.

Storage
options

This area has seen a lot
of action over the recent past, and all of it is not just
restricted to hard disks and tape drives. A large range
of storage options and media is now available in the
market. Among the portable ones, most popular is the
Iomega Zip drive with compact disks of 100 MB. These are
parallel port or SCSI devices, with larger capacities,
robustness, portability. Ease of setup is their major
USP. Then there is the 120 MB SuperDisk from Imation that
is backwardly compatible with the floppy disk. Another
form of storage media gaining popularity is
Magneto-Optical drives, or MO drives. These are SCSI
devices that function as external hard drives, and are a
good desktop option. Their main advantage is that the
media, unlike magnetic tapes, are insensitive to magnetic
fields and are lot more robust. Common ones are from
Philips and Mitsubishi with capacities ranging from 650
MB to 2.6 GB.

Modems

A modem is a must in
today’s connected world. Whether it is for your
home, office, or notebook, a good modem and access to the
Internet is fast becoming a prerequisite for effective
and productive computing. Do not buy anything slower than
33.6 kbps. 56 kbps modems are also available, but the
speed is not supported in this country. Otherwise, we
have seen these modems work well at 33.6 kbps speeds.
Good 33.6 kbps modems are today available from around Rs
4000 upwards.

Pointing
devices

Talk of pointing devices
and you generally think of mice. Today, you have a range
of options starting with mice and going on to track-pads,
joysticks, game-pads, and more. Even mice come with
assorted features. There are wireless mice that can be
used from as much as 20 feet away. Then there are mice
with special features to help in Web navigation. There
are also a large number of different trackballs
available. An inverted mouse, (a beakball for all
practical purposes) supposedly give you more pointing
control, and is used by CAD and image editing
professionals.

A track-pad may be a
better option than a plain vanilla mouse. If you are into
graphics, particularly illustration in a big way, then
you will be well advised to invest in a Pen Tablet. And
if you are an avid gamer, then there is no way you are
going to be satisfied with a simple mouse. A good
joystick is the bare minimum. Joysticks have been around
for quite some time. They reduce wrist strain, keyboard
wear-out, and games are so much more fun with them.
Joysticks also have lots of different options like number
of buttons, sensitivity control, and some also have a
feature called tactile feedback. With this
feature, the joystick gives you a small vibration when
you get shot or are otherwise hurt in a game. The market
for gaming accessories is extremely competitive
internationally, but this market has not matured enough
in India yet. So, you may have to really look around a
bit if you are in the market for anything more
specialized than a joystick.

For
leisure

Computers are not meant
just for work and business or games. Today, your computer
is fast evolving into a one-stop entertainment console.
Speakers, sound cards, FM cards, TV tuner cards, DVD-ROM
drives, and MPEG cards are just some of the things that
you can add to your computer.

TV
tuner cards

Till about one year ago,
TV-tuner cards were weren’t very popular. For
starters, they cost a pretty penny, and quality of output
was nothing to write home about. But today, there is a
whole range of TV cards available at affordable prices.
The basic ones let you watch TV programs or listen to FM
radio while you work on your PC. The more advanced ones
have video capturing capabilities, and even let you
connect your PC to your television. While buying a
TV-tuner card, try to get one that lets you watch TV in a
window, thus allowing you to continue working (if you
aren’t distracted too much). Some TV cards use the
entire screen for display, and you need to switch back
and forth to continue working. Most TV-tuner cards today
come with remote controls so that you can channel surf
with ease. These remote controls let you do everything
that software controls do, from controlling brightness
and contrast to fine tuning channels.

MPEG
cards

There are other options
available too for your system. These include add-ons like
an MPEG card. However, it does not make sense to go in
for a separate MPEG card when you can get one that
supports the latest MPEG-II standard with all DVD-ROM
drives.

So, go out, take your
pick, and lighten your pockets.

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