© Vishal P. Rao
Choosing Home Office Equipment
In Part 1 of this article we discussed how to select office furnishings and why making right choices were crucial to your comfort and ability to remain organized. In Part 2 we will take a look at your basic home office equipment needs.
The type of computer that's best for you depends upon type of work that you do, and whether you spend all of your time in your home office, or go out on road to meet clients. While there are a seemingly endless choice of makes and models, there are essentially only three basic choices.
For most home office situations, desktop computer reigns supreme. However, if you are on road a lot then you can find notebook computers with nearly same horsepower as best desktop. If you do choose a notebook, consider one that has an available docking station. That way, when you are in your home office, you can easily use a standard keyboard, mouse, and monitor.
Even if you have a desktop or notebook, you might have room in your life for a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA). PDAs, such as those from Palm Computing, can be a very valuable personal productivity tool especially if you need real-time access to your appointments, to-do lists, and phone numbers. With growing popularity of wireless Internet access you can even use your PDA to connect to your home office computer no matter where you are.
Your first decision is what type of technology to go with --laser or ink jet. Laser printers use a toner cartridge/drum assembly while ink jets accept ink tank cartridges. Lasers are generally better for high-volume printing and have higher duty cycles--the manufacturer's rating for unit's recommended monthly workload. Lasers also produce better-quality black text than most ink jets, though some ink-jet models rival low-end lasers.
Lasers are also faster than ink jets, but ink jets offer a lower cost model if you need to print in color. Color laser printers are still very expensive. Since prices for laser and ink jets are so low, you could consider buying one of each.
Another important item to consider is resolution. A printer's resolution determines overall print quality of your documents. Resolution means number of dots per inch that appear on page as a horizontal and vertical measurement such as 600 x 600 dots-per-inch or dpi. A 600 x 600 dpi resolution produces adequate quality for most projects.
Your final deciding factor is speed. While printers rarely perform up to manufacturer's claims, you should still use printer's posted performance specifications as a guideline. An acceptable speed for personal laser printers is around 6 to 10 pages per minute. An acceptable range for ink jet printers is 4 ppm or above.
There are printers that do double, triple, or even quadruple duty as a fax, copier, and scanner as well. You should consider buying one of these models if you have a need for all of this equipment.
3. Internet access
Today you have a wide choice of Internet access protocols. If you access Internet only to check your email, and browse web a bit, then you might be able to get by with an inexpensive dial-up account. This type of access generally runs around $9.95 per month and up.
If constant, high-speed Internet access is a requirement for your home office business, then you need to step up to either Digital subscriber lines (DSL), or a cable modem. Both provide sufficient speed for any type of business that you are likely to run out of a home office.
DSL utilizes unused bandwidth on your existing telephone lines to provide a constant connection, while cable modems use your existing cable television network. DSL may not be available in your area. It depends upon your telephone company's technology and how far you are from a DSL access point.
Cable, on other hand, is available in all but most remote markets. Still, if you can't get either, then there is always possibility of a satellite uplink. While this was considered extravagant only a few years ago, it's affordable and no more trouble than installing a small dish antenna on your home and signing up for service.