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by Ray Carlson

Q: I am new to computing and need to buy varied equipment. How do I know which is the best brand to buy for each item?

A: That is a question that concerns those with experience. Magazine-like websites like PCWorld, PCMag and CNET provide reviews and occasional ratings. Sites that sell electronics like and encourage purchasers to provide reviews and ratings and often include large number of responses. Unfortunately, it takes time to search each site for reviews of the product of interest.

There is one website, ConsumerSearch that provides a summary of what several of these other sources say. They have a listing of several categories like electronics, computers, home and garden, etc. Select a general category and then a specific product like printers or firewalls - they will list what they view as the best brands in that category based on an interpretation of what other websites have said about those products. To make money, they also include advertisements on the right side of the page. Look at the reviews first using the adds after you have decided which brand to purchase. Their reviews seem to be independent often giving lower ratings to some of the advertised items.

There are other sites covering specific topics like laptops or cameras, but a full discussion exceeds the space we have here. To offer more depth, we will discuss this topic along with getting good prices at the Computer Society meeting on Saturday, October 22 at the Prescott Library.

Published: Courier 10/16/11 - Page 5C