IT'S ALL FREE! Computer Hardware

As a new legal nurse consultant, expect to multitask with your computer - typing reports, viewing electronic medical records and conducting internet searches. I'm a bit of a computer geek. I've owned over 20 computers. I learned to service them by opening the cases to upgrade them or exchange malfunctioning parts. If you're looking for a new computer, here are my suggestions. These recommendations are for computer hardware. I also have recommendations for computer software for new legal nurse consultants,

1) Decide if you want a tablet, laptop or a desktop. Tablets and laptops have the advantage of portability but desktops, in my opinion, are better for a home office because you get more for your money.

2) If you're going to buy a Windows-based PC (which is what most of the world has), don't worry about brand names. I've owned them all, and it's the innards that are more important than the brand name. Macs have a very loyal fan base but they're more expensive and software is more limited and/or more expensive than software for PCs.

3) Get as much memory/hard drive as you can afford. I would recommend at least 4 GB RAM (random access memory) and a 500 GB (gigabyte) hard drive. Both the amount of memory and the storage capacity of the hard drive affect how quickly your computer runs.

4) The processor also makes a big difference in the speed of your computer. Skip anything with an Intel Celeron or AMD Sempron processor - they're too underpowered. Intel Pentium and AMD Athlon processors are good - certainly enough for what you'll use the computer for. Intel Core and AMD Phenomand above  processors are great. A dual, triple,  quad or more processor will make a computer faster as well.

5) Make sure that the video card supports dual monitors. Check the back of the computer case (or the box) to see that the computer's video card includes at least two of the three kinds of video ports - VGA, DVI and/or HDMI. VGA ports are blue, DVI ports are white, and HDMI ports look the same as HDMI ports for an HD television. Two ports will accommodate dual monitors. If you want a triple monitor setup, you'll need three ports.

6) If you're purchasing monitors, dual monitors are essential to read electronic medical records on one screen and to type your report on the second screen. You'll need the same type of ports (sometimes called outputs) on the monitors as on your video card. For example, if your computer has a VGA port and a DVI port, at least one monitor will need a VGA  output and one will need a DVI output. For new monitors, the box will tell you what kind of outputs the monitors have. If you're thinking of using existing monitors, disconnect them from their power source and from your computer. Turn the monitors over so that you can see where the cables connect to the monitor. That's where you will find the outputs.   And measure your desk to see that the monitors will fit. I once purchased two 22 inch monitors for my home office but couldn't fit them on my desk.

7) Don't forget the printer. Ink jet printers are dirt cheap now-a-days but they're not always a good buy. That's because the printer manufacturers make their money on ink - up to $10,000 if you were buying it by the gallon. I use a laser printer (which uses toner, not ink) for the bulk of my printing. I also have an all-in-one ink jet printer which I use mainly to scan and copy. If I have a report with a colored diagram or photo, I print those parts of the report with the all-in-one printer and the rest with the laser printer.

8) Remember that you will need cables to set up your new equipment. For example, you may need a cable for your new printer. VGA cables are often supplied with new monitors but DVI and HDMI cables are not. You can buy cables at CablesToGo or at a local electronics store.

9) Skip the external hard drive for back ups. We're human beings and none of us do back ups the way we should. Get an annual subscription to Carbonite or Mozy, which will do automatic back ups for you.

...Katy Jones