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Description: A PC intended for use by a number of different people in a family. Typically, this will include both adults and children, making it important that their sometimes very different needs both be considered. Children, fortunately, take very rapidly to the use of PCs with little fanfare or training required. Most modern systems are user-friendly enough that little fingers can adapt to them without a lot of specialization being needed.
Typical Applications Used: Runs the gamut, and probably includes a wider variety than most other PC uses. For the adults: office applications such as word processing and spreadsheets; family applications such as recipe programs, genealogy or whatnot depending on interests; financial applications for tracking funds; communications and entertainment, including Internet access, faxing, games and multimedia. For the children: educational software and games.
More Important Requirements Factors: Cost, reliability, ergonomics, usability, service.
Less Important Requirements Factors: Availability, performance (unless doing heavy gaming), expandability and upgradeability.
Performance Priorities: Performance is generally not important for this type of PC, unless the adults are doing very serious gaming; children's software is usually designed to run on much older hardware. A middle-of-the-road modern system will generally suffice, and often, much less than that is perfectly fine.
Recommended PC Types: New retail PC, configure-to-order PC, refurbished PC, used PC. Also consider alternatives to PCs.
Recommended Sources: A local PC shop that will provide good value, warranty and service. Failing that, a computer superstore or online vendor with top reputation.
Budget: Anywhere from $500 to $1500 should be sufficient depending on exact needs and the number of bells and whistles. More than $1500 is not necessary unless you are trying to cover a lot of bases or get extra performance for gaming.
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