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This section is for people who you are serious about making multimedia or computer graphics. You can make Autorun menu almost on any computer, but to make real multimedia you need to think about hardware.

Be sure you have very good Brand Name (important) computer with lots of memory and hard drive space.

The Memory and the space on HD is more important than CPU speed.
If you going to produce computer images or multimedia encyclopedia - less than 128 MB memory will give you headache. 8 GB on HD could be nice start.
On the other hand the CPU speed is not as important. You won't see big difference between Pentium 300 and Pentium 400 in speed - only in price. Why? Everything else on your computer is much-much slower. You will see difference if you are using 3D raytracing program where the most important thing is processor.
For normal multimedia/image processing the most used part is the memory and hard disk. So if you buying computer ask what processor they have new and buy the processor below that - this will save you couple of hundred dolars.

Why brand name?
Well, as a student I was making PC's for sale and I know how companies are trying to cut the price down just buying cheapest components from different sources. The PC is not tuned ! Crashing more or less often.
Now we have year 1998 and I am telling you: your computer shouldn't crash just using normal software. If the computer is build from certified componetnts, running the correct operating system it should be stable. Well, buy cheap computer from corner store and you will see it is crashing time to time - you ask the salesman and he will tell you this is the software which is crashing, not the hardware.

The difference between brand name and the cheap solution could be like between my Mazda 626 from 1986 and friend's 1996 Mazda 626, both have similar engine but I am afraid to go on my 86 to Toronto, he is not.

Also if the computer is certified to use one op. system (Win98) don't install another more advance (WinNT)

Operating system
NT is much more stable than 95 or 98. The new gadgets might not work, you might have problems with MIDI or DirectX and games.
So stuck with Win98 I guess.

Like general BB approach in America - Bigger is Better. It is true. Still 17" could be price-wise solution. (I have 15")

Video Card
Must follow your monitor - you are not buying 12MB video card for 15" monitor I hope. From my experience Stealth is pretty good also Matrox.
Don't buy unknow name just to save $10, If you look on the back of the box you will see for some reason the card you looking at is 40% better than any other brand. I really like those charts!
All newest cards are expensive, you think they must be better, they promise incredible speed etc..(The 3D is hot-topic). Remember you must have a special designed software to use this extra speed. It is usually just only the game they put in the package. No proffesional software is designed to work with some specific card - so forgot those features unless you want to play "Unreal".

Sound Card
Multimedia computer without sound card ? Never ! There are many standard or wavetable cards but with Sound Blaster you can be sure it is compatible with your computer, all software....Also Creative labs are working on less noise - the biggest SB problem.
I think the SB Live! Value is very good $99 card if you time-to time create some own music. Don't buy the Live, buy Live Value.
If you are not creating any music, just want to have sound card, get cheapest SB PCI 128- few years ago this would be Mercedes - and today I am saying just "some" sound card.PCI 128 is very good for great price (because of the newest Live) You will be surprised the oldest cards AWE 64, AWE 64 Gold are still more expensive than the newer PCI 128.

I fyou are going to be a professional musician - don't buy SoundBlaster or just wait a couple of years.. (Still the full SB Live! (not Value) with digital output is not that bad for the money).
People in the Pro side are using Pinacle from Turtle Beach - very low noise, good dynamics. Couple of years ago I was using Maui from Turtle Beach - low noise but bad support for midi patches (Wavetable thing) , then I switched to AWE 32 -great support for patches but source of noise. Now I have SB Live Value for less than was AWE32 and I love it. (As much as you can be in love with sound card) Less noise, better dynamics, excellent effect processor from Emu, midi patches - six stars from five! The best card kid like me can have.

Backup device
Not making a backup ? Bye, bye...
Looking at all backup solutions today - ZIP, JAZ,SyQuest, tape - ther is my winer: And Oscar goes to - CD recorder.
Yes, the initial cost is higer than ZIP drive or other. But with the price of $1.50 for 600MB - this is the #1. You cannot beat this.
Saying you can only record once, but with ZIP or JAZ you can also rewrite?
Very bad man... with $1.50 per CD you have no need to use the CD again - just buy another CD and the old one use under cofee cup. And also you can record a music on CD and then play it on your CD audio player!

CD Recorder
Now you see many of the CD recorders are also CDRW - rewritable. I don't understand this ! The RW cost like $20, it takes 1 hour to format it. There must be really a special case why to use RW if standard write-once CD's cost $1.50

What yo should look for is DirectCD - a great feature for backup making your CD something like hard disk, just drag files in explorer to CD and it will record it. Bad thing - the CD cannot be read on standard CD ROM even on the end you can convert it to ISO, you will find 5 CD ROM drives from 10 where it cannot be read. Well this is just backup for you and then you can copy it and make real ISO CD if you want. I still like it as a backup very much.

External is more expensive. If you decide to buy external - buy only SCSI (you need also SCSI card) The internal IDE works fine, but the external IDE (through the printer port) is pain in the printer port.

Any CD recorder will be able to make standard ISO CD and it depends on software what else you can do. So the other thing is to look what software is there. For me the best software is Easy CD Pro $99 from Adaptec and for me the best CD recorder drive is:

HP 7200i (internal)- it has support for DirectCD, Easy CD 3.0 is included (in older versions they put only Easy CD Audio - but 7200i has one more cd - the full Easy CD 3.0 -this was the last minute addon - so they don't mention this on the box (maybe just sticker) or in the manual. Saves you $99. It has also other soft - Corel Print House Magic and Adobe Image Ready - who knows why...
The installation - painless, just unplug your CD ROM and plug 7200i
The price - great - after introducing the newest HP 8100 the 7200 went down and in America it is one of the cheapest brand name drive.

Other drives:
YAMAHA has for many years excellent CD recorders !


will continue....