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Look, it's not a question of whether to buy Vista, but when you'll do it

The Baltimore Sun

I have now read your last two columns on Windows Vista and continue to have a relevant question. What are the benefits of migrating to Vista, other than helping Microsoft make money? As a computer user, what will I gain? I understand Vista has fancier icons. I don't know how I lived without them all these years.

- Michael Schmidt, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Let's start with a given: You will probably move to Vista sooner or later - no matter whether Vista is a significant upgrade or not. Microsoft will eventually drop XP support, and new programs will be written with Vista in mind. So what we're really talking about is when, not if.

Vista has some worthwhile features. Security is better. The way Vista automates backups gets raves from me, as does the ability of the e-mail program that replaces Outlook Express to detect spam.

Yes, many changes are cosmetic and unimportant. The Aero interface, which gives the screen a Mac-like appearance, actually is a drag on performance. So Vista may give some users second thoughts about sticking with Windows. There are interesting options including Linux, Unix and OS X.

For those staying with Windows - which is the vast majority - my advice is this: There's no need to be in a hurry to upgrade. Most people will be fine until they buy a new computer. If someone has a dual-processor machine that is loaded with memory, it'll run fine on that and, as I said, it does have some advantages.

As I understand things, there are several options with HDTV: projection TV, plasma or LCD. Tell me, which is the wisest choice?

- Neal Webster

That's a little like asking which is the best choice: a car, SUV, truck or two-seat sports car. It depends on what you need or crave. Same deal with HDTV.

Projection is especially nice in big media rooms. It works best if you can keep the room a little dark and want to re-create the theater experience.

Plasma probably delivers the best picture, and they are thin enough for wall mounting. LCDs are also thin, and they deliver a fine picture while using less electricity and running cooler. They're also generally cheaper. A lot of people swear by DLP, too, and love the crisp picture.

My best advice is to spend some time looking at the sets, consider where you'll use it and pick what works best.

Bill Husted writes for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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