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Double Duty

Home PCs for business and family give you the best of both worlds.

You've been fighting it for weeks. You've made a few forays into computer stores, marveled at the technology, calculated the costs, and finally found the courage to ask yourself: Should I invest in a home PC?

If you already own a home PC that serves both business and family needs, your question may be: Should I upgrade my old model with a kit, or is it time to turn in my plain vanilla computer for a dazzling multimedia model?

Multimedia computers have video and sound capabilities as well as all the standard applications, all in one unit. With modems and speakerphones to send and receive data via telephone, built-in audio speakers, fax capability, voice mail, answering machines, CD-ROM drives and microphones, today's multimedia home PCs are almost as fully equipped as a complete office.

If you're thinking of modernizing your computer with an upgrade kit, it might be better to save time and money by simply buying an entirely new model. Many users find that not only is it too complicated to install kits, but they also need to replace some computer parts to accommodate newer technology.

Fortunately, you don't have to be a computer genius to set up and operate these new multimedia marvels. Many, like Acer Corp.'s Aspire series and NEC's Ready line, have different-colored cables to help you connect them to the right port; others have easy-to-follow manuals.

A business and entertainment center in one compact package, a home PC provides the means to conduct almost every aspect of your business. Besides inputting text and creating spreadsheets, you can send faxes, talk hands-free on the telephone and create professional brochures. And that's just for starters.

Today's multimedia home PCs also come bundled with lots of software so you don't have to figure out what to buy; as many as a dozen software and CD-ROM disks are included free. The software can range from pre-designed forms and tips for your taxes to games, online services and more.

Some of the giant computer manufacturers have turned their sights to the home office, recognizing the tremendous growth in the SOHO (small office/home office) market. As a result, you can now choose from a variety of multi-media systems from the best computer manufacturers in the world for under $2,000.

Jill Amadio is a writer in Newport Beach, California, and ghostwriter of Help! I've Hired a Lawyer! (Emptypockets Venture).

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This article was originally published in the February 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Double Duty.

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