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I need some help. I am trying to decide which computers(brand and specs) to buy for my medical practice. I am opening up my own practice later this month. Initially, i will need 2 computers that are networked. I really don't need a top of the line computer(the software requires less than 10 gig HD), but i want something that is upgradeable and has good/excellent service. Tyler being a small town and me being a M.D.- the comp. guys here are trying to take me for a ride. I figure the min. specs i need are 256k/40 gig HD/Pentium 3 or Amd athlon/CD-RW.

Questions:

1. what are the big benefits to windows XP- pro vs. NT.
2. Has anybody checked out the new Best buy computers(there own line). it is cheap and powerful, but does it have any quality?

thanks in advance, i realize that this should be off-topic, but i was trying to get a response this month.;)
 

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My Opinion

Of the name brands, I like Dell the best. Like the MDX they offer the best value and performance, and are very reliable. I don't know much about off brand computers . . .

To one your question, I've heard good things about XP, but don't have any personal experience.

You'll probably need network printers, too. I like the multi-function network printers from Lexmark, like the X522 MFP, the best.
 

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Dell is a good choice, I would want to get a pentium 4 with at least a 1.6Ghz cpu, 256MB ram, 40+ GB hard disk, minumum 16x10x40 CD-RW, and a 19" monitor. I would rather use Windows 2000 professional instead of XP, but this is because I know Win2K Pro much better and I do not like the "feel" of XP at all. The best advice I can give you overall is "do not ever get any PC's based on you minimun hardware or software requiements as you will soon regret your decision".
 

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I like Dell also. That's what I have at home and work as well. The prices are usually very competitive also. Even the low-end systems today are quite capable. I wouldn't worry too much about upgrading, because you'll probably just buy a new system in 3 years anyway. One point about ordering from Dell -- they usually gouge you on memory upgrades. Just buy the minimum and buy the memory from someone else. I recommend memorysuppliers.com -- they've got great prices and an excellent return policy.

As far as Windows XP vs. NT, just think of XP as the next version of NT (or Win 2000). I use Win 2000 at work (haven't yet upgraded), and XP at home. I like the look and feel of XP and it has the same reliability as NT/Win 2000. There's no reason that I know of to go with NT/Win 2000 over XP.

-Aaron
 

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Dell - no question......

As others have posted, go with Dell.

I would also go with Win 2k or XP pro for the security features it offers. I would not go with NT. The only reason I may favor Win 2k over XP Pro is that XP hasn't been out that long and I usually like to wait at least 9 months to be sure the "bugs" have mostly been discovered. Having said that, I do have XP pro & Win 2k on my home computer & Win 2k on work computer - & have not had one problem with either one.

I agree with acbrown on Dell gouging for memory upgrades. They charge 2x the price you can buy it for anywhere and it is very easy to install.

rvehock has given you a good basic system to order. I also would recommend a DVD player if you think you may ever play videos for your patients or staff to watch - training, health issues, etc.
My dentist has DVD players in his workstations and the patients can watch a DVD while he works on you!

Feel free to pm me if you like. I do not sell computers, nor work for a computer company, but have a lot of experience in building my own systems and I do a lot of research. I have recommended Dell to several friends and all have been quite pleased.
 

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Cast another vote for Dell on the desktop. You might consider upgrading to 3 yrs onsite service from the standard 1 yr. As I recall it was pretty reasonable. If you're thinking laptop, I like the IBM Thinkpads. You do pay a premium for them, but having used Compaq, Dell and IBM laptops, I found the IBMs superior in performance and support, along with better keyboards.

Can't help you on the OS question: I'm still running 98se on everything (if it ain't broke...)

HP has some excellent networkable laser printers, too (I've never used Lexmark's gear). They plug right into the hub and you just print to their IP address. Easy. You can also set up a "regular" printer to be shared over the network, but that requires leaving the "host" computer to which it's attached on all the time. I'm assuming 2k and XP have the printer sharing function like 98 does, of course.
 

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It would be a shame if someone didn't mention an Apple Macintosh network to you for your practice. Your office staff will learn to love you (if they don't already:) ).

Run your software on an Apple Network Server with dual 1GHz PowerPC CPUs and serve wirelessly (with AirPort) to a couple of new flat screen iMacs and a G95 HP all-in-one printer/scanner/copier/fax. Run your apps and database off a dual drive RAID array (striped or mirrored by built-in system software) or setup two two-drive stripes with third party software and mirror them with the built-in system software. Back up to an Ecrix VXA tape in the server box. Manage the network and serve up your own internet webpage with the built in internet functioning of the Apple server software.

It would be very cool, very cool looking and very state-of-the art. Mac detractors will say there is no software. Check the Apple Small Business page for yourself to find software and consultants, and do a search on the web for macintosh medical software. You can see for yourself.

I run a small pathology group but I am not an expert on the newer Mac systems with OS X (Unix-based) because I still work on upgraded older PowerMacs.

¢¢
 

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Most of the hardware out in the market place is manufactured by the same manufactures (I.E. disk drives made by Western Digital, video cards by Nvida..etc.). Having said that, you want to compare theses systems not on price alone, but support after the sale. Do they have 24 hour support, will they replace the hardware in definite time periods (If the hard drive fails at 5pm on a Friday how long before they get you a new one). If I were running my Practice (Your Business!) off of computers, this is how I would set it up. First things first, ask the People you are getting your software from, what Operating systems do they suport. There is nothing worse than running an application on an Operating system that the vendor does not support. Also, you need to ask them if this application can be networked, some can and some can not. If it can be Networked, I would have more than 2 computers. I would have a server, and 2 workstations. The server would be a computer running a RAID 5 Array, and also have a Tape backup. This will insure that if you have a disk failure on the server no data will be lost. The work stations can be anything you want, Pentium 3 or AMD 1.2gigs and 20 to 40 gig harddirves and 256mb is great. Plus you will need Ethernet Cards, Hub, and cables to connect all this together. I would use Windows 2000 Server and either Windows 2000 professional or Windows XP on the workstations. The server will give you Security, stability, and an easier way to manage the system than 2 workstations alone. The server should have RAID 5 (minimum of 3 disks required) running on SCSI. A minumum of 256mb of Ram. A tape drive and a small UPS. You could use the server as a second or third workstation, but I would not recomend that. Hope this helps.

Greg
 

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Another vote for Dell and their 3-year service upgrade. 'Tis my second Dell; the first is going to another location but still running fine. This Dell has XP Home; its advantage so far over '95SE or '98SE is that it hasn't crashed yet -- but then I've only had it two months. I don't like their "upgrade" keyboard, though -- I get a lot of double-characters, whereby I didn't on the older "make-a-clicking-sound-every-time-you-hit-a-key" unit. Clunky fingers, maybe?

I'd also suggest upgrading to a 17" (or larger) Trinitron monitor -- VERY easy on the eyes. Flat screen is OK, but doesn't appear appreciably better than the old curved screen.
 

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If you're running a medical office - you're no doubt going to be running the Lytec medical billing software which runs under Windows. I would suggest you stay away from XP, as a friend who bought a new PC ended up having to downgrade from XP back to 98 to get Lytec to run reliably. I'd suggest Win2K (if you can find it... perhaps on eBay if not in a store or online).

As with any recomendation for a PC - call up the company that writes the software that you're going to use before purchasing the hardware and buy what they suggest.

The Lytec system requirements are available here.

Rail
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for all the advice guys/gals.

I have looked at Dell on their website. I like them, but keep hearing that their tech support has been medicore lately(<1 yr.) I keep hearing "If you want to guarantee good support from dell, you better upgrade to their top of the line tech support". Obviously i cannot have downtime, therefore, one of my Physician friends recommended that i buy any computer but hire a local computer guy for tech. support. The problem is they charge $60/hr. to play around with your system. I would much prefer a flat yearly rate, but only big name stores(best buy, compusa..etc) offer it.

Texrb: thanks for the DVD idea, i didn't think about future training with DVD. I was thinking it would be useless, but you are absolutely correct.

Gregc: i am debating about a server, but i probably will use it in the future(a little too much in startup costs). For now, i will probably use CD-RW for back up(especially since i will only need to back up 5 gig initially).

Rail: I am planning on using medisoft medical software, it is xp supported. I looked at lytec, but it had a few bugs, and its tech. support is avg.

as for macs, i can't use them since the medical software is win 98/me/nt/xp based.

I was going to get a brother mfs for $599 at office depot, and then add a HP laserwriter(printer) in a few months.

any other recs.

Thanks for all the free advice. Really appreciate it.
 

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Iwould definitely go with the a Dell and with windows 2k.

Reasons. 1st. Dell make s a great computer. There support is above average in my feeling. I have only had one major dispute with there tech support. the will always have a solution to your problem. You have to call up a few times to finally get a good person.

I have upgraded my home computer to XP. and it just sucks. only major good difference i feel is it starts up faster.
Windows 2K is the upgrade to windows NT. Your secretaries must likely have previous knowledge with computer and would be more familiar with Widows 2k/NT as many things in XP are different. 2K/Nt is allot more stable the XP is also, (even the tech support people i have spoken to at Microsoft have told me this)
99% of business networks that are Microsoft product based run NT/2K. When i call some tech support numbers for software and i say i have XP they make one of those "ohhhh" noises, cause most of them aren't familiar with XP.

Hope this helps.
-Harris
 

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I went to Medisoft's Web page and they say that they support Windows XP for MediSoft Advanced Patient Accounting but Multi-user is not supported for Windows XP Professional. Not sure if you are going to use that module, they claim it is specifically written to Windows 98 and ME. In my opinion XP pro is more stable and has better features than Windows 2000 Professional. I use both and XP Pro has the features I like such as Remote desktop. If your choice is between 98 and ME, take ME by all means. Windows 98 is a dead product and ME is newer, however ME is going away quickly too. Microsoft is cranking out new Operating Systems as fast as they can these days. Whatever printer you get make sure it is networkable, you do not want to have your printer hanging of a workstation. Best that it has it's own network card. Makes things a little easier. I can understand the startup costs, they can be fairly high on a server with RAID and a Tape drive. I still think Support is the key with any hardware you buy, Dell, IBM, and Compaq all do a good job. So does Gateway (If I remeber right it is serviced by IBM), the hardware people are just going to take care of the hardware. If the drive goes bad they give you a new drive preloaded with the Operating system you bought it with. So anything you add is not there responsibility. It might be of value to see if someone sells the whole thing as a Turnkey, that way no questions on who supports it. Just a couple of my ramblings.

Greg
 

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Gregc said:
I If your choice is between 98 and ME, take ME by all means. Windows 98 is a dead product and ME is newer, however ME is going away quickly too.
I have to disagree with you very much. By far Windows ME is the most unstable version of Windows ever. I woudl recomend if your choice is between those two, you go with Windows 98SE , SE meaning second additon, I bielive it is the only one sold now. It in my point of view is one of the most stable version ever released.

-harris
 

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A computer is a computer is a computer--it's the support and build quality that you want to look at, after the 1st year or 2. You aren't looking for too many bells and whistles since this is an office scenario, so I would probably go with an HP Vectra set up (preloaded with win2k) or a Compaq set up personally, because I know both of those companies have had higher marks for personal user support than Dell or IBM...
 

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Hi..

All you need is 2 of the new iMacs! it not only looks good, easy to use and fast..
(A 500mhz Mac is as fast as a 1400 mhz P4) (they have build in enthernet for net working, or you can get the "airport" for wireless web)
As for the problem of using NT or win98..All you need is the "vitural PC" program
and you can run them all..

I study programing for a while..... but after I tried the Mac.. there is no going back..
I had 3 Macs so far.. first one was a perfoma (about 8 years ago?) 2nd was a G3 233
(about 5 years ago?..) and now the G4 dual 500.. it's already fast enough for me
to do digital editting, and photoshops.. so it should be fast enough for you too..
It's just much faster with the OS X (unix based system), and all the products you can
use around it.. check it out on www.apple.com... I hope you can go see the real thing
in any of the apple store.. (I do not have any share of Apple.com.. and I don't work for them..
just like to share what's good like everyone else did here with the MDX!)

Don't be affaird to step out of the box!
Try the Mac!!
It won't crash as much as the PC's.. trust me.

My 2¢ ^__^
 

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MDXluvr:

Dell's 3-yr support is "next day" -- you have to call Dell and discuss your problem, and if they can't talk you to a fix and deem it necessary, they send a local tech to your place within 1 business day (see their website, dell.com). Costs $139, and last I heard, includes lifetime phone support.
 

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suggestion for multi-function....

One more suggestion for you is to buy the HP G85 multifunction printer/fax/copier/scanner. It is flatbed with an autodoc feeder. It is probably the best one out there. It serves 4 functions and it's flatbed setup is great for the occasional copy & scans quickly.

This is not a substitute for a regular copier, since it is slow, but is great as a second copier for one or 2 copies.
 

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Well...I need to agree with the doctor here...Please pay attention to his knowledge on computers..he needs to work with a PC/workstation manufacturer that will provide him sensible pricing on his hardware and software but also provide him with TELEPHONE TECHNICAL support that will allow him to trouble shoot any problems that he has.

I think the doctor is seeking assistance here. His profession is to cure illness or whatever he specialize in in the medicine world...So with that in mine here is my feeback on PC/Workstations/Servers.

DELL- You know...Michael Dell used to be a personal guy until he decided to enter into the server and "enterprise" market. Since then... the technical support has gone down hill quite abit since like HP and COMPAQ they are now a "manufacturer" Since Dell sells direct...it is difficult to find a Value-Added reseller to buy their equipment..So here is the catch -22. GREAT pricing...not technical support.

GATEWAY- Now...they are a pretty fair and decent PC/workstation manufacturer. They even have retail stores where you can go and check out their systems. And you can even have the PC/workstation build to YOUR OWN specifications. They have an EXCELLENT 7X24 telephone technical support AND also provide on-site service and repair as an option. TRY THEM OUT.

COMPAQ- If you can find a VALUE -ADDEd reseller that is COMPAQ authorized..you can get excellent support. However...because of the brand name and the years they have been in business...pricing is rather Premium.

MacINTOSH- Rather expensive. It is for a niche market. Proprietary OS. Limited software and is often times not compatible to the Medical market. i.e. MRI, PACS, X-RAYs. Etc etc...

As for OS(operating systems) Windows XP is excellent..however...Microsoft restructured its licensing now..For commercial use you cant just buy the license and get FREE Firmware and patch and version upgrades for free with XP. With Windows 2000 Professional for desktops and NT4.0 I believe upgrades are still FREE. XP is excellent if you are planning to do media projects or video streaming or programming..But if you just want a couple of workstations to support your medical business...then going with Windows 2000 Professional or NT4.0 is sufficient.
 

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Dell

I'd go with the Dell. The service, if needed, is worth it. Just look at the data and you'll find they are the highest rated for reliability and service. Reliabilty will cost you more than almost any price differences.( I admit at times the comp industry service isn't the best!!)


(I'm biased as I own a bit of their stock and also a Dell)

:D - Dude, you're gettin' a Dell!!!

Have Fun
 
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