A recent survey of more than 1,000 purchasers of new IBM-type desktop computers -- most for home businesses -- reveals that six months later, 90% regretted they didn't opt for more functionality. The main reason they hadn't: cost. If ordered at purchase, the five most missed features would have tacked on a total of $500 or so to a $1,500 base system. Many buyers suspected salespeople of hyping unnecessary enhancements; later they felt that gaining the extra computing power would have merited the added cost. Here's what they should have considered:

Greater expansion capabilities. Many PCs don't have enough internal slots to fit a modem, a CD-ROM, a tape backup, a sound board, and a game adapter simultaneously.

A sharper monitor. A VDT with a dot pitch (the gauge of sharpness) of 0.39 or higher may be OK for word processing, but it's too blurry for graphics. Screens with 0.28 or less are much sharper, yet only slightly more costly.

More memory. Long data files now call for PCs with 4 megabytes of random access memory (RAM) as standard. Microsoft Windows, which is often preloaded, performs best with 8.

A larger hard drive. Whereas a 10-megabyte hard drive was plenty in the 1980s, new software is making a 240-megabyte hard drive the small-business standard.

A second floppy. A 5¼-inch or a 3½-inch floppy drive alone will suffice, but diskettes will inevitably arrive in the size you don't have. -- Robert A. Mamis

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