Cable-Ready PCs

Top computer manufacturers like Compaq, Dell and Gateway have long trumpeted plans to offer “cable-ready” PCs. That is, computers the come with a built-in cable modem card, or a bundled Ethernet card and preloaded software So far, however, there has been more talk than action.

If you’re buying a new computer that you plan to use with a cable modem connection, make your life easier by choosing a model with an Ethernet card or have one installed at the time of purchase. Otherwise, a cable technician will have to pry open your PC and install one later.

Another word to the wise: Don’t skimp on PC processing power or random access memory (RAM). A fast cable modem connection will be hamstrung by a slow PC. That’s particularly true if you use online multimedia applications like streaming video and audio. Cable ISP Road Runner suggests the following minimum computer system requirements:

  • PC
  • Macintosh
  • Processor Pentium 166 MHz or higher equivalent PPC 603 or higher
  • RAM 32 MB 32 MB
  • Available hard disk space 250 MB 250 MB
  • Video Card SVGA with 2 MB or 16 Bit Color Depth 32 Bit Color
  • Operating System Windows 95 or Higher OS 8 Or Higher

To sum up: If you can afford it, choose a machine with more, rather than less, horsepower; a large monitor at least 17 inches; and a high-quality video and audio card.