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Device guide: Buy now or wait?

DEVICE: Windows desktop or laptop computer

DECIDING FACTORS: Today’s Windows 7 is perfectly good for most users. But Windows 8 will be pre-installed on new machines starting in late October.

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VERDICT: Buy now. It’ll cost just $14.99 to upgrade later.

DEVICE: Smartphones

DECIDING FACTORS: Apple is expected to announce a new iPhone next week; release date unknown. Samsung and Nokia have announced new Windows Phones; release dates unknown.

VERDICT: Windows Phones are better than many people realize. Check out both before buying.

DEVICE: Tablet computers

DECIDING FACTORS: There are good products out now, and highly anticipated tablets expected right away. Apple’s iPad is superb, and the company may soon announce a mini-version. Amazon.com is expected to unveil a new version of its Kindle Fire tablet as early as today. Google’s Nexus 7 is an excellent mini-tablet, available now. Microsoft will launch its own tablet, the Surface, next month.

VERDICT: You can’t go wrong with either the iPad or Nexus 7, but what’s the rush? Microsoft’s Surface might be a game-changer.

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