Skype is one of the leading instant messaging programs, allowing users to make free video and voice calls, send instant messages and share files. Download it for free from www.skype.com.
2. USB flash drive
These nifty little gadgets can store immense amounts of data, from photos, videos and documents to music. Use them to backup your computer, or if you really want to show off, get a DVD player with a USB port and play movies directly from your flash drive. They come in various data capacity sizes, so shop around for the best one. You can get a good quality 2GB flash drive for about R100, and 8GB for around R300.
A tiny camera that sits perfectly on the top of your computer screen and provides images and videos. Coupled with Skype you can have face-to-face chats with your friends. Some notebooks and Macs also have built-in webcams. They vary in price from about R150 for the bottom of the range, to R1 500.
4. Apple MacBook Air
This is the Bentley of all laptops. The MacBook Air is only 2cm thick and barely weighs 1,5kg, yet the durable aluminium casing means you don’t have to wrap it in cotton wool. Don’t be fooled by its stylish looks – the MacBook Air is a fully functional laptop, with a 120GB hard drive and wireless connectivity. Prepare to shell out anything from R20 000 to R25 000, if you want a decent one.
5. Your own website
Messing around on social networking sites is fun – but what you really want is your own website. Creating a site takes time, patience and some computer knowledge, but it’s worth it! Visit www.blogspot.com, www.wix.com and www.wordpress.com for advice and templates.
6. High-speed Internet
Although dial-up is a cheap way to log on to the internet, ADSL is up to seven times faster and makes loading photos, videos as well as instant message a breeze. Or, if you don’t want to be tied down by a phone line, get wireless broadband. Check out the deals from iBurst and Vodacom, they have monthly specials.
7. Logitech speakers
What better way to listen to videos uploaded by your friends than this powerful computer system? It even comes with a ported subwoofer for extra bass. R579.00 from www.digitalplanet.co.za.
8. Nikon Coolpix Digital Camera
Photos form an integral part of social networking, and a simple point and shoot camera is easy to capture great memories with. The funky Nikon Coolpix camera comes in different colours, and prices range from about R1 500 to R3 000.
9. Huawei E172 3G USB Modem
This is the slimmest, smallest HSUPA USB stick in the world, and it is super easy to use. It provides incredibly fast internet speeds, coupled with a sleek design. The price depends on contract options, but you can find one online for about R1 800.
10. BlackBerry Storm
No one can deny the power of the new BlackBerry, with its email and full internet browsing capability in one small, handheld device. It is not cheap, but well worth the investment – expect to pay anything from R6 000 to R7 500, or it’s available on contract from Vodacom.