Top positive review
15 people found this helpful
Great overview but missing key information
on September 25, 2004
Re: 3rd Edition only
First off, I have to say that I do not work in the IT industry and have never taken a single computer-related course in my lifetime. My experience with computers (hardware or software) comes strictly from my own general interest and use. With only that level of experience and this book as a resource, I passed both Core A+ exams on my first attempt, though I certainly did not score highly. I took the CompTIA tests for my own interest's sake. Using that as a guide, you may judge for yourself whether the book may help in your own certification.
Pros: The book is easy to read, explains important concepts well, and is organized so that you can find what you are looking for quickly. It helps that there is a pdf version of the book included on the CD. It covers MOST of what you need in order to pass the tests. The assessment, chapter, and bonus tests on the CD (also in the text) give you a rough estimate of your progress in understanding the concepts.
Cons: There are a few significant gaps in the coverage at some points, particularly involving newer technologies. For example, Firewire is briefly explained a couple of times, but it neglects to mention the important point of a limit on how many devices can be connected to the system at one time (a question that appeared on the test). Also, the book has a focus on covering facts without providing enough of a resource for troubleshooting, which makes up a good portion of each test. For example, Chapter 18, which makes up 25% of the OS Technology exam (troubleshooting OSs), is one of the smallest chapters (29 pages) and does not often explain how various tools can be used to fix specific problems. If you don't have experience in troubleshooting, this can be a real problem. There are also some errors (in the text and on the CD) so be sure to check the Errata at Sybex's website.
In the end, I'd recommend this book for anyone who plans on taking the A+ Core tests for certification. If you are taking the exams for career advancement, I would suggest making sure you have experience and/or other resources to back it up. Do not rely on this book alone. However, if you happen to be like me and are simply interested in learning about concepts you may not be exposed to in your daily life, this is an excellent read.