Microsoft Press con A+ Training Kit (IT-Training Kits)
Much like an enjoyable lecture from a professor who tends to ramble at times, Microsoft's A+ Certification Training is an excellent starting place for beginners looking to fathom the mysteries of their PC. But the free-and-easy writing style of this book also makes it slightly more difficult to study for the test; since the book touches on all topics lightly, it may not prepare you for what lies ahead on the final exam.
The reader is gently eased into the PC with a historical introduction of computer, including discussions on the abacus, the Babbage engine, and eventually UNIVAC, and then moves up to showing you pictures of common PC accessories, such as mice and scanners. As an A+ student's introductory guidebook to the world of PCs, there isn't a better text available.
The book rapidly becomes more complex--as it must--diving into the PC's inner components and showing them to you bit by bit. The basic concepts on the A+ exam are presented clearly with lots of pictures, so it should be a snap to get the A+ essentials down. However the organisation of the book is the stumbling block. As stated, it rambles.
For example, "Supplying Power to a Computer" is covered early on in Chapter 5, and the book advises you to start opening up computers and looking at them but "The Basics of Electrical Energy" isn't taught until Chapter 13. It's likely that the novice electrician would feel lost at times. Likewise, CPUs are covered in Chapter 4--but motherboards, the place where the CPU sits, aren't covered until chapter 6, and the expansion buses that peripherals use to talk to the CPU don't get covered for four chapters after that. If you read the book all the way through, all will eventually be made clear, but there will probably be times where you'll want to flip ahead or scan back.
The information, however, is solid though not necessarily the most up-to-date. The essential PC operations are covered nicely, and the explanations are sometimes dense but generally understandable.
But the explanations lead us to the final, and most serious, problem with the A+ Training Guide: It's not a test preparation book. It's an introduction.
The Training Guide covers pretty much everything you'd want to know about basic repairing and upgrading, but it doesn't provide the critical focus you'll need for the exam. Without knowing which areas tend to be the "hotspots" on the A+, you could well spend a lot of time studying, say, monitor repair, and completely ignore the frequently-tested CPU model comparisons section. Furthermore, the test questions at the end of each chapter are essay-style, not the multiple-choice questions you will see when you take the A+. In short, the guide goes over everything you need to know, but it doesn't stress one part over another--which increases your study time and might make you fail the exam.
This book is an extremely good, well-written guide for the student looking to get a comprehensive overview--and for that purpose, it does it's job well. As a beginner's introduction to the premises that you'll need to know for the A+, this comes highly recommended. But if your main goal is to get that certification on your CV, then you'll probably want to start out with this, and then move into a book that tells you what you'll be specifically quizzed on. --William Steinmetz, Aazon.com