silverfilly, building 'puters is really like putting lego's together, and I'm sure you can find somebody to help you build one, perhaps for free, or you can get help from us, or get instruction guides or http://www.pcguide.com
If you're just a net surfer, photo-editor, and into music burning I'd recommend the following components:
CPU: AMD Athlon 2500+ Barton
Video Card: Nvidia GeForce 3 Ti500 AGP
Soundcard: SoundBlaster Audigy MP3+
Motherboard: any Asus, Abit, MSI, Soyo, or Shuttle mobo thats supports the videocard, soundcard, cpu, and memory you get...I recommend Asus
As far as monitors go, with your uses, a good 15" LCD is cheap and healthier on the eyes, as well as no radiation. Other benefits are they're cooler, more comfortable, light, and don't take so much room up. Go with the NEC MultiSynce LCD1565 you can also get the LCD1765 17" for a little more, or get a 19" if you're willing to spend $600+
Hard Drive: Maxtor 60.0GB 7200RPM
Many say you don't need a floppy drive these days, but if you do happen to use them(school etc), a basic 3.5/1.44 will run you really cheap.
If not floppy, than a good 250MB zip drive, or if you're not worried about backup, than mevermind. You could get a second hard drive or use your cd burner for back up...
memory: 1 or 2 sticks(doesn't matter too much, although I recommend 2) of DDR333 PC 2700 I recommend Kingston's HyperX coz they're cheap and come with built on heatspreaders which you'll need to help cool your memory
Any logitech or microsoft mouse and keybord will do. I don't recommend cordless technology as you may encounter problems, but many peeps these days are cordless enthusiasts. Also, its hard to find good, cheap, basic keyboards the days which is why I recommend http://www.keytronic.com
or Micro Innovations.
Any mid-tower case with front and rear ventilation will run run cheap. Remember, get at least rear and front ventilation as cooling is essential. You could find a case with front, rear, side, and top vent for the same price, and I highly recommend that. When you get your fans, they'll probably be 80mm get LED as they're quiet and cool. Your CPU will need a fan+heatsink. Best that heatsink is copper. Also get Arctic Silver 5, its real cheap and will drop your CPU temp considerably; its a kind of paste. Antec brand fans are really good, in fact, get that brand. Enermax, Antec, and Aspire make good cases. Watch out for your power supply, brands to trust are also Antec and Enermax. I'd recommend a 420W at least, no more than 500w, but you might get by on a 350w provided you're not doing heavy graphics, gaming, or watching DVDs...(just get 420w
) Make sure its dual fan, preferably LED fans.
Plextor tends to make the best burners I think. Really most 48x CD-R/RW will be good. Also, get a CD/DVD-Rom at 48x CD read and 16x DVD read, you can get them cheap.
You can build a better computer for cheaper than what you'd be paying for something not as good, not only that, but you'd own all of that puter. No by-the-balls, no hidden integrations(which can include hidden programs that attract pop-ups and disable blockers) Really though, you get ALL that you want, and its fun, doesn't take too long, and literally is as easy as putting together legos. You'll be able to look at the pieces and place them together. You might need help setting up the software and turning the puter on for the first time, but we'll help you...for free.
Also, while the suggestion on local custom building companies is good, a lot of those companies rip you off. They overprice the hardware, put hidden or unneccissary charges, and charges expsenive as hell on building fees, sometimes they integrate software for you without your knowledge/choice coz of some deal a compsny many have with the hardware or store. Sometimes they accidently put the wrong component in, or put in a refurbished/opened item that might only be "like" the component you wanted, and then they go off and charge you $200 for a $60 videocard or summit if that were to happen. Its not as cheap as it could be with you building all ur own, in fact, it could overprice you by approx. $1000...usually at least $700
You could get your stuff from fry's electronics, CompUSA, or any other puter stores, or online at http://www.newegg.com
You could also keep your current monitor, mouse, and keyboard to save some money, but either way, you're building a kickass machine for a killer price.
Cable is faster most the time. There are rare times when there are too many peeps online and it slows down, but not by much at that, and those times are rare. If you're just downloading music and surfing, cable for sure as its usually cheaper and more areas carry it.
If any of this was too technical, just ask, its easier than it seems...that or I'm underestimating you and you know everything I've said
If you're still not interested, and just wanna get a prebuilt, get a DELL, definatly. The new HPs aren't too nice, and Sony's, Compaqs, and Gateways, well...