Necessities

At a minimum, you will require:

WAVE software
This is freely available from PhysioNet in source form, and in binary form for PCs running GNU/Linux or MS-Windows, or Macintoshes running OS X. (Older binaries for SPARC-based systems running Solaris 2.x or SunOS 4.1.x are also available on PhysioNet. See how to obtain the current version of WAVE .) If the XView toolkit can be installed on your platform, it should be easy to build and use WAVE on it.

A computer capable of acting as a WAVE host
Virtually any PC with a 386 or better CPU can run Linux, and such systems are likely to be the least expensive choice. Ideally, a Linux PC to be used as a WAVE host should have at least 8 Mb of RAM, at least 200 Mb of available disk space, a three-button mouse (or trackball), and a graphics card and monitor (17-inch or larger, with a dot pitch of .26 mm or less) capable of non-interlaced display at 65 Hz or faster with a resolution of at least 1024x768 with 256 colors. In most cases, you will also want the system to be equipped with an Internet connection (for obtaining data and software from PhysioNet and other sources).. Most PCs manufactured since 1995 will easily meet these requirements; new PCs will exceed most of them by large factors. In mid-2005, it was possible to assemble a suitable Linux PC for about US$200 (not including the monitor). It is not unreasonable to budget an equal or greater amount for a good monitor, since WAVE 's usability depends to a significant extent on being able to see its output clearly. If your budget permits, a flat-panel (LCD) monitor is an excellent choice, particularly if you plan to do much annotation editing, because these monitors typically present very stable images that do not tire the eye. Fully configured and supported Linux PCs are available from many sources if you prefer not to assemble your own; try a Google search for ``linux pc'' to find vendors.

Inexpensive three-button mice, trackballs, and touchpads manufactured by Logitech and many others are widely available for PCs, and are highly recommended if you do much annotation editing. Most are fully compatible with Microsoft two-button mice. Some users prefer trackballs for precision editing since there is no tendency for the pointer to move when clicking the buttons, as with a mouse. Future versions of WAVE will make use of scroll wheels on mice when available; if you choose a mouse equipped with a scroll wheel, try to select one that allows you to use the middle button without generating scroll wheel events.

For those on a tight budget, suitable used PCs are often available for next to nothing. If you use an older PC and can afford to upgrade components, get a new three-button mouse or trackball first, a new monitor if the old one is inadequate, more memory if you have less than 64 Mb, a new IDE disk drive (around US$100) if yours is more than 3 years old, and only then consider other performance upgrades such as a faster CPU. Although Linux does not require large amounts of RAM, it can use additional RAM very effectively, and you are likely to find that purchasing (say) 16 or 32 Mb of additional RAM results in a bigger performance improvement than spending the same amount on a faster CPU.

Although WAVE now runs on MS-Windows, we still recommend using GNU/Linux as the platform of choice because of its greater speed, capability, configurability, security, and stability, and because of the wider range of related software available for GNU/Linux. Other WAVE users have reported success on PCs running FreeBSD. Macintoshes running OS X and SPARC-based systems may also be worth considering, although they tend to be substantially more expensive than comparable or faster Linux or FreeBSD PCs.

George B. Moody (george@mit.edu)
2014-03-13