Buying a new Computer
So, the guy asks me, my old HP computer is a piece of crap and I want a new
one. I don't know what is the best place to get one and the best one
Most the problems
stem from infections of various kinds and being a slow pig, which is quite
common with lower end computers.
Keep in mind that
any computer can and will have problems of some sort eventually. Sometimes
it's an easy fix and sometimes not. The more standard a system is, the
easier it is to upgrade and repair.
computers are designed as throw-away systems after 2-3 years. You can buy a
new one every few years or buy a better one in the beginning that is a
little overkill, but will allow for upgrades that keep it working longer. I
think it's about the same amount of money, but the hassle of moving
everything to a new system adds to the pain of doing it very often.
To some degree, it
is a question of pay now or pay later. Buying a "built" desktop PC system
from someone like me, has a number of advantages: 1) Generally, you are
going to get a system built from industry "standard" components and no
proprietary hardware such as is found in the Big Box Store computers. If a
part fails, a replacement part should be readily available "off-the-shelf".
You also get
installation disks for most of the programs installed, including Windows.
Retail store systems usually do NOT come with any disks, or you have a
"system restore" disk, which only puts it back to factory condition, which
doesn't help when you just need to reload one program or part of it. My job
is much more difficult when I have to try and solve a problem sometimes
because of this.
Sony, Dell, HP, Gateway, etc, have marketing agreements with a variety of
companies. That's why they load a bunch of crap on that you might not need
or want. I've read about and seen some computers that are so loaded down
with unneeded crap that people have to start all over and reload everything
or they just take the system back because it's so slow.
Tech support for
retail box systems can be a frustration also. Nothing is free and part of
how they sell cheaper systems is because some of the support is based in
another country. You could spend days reading about horror stories and
occasional happy stories.
As for buying a
custom Dell or a Mac. A custom Dell is a reasonable choice if you want to
be able to call their India support or just feel more comfortable with a
brand name system.
I see the "sales"
that Dell has going on sometimes and when I configure it correctly instead
of the cheap low-end features, it comes out about the same as the systems I
sell, within about $200 usually.
Apple Mac systems
are a closed system and more expensive. They can be a little easier to use,
but that's because they act as big brother and protect you from yourself.
When you only have a few choices, it's easier to make things work right more
Around here, there
aren't many support options for Mac's. You have to go to Bellingham or
Lynnwood I believe. And, there are lots of people that need help with Mac
computers, the support people in the Apple Stores are quite busy.
Retail Box computers:
from the computer manufacturer.
support from the retailer/manufacturer.
* Most times
* Can get a
complete system which includes a monitor, keyboard, etc. (Ready right out of
can be difficult or impossible.
of OEM parts can be expensive or impossible.
proprietary components which may be obsolete.
are void if you open the case or interfere with any of the parts.
difficult to solve problems because of lack of installation disks
Custom Built System
from local outfit:
* Can be
repaired, worked on and upgraded by anybody
Standard Parts can be replaced or upgraded easily
extra crap software loaded
much faster and will be a usable machine for longer
* Higher Cost
* Maybe less
Warranty support if I get hit by a plumbing truck when I'm walking across
What if I want a Laptop?
You basically have 4
choices in getting a laptop.
1. Order from Dell
or another similar place where you have "some" possible choice of how it's
I find that is the
most expensive approach, but usually the best way to go. You can purchase a
business model and extra warranty and upgrade a feature or two from the
I don't love Dell,
but they do have a good after-market ecosystem and repairs and upgrades are
readily available most of the time.
Price range varies
from $400 for a basic small business laptop to $1500.00 for a powerful
2. Go to Worst Buy
or some similar type of store and try to find a machine that fits your price
point and desired features.
What you usually
end up with is a machine loaded up with extra crap and a terrible warranty
situation if anything goes wrong during the warranty period. I'm sure you
could find hours of reading material on the web about problems dealing with
incompetent/impotent tech support, English speaking or not.
To be fair,
someone like me can usually clean the system up a bit so it runs at the
speed it should, but I can't fix the warranty situation. That adds about
$150.00 or so to the price.
Price range varies
from $700 for a basic home use laptop to $1500.00 for a fast home machine.
Any of them can be turned into a business machine for $200.00-$300.00 Of
course, many people use them for business without worrying about doing the
3. Buy a
refurbished Dell Business model from someone like me. You can get a 2-3
year old laptop that may or may not have much warranty, but that I make sure
is configured well and runs good. I have done that for a few people and for
the most part it's a good way to go, if you understand there might be some
signs of use and you will probably have to cover the repair costs yourself.
On the other hand,
you can get a good machine for around $500.00 that will give you a couple of
years of service at least. I don't use my laptop every day, but the last 3
laptops I've bought, that's how I did it and usually have used them for 3
4. Look for a special running at some
online site and then do fast research to see if it's a good one. Price
range from $350 - $800, some refurbished, some new.