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The Computer Buzz May 24, 2006

Nome and Paul Van Middlesworth - owners - The Computer Fact


PC Shopping

Most users start thinking about a new computer when they have problems with their old one. An older computer (up to six years old) can usually be restored to at least its original level of performance for a lot less than the cost of a new PC (usually $75 to $150).

If you're using your PC for E-Mail, Internet and basic graphics and text-based functions, your 5 year old, one gig PC is as fast as a brand new PC. All you need is a clean Windows OS, adequate hard drive capacity. Plenty of RAM.

If you're not sure about your older PC, bring it in and let us give it a once over (no charge). We'll give you all the options and information you need to make a decision. We know some inexpensive ways to add years to your PC's useful life. If you decide that it's time for a new PC, we can offer you a trade-in discount.

If you do decide you need a new PC, the first step will be to develop a specification. Discuss your requirements with your local PC builder (like The Computer Factory). The builder is free to develop a configuration based on your specific needs. Once you have a specification you can shop around. You'll find that retail sales clerks are interested in selling whatever they happen to have in stock. but most aren't much help when it comes to understanding your specific needs.

Once you know what features you want in your new PC you're ready to consider the issues of price, quality and service.

Price shopping is a little risky. Cheap PCs are always cheap for a reason. Often these PCs have technology that is two or three years old. It doesn't make sense to buy a new PC that is already half way to obsolescence. PCs are like many other consumer appliances, the cheapest ones are never a bargain and the most expensive are rarely worth the price. Value is in the middle.

When you compare the price and features of major brands versus locally built PCs it is important to consider the long and short-term service costs. The useful life of a PC is about five years. After the first year warranty runs out on your Dell, Compaq, HP, etc you're on your own nickel. Factory replacement parts for these proprietary PCs may cost several times as much as the equivalent standard component for "open architecture" PCs. Even first year warranty and service can be a time consuming ordeal with national brand PCs and their third world, third party technical service reps. Buying a system with local service and warranty can save you money and time in the long run.

Quality is no contest. A reputable local PC builder will use premium components with three-year manufacturer's warranties. Dells, Compaq, Gateway, etc., use lower rated OEM components with one-year manufacturer's warranty.

Next week we discuss how to select your PC options.





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