Buying a computer anytime soon? Check out our computer shopping tips before making your purchase.
Stuff I Learned While Buying A Computer
A couple of months ago I had a need for a new desktop computer; mine was 5 years old, which is equivalent to 80 years for a human 😉 . After searching the Internet (where else but places like Buy.com, Dell Home Office, HP) for 2 weeks, I finally decided to take a ride to Best Buy (yeah, I know, I like to put my hands on what I buy, unless it’s an intangible, of course.)
I tried to do my homework, so I was full of precious technical information (I am no geek in electronics, but still), such as RAM and ROM, video card size, GHz, WSVGA TFT, gigabit Ethernet, etc. You get the full picture, I hope, because I still don’t. To make a long story short, I finally bought a CPU that was on display for almost 50% less than new. But before I took it home, I talked to the specialists. They told me what I wanted to know and that clinched the deal.
Image by Dvice.
Computer Shopping Tips
1. Find out the kind of computer technical support you’ll get.
The best part of buying a computer is the service that comes after the purchase. After all, most good brands are similar in quality and price; but many of them “suck” (pardon my French) when it comes to good support. They simply told me at Best Buy that all I had to do was to take the CPU to the store and they would fix the item for free for one year (I could always buy a warranty extension).
2. Check ratings and reviews for the best computers and best support available.
If you’re in the market for a new computer, check the latest recommendations, reviews and rankings available. The web is chock full of information that will tell you which computers are consistently topping the rankings. For example, here are the best desktops (according to Consumer Reports® at MSN Shopping): HP Pavilion m9100t, HP Pavilion a6250t a6350t (see HP for details), Dell Inspiron 530s (see Dell for details).
3. Decide if you’ll spend for an extended service and support plan.
We can learn a little bit too from what MSN.com says about the best extended service and support companies:
“Along with Apple, Dell and Gateway’s extended plans were also better at problem solving than their standard support. Spend no more than 10 percent of your computer’s price for each year of extended coverage.“
4. Anticipate and build in any extra expenses as part of your computer shopping budget.
Check on other computer-related expenses. What marked a profound difference between my new computer and the one I bought from Dell 5 years ago is the software Microsoft Office. I had to fork over $150 additional precious dollars to get it this time, while my first computer had it loaded already. I don’t know if it’s some legal wrangling between Gates’ company and the government, but it sure is a sweet deal for Microsoft. What else am I going to buy after almost 20 years with Word and Excel? My fingers are already conditioned, not to mention my brain. So be prepared for some extra expenses that may crop up when you pick up a new computer.
5. Update your computer, instead of buying a new one, to save money.
If you cringe at the idea of forking over close to $600, a lot more if you are a ‘crazy’ gamer, there is always the old trick called updating. I was stunned to see so many cheap advances in computer power, from additional memory, new video cards, separate hard disks, DVD players (like the one we discuss in our Blu-Ray DVD player review), and the old trusted memory card you can implant inside the CPU yourself (I did this all by myself, so anybody can do it); there should be some empty slots for the memory upgrade.
6. Touch the merchandise and check on the real thing, before buying.
I’d comparison shop online, but then I’d check on the real thing, before buying. I’d want to get my hands on the desktops, literally.
So take a look at what stores have to offer; the “used” processor I bought at Best Buy (I also checked with Circuit City, they had nothing), had been there for 3 months; but customers touch the screen and the keyboard, not the CPU, and it was in great condition. Besides, the warranty is still there for a year, and I saved around $300. Wouldn’t you rather check the merchandise yourself than trust the Internet for such a big expense? Then again, you can always return or exchange a defective machine if you get something bogus online, just as long as it’s from a reputable etailer.
That said, please watch out for stuff sold on eBay; be extra careful about what you’re buying there.
7. Consider refurbished computers only if they have warranties.
Right now, it’s a shopper’s paradise in the world of retail! Many sweet and incredible deals can be made with brand new electronics and gadgets these days; lots of deep discounts abound, as retail prices slip to attract shoppers. But as we mention in our post 10 Things To Buy New, if you’re open to getting used computer models, then pick a refurbished one with an existing warranty so that you’re covered for problems for a period of time.
Very well then, happy computer shopping!