Computer technology remains a mystery to many buyers, who feel intimidated when encountering a floor salesperson. That’s why they shop with reinforcements, a family or friendly geek who “knows” what they need. But beware the geek. For geeks don’t always know what you need, but are happy to spend your money for something that they would want.
Many folks buy way too much computer for their needs, especially when buying something new to replace an aging dinosaur. Know your technology and what you need a computer for. Why buy more technology than you need?
If you have an old computer now, you might be able to use your current monitor and printer if they are compatible to the new machine. Check the specs on both and bring this information with you when you shop. Ask the sales person if your old peripherals will work with every new computer you consider.
Buy as much technology as you can afford
Your technology need will determine your investment. And what you need to spend will depend upon what you’ll use your computer for.
Are you a gamer? Then you already know that you gotta have the latest gadgets and processors, which translates into a mega bucks.
Going to school or need a computer for a home-based small business? Then you’ll need enough power to do word processing, spreadsheet record keeping, play music and videos, create videos and podcasts and surf the net. Processor type and speed is important, but you’ll need less than what a gamer requires.
Don’t buy on price alone
While it pays to be budget-minded, it doesn’t pay to be price conscious. Never buy on price alone. Buying returned used computers is always a better investment than new, even if the new computers have shiny whistles and bells that look good in ads or on display, but sometimes don’t really have any added value for how you’ll use a computer.
If you buy on price alone, you’re certain to regret it.
One reason is that technology changes so darned fast. The other is that low-end computers can be costly or impossible to upgrade.
Once the computer motherboard is set in place, usually there’s nothing else you can add to it, excepting memory cards in reserved “slots.” Processors can’t be changed. Trying to do so would require a costly reconfiguring of the entire computer system at breath-stealing costs.
Look for dual core processor chips, the most recent tech advancement as of this writing.
Keep in mind that the computer you buy today will last 3-5 years before you upgrade. The reason is that leapfrogging processor technology doubles every 18 months. So what you buy today will certainly be outdated in a year, or sooner, since you’re buying “yesterday’s” technology. But even “older” machines were new just a few short months ago.
Buying used is a good deal
Since returned open box, refurbished and certified computers have been repaired and sent back to the retail or online manufacturer’s inventory, they can’t be repackaged or sold as new by law.
Weekly sales print ads provide an idea of what new machines cost. Use this information as a benchmark when you shop to see how mush you can save on used and when you negotiate price.
Many unhappy returns
When I was a big box retail computer salesperson on commission, I learned the hard way why people make returns. They’re returned for reasons known only to the buyer. Knowing why a unit was returned can benefit you when you shop. Here are some of those reasons:
- Buyer’s remorse sets in when buyers realize they overspent
- Buyers had no idea why they wanted a computer in the first place
- Buyers discovered advertised hype usually doesn’t match reality
- Buyers didn’t like the colors
- Something was wrong and the computer failed to boot up.
- Units were dropped it while buyers were taking it out of their cars
Get an extended warranty
While returned units are covered by manufacturer’s 90-day warranties, I suggest buying a retailer’s or online manufacturer’s extended warranty, because while burned-in electronic components may last for a long time, mechanical parts won’t. .
Since you probably won’t keep your next computer forever, just get a 3-5 year extended warranty, because by then you’ll want to replace the machine you buy when it becomes a dinosaur.