Saturday, August 06, 2005

You get what you pay for

For the past few weeks I've been trying to choose a PC for a small charity I volunteer with. I drew up a specification and began checking prices.

Option 1: buy the parts locally and build the computer at home. That way I'd know the quality of all the parts and warranty service would be local. Cost: $1,000.

Option 2: buy the "house brand" PC from a local retailer. This is like Option 1 except the retailer chooses and assembles the parts. Warranty service would be local. Cost: $1,000.

Option 3: buy a "name brand" PC. Their large turnover lets them buy parts cheaper. I finally found a Compaq that exactly meets our spec. Cost: $800.

It's obvious that Option 3 is cheaper, right? But to get warranty service we must ship the computer halfway across North America at our expense. If we want local service we'll have to add an "extended warranty". Cost: $200, bringing the total to $1,000. Can't get away from that number!

And if I choose the Compaq, before I can install the software this charity uses, I must spend up to two hours uninstalling all the unwanted "wrapware" (promotions, demos, games and low-end applications) preinstalled by Compaq. This factor alone would make Compaq last choice if I was being paid.

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