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is it a bad idea to buy computers from stores like bestbuy, costco, staples, CC, etc?

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is it a bad idea to buy computers from stores like bestbuy, costco, staples, CC, etc?

Old 08-30-08, 06:35 PM
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is it a bad idea to buy computers from stores like bestbuy, costco, staples, CC, etc?

i am in the market for a new computer for person use (no gaming or anything like that) and i see computers at all these stores - are they any good? are they rip offs compared to what i could get online for a similar computer? are they quality machines?

anyone ever bought from them? (well i know many have but any people at dvdtalk ever bought - since you guys know your computers very well).

what im looking for is serious memory - i hate (ABSOLUTELY HATE) when computers slow down when too many programs are running. i like to run 10 things at once and have it still full speed. other than that im just going to use it for internet, email, word/excel...regular stuff. whats a good computer to get and how much should i be looking to spend?

is there a difference in quality/price for laptops vs desktops?

(btw; what is the average lifespan of a good computer?)
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Old 08-30-08, 07:43 PM
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I can only offer my humble opinion to you.

I'm currently in the Computer Industry and through the years of my posting at DVDTalk, I have tried to highlight many PCs and laptops that showed up in my pricing thread that I thought and believed to very good values for the purchaser.

I've received quite a few thank you notes over the years for my recommendations.

My best friend Pete asked me to pick out a system for home to replace the dying system he had at home. I did so from one of my own weekly Circuit City threads and he constantly thanks me for my steering him to the system he ultimately purchased from CC.

Do I think one can get good values from the B&M stores?

Absolutely.


Can one do better price-wise by going online?

Probably in a good 60% of the time.



Which is the best way to go?

In my opinion.... find those machines with the features that interest you and fully research that make & model. There are a lot of trendy features out there designed to catch the unknowing (ie..... do many of us really need a fingerprint reader unless we're using our laptops for our jobs and do you know any regular person who fully utilizes Toshiba's face recognition software????)


If you're looking for power, memory as you said is key. I myself am desirous of the HP machines utilizing the Phenom chips with the Quad core processor. Sweet machines with usually plenty of horsepower. (The one I want current has 5 GB of memory and has fallen to under a $1000 recently and will ultimately meet my buy point of $750 - $800.)

My friend purchased a HP Athlon machine with a dual core processor for $900 and as I said he's delighted.


Hewlett Packard has recently been named the #1 PC maker and Dell has fallen to #3 according to the industry trades I read.

HP also makes Gateway machines so there's another brand for you to consider.

I still like the Sony Vaios but like anything Sony, they can be a bit pricey and I believe better values can be had with HP. (My first serious machine was / is a Sony Vaio which still runs well but is aging).


I did not like eMachines at all.


Compaq always made a decent laptop but I don't know anyone that owns a desktop system of theirs. As I said, they're also made by HP and some of their units are utilizing those Phenom chips with quad core processors.


As for your question as to what's a good life expectancy for a computer system would all depend on how much you utilize it. Since I'm not currently involved in my partner's business at this time, I've dropped from being a heavy user to a low to moderate user and my system is considered ancient at 7 years old. For general processing, web surfing and DVD playback and CD recording it still probably can last another 3 years. If I were to get back into business with my partner, I'd have to replace it as it would no longer handle what I would task it to do in timely manner.

So, I'd have to say for most folks anywhere from 4 - 6 years would be a reasonable life expectancy with all things being considered.


As far as quality / price between laptops vs. desktops, from what I see there is no real difference. But the key with laptops is portability. Is that something that is imporant to you? Only you can answer that question.


How much is required to get a serious machine?

Usually about a $1000.

Last edited by speedy1961; 08-31-08 at 10:50 AM.
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Old 08-30-08, 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by speedy1961 View Post
Hewlett Packard has recently been named the #1 PC maker and Dell has fallen to #3 according to the industry trades I read.
Who's #2? Just wondering.

Thanks for the overview Speedy. I'm in the market for a new laptop too, as my old Vaio has lived a good life but is slowing down markedly. I'm finding more and more that Vaios are comparable in price to other laptops with the same specs.

And for the record, I have a Compaq desktop that's 8+ years old, still working well. I've added hard drives and upgraded the optical drive, but the basic machine still works well!
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Old 08-31-08, 12:23 AM
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if at all possible, i would absolutely recommend building your own pc. nowadays, it is relatively very easy, offers the best bang-for-buck (which is determined on your own needs) and actually kinda fun! if you can even fathom the idea for just one nanosecond, just do it imho.

but do your homework first - if all you want and need is a $300-$500 pc, then its generally more cost effective to buy a big name brand pc on sale. i think speedys breakdown is spot on. but if you want better performance, expandability, and a little future-proofing, and are looking to spend over $500, its worth it to build your own.

there are plenty of sites and forums (like this one) that will help you too! good luck
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Old 08-31-08, 03:28 AM
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I prefer to buy my computer at best buy over circuit city when possible. CC has great deals but their commissioned salespeople harass me endlessly about adding commissioned extras. Best Buy doesn't and it is worth trying to go there and Ive found great deals available at both from their circulars.
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Old 08-31-08, 07:58 AM
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if at all possible, i would absolutely recommend building your own pc. nowadays, it is relatively very easy, offers the best bang-for-buck (which is determined on your own needs) and actually kinda fun!
um... I usually give just the opposite advice these days. Unless you just want the experience of building your own PC (or you are looking for some particular customization) the deals you can get B&M stores are usually a lot better than what the final cost will be for piecing your own machine together. I'd also recommend buying from a B&M store since if something goes wrong it'll be easier to take it into them/interact w/ someone directly when trying to get it fixed.
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Old 08-31-08, 08:39 AM
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I'd recommend buying from an actual computer store if there's one in your area. Places like Best Buy, etc., don't hire people that know about the product - not in sales, and not in repair. It's a good chance that your "geek squad" member knows jack shit about computers, and is just doing what your average level 1 tech support does for a company - type the problem into their search engine and follow what their computer tells them to do.
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Old 08-31-08, 08:49 AM
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You can get a good deal at a B&M but don't fall for the $400 special. They don't care that they are selling you an underpowered PC that is going to cause nothing but frustration after six months.

As stated before be prepared to spend more money to get a better computer with plenty of RAM and HD space and you will be better off for it.
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Old 08-31-08, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by g View Post
I prefer to buy my computer at best buy over circuit city when possible. CC has great deals but their commissioned salespeople harass me endlessly about adding commissioned extras. Best Buy doesn't and it is worth trying to go there and Ive found great deals available at both from their circulars.
Circuit City salespeople haven't been on commission in years.
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Old 08-31-08, 02:52 PM
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It's a bad idea to buy anything uniformed.

Know what you want, know your price.
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Old 08-31-08, 05:27 PM
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thanks for all the info guys. (especially speedy - wow!)

whats a good amount of HD space and memory to get on a laptop? for me, i like lots of memory - i want my computer to run smoothly and quickly for along time even if im running 10 programs.

should i turn down every extra they try to throw at me? like the extended warranty? those are always rip offs, right?

any other things i should consider or be sure to look out for?
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Old 08-31-08, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by wewantflair View Post
Circuit City salespeople haven't been on commission in years.
I was just in there 4 months ago and the guy would not let up on pushing everything down my throat. If he wasnt on commission why did he press so hard on me to buy all this extra crap that I had to turn down for over a half an hour? I ended up buying it at best buy because of him. I had to tell him at least 10 times that I didn't want Firedog services and several times that I didn't want an extended warranty. I find it hard to believe he wouldnt get money for this.

Last edited by g; 08-31-08 at 06:07 PM.
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Old 08-31-08, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by g View Post
I was just in there 6 months ago and the guy would not let up on pushing everything down my throat. If he wasnt on commission why did he press so hard on me to buy all this extra crap that I had to turn down for over a half an hour? I ended up buying it at best buy because of him.
I almost bought an LCD monitor at Office Depot last year on the Thanksgiving weekend. It was a special. First the service contrat was like 99.00. Then 89.00 and then 79.00. I still said No. Then he got out this stamp and he said it said I refused the service contract and once he stamped the box I could not bring it back. I said go ahead and he stamped the box he was still mumbling about how stupid it was not to get the service contract. I handed him my CC and I said so you are saying if I take this home and it does not work I can not bring it back here and he said YES, YOU CAN NOT BRING IT BACK. I said GIVE ME BACK MY CC real loud and walked out the store. This was like 7+ minute exchange at the cash register and there was a line. I had seen him in the store over the past year or so many times but not since.
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Old 08-31-08, 06:41 PM
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I guess some sales people are just nuts as I had this same kind of experience at CC. I thought only commission would make them act like that. At best buy I told them no and that was it.
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Old 08-31-08, 08:32 PM
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ok just went to BB to see what they had. not bad - met a really nice salesman who wasnt pushy, really helpful, answered all questions and seemed pretty honest.

the only thing that was a little wierd is that he kinda pushed me towards getting a mac instead which i dont want (im afraid of change!) but he made some good points.

nevertheless, im still leaning towards a pc. this one caught my eye (its in the flyer on sale this week):

HP, AMD Turion X2 ultra dual core mobile processor (no idea what any of those words mean!) with 4 GB of DDR2 memory and 250 GB HD...i think the comp processing speed is 2 GHz or somethign like that...maybe 2.2 if i remember?

all of that with a scanner/copier/printer for $900.

they also have a very similar computer that has a larger monitor/keyboard for $50 more and the salesman says i can get the same deal as above but pay the $50 difference. might go with that. the smaller one has a better video card but since i dont play video games it shouldnt make a different i dont believe.

is that a good deal? hewlett packard, 4 GB memory/250 GB hard drive, 17 inch laptop plus copier/printer/scanner for about $950?

they also say i can get 3 years extended warranty for $280 - ripoff right? always turn that down.

something about a geek squad setup for $140 where they install some stuff and remove all the crap on it (demos, etc) and get it running...also a ripoff?

now how about microsoft office? i just need word/excel basically - how much is that gonna cost?

any other things/factors i should consider? my laptop right now is running real slow (thats why i want a nice fast one) and then i want to transfer all my files via external HD (i got one of those 4 GB usb cards that should get most of my files...its mostly small stuff...not much videos/music/etc).

then i want to reformat my old one (the one im using now) - is that easy to do or should i take it to geek squad or some other computer store to do it? id like to keep it as a secondary computer but its so slow right now so i think i need to reformat it after i get all my files off of it.

(speaking of which all of my files should transfer very easily right? its one HP to another...nothing will get messed up during the transfer?)

thanks for all the help guys!
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Old 08-31-08, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by atari2600 View Post
they also say i can get 3 years extended warranty for $280 - ripoff right? always turn that down.
Opinions vary, but if you're getting a laptop I'd think about the extended warranty. I've bought it on both my laptops (from BB) and it's come in handy over the years. Also if it goes in three times, they will swap it for a new one.

something about a geek squad setup for $140 where they install some stuff and remove all the crap on it (demos, etc) and get it running...also a ripoff?
This I'd say is not worth it. If you know anyone who knows anything about computers, they should be able to help you customize it and remove the demos and stuff the Geek Squad would do. Also reformatting is fairly simple with a little instruction.
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Old 09-07-08, 06:44 PM
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DELL you should avoid at all costs!
Their customer service is HELL.
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Old 09-09-08, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by nemein View Post
um... I usually give just the opposite advice these days. Unless you just want the experience of building your own PC (or you are looking for some particular customization) the deals you can get B&M stores are usually a lot better than what the final cost will be for piecing your own machine together. I'd also recommend buying from a B&M store since if something goes wrong it'll be easier to take it into them/interact w/ someone directly when trying to get it fixed.
these days the biggest reason to build your own PC is for a better video or sound card and to avoid the pre-installation nightmare of most PC's. otherwise unlike back in the day, integrated everything on the motherboard is the way to go.
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Old 09-10-08, 12:21 AM
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Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post
these days the biggest reason to build your own PC is for a better video or sound card and to avoid the pre-installation nightmare of most PC's. otherwise unlike back in the day, integrated everything on the motherboard is the way to go.
im not an arguing man, so ill just call my opinion different

the above is kinda true, but not entirely. iirc, a lot of pc vendors (dell, hp) do not include a full version of windows. of course, if you built a pc, you would have to pay for one, but id rather pay than get a silly boot-up disk or whatever it is.

another big issue i have is that most pc vendors will use cheaper components in general or will use good components but charge obscenely. thats at least somewhat accurate with motherboards, ram, power supply, and hard drives in addition to sound and video cards.

like i mentioned, if you are going for the < $500 or so configuration from most pc vendors, than that is generally cost effective. but if you are looking to spend more, then building a computer can be worth it. and if you are looking to spend $1k or more, imho building a pc is highly suggested.

again, thats if you can even remotely fathom the adventure of it all. which really aint bad nowadays. yes we can! sorry.
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Old 09-11-08, 01:35 AM
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HP doesnt make computers for Gateway. Maybe you were thinking of Acer computers.

I would buy a service plan on any new tower you are buying Most of not all cover electrical surges, plus they cover the parts and labor. Had wayy too many video cards burn out / power supplys burn out. Could I buy them and switch them out? Absolutely, but the plan was cheaper than the parts

As for service plans on laptops, you'd be a fool not to buy one. I had a fault 8400 Gefore graphics card in my HP SE laptop which failed on me three times. Would have cost like $300 to get it replaced both times, the plan covered the labor, parts, and I had them switch out my battery which wasnt taking a good charge anymore. So I easily made out.
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Old 10-05-08, 10:58 PM
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My two cents

Originally Posted by Shack View Post
Opinions vary, but if you're getting a laptop I'd think about the extended warranty. I've bought it on both my laptops (from BB) and it's come in handy over the years. Also if it goes in three times, they will swap it for a new one.


This I'd say is not worth it. If you know anyone who knows anything about computers, they should be able to help you customize it and remove the demos and stuff the Geek Squad would do. Also reformatting is fairly simple with a little instruction.
A little tip for ya. Many stores will "pre set-up" a certain amount of computers, mostly laptops, in anticipation of the customer wanting to buy it. It saves them time and makes a lot of customers happy.

However, SOME customers prefer NOT to have the Geek Squad do anything to their new laptop, so they ask for one that's unopened. You can tell, because the agents have to put an install label on every one they set-up. You may actually get lucky and they have run out of unopened product, and they are forced to sell you the laptop without the additional charge for the service they already performed!
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