546 - When to Buy a Cheap PC

Fry’s, Staples, Best Buy and other big box stores often have eye-popping ads for super cheap PC “specials.”  When you ask to see the “special”, you’ll find the sales person eager to show you something else. They’re on commission and the “special” pays them peanuts. Their job is to “bait and switch” you to a pricier system. If you insist on the “special” you’ll get a very tepid response or be told, “We just sold out of that model.”

Hardly anyone goes out car or house shopping with the plan to buy the cheapest product on the market. If that were the case we’d all drive a “Smart Car” and live in a “single wide” in Hemet. We seem to be able to distinguish between value and price in televisions, washing machines, cars and houses, but when it comes to personal computers, a significant percentage of Americans simply assume that a computer is a computer and the smart way to buy one is to find the lowest price.

Since any computer can handle basic tasks like E-mail, Internet surfing and word processing, it may seem logical to buy the cheapest PC available. The problem is cheap PCs are cheap because they are made with the cheapest components available. This leads to reliability and maintenance problems that make your cheap PC no bargain in the long run. We would never recommend buying one of the “specials” for yourself, your business or a loved one, but there are times that a “special” may be the perfect choice; for example. 

Let’s say your wife tells you that her ne’er do well brother needs a desktop computer to find a job. You know this bum will never look for a job. He’s going to spend his days on dating sites, gaming and porn surfing. To keep peace in the family you’re off to Best Buy for the $249 weekly “special.” Perfect.

Then there’s your nephew’s high school graduation present. The little turkey barely scraped through high school but his folks managed to get him accepted at some backwater college in Arkansas. He wants a notebook PC. You know this kid will be lucky to survive freshman orientation much less make it through the entire first semester. The Fry’s $299 laptop “special” should keep him company until he dumps beer in it at his first kegger.

Now let’s say by some miracle your brother in law actually gets a decent job or that the lights suddenly come on for your nephew and he makes the dean’s list. You don’t want to be remembered as the one who bought them “the special” if they seem to be destined for a successful life. 

Pay them a visit ASAP. Knock it over, sit on it, spill a drink on it, whatever it takes but destroy that “special.” Then apologize profusely and promise to replace it. Take the broken PC to your car, drive around the block and return with the new, high quality PC you purchased earlier in the day from The Computer Factory. Then bring that “special” to us and we’ll recycle it for you. Glad we could help.