Detroit Free Press Features RESCUECOM Holiday Computer Shopping Advice

Several Issues to Consider When Buying a New Computer

November 27, 2006
Detroit Free Press
Nation/world business:


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SHOPPING: When buying big-ticket items, consider the user

It may be too big to stuff a stocking, but a desktop or laptop computer is a holiday gift almost anyone would enjoy. Before you buy such a big-ticket item, keep a few things in mind:

  • Consider the user. Is the gift for a college student who will use it to watch movies, download music and play video games (in addition to doing schoolwork, of course)? Or are you giving it to your grandmother who is just getting started with e-mail? You need to know how the computer will be used.
  • Do your research. There are quite a few reputable resources that rate and rank computers and other electronics. Web sites like Cnet.com and PCWorld.com offer product reviews and price comparisons on almost every computer product you can think of.
  • Determine where you'll shop. In a recent Consumer Reports survey, online venues earned higher satisfaction scores than the brick-and-mortar stores. You're likely to find slightly better prices and have a smoother shopping experience online.
  • Consider installation needs. David Milman, chief executive of Rescuecom, a national computer repair company, says that many stores don't provide help with installing new merchandise.
  • Protect your goods. "It's always flu season with computers," Milman says. Be sure to factor in the cost of anti-spyware and anti-virus programs, which can range from $25 to $75.
  • Be careful about extended warranties. Consumer Reports suggests skipping the extended warranty that retailers are sure to offer. They're almost always a waste of money, since the warranties that come with the products are usually enough.
  • Know the return policy. Since you're giving the computer as a gift, make sure your loved one won't have a problem returning or replacing the item.

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