Helpful Tips for Those Computer Shopping at Christmas
WTOP News, Washington DC:
Computer Buying Tips
If a computer is on your holiday shopping list, then we have some valuable information for you.
There are many, many deals out there for computers. Where does one start in the selection process?
It's probably a good idea to first consider the company that produced the machine. After all, the company's reputation for reliability and customer service are very important issues. Recently, RESCUECOM, which is a national computer repair company, issued a reliability score for computer vendors.
In addition, RESCUECOM has put together a checklist for computer buyers. For example, one important thing is to consider the technical skills of the user. If the person has the latest iPod that holds 30,000 songs, then buying a computer with extra storage space and memory is the way to go. Does the individual watch movies on line or play computer games? If so, extra storage and a higher end sound system and a better graphic card are good options.
What about protection against viruses?
You really should consider having software installed that will protect against viruses and spyware. Anyone who surfs the Internet is quite likely to run into trouble if the computer doesn't have these protections.
Above all, when buying such a significant item, make sure that you understand the return policy if the recipient takes an instant dislike to the computer. Also, check on the warranty and exactly what is included. If the machine needs service, who will perform it, can it be done in the home or does the machine have to be taken into the service department.
Buying the computer isn't the whole story. If you are feeling generous consider whether the user will take photos. If so you might want to throw in a high quality printer or even a digital camera. Don't forget to ask if all the necessary cables are included with the computer.
The RESCUECOM Holiday Computer Buyer Checklist:
- Consider the user. Is this person tech savvy? Does he or she have the latest iPod that holds 30,000 songs? If so, buying a computer with extra storage space and memory is the way to go. Do they watch movies on line or play computer games? If so, extra storage space, a higher end sound system and a better graphic card are likely desirable.
- Don't get sticker shock. Not by the high prices, but by the LOW prices. If the deal seems to good to be true, it probably is. "Remember, you're buying not just a machine but a company too. So if the computer is dirt cheap, ask about the warranty and the customer service reputations of the computer maker," Milman advises. Often computers are also cheaper because they are not able to be easily upgraded.
- Don't be rushed. Don't let pushy salespeople or last-minute holiday shopping force you into making a decision to quickly. It is a good idea to have questions prepared before going to the store or shopping on line.
- Consider installation. Often, stores don't provide help with installing new merchandise, if needed. Will your loved one know how to set up and use the new technology? Will he or she be able to troubleshoot if it's done wrong? To ensure against improper set-up, which can lead to poor performance, serious system vulnerabilities and significant stress, consider an independent computer repair and support company, such as RESCUECOM, to assist with installation.
- Protect against the bugs. It's always flu season with computers. Make sure you've purchased an anti-virus and anti-spyware software programs with the computer. An unprotected computer can pick up a nasty virus within 15 seconds of Internet surfing. Having a firewall provides an added level of protection, particularly when a wireless system is in place. So protect that gift before you even give it.
- Accessorize. Does your loved one take lots of holiday photos? If so you might consider asking about a high-quality printer or digital camera in addition, to allow them to quickly turn photos into memories. Also, be sure you have the proper cables and other equipment required to connect your computer to any cameras or printers.
- Consider reliability. Are you purchasing a brand name computer from a well respected vendor? RESCUECOM recently issued a National Computer Reliability Report, which ranked the major computer companies through a statistical comparison of their market share and their RESCUECOM Repair Share - the percentage of calls to the company's (703) 986-3233 national hotline. The study measured both the quality of a computer and the level of customer service being provided by these companies.
The Report calculated the following "Reliability Scores" for each computer vendor based on the percentage difference between their overall U.S. market share and the percentage of calls into the RESCUECOM call center about the particular computer vendor. The higher the score, the less likely it was that calls about the specific computer vendor to the RESCUECOM call center were received (scores are in parentheses).
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