Computers have become an integral part of our lives on par with the dishwasher, washer/dryer and car. Yet most people think that a cheap computer is as good as a more expensive one. Do you still buy the cheapest appliances?
When an appliance breaks down it’s really inconvenient; but that’s usually all it is. You can go to a Laundromat or do dishes by hand. When the car breaks down you have to find other means of transportation and it is a major inconvenience.
But when a computer breaks down it’s more than just inconvenient. That machine contains information that is irreplaceable and, often times, the source of income. That is way more than inconvenient.
Then why would you purchase a computer based on just the price?
So, just what makes up a cheap computer and how can the manufacturer sell it so cheap?
Reducing manufacturing costs usually involves reducing the number of parts or features built into the motherboard. Things like floppy drives, serial/parallel ports, memory slots, expansion slots and even video slots. They also use older technologies that are available at liquidation prices – especially when bought in bulk.
But they also reduce cost by using a BIOS* that is just enough to get the computer to boot up. This saves money on licensing costs because the PC manufacturer doesn’t write the BIOS program, they license it from those who do. Smaller BIOS = less cost.
(*BIOS = Basic Input Output System: the instructions built into the computer non-volatile memory that tell it how to get started – what devices it has and how to use them).
SOFTWARE (operating system):
Every computer has to have an operating system, usually some version of Microsoft Windows (though there are others). In exchange for huge discounts on the purchase of MS products, manufacturers are contractually obligate to NOT sell a computer without a MS operating system. Try it. Ask to buy just the hardware. Some of you may remember when you could choose your operating system. Microsoft has made it their business to make sure you have as few choices as possible (can you say “monopoly”?).
Every software manufacturer wants their programs in has many computers as possible. They either have to convince the consumer to buy the program or have it pre-installed on the computer you purchase. It is obviously cheaper to have the program pre-installed. The software manufacturers pay computer manufacturers to pre-install their software thereby subsidizing the cost of the computer. Then the computer manufacturer convinces the buyer that they are providing all these wonderful “enhancements” and “add-ons” to your purchase to make you feel like your really getting a good deal.
Have you ever noticed how most of these pre-installed programs are either trial versions with an expiration or a dumbed-down version of the real program. If you want to continue using the program or do something with it, you have to buy it. Every notice that most of these programs you either don’t use or don’t want.So what is the price of all the “bloatware” on the computer? Well, first it takes up space on your hard drive that you could be using for your files. It often loads itself at startup taking up processing cycles and using the precious little RAM memory your budget computer came with.
As broadband internet has become more widespread, computer and software manufacturers have learned that an “always on” internet connection is their best friend. They know that you won’t care or notice the little tidbits of information the bloatware is sending back home about their preinstalled program. Things like how many computers are running their software and other information about your computer. The information they get is never anything personal, it’s more statistical information they can use in the marketing.
Computer manufacturers are now installing adware on their computers - possibly inadvertantly. Software designed to receive advertisements via the internet on your computer. Why? Because the advertising companies have paid the manufacture to pre-install their software so both parties can make money with your computer connected to the internet.
The internet advertising phenomenon has made a broadband connected PC a virtual cash cow. Google Adsense, affiliate marketing, toolbars (and more) has made it possible to get paid for causing a PC user view an ad. If the user clicks on one of those ads, you get paid even more. These are the fortunes that allow hackers to thrive unabated.
Don’t you love the bundled deals? Computer, speakers, LCD monitor printer, etc for $499. How do they do that? Well, everyone of the components is the cheapest they can make it. When the printer stops working, don’t bother getting it repaired – it’s not worth it. More landfill.
And you trust your children’s baby picture, wedding photos, vacation memories and business records to these machines. Please learn to backup your important files.
So, what’s the best computer to buy?
THE ONE YOU CAN GET YOUR HANDS ON THE GUY THAT BUILT IT
- Every computer is a good computer as long as it does what you expect it to.
- Every computer will break.
- You don’t know what you bought until it breaks
Without personal accountability for this increasingly important device, you’re at the mercy of large impersonal corporations who are fiscally bound to produce the greatest profit for their stockholders. Cheap parts, cheap support, etc. I live here and have to be accountable to my customers and the community I live in.
I have been building/repairing computer at BGC for six years now and can honestly say I rarely have to repair my computers. Today I have customers trading in the still working computers I built for them six years ago. Why?
Because when I opened BGC, I decided that I would not compete on the price of the hardware. I build the best computers I can with the best parts I can buy and I stand behind what I build. My basic box with all the latest components and 3-year manufacturer warranty is about $800.
My focus is on the computer itself. Quality computers will last. Sure I can sell monitors and printers but those are add-ons and you should be able to pick the one you like at a good price. I often build complete systems for customers - keyboard/mouse, speakers, monitors, printers, etc. But, if you want to shop for price, shop for the peripherals - go to the electronic department stores for your
But spend the money to buy a good quality computer just like you do your appliances and cars. You can pay me now or pay me later. Either way, you’re going to end up paying the same amount for the computer – you just have to decide if you want to pay it up front or later after it’s full of your pictures and files and you don’t know if the computer crash took your files with it.