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Buying Tips...

What to look for when buying a computer system.

1. Integrated Components - Integrated refers to 2 or more components merged together into a single component. Integration can often prohibit the system from being upgraded at a later date. It can also cause the system to be costly to repair if one of those components becomes defective.

2. Proprietary Systems - Proprietary is a design that is owned by a specific company and implies that the company has not divulged specifications that would allow other companies to duplicate the product. This is increasingly seen as a disadvantage by consumers. Consumers should prefer standardized architectures which allow them to mix and match products from different manufacturers. Companies develop proprietary components to force the consumer to purchase replacement components from them at a higher cost.

3. Limited Warranties - Many companies offer only limited warranties which will limit what is covered for the PC in the event of parts becoming defective. Consumers should review warranty policies before purchasing a PC or choosing a specific PC manufacturer to purchase from.

4. Internet Rebates - Internet contracts lock you in for typically 1 to 3 years with one internet service provider. Consumers typically will not get their money back if they decide to cancel the internet service contract. Consumers either pay the entire cost of the contract up front, or a monthly fee will be automatically charged to the consumer's credit card. High-speed internet access like cable modem or DSL are threats to regular dial-up internet providers. So by offering the so-called rebates, dial-up internet companies are securing their income, even if the consumer is dissatisfied with the service.

5. Service - On-site service by many big-name manufacturers is at the sole discretion of that company. On-site service is typically considered the last resort for providing service. They do not provide on-site service to all areas and their on-site service does not include monitors, mice, keyboards, etc. Consumers must usually ship the system back to the manufacturer for repair. Even though the system may still be under warranty, the consumer is responsible for paying shipping, handling and insurance. The typical waiting period for repair is 3 weeks to 3 months.

6. No-Name Components - Most companies when providing a system quote of listing parts will not divulge what components or manufacturers they are using. This is because many companies use off-brand, cheaper components to lower the price of the system. These components are more likely to have problems due to the lack of quality and support.

7. Hidden Costs - Shipping, handling and insurance costs are not typically listed in most big name company quotes. This is an added expense to take into consideration. These costs can be anywhere from an additional $150 to $200. Not only can a consumer assume these costs when ordering a system, but they will also assume these costs again if the system ever needs sent back for repair.

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