Computers: Does Price Matter?
For attention-deficit readers, read the following sentence and feel free to move on:
New computers priced at less than $400 will barely last a year and are not worth your time or money.
For the rest of you who want to know more, read on:
Remember back when computers were $1,500 or more? I’m not just talking about Apple computers; I’m talking about any computer. There was a time when any computer cost at least $1,500.
We have come a long way since then. Every facet of the technological world since those days has evolved exponentially. We can now fit the memory capacity of every computerized component involved in the first space shuttle launch onto a thumb drive. As computers have become more integral and mainstream in everyday life, the cost of personal computers has also dropped significantly.
Wal-Mart and other big box retailers routinely carry laptop computers for right at about $400. Black Friday specials can be as low as about $200. As one can imagine, this makes the PC repair business particularly difficult in some ways, because of comments like these: “Why would I invest $200 in repairing my computer when I can just go and buy a new one for $100 more?” (By the way, if you have said something like this, we do not hate you. We do, however, believe you are severely misinformed and that you are a victim of clever marketing. What follows is an explanation of why.)
The truth must be told – While the cost of manufacturing computers has come down some, it has not dropped that much. Wal-Mart is the main culprit in this scenario, because they have made such a name on low prices. What happens is that Wal-Mart is so huge that they can strong-arm manufacturers into making super-cheap computers out of super-cheap parts so that they can sell them for super-cheap.
I know what you’re thinking. “Well, I don’t need a computer for much. I just use it for Facebook, email, and ______.” But I want you think about it. It doesn’t matter WHAT you do with a computer. If you just use it to play Solitaire, and one day you hit the power button and your computer doesn’t come on, guess what you won’t be doing? Playing solitaire. Instead, you will be under the desk, unplugging and replugging stuff, calling your PC manufacturer, calling Microsoft, calling computer repair stores, and at buying a new epic-cheap computer. Does that sound like fun to you?
Simply put, if a computer does not work, you will not be doing ANYTHING on it.
Wal-Mart computers typically last about a year–maybe a little longer if you are lucky. As with anything else in life, you get what you pay for. Pay a little, get a little. Pay a lot, get a lot. There are exceptions here and there, but they are just that–exceptions.
Let me use a couple of illustrations. If you saw a car dealership selling a brand-new truck with a V-8 engine and AWD for $4,000, would you not be suspicious? What about if you drove by a new housing development and there were a two-story house with a three-car garage, three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a bonus room, and an inground pool for $35,000? Would you not scratch your head and ask, “So what’s the catch?”
Why is it then that when unsuspecting consumers see a computer for $200, it sounds like the most amazing deal in the world and they feel stupid to walk away from it? There is a catch, and the catch is that the computer is built out of junk and it is not worth your time or your money. Do yourself a favor and walk away.
Bottom line: If you are spending less than $400-$500 on a computer, you’re definitely not buying a good product. You’re buying a gimmick. You are a victim of clever, low-income target marketing. Not all computers are created equal. If you want a decent, quality computer, expect to spend no less than $500-$600. It will mean less headaches in the long run, and you will actually save money too.