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New computer

Posted on 2002-03-18
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Last Modified: 2010-04-25
Hey experts,

My girlfriend's computer recently died, and she is looking for a new one.

I used to work at CompUSA back in the day, and knew what brands used quality hardware inside, and which didn't.

However, not so much anymore....

Please point me in the right direction!

She needs only a basic setup, nothing extravagent.

Brands I'm familiar with...Compaq, HP, Sony, Dell, Gateway

brands not so much familiar with...eMachines, Alienware(??)

Please provide opinions AND facts (please back facts up with URL's that I can then share with her to further her research)

appreciate it!


BRUNO

PS - low points allow for easy raising and/or splitting.
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Question by:bruno
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by:bruno
ID: 6878574
sorry, should have mentioned Apple as well before someone yells at me!  While I'm an apple fan, don't think it would be in her best interest.

Please keep this limited to Windows machines, and please don't tell me to get one built, that's what she currently had and had TONS of problems with it, wants something brand name this time.


Thanks!
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by:trekie1
ID: 6878850
bruno I generaly recomend dell or IBM   ofcourse one gets what they pay for and in order to sell cheap they all use cheap parts now days but you can tell them what you want and get a better comp.  know quiet a few peeps that have dell or ibm  and most all are happy campers       www.dell.com    www.ibm.com

James
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by:trekie1
ID: 6878859
oh by the way...leave those dam emachines alone and their cousin hp (the cheaper hp's are the same comp as emachine just diff bios chip and case )
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by:bruno
ID: 6878866
>>cheaper hp's are the same comp
as emachine just diff bios chip and case

appreciate that knowledge, i didn't know that....have any URL's that can back it up?  (not that i don't believe you, but my gf is pretty stubborn and having links to show her will help my case in convincing her to get a dell)


BRUNO
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by:jlauster
ID: 6878882
Don't worry about proving that HP and Emachines are the same. Just make her aware that HP units are very proprietary, so somewhat difficult to upgrade without buying parts from HP. And their support stinks. Dell is much more free with their system information, and their cases make it much easier to upgrade.

But OTOH (and I know you don't want to hear this), pick the parts out for her and build it yourself. We'll help you get good ones, if we know what she plans to use it for. That way, you can plan for upgrades, and have a stable system that should be pretty much trouble free (it is a computer; they all have problems).
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by:trekie1
ID: 6878903
dont have any urls Bruno  just fooled with quiet a few ...ditto jlauster    (personaly know 6 peeps that bought dells lately and are tickled pink withe'm   and I myself have bought several IBM's (1 in 96 and 1 in 97 and 98) and they are still ticking (at least I think they are..gave them to friends and am sure if one ofe'm skipped a beat I would here about it:>)
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by:bruno
ID: 6878921
jlauster,

appreciate the vote of confidence, but i've never built a comp before and my first try should probably be for myself, not for her...  :-)

interesting note about the ability to upgrade, thanks...

BRUNO
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Expert Comment

by:m-coon
ID: 6879659
Go to a reputable computer store - Pick out the components you like and have them assemble it for you. It will cost more than a dell but it would be far better!!! If you can't afford that - Buy a dell.
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by:celtics
ID: 6880525
One of the considerations you must keep in mind, is that more and more computer parts are being integrated into the motherboards.(Video, Sound, Modem, LAN)  This becomes important when the part goes up.  Some times you can bypass, other times not.  Built in Video cards will rob Memory to run, thus less avaiable resources.  My suggestion here is make sure parts are add ons not integrated.  BTW sound is becoming a standard integration that is hard to avoid.

I am not a Dell fan, but their past Tech Support is hard to beat, even though it has been falling off as of late according to several magazines including PCWorld.  As far as cost, Dell is not a cheap unit.  

There are alternatives out there, I personnally deal with Systemax Machines through Global now(used to be Midwest Micro) and have had good luck.  I have heard of others not having such good luck with them though.  Cost is excellent, quality parts, good Warranty (3 year parts and labor/5 years CPU and memory).

Read the fine print on the warranty, because most likely if a part goes up, you send the machine in for repair or they send you the part and you put it in.  This is sometimes an advantage with the local computer maker(mom and pop) type stores, you can take it to them.  The only thing is the warranty period is usaully shorter and they may go out of business, thus the advantage of systems like Dell.
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by:Bob Stone
ID: 6880724
No links, but from my experience;

Compaq & Dell desktops are generally good, get all the stuff you want when you buy them, upgrade parts are proprietary and will cost more later. Also forget about doing the upgrade treadmill on these, that will only mess them up.

Compaq laptops are generally good, ditto about upgrades.

HP and eMachines are the same OEM (thought everyone knew that) are they are all crap. I fix and build new machines and 65% of the newer ones (>2 y.o.) people are replacing are HP and eMachines.

Gateways and Packard Bells suck.

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Awmytie earned 50 total points
ID: 6880749
Not infallible, but with built-in links to each selection, [url=http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/article/0,aid,81993,pg,2,00.asp] PCWorld[/url] listing is a fairly good place to start.
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by:SunBow
ID: 6880765
Pick a price, like about 1000 or 2000.

> Compaq, HP, Sony, Dell, Gateway
> brands not so much familiar with...eMachines, Alienware(??)

eMachines got bad rap (too cheaply made, short life) but they are reported to do the HPs that people keep buying to copy CDs, and I've heard no complaints (besides above, I'll keep that in mind).

Main thing I didn't like about HP on the shelf, was that they kept the better quality, faster devices out of the box, so like you have to buy both old and new ones, if you are too quick and don't know.

Dell's nearly always had good service rep. WHen it was bad in newsies, I helped some people get theirs going. During problems it was always b*tch about Dell & support. Once fixed, They'd keep saying they'd buy Dell again due to great support. Gotta give Dell kudos on having fans.

Gateway has always enjoyed reputation of either good or bad, each lasting like a year. Can't make up their mind. Pick them when they are in the right cycle.

Compaq has been stable forever, but as much or more than others, keeps delivering systems that are incomplete (driver missing) and incapable of rebuild (CD "image" delivered really for another machine, or the 'backup' for OS is on HD, for easy access, except if HD has a problem, how ya gonna restore from HD?).

Sony was supposed to corner market years ago, went for cheaply built, then high end, first in line for video, firewire, fancy stuff. Haven't heard much good or bad. They seem more stable. Alienware sounds Alien.

Compaq in stores is not same as Compaq through mail or for business. Last time I seen one in store it had gazillion screws. Also, like HP they just feel cheaply made, like the doors will fall off. Some look like CD eaters.

For shrinkwrap, I dunno on CompUSA except they are hungry, buy a few extra parts like HD & supplies and get some 'dealing'. (stay late) Alternative of Best Buy I've heard slammed over and over on support issue, frustration to no end. Same for Compaq.

----------------------------

bottom line, figure her out (psyche). Latest 'in' thing is DVD, and recordable, so I'd check that first, then figure if firewire has any value. Ensure VGA can go 3D, at least upgradeable to 32 MB. Get 2 HD that are identical, not one 'biggest', go for contingency.

Feel.
I like boxes that feel good, Feel some apples. Can you crack case, AND close it with minimum effort. Does it look like doors are falling off. Can you expand (slots/bays). Is it really shoddy. Can you use cd, fd without bruising fingers or turning box. Where should I/O cables go.

Biggest question may be simply the OS and drivers. Does it work as-is, or do you have to surf. Can you rebuild it without help. I mean by that, regardless of OS, do you get a real MS CD or are you stuck with OEM something that 'may work', or may not.  I vote for the original complete OS with clear #'s and holograms.

Remember that Athlon is faster and more reliable than Pentium, so be careful just comparing MHz.  Celeron became the low-end preferred choice.  But improving MHz is not aa big a deal, in terms of being helpful, as it had been before.
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by:thunderchicken
ID: 6880789
I didn't know that about the HP's and eMachines.

My friend just bought a Dell, I threw in some RAM last saturday and I was amazed at the case.  It opened up perfectly for upgrading.  I have limited knowledge compared to these guys here, but a ton compared to anyone else I know.

If I were going to recommend one, I'd recommend a Dell if you can't build your own (keep in mind if you build it and you break up....  well those consequenses could be good)
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by:SunBow
ID: 6880795
> HP units are very proprietary, so somewhat difficult to upgrade without buying parts from HP. And their support stinks

hmmm, they been tops on my own list. I'd hoped Fiorina had done something for support by now. hmmm

> generaly recomend dell or IBM  

IBM can do real solid job. Also cr*ppy. But they are too undependable. In this way. They build A decent box. Then run 6-8 production lines for alternatives. Then quit support for one after another.  They seem to remain unclear, year after year, of what will be supported or not a day from now. Last heard was they are out of the business, the building of 'em, now the few remaining, if any will be subcontracted out. At random. (but beginning with existing 'partners')

> Gateways and Packard Bells suck.

IMO a while back Packard Bell was worst, but cheapest, so 'everyone' was preparing to have Packard Bell do theirs. Seems anyone who did, went under(or just not seen anymore if still 'alive'). Dunno on Packard Bell for last few years, but when Sony planned to conquer US market, it was going to by leveraging Packard Bell's 'experience'. Dunno what happened since.
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by:thunderchicken
ID: 6880839
I heard that Packard Bell had a huge lawsuit for using used computer parts in their new computers.  They aren't allowed to sell in the US anymore because of that (?)

I thought NEC or some acronym company similar to that owns Packard Bell and now use that name.
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by:bruno
ID: 6880859
appreciate all the continuing feedback!!

trying to get a feel for what she wants, and combine with what i think she should have.

she has a brand new CDRW drive in her computer which should be salvagable.  also has an ethernet card.

chip:  celeron, pentium, amd - i don't think it
       matters....for her use, celeron is probably fine.
ram:   from 128 to 256
HD:    20 to 40 GB
DVD:   i think so, she doesn't

def upgradable!  I have had no problems upgrading my dell with random parts.  this is really a big problem with certain machines? (HP?)

price range she is looking $500-$1000, i am trying to keep her away from $500.  $700-$800 would probably be great for her use.  No monitor needed, she can use her current one.


BRUNO
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by:trekie1
ID: 6880964
I recomended a dell to my sister in law a few weeks back so she bought one (dont remembrer the number) but it was a pretty nice setup (1.6 p4  256 ram 40 gig hd  17 " monitar win xp home edition  all for 989$ free shipping   hasn't had any probs and thats rare for her :>)
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by:trekie1
ID: 6880965
dude....your gettin a DELL  :>)
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by:bruno
ID: 6881014
Awmytie,

thanks for the link, I think i'm gonna push for that cheap dell near the bottom of the list...  :-)


Dell really does just have the market wrapped up right now huh?  

trekie, that does sound like a hell of a system for the price....

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by:trekie1
ID: 6881056
seems like they were addvertizeing it for like 899  with 128 ram and 30 gig drive and i told her to get 256 and a little better video card  so she got the 256 ram 40gig and some other vid card ...bumped the price to 989    I thought it was a hellva deal myself  (thought about one for myself but already have too many comps :>)
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by:bruno
ID: 6881068
yeah i need a new one soon, gonna go the Dell route i'm sure...

problem with my gf she seems to want to be able to play with it in the store first.... *sigh*...not sure how to convince her otherwise, but i'm trying.  

if i can't it's good to have all this feedback, will steer her towards Compaq's, away from HP's and emachines, and mabye a bit towards Sonys from what i've gathered from the feedback here.


BRUNO
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by:trekie1
ID: 6881079
I just got off line and that dam addvertizement came on so thought i'de tell you    it said dell 4400 for 799 free shipping...  so look at that one and maybe add a little to it..............sorry for comeing across like a saleman ..must be the car dealer in me :>)
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by:SunBow
ID: 6881327
Best time to buy is their special of the month club. Or whatever period.

Very frequently they upgrade a few MHz and have to dump old model. Or up HD by ten GB. That kind of nickel and dime-ing has little impact for user, so it is often better to get the one that is getting phased out as being too old. One to three months old is not that bad, for the price proferred.

Note that there is about to be a trend to not do that anymore. But so far, the biggies (see above) say they will tow the line, then not do so. Just beware that they might.

btw, just got EM that HP claims victory. So Compaq is HP now, and maybe HPs will get better builds, more responsive:
-------------------------------------

Update: HP claims victory with early results

A "slim but sufficient" majority of HP shareholders have approved the company's
proposed $21 billion acquisition of Compaq, HP said today.

http://computerworld.com/nlt/1%2C3590%2CNAV47_STO69241_NLTPM%2C00.html
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by:jlauster
ID: 6881444
I'd believe that the Compaqs would get worse, rather than the HPs better.
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by:GUEEN
ID: 6881665
10 points?
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by:cookre
ID: 6881683
I'm kinda partial towards the boxes built by local mom and pop stores (as long as they've been around a while).  Most of the national brands have some propietary characteristics that invariably lock you into their own expensive upgrade paths.

The local shop survives on repeat customers and generally offers a wider range of options.

It's also nice to be able to talk to the folks who build your box instead of some kid who'll probably be gone next month and be replaced by another kid who can only tell you what the company manual allows him to.
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by:bruno
ID: 6881775
Bev, read the whole question, explanation is there.
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by:GUEEN
ID: 6881823
Bear I was just teasing ya <BSEG>
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by:bugaboo
ID: 6881845
Bruno aka pussywhipped boy,
First off, you are an IT professional.  That leads to the reason on why the hell your gf (a female) would question your advice about computers.  obviously someone doesn't wear the pants like they should.  Any woman of mine would take my computer advice like it was gold---cause i wear the IT pants.  You need to open up a can of gointogetballsnow.

Anyhow, i suggest getting a Dell over the other computers.  I have had experience with 7 Dells in my lifetime and they are workhorses.  In fact, i am currently using 3 dells:  1 laptop at home, and two destops at work.  
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by:bruno
ID: 6881865
bugadanhkabar,

She should be taking my advice like it was gold.  

However, as i've been out of the hardware game for a couple of years, I wanted to make sure I give the proper advice.

Can anybody else provide me with URL's???  system reviews and comparisons would be great....I simply couldn't find much when i tried searching...


BRUNO
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by:TheMek
ID: 6882320
Check out the Dell dimension 4400:
http://www.dell.com/us/en/dhs/offers/specials_m_dimen4400.htm
Starts at $749. I have a dimension 4300 myself at home and am very pleased with it. Also..if you order today online, then there are a few extras:
 $50 OFF Online Orders Only! Ends Today!
 
 FREE Ground (3-5 day) Shipping & choice of FREE CD-Burner or DVD Upgrade! Ends Today!
 
 FREE Hard Drive Upgrade! Ends Today!
 
Haven't checked the details or restrictions on those actions, but it's worth a look I think.

Erwin
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by:TheMek
ID: 6882325
oops, the $50 was already off...it's $799 normally
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by:Horn E. Towed
ID: 6883010
As a previous Tech Support Mgr. I have had the experience of dealing with about 20 different Dells, a couple of Gateways, & a Compaq.
I bought a Dell last year.
Dells won't blind you with performance [I'm building my next one myself].
The motherboard chipsets they use are just OK and don't really take advantage ot the new CPU's, but they are inexpensive and generally very stable. This is mainly where Dell saves money (and so do the customers). The additional bells & whistles are quality items and you can get some good deals at the time of purchase. Go else where for upgrades & equipment changes at a later date.
Tech support is a good as it gets in the computer world. This is important if you're not a tech or run into major problems.
The only real problem I have had was with my Promise ATA100 controller card. Promise won't support any installed by third parties like Dell and Dell doesn't provide support for them. I'm still fighting this one.
Still, not a bad track record.
Dell computers rate, IMHO, about 6.25 on a 1-10 scale of 10 = perfect.
That's about as good as it gets with a ready-made [again...IMHO].

StoneG
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by:jaynee
ID: 6885244
Gee, Dell must be a whole lot better over your side of the pond.  I used to buy Dell for the office, but I've recently told them in no uncertain terms that I won't touch them with a barge pole in the future. I love the machines, but the quality of service is woeful, especially when trying to buy the damn things.  Delivery is never when it should be, the build is not what I specified, and getting through to anyone is impossible - and they never call back.  I've had it with Dell UK.  I'm now going with Siemans/Fujitsu.
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by:Quex
ID: 6890523
You asked for an URL and here it is www.pricewatch.com If nothing it will take to lots and lots of resellers sites. I got lots of stuff for excellent prices there. I got my computer for less than a thousand dollars and it's holding on tight.
OTOH, I am with the folks who are telling you to build your own. Your initial question says that you're worried with the quality of the parts...well, who can be the best judge of than than yourself?
This site I recommended has all sorts of different parts sorted by price and brand... you can pick and choose as if you were in a market. They also have Brand name computers and generic ones.
Good luck,
Martha
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by:Quex
ID: 6890526
Another think to consider when buying a brand puter IMO.
Those things come with a shipload of software you don't need, such as dinosaurs, wonderful world of math, gardening etc, etc etc and you will be paying for each one of those programs, which you won't use at all
Besides, most if not all come with that dreadful AO well
you really want that as an ISP? Once you open that you will get more than a billion hours free, you will get your computer  infected with thousands of files that you won't be able to remove and will be there eating your memory and hogging the system...
Just another point to ponder.
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by:deltree
ID: 6890808
FYI
My experience with alienware has left a bad taste. Great system, worth every penny. The problem is they tweak the systems so much that if one thing goes wrong, it takes everything else down - and I'm a hardware guy!

I build my own for the most part, but at work, I've seen that the big brands are about the same. We use Compaq here, last contract was Gateway, previous was Dell, then AST. I'd focus on what support you get. Gateway was great, I'd call and tell them what part I needed, I'd have it in 3 days at most. Of course, we had a corporate support account, tho.

For a corporate environment, the small form factor Gateway/Compaqs are fantastic - no tools to rip the whole thing apart. Also take up less space on your desk, easier to move, etc.

Stay away from the 'all-in-one' types. We tested the Gateway Profile - LCD screen with everything but mouse/KB in it. All the heat gets trapped in one little space, no room for upgrade (second HD, RAM, etc). We also tested some 'PC in a keyboard' thing - same issues. The wearables we tested were fun, but not overly practical.

</2 bits>
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by:bruno
ID: 6892567
Quex,

dom't lock my question.

also, that is not the sort of URL i'm looking for, looking more for reviews of different names...


BRUNO
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by:Horn E. Towed
ID: 6894081
jaynee> Hmmm  EuroDell sounds pretty bad!
I've had none of those problems with UsaDell.
Send me your credit card and I'll do your purchasing for you over here ;-).



S
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by:jaynee
ID: 6895977
Now there's a thought...  Naaahhhh, thanks anyway : )
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by:bruno
ID: 6907297
Ok, accepting the comment with the URL as answer here....  Thank you.  

:-)

Looks like it will end up being a Dell after all.

I will go thru and try to figure out who I think deserves points, and post Q's in this TA for those people, with links to the Q's from this Q as well.

Thanks everyone.


BRUNO
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by:bruno
ID: 6907317
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by:Awmytie
ID: 6908208
Thank you!
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by:bruno
ID: 6924544
SunBow, please collect your points within the next 23 days, or I will delete the question:

http://www.experts-exchange.com/questions/Q.20283245.html


BRUNO
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