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Sam's tech buying tips. (1 Viewer)

HEMI6point1

Nitro Member
For those that don't know I work tech support in a call center. We are contracted to answer phones for a certain 24 hour computer support task force and also the retail store that owns them. As such, I have seen many things.

Here are some advise I can give due to my experience and knowledge (and not just computers)....

1. If you're going to buy a Dell, buy it direct from Dell. Not a retail store, and here's why....

I was looking at the retail prices of Dells sold retail versus their website and wondered, "how in the world are the prices lower for the retail units when they have the same stuff?"

My suspicions were confirmed when we started getting an alarming number of calls about these Dells having all sorts of issues. Bad network cards, no sound, hard drives failing after 2 weeks of usage and more issues. Some even had bad windows images right out of the box and had to be reformatted right away.

I found out why: The retail units are not real Dells. They are Dell-authorized knockoffs (Dell just gives them the external cases) that are made in China and from what I've encountered, the qualify control just isn't there. When you call Dell for support on one of these units, they "punt" you back to the store where you've bought it from, they don't even want to deal with it. If you're going to buy a Dell, buy one direct from Dell....

....Or better yet, don't buy a Dell at all.

2. Want a good antivirus? The answer is NOT at your local big box store.

One thing I noticed about being in tech support and being able to see things first hand is that you should avoid the security software sold at big box stores (Best buy, for example). The reason is because the antivirus companies know the usual demographic of big box store customers and will "try to make it easy to use for the average consumer." This almost always translates into "dumbing it down to the point where it's crap."*

Kaspersky and AVG are two examples: they were both at one time excellent products. AVG seems to have lost some of it's effectiveness (not to mention its trademark low memory usage) and Kaspersky just causes too many issues (I swear, every time I get a client who complains of his computer running slow, I just remove Kaspersky and the problem goes away**).

The best antivirus software products are ones you can only get online: Avast, AntiVir, NOD32, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and VIPRE. VIPRE is the scanner I like to run on people's computers where I work, one of the best I've seen so far. Then again it's made by Sunbelt (makers of CounterSpy) so I'm not surprised.

*And no, I'm not insinuating that people who shop at big box stores are stupid. It's just that people who really know about computers prefer to shop online and only go to big box stores if they need something right away.

**When I voice my opinion about Kaspersky people tell me, "Just turn off some of the real-time shields and it won't slow things down." No, sorry. If I have to weaken the protection just to avoid having my computer run like a 486 then it's not software I want installed in my machine.

3. Looking for a TV? Here is a very important piece of info on a certain manufacturer you might want to know....

Visio may be popular by people who shop by price, but there is one thing I learned about them that made me steer away from their sets for good.

I found this out by a salesperson at Sound Advice and was later confirmed by doing some online research. See, Visio is not a manufacturer. They are a Chinese repackager. What this means is that they will find whoever makes the cheapest panels and slap their name on them.

While this in itself is not bad (unless the Visio you get is a rebadged Sampo), it's their repair policy that is. Visio is a chinese company that has a building in California. If a set needs repair, it goes to that building. The thing about Visio is that they make no replacement parts for their TVs, nor do they make any effort to get them. When you send them the unit for repair, because of this, they simply send you a new one. That's great, but what happens if the unit needs repair after the warranty is up? You're SOL, basically.

If you still want to buy a Visio, buy the store's service contract on it. If the unit needs repair they'll just replace it since Visio won't be able to get parts for it.

4. If you're looking for a new desktop PC, don't buy HP or Compaq.

This is mainly because of 2 things. First, the new PCs are made in China and also because HP installs power supplies that are inappropriate for the type of unit it's going into (read: severely underpowered). Plus, their tech support is horrendous.

I once had to replace a power supply and motherboard for an HP that was only 4 months old and wouldn't turn on. This computer had a quad-core processor, 4 gigs of memory and a huge hard drive and other goodies. The power supply was only 350 watts. No wonder it died! I replaced the motherboard as well because these power supplies tend to take out the motherboard with them.

It gets better: We get a lot of calls about HP's "slimline" PCs, mostly because the unit suddenly will not turn on. Well that's bound to happen when the power supply installed is only 110 watts.

Gateway is guilty of the same thing but at least their tech support is US-based. If you really want a good PC however, spend the money on a Velocity Micro or Evadirect.

Hope this helps.
 
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mick

Nitro Member
thanks sam,
my refurbished HP xw4300 Workstation is an amazing machine - purchased
direct from HP refurbished at the suggestion of the incredibly smart
computer/software guy that i use for my business.
purchased for less than new, works like new - i'm happy
 

HEMI6point1

Nitro Member
HP's workstations are made in a different factory with much higher quality parts, plus they have much better support than the consumer "Pavilion" line of PCs.

You do raise a point. Many times companies put out top-shelf products for business use, while their consumer products are crap. That's because businesses don't want to have downtime because of a crap product, they want something that's good and will be reliable.

List of some companies who make consumer products I wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole yet produce great business products:

HP workstations like you mentioned (many are better than Dell Optiplexes).
Dell Precision / Optiplex.
Compaq Proliant servers (now under HP branding).
Lexmark business printers (I'm not talking about $50 walmart specials either... think $2000 machines).
Synantec Corporate Antivirus (Totally kills Norton).
 

.

Nitro Member
Oh wow Sam, I did not know you are Indian! Hindu?
What part of India do you reside?
Your English is quite good!




























:p:p:p
 

Jenn

Nitro Member
What about the HP laptops, the one I have seems pretty good, but I've only had it 4 days.

I had an HP desktop that's an old faithful (but I did have to replace the power supply once and the fans several times but that's not a surprise, I live in a dusty area)
 

Mike

Nitro Member
Sam, I bought a Vizio Plasma and I cant any thing but good. I bought right from Vizio and they delivered and installed the whole package. I did buy their extended warrany that I havent had to use yet.:);)
 

HEMI6point1

Nitro Member
What about the HP laptops, the one I have seems pretty good, but I've only had it 4 days.

I had an HP desktop that's an old faithful (but I did have to replace the power supply once and the fans several times but that's not a surprise, I live in a dusty area)

HP laptops are not bad. We've been having issues with the wireless cards failing on them more often than other laptops, though.
 

HEMI6point1

Nitro Member
Sam, I bought a Vizio Plasma and I cant any thing but good. I bought right from Vizio and they delivered and installed the whole package. I did buy their extended warrany that I havent had to use yet.:);)

I didn't say Vizio's are bad - it's their repair policy that I don't like.
 

willy

Nitro Member
Sam..there are many factors involved with buying any computer product.

I would prefer you didn't generalize like you do most things..I'll leave it at that.

I did hands on tech support for HP in the late 80's early 90's..they absolutely rocked. You opened an HP..all the cables were neatly organized, etc.

They still do good stuff..but like Dell..you have to order it. Don't ever take their standard setup..because they will ALL cut costs by screwing you with a bad video..sound, etc.

The best advice is to build one..use good stuff..and get a good copy of Windows XP..period. But you can go through Dell's setup and get a good machine cheaper than I can build it..with a guarantee.

After I did 3 yrs of tech support with HP..I moved to a Mac shop and did great tech support for a software company.

Bottom line..they are all the same. If you're willing to spend the money..they WILL all take care of you..in a customized fashion. They are all the same in that regard. What you buy at Walmart..or BEST BUY doesn't count.

YOU WILL GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.!

Edit..oh and Sam..please don't come across like the guru of tech support..I was supporting the same product you are..when you were just growing pubics. (HP center in Chandler, AZ..with 350 reps..1998)

No disrespect intended.
 

Jenn

Nitro Member
Well David, you have become my HP laptop guru :p

There is something, I can't quite put my finger on, different about this version of Vista and the one on my old one. Maybe the difference between 64 bit and 32?
 

HEMI6point1

Nitro Member
64-bit Vista is cool because it takes full advantage of the new CPUs and it lets you use more than 3GB of memory. You have to be careful as some software doesn't work for it, though.
 

clwill

Nitro Member
25 years in the computer business, some of it writing software you each have probably used, gives me a little different perspective. I've got a lot more advice, but I'll stick to your four:

1) Just don't buy Dell. I've had several over the last 15 years, had several among my family and friends, they just aren't the machines they were 5 years ago. Today: avoid them.

2) Anti-virus is a complex business that requires constant updates to make it worthwhile. Small companies and/or shareware just can't keep up with the constant stream of new threats. But if you run Windows, you really need a great solution. So stick with the big names -- I recommend Norton, but McAfee is fine. I know a large number of people who've tried and hated every solution you recommend. Norton used to be a pig, but the latest versions (last year, and this year) are much slimmer and better.

3) We own two Vizios in our family, bought them at Costco and love them.

4) Don't buy a desktop PC. Buy a good laptop. For windows machines, I like HP machines, we have five in my family, all have been good machines.

Final advice: buy a Mac. With the ability run Windows (in several different ways) there's no longer a reason not to. Once you go Mac you never go back. (FWIW, I spent 8+ years working at Microsoft... go figure).

Hope this helps,
Chris
 

Jenn

Nitro Member
Final advice: buy a Mac. With the ability run Windows (in several different ways) there's no longer a reason not to. Once you go Mac you never go back. (FWIW, I spent 8+ years working at Microsoft... go figure).

Hope this helps,
Chris

I wanted a Mac, everybody has told me they are the way to go for photo editing. I just needed to walk out of the store with a computer and I don't want a low end mac, I want the high end mac which I can't afford right now.
 

Smiley

Nitro Member
Final advice: buy a Mac. With the ability run Windows (in several different ways) there's no longer a reason not to. Once you go Mac you never go back. (FWIW, I spent 8+ years working at Microsoft... go figure).

Hope this helps,
Chris


I'm a happy converted MAC user, boot camp is great if you NEED to run a PC application. I've had my MAC BOOK PRO for 6 months and LOVE IT!
 

HEMI6point1

Nitro Member
2) Anti-virus is a complex business that requires constant updates to make it worthwhile. Small companies and/or shareware just can't keep up with the constant stream of new threats. But if you run Windows, you really need a great solution. So stick with the big names -- I recommend Norton, but McAfee is fine. I know a large number of people who've tried and hated every solution you recommend. Norton used to be a pig, but the latest versions (last year, and this year) are much slimmer and better.

I will agree that Norton got better in terms of memory usage (that's not saying much) but it's effectiveness still sucks. Sure, it's great at finding things, but half the time it doesn't remove them. McAfee (or better known as McCrappy) is even worse. To compound matters viruses easily damage them.

The biggest issue with both softwares is they requires tons of memory and a fast CPU to run, and it doesn't help that the "minimum requirements" on the box is not even close to what it needs to run. The newest Norton Internet Security requires at least 1GB of RAM and at least a 2GHz CPU on an XP machine to run (2GB for Vista). That is pathetic!

The worst of all is the "all-in-one" suites: Norton 360 and McAfee Total Protection. The first edition of N360 ran decent but version 2.0 is lousy, I had a client who's computer had 3GB of memory and a dual-core CPU and was running like a 486. I removed 360 2.0 and it ran like a champ! Last week I had a client install McAfee Total Protection and not only did it make her PC run as slow as dirt but it hosed her user account. That's why the software has been nicknamed "Norton 486" and "McAfee Total Screwup."

Did you even bother using or looking into the software I suggested, mainly MalwareBytes and VIPRE? Because both softwares catch everything I throw at them, all were trojans that McAfee and Norton miss constantly. Not sure who you've talked to but VIPRE has only been out a short time but it's getting nothing but great reviews.
 

The Counterfeiter

Nitro Member
I'm a happy converted MAC user, boot camp is great if you NEED to run a PC application. I've had my MAC BOOK PRO for 6 months and LOVE IT!

The Oppressed Minority speaks! I've been using Macs since 1984 and have never had one fail. If you're considering a new computer, go to an Apple Store, you will be impressed. Or, you can go to a Microsoft Store and watch Vista run on a computer they manufacture and warranty - :rolleyes:
 

clwill

Nitro Member
Did you even bother using or looking into the software I suggested, mainly MalwareBytes and VIPRE?

Nope. As noted, I don't need A/V software. :)

But I have dozens of friends who I've helped with computers over the decades, and when I recommend Norton, they complain that it's slow, but they never get viruses. My brother spent a month trying to ditch Norton and go with other choices. He tried several on your list, ended up needing a complete reformat of his machine. Bought the latest Norton -- it's much faster and slimmer, and he's happy again.

To paraphrase an old line (that probably predates you): never got fired recommending Norton. <was "IBM">
 

vegasnitro

Nitro Member
There is only ONE real issue with computers and software: THE USER.

I have a Dell laptop, and have had Dell laptops for almost 11 years now (I am on my 7th ... 6 were provided by work, I bought 1) and have NEVER had a problem. I seriously doubt I would have a problem with a HP or Mac either.

Most A/V proggies work just fine if you keep them updated and you pay attention to what you are downloading and what websites you go to. DILIGENCE is the best anti-virus.

The BEST advice is to actually learn about your PC and software to effectively use both with minimal hassle.
 
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