Courtesy of Thomas at Innovative Quality Software (IQS) - "The SAW People"
Okay....below are the 11 questions that I think should be asked and definitively answered before purchasing any name brand computer and maybe should be asked of independent 'mom & pop' system integrators too. - - from a mail order vendor or a local vendor of name brand computers (CompUSA, Computer City, Best Buys, Circuit City, Sears, etc..). - - If the store vendor or the telephone salesperson does not know, then do not purchase the computer until you find out for sure. Get the model number of the computer and contact the manufacturer. Ask them to fax you motherboard layouts if necessary. Write down the names of their representatives that you talked to in case they mislead you with the wrong information and you wish to return the computer. With a local person (mom & pop), I feel it is easier to sit down and discuss what you will do with that computer and what upgrade options you would like built in for the future. Look at the shop this person has. He might give you a decent price, but how long has he been in business and does your gut feeling tell you he will still be there a year from now (and do you care if your computer is generic enough to be serviced by any M&P shop)? - - Figure out what you need first, then - -
ASK THESE QUESTIONS!
Finally, if you decide to purchase a name brand computer from a mail order vendor or a local vendor, ask not about the warranty so much as where and how fast can you get your computer serviced if you have an audio project to complete and you do not have time to ship the computer across the country. Will a technician come out to your place of business if need be? Will they come quickly? If you have to pay for that support, are you willing to do so at their price? Will mail order vendors pay for shipping if the computer has to be shipped back to the manufacturer? Can you afford the down time if you do not have a backup computer? Do you feel comfortable with the level of the mail order vendor's tech support. One of the largest complaints I hear are that people can not understand some tech support personnel because their command of the language is poor or heavily accented or with the case of Americans, that we speak to fast, use too many slang terms, and use too many double-negatives with coupled with contractions. Does the local vendor of the name brand computer tell you that all tech support goes through the manufacturer after purchase and are you happy with that? If he has technicians on site, will they do a rush job to repair or reconfigure your computer since you might have a deadline to meet?
Most of the name brand computers I mentioned in the text above I've had personal upgrade experience with. Two of them come from reconfiguration tech support calls from users where we went step by step through all of the IRQ configuration possibilities to no avail (HP Pavilion & Gateways). What I wrote above does not mean that these computers are "bad", just that for the purposes of more serious users (like our users) who need more performance and versatility than the average home user or desktop business user, these systems present some major obstacles. In fact, if the user is armed with the information above, the above companies usually have a higher end system they can offer (at a higher cost) without these limitations. The trick is to approach them armed with the information above to help them select a model for you without the above limitations.
Let me also say that the computer hardware industry is in a constant state of change. Things like MMX (Multimedia extensions), USB (Universal Serial Bus), Firewire, AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) will be making their way onto motherboards and CPUs over the course of 1997 (USB is already on many new motherboards) and all could have serious impacts on the hard disk recording industry. People can get stuck in limbo always trying to "wait" for the "next thing" to come out. The best you can do with this industry is to slow down the impact of the upgrade costs by giving your computer as much upgrade abilities as possible. It might involve replacing the motherboard, but keeping the exisiting CPU and memory chips to take advantage of some of the new motherboard features next year.
Thomas/IQS - - - POSTED 12/31/96
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This page last updated 11/10/97