PCs are getting cheaper and cheaper and cheaper in the U.S.
After our Acer desktop PC gave up the ghost recently (we think the culprit was the video card) and after a few half-hearted attempts at fixing it, we did what most people do in this country when something breaks down – we trooped over to the store and got ourselves a new desktop PC.
This time too, we got an Acer machine. You see, it’s hard to beat an Acer on the price and features.
While our earlier Acer came from Circuit City, the new one came from Best Buy since Circuit City also breathed its last recently.
At $379, a Steal
For $379, we got an Acer Sempron X2 Dual-Core processor 2300 with Windows Vista Home Premium, 3GB RAM, 320GB harddrive and a 20-inch LCD monitor.
The PC/LCD Monitor combo was On Sale (a retail trick in the U.S. to draw customers into the store with big discounts on some products in hopes you’ll buy other high-margin products but obviously they haven’t reckoned with our cheapo desis).
The PC has 9 USB ports (5 in front and 4 in the back), DVDÂ±RW/CD-RW, built-in LAN and 1 expansion slot available (PCI-E x16).
Setting up the PC took us about 30 minutes. After setup, we quickly downloaded the latest Windows updates via our broadband Internet access (about 18 Mbps downstream and 2 Mbps upstream). Immediately after that, we downloaded our favorite Firefox browser (3.0.9) off the web (an update 3.0.10 is available now).
A couple of days later, we created a System Restore disk that lets you recover the PC to its factory state should the PC fail for some reason (a hardware failure, for instance). That took about 45 minutes to complete and required two DVDs (our actual time on the process was no more than 5 minutes).
Our new PC is good enough for routine tasks like browsing the web, writing a blog post, playing YouTube videos and the like. But if you are a gamer, this cheap PC might not be the one for you.
We also like the fact that the PC is compact and does not make much noise.
What We’re Not Happy About
The speakers look cheap and the keyboard is not great (some of the keys are not raised enough for our taste and the keyboard itself moves easily). Also, there are a couple of dead pixels on the monitor and we’re wondering if we should exchange it for a different monitor.
Overall, the few blemishes notwithstanding we feel $379 was not a bad deal for a dual-core PC with 3GB RAM, Windows Vista Home Premium, 320GB harddrive and a 20-inch LCD monitor. What say you?
Say No to Warranty
The folks at Best Buy tried hard to sell us the extended warranty.
We recommend you decline it. There’s no sense in paying $240 for an extra year of warranty for a PC that costs only $379. Even if you’re not a tech-savvy desi, you can always get your friend to help you out with the promise of a $10 weekend or $6.99 weekday buffet lunch at the crappy local Indian restaurant.
We also said No to the Best Buy salesman’s offer to create a System Restore disk and install an anti-virus software for $89.99 (does not include the anti-virus software itself). Both are simple tasks and you can do them yourself in the comfort of your home or seek the help of a fellow desi. Promise him a 50-cent Samosa and he’ll gladly do it for you.
You must buy a security software like Norton Internet Security 2009 software suite (comes with anti-virus, firewall, antiphishing and anti-spyware features) that you can install on upto three PCs. Although the Norton security softwware is listed at $69.99, it’s frequently on sale for at least $30 less at retailers like Best Buy, Office Max and Staples.
How much do home PCs cost in India and what configuration do you get for the price?
Are brand-name PCs popular with consumers or do unbranded PCs assembled by your friend’s cousin-brother’s nephew still rule the roost? Do people pay for anti-virus software or are they ‘gratis’ in India?