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Brand Name vs. Custom Built Computers Print
Saturday, 01 July 2006 15:42

Which computer should I buy? As most everyone has a computer today, the average consumer inevitability will have to make this choice. Many people have a common misconception that the big name brand manufacturers can offer a better computer at a better price than your local computer store. This is simply not true. A computer is just a sum of parts. The big guys don't create a computer, they just purchase the parts from a host of other companies and assembly them all together in one box. A small local store has the advantage to do this better and more efficiently.

Brand Name Manufacturers - Cookie Cut Computers

Hardware

To appease the demanding stockholders, the big guys must lower the costs of components every quarter. They negotiate for the best price components, which are seldom the best quality. This is generally done by issuing a request for bids. The winners of these bids are the lowest priced supplier willing to build a part to the manufactures specifications. This means your brand name computer is filled with no-brand name parts. Interesting, huh?

The brand name's quest for the bottom dollar components also lends to another problem. A computer is only as fast as its slowest part. So while the brand name may advertise a certain gigahertz computer cheaply, the slow hard drive or inferior motherboard will govern the system performance.

The local store can offer its client exactly what they need. Be it a nicer video card and more memory for a gamer, a silent computer for a bedroom, or dual screens for the multi-tasker. The point being the local guy can supply you with exactly what you need. The made to order approach of small local shops will little to no inventory, allow them to take immediate advantage of component price fluctuations.

Software

The local store can tailor to the customers software needs as well. This simple concept simply can't be implemented into the assembly line production of the big guys. Brand name manufacturers are often paid to install trial software on their systems that constantly harasses the user to buy or upgrade to the full version. This mass install of unneeded software severely degraded the system performance by doing irreparable damage to the operating system.

Brand Name Manufacturers - Support Sucks

All electronics can break, and the manufacturer's pursuit of the lowest cost components often leads to the much higher failure rates reported by trade magazines.

It usually takes just one hiccup with a brand name computer to really appreciate how bad their support channels are. The setup of brand name manufactures does not permit them to support their products. It breaks down like this; several different people assemble your system, another one sells it to you, and finally a batch of other people are supposed to offer you support of which you aren't even allow to speak to the same person twice. If you experienced a problem you generally end up spending several hours on the phone. If you and your new friend from the other side of the planet determine you actually have a problem, you usually have to package everything up and send it off.

I have a one-year on-site warranty you say? Let me explain that. On-site warranties with big manufactures are usually handled by a separate company. This separate company, a national repair center, will dispatch a local tech guy to you in the event of a problem. The guy that comes to your house will be an idiot for one of two reasons. I say this because the technician that comes to your house will never get paid. I know because I have been this guy. The repair center is setup in a way that one hour of work performed by the tech for a brand name manufacturer will cost the tech another six hours of work to get paid for their original hour. As you can imagine, one hour of pay for seven hours of work makes buying food difficult. This leads me to believe a tech in this situation is either a naive idiot or just a plain idiot.

Another horrible venue of dealing with NBM is your data. No brand name manufacturer will return your computer with the data intact. The assembly line repair of their systems will usually involve replacing the part, reloading the operating system thereby erasing all your information, and testing it before reshipping.

This is all under the assumption that your system is still under the original warrantee. With out of warranty items, you are informed they no longer support that model.

Brand Name Manufacturers - Bait and Switch Tactics

The big guys spend thousands of dollars having their employees trained weekly by professionals on how to up-sale you to higher profit items. Their advertised low price systems are seldom actually sold at the advertised price. You get what you pay for and when you are after these super low cost systems, you sometimes pay for something you don't get.

Summary

Local computer stores offer a local presence, high-touch sales, configurability, and value-added services. These strengths are difficult if not impossible for large multinationals to compete against.

- Grant Brown

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