QUESTION: We’re ready to purchase a new PC and want to be ready for any “hard sells”. What should we look out for?
Ed: Stores can put the screws to you but many do not and here’s what to look out for. Several stores suggest that you pay them to create a Recovery or Backup Disc. They usually combine this with “cleaning up your PC” which means removing the trial programs that are pre-installed. First of all, most PCs either have a built-in program for creating these discs or they have an emergency recovery solution that is installed on your hard drive. Secondly, there are free program that allow you to easily remove all of the trial programs and other “bloat ware”. One of these programs is called PC Decrapifier and is available for free at www.pcdecrapifier.com, see previous article at http://bit.ly/removestuff. When you initially run the program, be sure to check the box that you’re running it on a new PC. You can also run this program on older PCs to clean it up. Just use care when deciding what to remove and if in doubt, do some research first.
As far as an extended warranty is concerned I don’t recommend it for PCs. You should check with your credit card company to see if you already have protection if you use your card for the purchase.
Some of these stores offer an anti-virus program for an additional charge. They should, but don’t, inform you that you have alternative free anti-virus programs that will protect your PC equally well.
At one store that I visited I watched as an unsuspecting customer purchased all of the above extras for an additional $205 for a $495 PC. This added an additional 40% to the purchase. I usually speak up when I see this happening if I can avoid embarrassing the sales person.
There is an additional program that you should be aware of and it’s the opposite of PC Decrapifier in that it adds useful applications to your new PC with one stop to the Internet. If you visit www.allmyapps.com you can download many applications that you can add to your repertoire. Here you can download such programs such as Firefox, QuickTime, Adobe Reader, Flash and many more.
Bottom line, please do your homework before plunking down your hard earned dollars.
Ed Schwartz is a member of the North Orange County Computer Club. To send in a question, go to edwardns.com and click the Contact Me menu. Archives of previous columns are also on the website.