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2/1/2002 | 2 MINUTE READ

Dot Commentary: Smart Technology Shopping, Part 1 - Hardware

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For most people, a recession means saving and cost-cutting.


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For most people, a recession means saving and cost-cutting. But if you’re in the market for new computer equipment, this is an excellent opportunity to upgrade your technology without breaking the bank.

One of the benefits of the economic downturn is that many computer makers are being forced to sell their PCs at dramatically reduced prices. Right now, Dell, Gateway, IBM and others are all offering very capable systems for well under $1,000. In many cases, you may have to be willing to stay slightly behind the cutting edge in order to realize a significant cost savings, but you’ll find that it’s well worth it.

Of course, if you do feel the need to own cutting edge technology, you can expect to pay a premium for it. Just don’t be surprised when you stumble on to a better deal a month or two down the road. One of the problems with new technology is that it becomes obsolete almost the moment it is issued. Last spring, for example, I purchased a new Gateway computer (and peripherals) for home use for approximately $1,200. Now, less than one year later, Gateway is selling the same model with improved peripherals and a faster processor for well under $1,000. There’s no doubt that I got a great deal at a time when I needed a new PC, and my purchase has already paid for itself three times over. But I still cringe when I realize how much the price has come down in just nine months.

If you aren’t able to pay cash for new equipment, now is also an ideal time to finance a computer purchase. The continued struggling of the economy means that you can anticipate appealing financing offers from computer manufacturers like Gateway, Dell and IBM. These companies may also offer other incentives—such as discounted shipping, free software (which I’ll discuss in more detail next month), or extended customer support—in an effort to earn your business.

New equipment may not be the way to go for everyone. There’s a lot to be said for refurbished or reconditioned equipment, especially if you’re on a tight budget and only using your PC for e-mail, web surfing and word processing. Most of the major computer manufacturers offer refurbished systems, some for as low as $400. Regardless of who you purchase your refurbished computer from, I strongly recommend making sure that the equipment is covered by some type of warranty.

Of course, all of this said, make sure that you are able justify your equipment purchase. In other words, don’t buy the equipment just because it’s inexpensive, especially if money is tight right now. If you aren’t able to forecast a tangible benefit to your computer purchase, you might be better off waiting until you can. If all you’re going to use it for is solitaire, buy a pack of playing cards instead and save yourself $1,000.