There was a time when computers were so expensive that, to own one was beyond the means of a common man and, they were only affordable for the elite of the society. Times have changed and the prices of computers have fallen so drastically that it has been moved from the list of luxury items to the list of essential items in a household. They have become so cheap that you can easily buy a brand new personal computer with basic configuration for just Rs. 13,500/- excluding tax, or a used computer for around one third that price. But there are however, some points to be considered before you purchase a new computer.

1) Identify the purpose behind purchasing the computer.
This is one aspect which people usually tend to forget or neglect. As a result they end up buying a system with configuration higher than their requirement or one with higher price than what would have been warranted given their requirements. Common personal uses include browsing the net, , sending & receiving emails, chatting, word processing, listening to music, watching movies and watching TV. For such uses, it is advised to go for a computer with a basic configuration which is economical. Do not settle on a configuration just because it was shown in some advertisement or because you have been told that it is the best configuration. Decide on a configuration based on your requirements.
2) Financing your purchase.
While buying a computer, its important to identify your budgetary constraints. Prices vary with the configuration and also with the brands. . For a normal home user, a basic configuration with AMD Sempron processor, 512 MB RAM would be more than sufficient. This would cost around Rs.13000/-. The same person going for a system with Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 1 GB RAM and costing around Rs.20000/- would be an overkill as he would not be using the full capability of the system. Once you figure out your requirements decide on a configuration that meets your need and fits your budget. If you can not afford to raise enough cash to pay for the configuration you could look at financing the purchase. Most of the public and private banks give personal loans in the 15000-30000 range. You might have to pay a processing charge and a 'semi-transparent' interest on the loan amount.
3) Whether branded or assembled?
This is an aspect where people normally make uninformed decisions.Computers available in the market can be vaguely divided into two categories: (1) Branded Computers and (2) Assembled Computers. Branded computers are those that are manufactured by big brands. (eg: HCL, Lenovo, Compaq) These companies assemble computers in their manufacturing units and provide it to the customers with their warranty. Assembled computers are assembled by small players often based in the local market itself and they supply to the local market with their warranty. The components that you find in both branded and assembled are often made by the same manufacturer (eg: Sony DVD drive, ASUS Motherboard, NVIDIA chipset, Intel Processor). As a result there shouldnt be any reason to find any difference in the quality between a branded and an assembled computer but for the manufacturing and QC processes. But the biggest difference comes in the price. Branded computers are normally priced much higher than assembled ones.
4) Warranty for the Computer and its Components
In terms of warrany, a branded PC comes with a wrapper warranty covering the entire PC for a fixed period of time like 1-3 years with an option to extend the warranty. On the other hand, assembled PC's come with a warranty from the assembler plus the warranties provided by the component manufacturers. Most often the component warranties extend much beyond the warranty provided by the branded and the assembled PCs. But you can avail the extended warranty only in the case of the assembled PCs. Even the risk of the asembler going out of business is really mitiagated by this simple fact. However most assemblers hide this fact of the extended component warranty from the customer and charge for component replacements after the warranty period provided by the company. So before you buy the system make sure you talk about the warranty criterion with the dealer.
5) Know your hardware
Before you buy a computer it is always good to read up about the different components that make up a Personal Computer. Additionally you should also do some research about the current trends in the market and learn about the different options you have while deciding your configuration. Make sure you check out the following topics, preferably on www.wikipedia.org

  • Processor
  • Motherboard
  • RAM - Random Access Memory
  • Monitor
  • Hard Disk Drive
  • CD/DVD Drive
  • Floppy Drive
  • Cabinet and SMPS
  • Printer
  • UPS

Once you have a fair understanding about the components, go talk to a few dealers about your requirements. Even with a reasonably basic understanding you will significantly reduce the chance of having a decision forced on you by any dealer.
6) Where to buy?
Visit a few stores/websites and get quotations for the configuration you need before you decide on a store/website to buy your system from. Also talk to a few customer service executives at the store about the configuration and its variations. Try to verify the information provided by the executives to ensure that you are not being taken for a ride . Talk to a few customers of the store to get first hand information about the quality of service provided from the store. If you need help in buying a computer visit our office for an obligation-free free consultation to help you figure out answers to some of the above questions. We are located at 3/118 Kesavadasapuram, Pattom P.O., Trivandrum - 695004. You can also call us at 0471-4063818 and get help over the phone.

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