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5 PC shopping myths

written by: KateG•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 11/23/2008

If you want to get the real skinny on the most common myths that computer shoppers fall for then this piece will help you to get past the hype.

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    When the time comes to buy a new computer it can be hard to be sure that you are getting what you really need and that you are getting it at a fair price. The main problem stems from the fact that when it comes to technology shopping, getting clear information is a hard thing to do. So today in order to help you shop we are going to look at five common PC shopping myths that cause you to spend more than you need to when getting a computer.

    Myth One: You need to buy a top of the line model or your system will be obsolete by this time next year.

    This is a common tactic used by sales staff to talk you up to the next most expensive system. All I can say about this is look at the homes of your friends and neighbors. They don’t all rush to the computer store every year to buy a new machine. No, your system will not be useless in a year. The only area where this may be even close to true is with PC gamers where the graphics standards for games can be rapidly upgraded. If you are a heavy gamer consider that you can always just switch out your graphics card later.

    Myth Two: It is bad to buy used hardware.

    A lot of stores will try to steer you away from the used hardware, and many only sell refurbished models online or otherwise hide them from the majority of customers. This is done for two simple reasons: used hardware is less expensive and they make less profit on them. The truth is that refurbished hardware is just as good as new provided it has been cleaned out properly. Any reputable dealer should be doing this.

    Myth Three: When you buy a new computer you should also buy the basic peripherals again.

    Your basic peripherals are the ones that deal with your systems primary input and output. This covers things like your:

    • Keyboard (text input)
    • Mouse (click and scroll input)
    • Monitor (visual output)
    • Speakers (audio output)

    The truth is that a lot of stores will want to bundle your shiny new computer with a whole new set of these basic peripherals, whether you need them or not. If you happen to need a monitor, speakers, mouse and keyboard with your new system, then this can be a good deal. However,if you have serviceable peripherals at home already, you don't need to re-buy these

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    Myth 4: You should always purchase a service plan with a new PC.

    Some stores, especially the big-box discounters, will try their best to make it seem that you need to purchase some warranty plan from them. They imply it's a big risk if you don't. This is not true for a couple of reasons. One is that if the costs of repairing devices was more than the plan, the stores wouldn't sell them. The other reason is that the manufacturers usually provide a year's warranty on PCs anyway and most hardware-related problems tend to crop up in the first few months, anyway. Especially steer clear of service plans that don't extend the manufacturer's warranty.

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    Myth Five: In-store service packages are to your advantage.

    Nope. This is the same deal here.The store will try to make it sound attractive with a hard sell or a teaser introductory rate, but the odds are still that any break-down will occur during the first few months when the manufacturer's warranty is in effect. These in-store service deals are even worse if you purchase a laptop. They won't try to fix laptop hardware in the store, except for some really easy maintenance like battery replacement. For anything more involved, they'll have to send your laptop away anyway, and you'll obtain no advantage whatsover dealing with the store instead of the manufacturer.

    For example, if you have a problem with an HP or Lenovo PC, once you've contacted tech support and verified the need for a non-end-user repair, the company will overnight you a pre-paid box in which to return the computer.


    Now that you have the most common myths, but this is by no means the complete compendium of tricks. So be a careful consumer and keep a suspicious eye out.