Published Works,  Technology Column

Tech 45

Tech 9813
April 6, 1998

My Fiancé’s daughter Traci will be going off to Law school this Fall and in preparation is shopping for a notebook sized laptop computer. They have a technical name by the way, Notebook. My guess is that since she still hasn’t finished her education, Traci has some small amount of naivete. That could be the only explanation as to why she asked me of all people to help her look. Actually we both learned a lot.

We started at the big computer store with the cow hide painted on the walls. Each of the select few computers on display was bathed in it’s own spotlight on a granite Formica counter top, clean and shinny new. Of the three Notebook computers on display, all were at least double of what Traci wanted to spend. We moved on to the big computer superstore up the street. It’s a completely different environment. Why, there are more Notebook computers there than you can shake a stick at,  arranged roughly by price. The next trick is finding a salesperson who knows anything at all except the obvious, as in, the plainly posted stock number and price. Pass that point and the answer is an almost universal “I don’t know.” So we started taking notes.

Traci really liked the Compaq Presario model 1215. Next stop, the Internet. I checked in with one of the most popular search engines, Yahoo. A search engine is a web site where it’s easy to look up where to find stuff on-line. I picked the category “Business and Eonomy:Companies:Computers:Retailers:Price Guides” and found several places to compare prices and features. As it turns out – the big computer superstore had the second best price in the country with the smallest price anywhere just four dollars lower. Since that didn’t include shipping, the obvious choice would be to buy locally. We found a further option of a similar model refurbished by the manufacturer for a few hundred dollars less. If you, like Traci, are “in the market” – be prepared to do a lot of research. There are hundreds of models, thousands of options and few sales clerks who know a whole lot more than you do.