Getting the Most Out of Your Technology - Make a Good Buying Decision

Discussion in 'Notebook News and Reviews' started by d-roC, Jan 30, 2005.

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  1. d-roC

    d-roC Notebook Guru

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    As a writer and a purveyor of current technology, I am commonly asked by my less technical friends and family what PDA, mobile phone, or computer to purchase. I normally get the "I just want to do Word and Excel, browse the Internet and do email," kind of responses. And, in course, I give the get the best value for your dollar kind of recommendations.

    In some cases, I have college/graduate school aged people asking similar questions, but they want to buy with some sense of future value, as well as current ability. So for them, I sit down and help them analyze what it is that he or she can foresee doing with that technology down the line. But in all cases, people have the same expectations in that they want to get the most out of the technology, even though newer and better things may come out in the near future. So how does one get the most out of technology, especially in the area of laptops, tablets and PDAs where a device that is one year old is considerably out of tune with current models in features, performance, or price?

    My First Rule: Do Your Homework

    Before I purchased my first PDA, I spent over 8 months looking at PDAs. I looked at what models sold the best and which ones sold least. I looked at operating systems, software bundles, and used Google and Yahoo search engines to find fan sites that would give me a different [harsher in some cases] point of view. I also made sure to do my rounds with technical and not-so-technical magazines. When a magazine on automobiles decides to look at laptop computer stands for in car use, I made it a point to see what laptops were used in the testing. Magazines like PC World gave me a good idea of what was a good buy, versus an expensive toy. Last but not least, I made sure to ask the computer science students in my college. Being a college student, I wanted to take advantage of as much free to low cost consulting as possible. Asking friends and family members helped me to make a solid decision.

    Second Rule: Write Out a List

    I know. It almost seems silly to write out a list after you have asked tons of people and basically have centered on a price point. But, one thing to consider when getting a new PDA, notebook, or anything else for that matter have to be your return on investment (ROI is what businesses call it). When you write out a list of how you are going to use your PDA or laptop, you get a better idea of how influential you want your purchase to open you wallet. In the same respect, you are taking the advantage as a consumer to exercise your right to choose a product based on its ability, not its popularity. For example, I have a friend who has a PDA and a laptop. She bought the laptop so that she would be able to download music, read email, and do word processing. She bought the PDA so that she would have a constant reminder of her daily tasks. But when I asked her to write out a list of what she wants her laptop to do, she listed reminding her of daily tasks as one of the things that she wanted. Also, the PDA that she bought is able to read email and play music, just as her computer can (albeit, not as much space in the PDA for storage). When she heard this, she felt confused and slightly taken. She had not read all of the information that came with her PDA that told her that she could do this. Nor had she used all of the programs on her laptop that would enable her to do what she wanted a PDA for. Granted, portability was also a big thing and you cannot go carrying a laptop everywhere. But she had not written out a list of desirable and undesirable qualities, so this was not something that was remotely considered.

    After you write out your list, you will want to sort it according to wants, needs, and budget. There may be some overlap, but you will want to keep things in one category as much as possible. Then, take that list, and post it somewhere and don't look at it for a few days (or even a few weeks). After a good amount of time, do this list again, but do not refer to the previous list. Some needs may move into the wants category, but don't consider it a bad thing (it only means that you are allowing the true value of your purchase to take shape). After doing this list once or twice, you are ready to move towards the last stage before making the purchase.

    Third Rule: Playtime is Key

    Playing with a device before purchasing it can make you feel like a child again. Touching, pressing buttons, surfing the web, and squeezing (but not dropping) are some aspects of play that you can employ. Another thing that you can do is ask someone who has a similar device to what you want if you can take a few hours to play with it. I have found that playing with laptops in a retail store is a grab bag of impressions. Sometimes, you get a good model that hasn't been abused. But other times, you see a model that has been through its share of drops, throws and tears. In the case of PDAs, you may find a model but it may not be working. You can ask a customer service person if they have a working model so that you can get a feel for it while it is operating. But, don't think about doing a test drive like thing and taking it home. With all computer related items, you will be limited to playing with the attached cord while in the store.


    Finally, after you have done the homework, made the list and checked it twice, and played with a few models, you can make that fun step towards purchasing. Of course, in doing your homework you may have found that there may be various avenues of purchasing. In those cases, seek advice from the manufacturer or from sites such as BargainPDA, NotebookReview and TabletPCReviewSpot that have plenty of information about who gives the best service and support after purchasing. Make sure to look into warranties and extended service plans if you are a person who is prone to dropping or have little ones who may also be using the tool. Hopefully, once you get to this point, you will feel that you have made a good purchase that will last you for the next few model runs (or major revolution), which at that time you will have to go through this process all over again if you want to get the best bang for your buck.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2015
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