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Computer recommendations

deekay
Grafter
Posts: 209
Registered: 05-08-2007

Computer recommendations

I have been asked by a relative, what make of replacement desktop computer he should buy.
It has to be bought locally (Argos, Comet, or Currys) and not on-line or by phone.
The makes available seem to be Asus, Hewlett-Packard, Packard Bell, or a Dell Inspiron 545.
Has anyone any suggestions as to which of these is the best make, for reliability and, if needed, customer service?
He's adamant that he will only go to a local shop to buy one!
They rarely seem to be mentioned in magazine reviews, so I know little about any of them.
Many thanks for any help.
Keith
18 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 17,481
Thanks: 1,480
Fixes: 17
Registered: 06-11-2007

Re: Computer recommendations

Not sure why he is against "online" deals, but I suspect it is a fear of not being able to "take it back, and talk to someone about it"....
so Here is my suggestion..... for what it is worth...
go and have a look at the units on offer and take away the make and model and spec data, for each one that takes his/your fancy...
then go home to your computer, and put the make and model into google, and add the word    <    reviews    >  to the search box.....
click on pages for the UK, and then search...
hopefully you should come up with some reviews, and possibly some forums.... which should give plenty of food for thought.
best of luck
Personally, I have bought Dell laptops direct from Dell, (on line) and have had no problems...  (each to his own) 
Community Veteran
Posts: 38,460
Thanks: 1,027
Fixes: 62
Registered: 15-06-2007

Re: Computer recommendations

It might sound silly but when I was helping a friend pick a computer from PC World
I first looked at the minimum spec needed
Then looked at the ones which met the spec on the website which gave a short list
Went to the store
Checked if they had an HDMI post - a surprising number only had VGA and as usual the assistant was clueless so I had a look at the back
Found which ones she though looked nicest  Grin
Finally put my hand over the fan exhaust  at the back to check the temperature - you would be surprised at the difference considering that they were all idling - a picked the one which was coolest.
The end result was a Packard Bell which hasn't given the slightest problem in over 2 years
Community Veteran
Posts: 18,613
Thanks: 218
Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: Computer recommendations

I have a Packard Bell desktop and a HP laptop, both bought on line and I am pleased with both purchases.  I am particularly pleased with the back up service provided by HP which is excellent. Smiley
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,111
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Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: Computer recommendations

Does the person in question need the computer to run Windows? And what kind of usage is envisaged for the computer? As a Mac would be highly recommended if the buyer doesn't intent to play lots of Windows-only video games... not the cheapest, but Apple are well known for having some of the best computer support in the business... plus they of course have their retail stores with Genius Bars and so forth.
If you're wondering where else is a good place to buy a Mac without resorting to online, John Lewis stock I think all main Mac models and they're well known for excellent service too. Some PC World stores have 'Apple Shops' within their stores, which are little Apple-only areas staffed by someone who's been trained by Apple rather than DSG, but you'd still unfortunately be at the behest of the general store management in the event that the product needs to be returned.
NB. If considering a Mac, it would be advisable to wait a little while - perhaps even only a few days - as a number of their desktops are rumoured to receive imminent updates and price drops.
Community Veteran
Posts: 3,486
Registered: 02-10-2008

Re: Computer recommendations

I had the same issue just over a year ago - and asked several people who looked after large numbers of machines for large and small businesses.
The vast majority of people recommended HP or their Compaq branded PC's.
I too can recommend John Lewis. Their staff seem above average for the retail trade - and the techie guys in the computer department certainly seemed to know more than my local PC World staff. ( same goes for the TV and photographic dept staff ) And their prices are competitive - and although not needed the service / replacement policy is very good I have heard.
[Edit - yes as Jim says - John Lewis standard warranty was 24 months last time I looked.

Community Veteran
Posts: 38,460
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Registered: 15-06-2007

Re: Computer recommendations

and you get a longer warranty usually
Community Veteran
Posts: 18,613
Thanks: 218
Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: Computer recommendations

JL has to be a win-win option when you also consider their 'never knowingly undersold' policy.
N/A

Re: Computer recommendations

HP computers are sold in vast numbers by the retail stores and mostly they seem to be aimed at the budget end of the market.
Maybe this could account for the larger numbers of people that like them i.e. there are simply more about.
My friend had one and it wasn't very good. Another friend who owns a computer shop reports that he doesn't think much of HP desktops or laptops. Only trouble is I can't remember whyHuh?
If he likes the personal touch he could do no better than go to the local computer shop and have one built to his own specification.
This is what I used to do (by the aforementioned shop owner) when I had desktops and I had no complaints, especially as I got the full XP disk and no bloatware. Also, it gave me a bit of 'credit' if I had any queries.
Lurker
Grafter
Posts: 1,867
Registered: 23-10-2008

Re: Computer recommendations

HP laptops are amongst the best, and the worst.
The same is probably true for just about all manufacturers though; everything is made to a price, and if you opt for lots of shiny 'extras' in the cheapest package possible, it will always be lower quality than less 'extras' in a higher-end package.
The HP 'Entertainment Notebook' range is rock solid, and whilst the cheaper ones in that range aren't going to set any performance records, you can be assured of the build quality.
If you were to compare this to a similarly priced machine from one of their budget lines, yes you would get lots of extras, but I would expect build quality to be far less.
Business spec gear tends to be a reasonably safe bet too, give that most manufacturers give businesses next-day-on-site service on new kit, they have to invest in the build quality up front.
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,735
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Registered: 02-02-2008

Re: Computer recommendations

Yes, I always look at business spec systems first.
Another advantage is that they generally don't have all the "garbage freebies" of a domestic one, though that can put the price up.
And the software included or optional is generally more useful.
If buying Dell the Vostro range is (was?) good. (haven't looked at their kit for a while)
N/A

Re: Computer recommendations

My Dell Vostro 1700 laptop is about 18 months old now. Pretty it isn't. Lightweight it isn't, but as a desktop alternative it is spot on and I'm not taking it anywhere so it is fine for me. Didn't get too much bloatware, although had to get rid of a few bits and pieces. It hasn't given me a spot of bother despite the fact that it is used quite a lot.
The business type ones are not heavily advertised but price-wise seem good VFM. However, possibly the friend of the OP would have to look hard in a high street store for such a machine. 
The one thing I hate about HP is the recovery partition business. It is a waste of good disk space IMO and is just because they can't be bothered to provide the reinstall disk. Also, last time I reinstalled XP on a HP desktop it ended up with loads of bloatware that was years out of date because they were all on the recovery partition. Had to uninstall them all before starting work setting it up.
It kept crashing when I installed SP 3 so had to download a patch from the HP site.
Still think that he would be better having one built. It's good to support these small shops and also he might well get it all updated, security applied and ready to go.
Steve
Seasoned Pro
Posts: 6,802
Thanks: 305
Registered: 13-07-2009

Re: Computer recommendations

If it was me id be going for a dell,good models,great support,im using one  now and its great,no problems what so ever.But i get all my pcs online,cheaper and more choice,and plenty help on the web whatever make you go for Smiley
If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
deekay
Grafter
Posts: 209
Registered: 05-08-2007

Re: Computer recommendations

Thank you all for your very helpful advice. It is really appreciated.
I will forward everything on, and we will see what happens.
Just a few comments.
In my experience, there is one problem with getting a local shop to build it. I did this a few years ago, and about 12 months after I bought the computer, the shop went out of business. So there is no comeback and their guarantee is worthless. They made a good job of the build though, and I know enough about computers to sort out most problems. I am loathe to build one myself though!
He hates buying stuff 'remotely', and much prefers to walk into a shop to buy things. Then, he says, he has more control if there is a later problem.
Thanks again, everyone for your help.
Cheers
Keith
Community Veteran
Posts: 3,486
Registered: 02-10-2008

Re: Computer recommendations

What James says rings true. I also remember reading that Dell computers range from excellengt to poor depending on the models - and maybe they different ranges are souced from several different factories in China and elsewhere ??.
We didn't go for the cheapest HP - and not for the high end either, but the PC's have been very good.
Maybe some HP models sold in High street stores are from the lower end market - but John Lewis seemed to stock models from across the range - some higher end.
Like anything else you get what you pay for - so don't buy from the cheapest range from anybody.