David Lubar

Whether you're a first-time buyer or a power user planning to upgrade that antiquated Pentium 100, the decision to plunk down a couple thousand dollars for a box filled with little pieces of melted sand can be an unsettling experience. The following tips should help.


If you decide to buy from a store, remember that some salesmen are a bit newer at this than others. Watch out for any of the following phrases:

And what size would you like that in?

Computers? Yeah, I think we got some.

Pentium, schmentium, let me show you something really nice.

It comes with a TV attached.

Look, from what I hear, they're all the same.

The good computers come without any software. Honest.


Not all computers are made to the same standards. Avoid any brand with the following attributes:

The instructions are only in Malaysian.

There are bare wires projecting out of the drive slots.

The case includes a built-in smoke detector.

The power switch is labeled OFF/MAYBE.

Instead of a CD ROM, it has a slot for eight-track tapes.

There is mud on the bottom.


While mail order outlets generally offer lower prices than stores, think twice about dealing with a company if the catalog has any of the following features:

Women in bathing suits.

A 900 order number.

A note to send all orders in care of The Warden.

Computers, knives, and government-surplus ball bearings.


And a few final tips to make sure you end up with the ideal system:

Despite what it says in the ads, a monitor is not optional.

Internal and external modems are fine; avoid unassembled ones.

Yes, you really need all those cables.

If it doesn't work, it's not your fault.


"The Concise Guide for Computer Buyers" Copyright © 1996 by David Lubar

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