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CNNdotCOM: Tips on buying a PC

PC customers
The most popular way to buy a PC is through retail, but the most satisfied customers bought over the phone  

(CNN) -- Where's the best place to buy a computer? PC World magazine set out to find the answer and suggests some tools for PC shopping.

"We found that the most popular way to buy was through retail, but the happiest number of people were those who bought over the phone," said Aoife McEvoy of PC World.

Buyers rated Dell and Gateway the best for Web buying and phone buying, according to a PC World survey. Retail-wise, Gateway Country took the lead.

Visiting retail stores can give you a touch and feel for new systems, but manufacturer Web sites are the place to research PCs and get technical terms. You also get more product choices and configuration options if you buy from the manufacturer either over the Web or over the phone.

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PC World's Aoife McEvoy shows James Hattori some tips on buying a PC

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We took a closer look at Dell.com, which breaks down its products into desktop, notebook and accessories. The site lists both low- and high-end products and their prices. Usually, Dell's default or standard package will satisfy your needs, but you can configure the default for yourself if you want a larger monitor or a different graphics card for playing games. The price adjusts as you change the configuration.

If you're on a tight budget, refurbished or remanufactured computers are available. Most manufacturers like Dell or Gateway will have return units from other customers, which they'll clean up and test and then offer to you at a discounted price.

Aside from the manufacturers, you can also buy from reseller sites like Computer Discount Warehouse (CDW) or PC Connection. They offer multiple brands, but there's no way to reconfigure products over the Web, and the information on the systems is limited. Sometimes the resellers offer rebates or better deals if you buy a bunch of systems from them, so hopping between the manufacturer and reseller sites is helpful for comparing prices.

One last tip: Pay with your credit card. If you run into trouble with the computer seller, your credit card company may be able to mediate in any negotiations.



RELATED STORIES:
Top 15 home PCs
August 18, 2000
How to build your dream PC
August 15, 2000
Integrating online shopping with brick-and-mortar stores
July 18, 2000
Hooked on Net shopping
March 13, 2000
FTC cracks down on 'Free Computer' deals
June 30, 2000

RELATED SITES:
CNNdotCOM
PC World
Dell
Gateway
CDW
PC Connection


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