King of Excellent (according to Scaryduck)

Thursday, May 8

The US is backward: Official

Not with everything I hasten to add, just shopping for computers. Let me explain.

Susan phones me up, and asks with some urgency to help her get a PC. My father is a great advocate of the high street shop, something that in the UK is a bad idea. Comet, Currys and PC World all offer PCs over priced, unsupported, and generally not what you really want or need. For this reason I told my sister to avoid Compusa, Bestbuy and Office Depot over there. I checked out their website and came across some truly mindnumbingly bad PCs (3GHz Sempron, 256Mb RAM, 40Gb Hard Drive, DVD ROM/CD RW combi drive) for extortionate prices ($400 for that example, I kid you not). Talking to Bryn on skype at the same time, and he recommended Insight. I used Insight about 11 years ago, when they were based in Coventry. They were bought out by Choice over here, but apparently they are still going strong over there. A quick browse through their complete systems, and I came across a nifty PC made by Acer. Admittedly it's only a 1.8Ghz Celeron, but it has 1Gb RAM. The hard drive is also on the small side (80Gb), but this can easily be upgraded in the future. It has a DVD RW, so all aspects of making and reading discs are good. Most importantly, it comes with a legal version of XP Professional, so I wouldn't have to send them a disc to remove Vista. The Insight blurb sold this for $350, and after a bit more scouting I found it on another website called Newegg, for $310. The XP licence alone would cost about $100 so this is actually quite a good deal.

My point is this. In the UK you wouldn't be able to buy a pc like that ready built. Even if you wanted one like that, you'd struggle. The motherboard is obsolete. The CPU is obsolete. The hard drive is almost obsolete (80gb is the smallest I can buy today). Admittedly also buying it with XP would be damned difficult as well, because Mr Gates doesn't want to sell that any more in this country either. I could probably build a substantially better PC for (all in) about $200, and then get a disc and a licence for XP afterwards for the same $100.

Next thing you'll know, they'll be making PCs that are without floppy drives and come with card readers instead.