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Computer Shopping Alerts

Welcome to our Computer Shopping Alerts page. The purpose of this page is to alert you to significant events and problems that we have encountered with vendors selling computers, computer peripherals, and consumer electronics.
This page grew out of our Sunday Shopping Watch articles which are featured in our Daily Computer News and Rumors page.
If you are aware of a significant problem which you think should be included in our Computer Shopping Alerts page, then please forward them to our webmaster.

 

Computer Shopping Alerts Index
Buy New IDE Hard Drives with 8 MB Cache Instead of Slower IDE Drives Without Cache
If You Have USB 2.0 Ports, Buy only USB 2.0 Devices
Online Vendors Using Unscrupulous Business Practices to Sell Digital Cameras and Camcorders
Online Vendors Selling "Gray Market" Digital Cameras and Camcorders
Fighting Back Against Email Spammers, Internet Hackers, and other Web Thieves
Buying 1.4 GHz (and slower) Celeron Processor Desktops
Buying Desktop Computers for less than $800
New Laptops with Outdated Processors

 

April 11, 2003 - Present Buy New IDE Hard Drives with 8 MB Cache Instead of Slower IDE Drives Without Cache.

If you've been watching store ads lately, you may have noticed IDE hard drives from Maxtor and Western Digital boasting an 8 MB cache.
Hard drive manufacturers claim that these new drives provide a 20% speed improvement over their regular 7200 RPM cacheless drives.
Better yet, these new buffered drives sell for as little as $1 per GB, which is the same price as unbuffered IDE drives, so you would be foolish not to buy the cached drives for your next hard drive upgrade.

April 11, 2003 - Present: If You Have USB 2.0 Ports, Buy only USB 2.0 Devices.

USB 2.0 is 40 times faster than the original USB. Any type of external disk drive (including hard disks, CD, DVD, and flash drives) that is USB 2.0 compatible should be much faster plugged into a USB 2.0 port.

December 05, 2002 - Present: Online Vendors Using Unscrupulous Business Practices to Sell Digital Cameras and Camcorders.

It has come to our attention that many online electronics vendors are using unscrupulous business practices to sell digital cameras and camcorders. Their trick is to advertise their products at 2/3 of the list price, wait for the consumer to order them online, then make the consumer call them to "confirm" their order.
When the consumer calls them they pressure the consumer to buy additional accessories. If the consumer doesn't buy additional accessories then they are told the camera is not in stock.

Avoiding the Scam - If a price seems "too good to be true" then you are setting yourself up to be ripped off. The only time you should have to ever call an online vendor is if there is a problem with your order. If there is a problem with your order, a legitimate vendor will call you first.
This problem has mainly been observed with smaller vendors that advertise in shopping search engines. To avoid being scammed, always check the vendors rating and consumer comments. If you can't find any information on a vendor, then choose a different vendor with a better rating.
Always use a credit card when making online purchases. Never use debit cards or any other form of payment.

December 05, 2002 - Present: Online Vendors Selling "Gray Market" Digital Cameras and Camcorders.

It has come to our attention that many online electronics vendors are selling "gray market" digital cameras and camcorders. A "gray market" camera is typically a camera that was made for sale in a foreign country, or it can be a used or remanufactured camera.
Obviously, you don't want a "gray market" camera as it is inferior to products being sold by legitimate vendors and it usually has no warranty.

Avoiding the Scam - These items are usually sold at deep discounts, sometimes the condition and origin of the camera is very vague, and they usually have no warranty or have an "international warranty" (whatever that is).
If a price seems "too good to be true" then you are setting yourself up to be ripped off. If you don't have USA warranty cards in a new unopened product box, then you are probably being scammed.
This problem has mainly been observed with smaller vendors that advertise in shopping search engines and auctions. To avoid being scammed, always check the vendor's rating and consumer comments. If you can't find any information on a vendor, then choose a different vendor with a better rating.
Always use a credit card when making online purchases. Immediately, notify your credit card company in writing that you want to dispute charges from these unscrupulous vendors. Never use debit cards or any other form of payment for online purchases.

November 22, 2002 - Present. Fighting Back Against Email Spammers, Internet Hackers, and other Web Thieves. Everything you need to know to defend your computer from spammers and hackers: what spam is, who is hacking, antivirus and firewall program usage, complaining to legal authorities, and getting hackers and spammers kicked off the Internet.

Avoiding the Scam: If you don't open spam then you can't be scammed by it. However, sometimes everyone runs into a clever piece of spam or a hacker decides to attack your computer. Our 10 page article tells you what you need to know to deal with this growing problem.

October 27, 2002 - Present. Buying 1.4 GHz (and slower) Celeron Processor Desktops.
The 1.7 GHz Celeron has replaced the 1.4 GHz and slower Celerons in the low-end retail market
. As the 1.7 GHz Celeron is socket compatible with the Pentium 4, it is potentially upgradeable to faster Pentium 4 processors. The older 1.4 GHz and slower Celerons cannot be upgraded without a conversion kit.

Recommended Action: It is our opinion that you should no longer purchase older Celerons at speeds of 1.4 GHz or slower as they are obsolete, and are usually priced as high as 1.7 GHz and faster Celeron desktops.

October 27, 2002 - Present. Buying Desktop Computers for less than $800. Keep in mind when purchasing low priced desktops that these computers typically have no AGP video expansion slot, no onboard dedicated video RAM, no CD-RW drive, and very few empty PCI expansion slots.
As a result, these computers will be very difficult to upgrade, and they have poorer performance than other better equipped desktops.

Recommended Action: Research before you buy. Often by spending $200-$400 more for a better equipped system, you can get twice the performance, more features, and you will have an upgradeable computer that will serve you well for another 3 years.
If you want to see current retail computer prices, read our Sunday Shopping Watch feature which can be found in our Daily Computer News and Rumors page.
If you choose the $600 desktop system to save a few bucks, keep in mind that in a year or two you will probably want to replace it.
A good introductory article for the first time computer buyer is our Computer Buying Primer. Other helpful articles can be found in our Computer Buying Advice index page. If you want to ask a question about buying computers, please post it in our Help Board.

September 15, 2002 - Present. Shopping Alert on New Laptops with Outdated Processors. AMD Duron, AMD Athlon 4, and Intel Pentium III laptop processors have been replaced by the newer mobile AMD Athlon XP and the Intel Pentium 4-M processors.
Strangely enough, national retailers are still carrying laptop with these old processors, and are trying to sell them at new prices.
As recently as December 01, 2002, I have seen retailers trying to sell Pentium III laptops for as much as brand new Pentium 4 laptops ($1500 for a Pentium III, 1 GHz, laptop! Must be made of gold!)
Obviously, these older laptops should not be purchased at new prices and should only be purchased at very deep discounts.

 

 

 

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