How a $550 Cheap PC Notebook Turned into $1237

Chris Kerinis mom needed a PC, not a Mac. So the Mac savvy customer set out to help her buy an inexpensive PC notebook. What started out as a US$550 Toshiba notebook ended up costing a whole lot more. The author had some happy PC conclusions but a whole lot more bitter ones.

The first hurdle was figuring out what to buy. The PC world doesnit make it easy with all the possible choices. He settled on a large screen laptop from a big name manufacturer, Toshiba.

The next hurdle was where to buy it. Five different PC users will have five different answers. Mr. Kerins settled on Best Buy. He didnit go with Dell because he wanted to see the computer before buying, and he knew his mom would need a place to take it if she had problems. "Unfortunately, this is where PC manufacturers fall on their face. This Toshiba feels like the McDonalds Happy Meal version of a laptop. All rounded and puffy, you can feel the thin plastic flex between your fingers when you pinch it. The keys sound like Legos. For $550, you can only expect so much, so I donit let on to my disappointment," Mr. Kerins wrote.

The interesting part was being introduced to the nickel-and -diming that occurs in the store. Anti-virus, spyware, installation, MS office, installation, extended warranty, California recycling tax. With sales tax the total came to US $1237.

The author spoke to the convenience of Apple stores, the free classes, the confidence of the Apple Genius bar and how theyill often fix a computer under warranty on the spot. He also noted that PCs are ugly. "Have you seen all the crap strewn about on them? Colors, logos, stickers, textures, ports, LEDs, icons ... itis like in the early days of multiple fonts. Oooh ... I can have seven fonts on this flyer!" he noted and added that cheap PCs are cheap.

Perhaps thereis a market opportunity for the the Apple-like buying experience, but the author didnit find it this time around.