Tuesday, 23 December 2014

How to Purchase a Computer in Israel - Successfully

Technology is changing on a day to day basis. It seems that just moments after purchasing one of the new fancy-shmancy technological devices of today - that another fancier-shmancier item has just been introduced. The very way computers are set up in today's times is making it harder than ever to purchase a computer most suitable for anyone confined to a particular budget range. In such instances, one may well find oneself budgeting not just for the next computer - but for the next computer in the hope of it lasting some 3-5 years at least (hoping to make it last even longer!) It's not a short period of time to get through if one has purchased the wrong system. You don't want to go wrong!

From years gone by, I remember my own selling of computers, having qualified as an A+ Hardware/Software PC Technician. When selling a computer, I recall well phoning 3 or 4 suppliers to find out what was available, what the prices were like and the quality of the machines being purchased. Overall, I found my suppliers helpful - offering the best advice, and letting me know well that certain cheaper machines did mean a loss of quality. I knew where I stood. They always seemed to outline everything for me - even when I may have accidentally neglected to mention a particular component. They knew I was an important buyer (everyone is!) and that it was crucial that their next sale would not just be a sale - but that it would be the springboard for another sale - and another. It was worth it to them to tell me everything as it really was...

After years of living in Israel, things have changed a lot. One thing that is different is that I am now on the side of purchasing for myself as opposed to purchasing to re-sell the item to others. I share below a recent experience and where it left me and offer you - the potential buyer - the opportunity to learn from my own mistakes and consider what will be important for you when you find yourself needing to purchase a computer.

I offer some vital points to consider before sharing the "danger signs":
(Note: The points are directed to those looking to purchase a PC laptop - though many points can be considered for a desktop machine as well. Details regarding the Apple computer are not considered.)

1. Hard Drive: Consider how much hard drive space you'll need. You'll be surprised how fast the storage space is used. Finding yourself short of space in two years might well mean an early upgrade - something you had not bargained for. Yes, the extra cash spent upfront may be to your advantage. At the time of writing this, machines are being sold with 500MB or 1000MB - better known as 1TB. There's no question, the figure is only going upwards!

2. Memory: The computer's memory is what will help speed up your system - or better yet, keep it operating optimally when many activities are taking place. At the time of writing - the norm is 4GB, but many are opting for 8GB. Of course, if you're in need of many applications and especially for graphic work, the more the better. Paying that little extra for more memory is definitely worth it in the long run. You'll understand that statement only if you purchase less, and begin to realise in a short time, just how slow your computer has become!

3. Graphic Card Memory: If you're working seriously with graphic software, you'll want your computer to be able to tolerate the graphic images easily. Adding a 2GB card can make all the difference to allow images to load and be processed so much faster.

4. Size of Screen: There are a variety of sizes available. Of course, what suits you best is what is best for you. Be comfortable with it though - and don't let anyone tell you anything else! Using a 15.6" screen is actually a great start - though you can certainly get bigger if you are okay with lugging a larger computer around with you - if you travel a lot.

5. Operating System: The standard is Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 which actually has all the main updates already installed (there are always need updates!!!) It doesn't really matter what others say, Windows 8.1 is better because it includes the necessary updates. If the salesman is getting rid of his older machines with Windows 8, and trying to palm them off on you - it's because he wants to make the sale and not be stuck with the older computer himself (or having to sell it at even less in the future!) - not because he is actually interested in your best interests. Windows will be upgrading soon - but nobody really knows when! If you are in need of a machine now - and thinking of waiting to be on top of things when the new system comes out - don't think that waiting will be the best answer. While it may launch early in the new year (2015) - it may well launch only much later!! You'll be forced into waiting a long time when you could be far more productive right now! Microsoft apparently say that all Windows 8.1 users will be able to upgrade for free. Let's hope it will actually be so!


And here is where I now pause as I share with you two more crucial areas of computer purchasing and another vital issue that you - as the consumer in Israel must be aware of:

*** SUPPORT ***

When purchasing in Israel, it is vital to be aware of what type of support you will receive after purchasing your computer. Sure, the computer looks all nice and clean when you open it up (and the sales person will still be smiling all the time - so long as your computer is neatly packed away without you having any acces to it!) but... are you - for example, aware of what the screen actually looks like? Are you aware of the type of keyboard you'll be getting? 

Sadly, many people purchase their machines without even having seen them. What is worse - is that the owner of the store has not seen them either! In fact, he may know absolutely nothing about the machine, other than the info provided as in points 1-5 above. Asking him if the keyboard is good will be met with a laugh - because how bad can a keyboard actually be?! Asking him regarding the quality of the screen may well not meet with a better reaction - after all, how different can a screen be?!

In fact, keyboards differ widely. If you are serious about the system you are purchasing, you may want to actually get a feel for it in the store before purchasing it. Sadly, there are not many stores that have a selection of computers available for easy try-before-you-buy use. As a result, you may end up with a system with a play-play keyboard (in my language.) The keyboard has soft rubbery types of keys, making it hard to type on. The keys often don't strike properly and one must go back and strike them with force to get them to print. If you're serious about typing, you may want to look for a machine that has keys that are springy and easy to press.

If you're buying from a friend - who knows you and believes can sell you what's best for you and you trust, you may well fall for a decision he makes. Remember, after opening your computer, the chances are you will lose all possibility of returning it for a refund. Complaining then about the quality of the computer will not help. In fact, if anything, it will only change the expression of the smile on the sales person's face...


Dealers and Authorised Sellers: There's a difference. A dealer is someone who runs a store and makes a profit for having purchased a computer from one person and then sells it on to you. An authorised seller is someone who actually takes responsibility for their sale!!! Practically this means the following: If you are purchasing from a dealer, remember, if something is not right, he can do nothing about it. His role in the sale is nothing more than making a profit from buying from one and selling to another. He offers you no support whatsoever. In fact, the company whose computer he has sold will not support you either from his side. Once you tell the company you have purchased from a dealer, they will refuse to interact with you and you will be left on your own!

The Screen: We've discussed keyboards. What about the quality of the screen. Did you know there is an ordinary screen and another with various names including the "TrueLife Display"? While an ordinary screen (Matte) will be soft on your eyes, a TrueLife Display will be beautiful for videos, but absolutely awful for text! The text appears blurry and the screen produces such a glare that it can often cause headaches and further eye problems while you are staring at it. Of course - this is a personal opinion, but do yourself a favour and search on the Internet for more information about what this screen actually is - and find out more about it yourself - before you make your purchase. Become an informed buyer - and know more than the store owner - because he is already subjective in making a sale - and not necessarily at all interested in what is actually best for you! (See this link - Matte vs Glossy Screens for a comparison. Here is a great video: Glossy vs Matte Screen Comparison.) 

Dealers do not know the ins and outs of the quality of screens or keyboards - because they do not ever try out the machines they sell! In fact, they very often do not even know who will support you when things go wrong - nor do they know where these people are located!

Our Story - and how this post came about:

After using a great computer for some 7 years, we realised we just could not continue with the slow speed (and the fact that the keys of the keyboard had come off - and we now use an external keyboard.) 

We approached a computer support technician who we had dealt with before - and were quite happy with his service. He did not only offer support but also sold computers. We asked his advice, and gave him the specs we needed. I had not even considered the quality of the screen and neglected to mention that we needed a screen with a sharp clear appearance which would not aid in giving further headaches. Within a few short moments, he had recommended a beautiful Dell laptop which seemed to have everything we could hope for.

We picked up the machine from the store and opened it at home (at once losing any chance of returning it for any reason.) Indeed, once one purchases an item in Israel and opens it, one is at the sole mercy of the original producer of the machine, and it seems that legally, the seller (AKA profit maker) is exempt of all responsibility. Since the industry is so big - it becomes an almost impossible task to now talk to any of the "big boys" who actually "offer support."

The glare on the screen was (is) uncomfortable - to say the least. We changed the resolution, the brightness / darkness of the screen and whatever we could - trying our best to make it at least as comfortable as the 7 year old machine, but it seems we never quite got to the quality of old-faithful.

We called the seller the next day informing him of the problem, but were not met with a positive response. We were on our own. We contacted the Dell main office in the USA but were clearly told they offer no support for clients in Israel, but that it was indeed the responsibility of the seller to refund us - or at the very least to replace the machine if we were not happy with it.

We tried contacting Dell Israel with no success. They are situated in Hertzlia - and the distance of travelling in and out for us is not easy. To have to do this and not know where we would stand without at least some phone support first - would be beyond irresponsible for us.

Over the past 14 days, we have tried emailing the seller explaining our problem, but it seems, we are not going anywhere positive. 

After contacting Dell (USA) another few times, they told us that in fact because we had taken the route of purchasing from a dealer instead of an authorised seller, we had also lost any privilege chances of replacing the machine or getting our money back.

It hasn't been a happy experience. In summary, we offer you a summary of our own mistakes - and hope it will help you in purchasing your next machine with confidence:

1. Purchase from an authorised dealer only

2. If you can - you must spend enough time with the machine in person to know if it's the right one for you

3. Pay particular attention to the quality of the monitor and the keyboard. They are your most vital interactive pieces of equipment you will use when working on your computer.

4. If you're buying Dell, do find ways of connecting with them first, to see if they do offer any support. You'll get an idea fast enough - that if there isn't much response now, chances are, that's about the same support you will receive after your purchase!

Happy computer buying!

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