Monday, November 06, 2006

PCs on the cheap

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as much for a genuinely cheaper priced PC as anyone else, but the trend I’ve noticed since at least the dawn of the new millennium is not simply cheap PCs but pre-baked PCs with no accompanying manuals for the mobos, no software media, or anything else other than what’s imaged on the harddisk from the factory. Yes, some manuals may be included as PDFs on a system CD/DVD, but that’s about it. Oh yeah, that’s right, what system CD/DVD? You have to burn your own these days. Also, although sound and/or video integrated mobos have always been somewhat common in OEM machines, those CHEAPER PCs by contrast are virtually all built with fully integrated audio and in some cases (crap) integrated video circuitry on the mobo as well as the lack of the aforementioned items. The mobos are the lowest of the low-cost mobos that are usually tailored to a specific OEM, in fact. Surprise!

And speaking of the dearth of software media, the operating system, drivers, and pre-installed application software are not discrete packages on their own media, be it CDs or DVDs. You basically get a pre-fab’d machine with preset apps and OS and you then burn some recovery CDs or DVDs that are supposed to restore your machine to it’s initial state. Why not reduce the price even more by not installing a damn thing on the machine and let the consumer handle that aspect entirely? Then, I’d agree that PCs are really, really CHEAPER than yesteryear.

This doesn’t affect me personally, other than when I’m looking to purchase a laptop as I have recently, but that’s another post I’ll expound on shortly. Anyway, when it comes to desktops, I build my own and have done so since 1992 when I built my first, a 486DX-33 from scratch. Since that time I haven’t had a name brand PC ever and I consequently (or luckily, depending on your point of view) haven’t had many hardware failures either. Yes, I’ve had a hard disk or two grind, clank, and die, but overall no major core hardware issues with the various machine innards.

Anyhow, that’s just my warped view so I have to ask, do you folk really think PCs are cheaper now than they were, say, ten years ago? Ponder that carefully before you answer, seriously.