Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Need to Buy a Computer? Use a Computer to Buy It

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Need to Buy a Computer? Use a Computer to Buy It

Article excerpt

TECH | TALK

Tuition paid? Check. Books bought? Check. Now it's time to go shopping for that other classroom sine qua non: computer equipment.

Except you probably don't have much money left for a big purchase like a computer. With the economy in the toilet and rising tuition costs putting your wallet in a headlock, you are probably going to need the absolute best deal there is.

Which is why you ought to experience the convenience, low prices and increased choice of retailers and products that constitute online shopping. New computers, hard drives, MP3 players, printers, PDAs, extra memory and even blank CDs can be bought online - usually at lower prices than you would pay at a physical store. Shopping on the Internet lets you skip not only that trip to the mall, but also the hidden surcharge that represents your share of the cost of operating the retail outlet where you buy the computer.

Would I recommend using the Internet to make you a more effective shopper? Of course. Would I urge everyone to shop online? No. Some of us are not comfortable sending our credit-card numbers to "virtual" vendors. But even if you are e-commerce-shy, that doesn't mean that you can't surf around to better educate yourself about what you are buying. The Web is great for researching product features, product reviews and user comments, even if you end up buying the goods in the store. (Don't forget -- although great bargains can be had online, some physical store close-outs can't be beat.)

Don't we all like to feel as if we have made a wise purchase? Getting a clear picture of product features from manufacturers' Web sites is a great start, but consulting independent reviews by reputable Web sites like CNET.com is even better. Follow that up by reviewing user comments and opinions, and a rather mundane purchase can become blissfully successful! User comments can give you a great gauge for overall product quality and user satisfaction. User feedback also can give you a feel for what users are doing with the device you are considering. You may not realize that the MP3 player you are about to purchase could, for example, also be used to record your lectures. Such a recording can then be copied to a computer or shared with others and so on.

Two excellent Web sites for product reviews and user comments are

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