Learn to balance tech quality and price

Illustration by: Ninasophia Stowe

Looking for quality customer service, positive reviews and a reputable company are just a few ways to stay within budget and find high quality devices.

When buying computers, it is important to balance cost with quality, especially for college students. One can buy something inexpensive that may not work best, but buying the most expensive product may not be the solution either.

Ron Raghoo, Information Technology Coordinator for the Gordon and Jill Bourns College of Engineering, said  it is important to find balance between quality and quantity. 

“You have to find a good product that will continue to work with new software and updates. (The product) does not have to last five to six years, but you want it to last because it is an investment,” Raghoo said.

Daniel Lucinian, customer support analyst for the Information Technology Services, said he believes it is unwise to pay less than $500 for a laptop and that a good rule of thumb is that one should try to match the price of their phone with a computer.

“As far as laptops go, if you go way below that $500 line, you are getting a computer that is the worst possible device out there. You are getting a computer that has a very slow hard drive, and these days solid state hard drives are key,” Lucinian said.

Solid state drives are forms of information storage that have no moving parts.

“If you buy a computer that is $300, it won’t have an SSD. It will be extremely slow and won’t be able to keep up with a students day-to-day activities. You want to spend an amount of money as close as you (would on a laptop) to what you spend on your cellphone,” Lucinian said. 

On the other end of the spectrum, another consideration is how companies market their laptops. Apple sells quality products that are expensive. However, they do not have to push their products because of they are considered more user-friendly. If a company needs to push products onto a consumer, there might not be a reason for the excess cost. 

Nick Cortz, junior English major and tech enthusiast, advocates doing research on the internals of a computer.

“The main reason people get scammed is that they are unwilling to do the research. A simple Google search comparing spec for spec (between two laptops) will tell you what you get. Look it up otherwise you will find that marketing campaigns lead you on,” Cortz said.

Raghoo and Lucinian encourage spending extra money to get a warranty. It is cheaper to spend $100 to $150 on a warranty up front to get a laptop screen fixed than pay the full price for a replacement later. 

The value only compounds with any further damage. It can also be a good way to see if a company stands behind its product or not. If it provides a comprehensive warranty, the company likely has faith in its product.

In general, you get what you pay for. However, buying from a company known for offering good warranties along with positive customer reviews on its products is most likely safe, even if the product is under $1,000. 

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