|My old "Diva" Inspiron 8500|
I've learned that a way to approach the shopping task is to browse products online first, figure out what I truly want, what I can afford, weigh all the options. That's what I did for about 6 days. I knew I wanted an HP laptop and during that time, I narrowed the possibilities down to three. I automatically lumped an HP printer in with the laptop, not browsing very much for one because I had a good idea what I wanted already -- small, basic, high quality printouts. Software was also basic and oriented toward my writing priorities. Believe it or not, this would only be my second computer. I hadn't yet had the fun of transferring documents, reloading software, dealing with OS glitches, etc. before. There was a lot I didn't know. Basic stuff.
Fortunately for me, there's a Micro Center in the Twin Cities. A friend drove me there. As we walked to the front door, I commented that I really hoped we could find a "Sheldon" as our salesperson -- as in Sheldon Cooper, the uber-nerd on CBS's The Big Bang Theory. I just don't know that much about computers. Computer-savvy friends had made suggestions: buy as much RAM as possible, get Windows 7 if possible, HP makes a good laptop, and so on. I had brought a legal pad with my notes and questions, as well as printouts of examples of what I wanted. I was prepared to spend between $1200 and $1600, although if we could put together a package for less, I'd be really happy.
Our first impression of the store was not a favorable one. We couldn't find the laptops. We asked a sales associate who pointed to the far back, but it looked like part of the camera section. We asked again and finally found the laptops. There were no sales associates in this section but a lot of shoppers. On my own, I found the laptops I wanted to see -- the three of them were lined up next to each other in ascending cost from left to right. A sales associate appeared, corralled from a different part of the store by the daughter of a shopper. He promised to return to us. And he did.
I'll call him Sheldon although that wasn't his name, and he resembled Leonard Hofstadter more but with blonde hair. He was quite pleased with the HP laptops I'd picked out, and especially the larger 17" one. A larger screen would be kinder to the eyes. I asked about what would come with the laptop in terms of security software, apps, etc. Very pleased that everything, and then some, would already be loaded. I wasn't wild about the touchpad, but I'd already planned to buy a wireless mouse. Listening to Sheldon, I was reminded very much of Sheldon Cooper, and I commented as such to my friend. Sheldon heard my comment and blushed. From that moment on, we were his only customers and no other sales associates could come near us.
The 17" screen won me over. It came with Windows 8 instead of Windows 7. I decided I could deal with it. What about a printer? A mouse? Software? Sheldon took us through the store, recommending products at each stop, saying often, "This is what I use for my personal system at home." Hard to argue with that, right? The printer turned out to be an opportunity to upgrade a little: I chose a Canon that included scan and copying functions. The mouse Sheldon suggested was one I'd already chosen during my browsing sessions. For software, I'd planned to buy a la carte but soon learned that buying MS Office suite would save me money in the long run and was less than buying a la carte (although not substantially less). The only thing Sheldon talked me into buying that I had not planned to buy was the security software. He recommended a different company other than the big two, and said it was more reliable and less of a drain on my system. It was the same price as my former software for two additional years.
Sheldon escorted us to a cashier, shook my hand, and asked me to send him an e-mail once I was set up. I paid and we loaded up a cart to carry my purchases out to the car. We talked about Sheldon's sales pitches on the way home -- he was an accomplished salesman, as well as being a self-described nerd (we told him "nerd" was good). I realized I'd made it easier for him because I'd walked into the store knowing exactly what I wanted and was able to describe it to him.
I began setting up my new system late Friday afternoon. I'm not at all fond of touchpads. I was glad I'd bought a mouse. The Canon printer was a cinch to set up. Not much to do with the laptop either. On Saturday, I spent the day loading software and catching up on e-mail.
What to do with my old laptop and printer? I plan to remove the hard drive for safekeeping and recycle the two machines. I can honestly say it's a relief to be back at work again.....