Log in ....Tribune

Monday, October 21, 2002

Computers are no longer use-and-throw machines
Jasjot Singh Narula

"INTEL Pentium 4 2 GHz, 80GB hard disk, 256 MB super-fast DDR RAM, Intel original motherboard, 17" TFT display monitor, 32X CD writer with the latest configuration — Buy now." Such type of advertisements are a permanent fixture in all leading newspaper and magazines.

Think again. Do all professionals really need such hi-powered PCs? Does a typist really need it? Or, maybe, a doctor, a lawyer or a journalist? Many professionals rarely use their machines to their full capacity, as most of the software needs only low minimum specifications to operate successfully.

To sum it up, for most of the persons spending nearly Rs 40,000 on the latest PC that will be used just partially, is like buying a hammer to kill a fly.

That is precisely why second-hand computers and computers on rent are in demand. Second-hand cars, bikes and books sound familiar. Now the trend is second-hand computers. What are they? Are these trash or refurbished PCs? And why a second-hand PC? Do they package an old PC? Such types of question strike a buyer when she looks forward to purchase a second-hand PC.

Second-hand computers are those obsolete configurations, which are not presently available from the company outlet. These PCs are not trash but depend largely upon how the seller had maintained them. Although they are used PCs but it is all the more important for the purchaser to be alert while purchasing one.

The pace with which the computer industry is evolving is quite dramatic. What is the latest today will be outdated tomorrow. Going by the Moore’s Law, technology has evolved and prices have come down drastically. When the new product arrives, old products vanish from the market.

If you want to buy a PC just to type, write letters and e-mails or do accounting work then second-hand PCs are for you. They are investment friendly. A Pentium-I 166 MHz or 200 MHz MMX can serve you better than those powerful PCs.

Now the point is why an individual would want to sell-off his PC? Either seller is in a financial crunch or wants to purchase a new one to update his desk.

There are different sources from where one can get such PCs. Computer vendors are a major source of second-hand PCs. Besides banks, corporate houses, government departments are important locations where you can find them.

Second-hand computers are useful to everyone, especially students and businessmen. But the important thing to remember while purchasing a PC is always be suspicious because anyone can try to con you. If you don’t want to spend a penny on the PC then you can even take home a PC on rent.

Tips for purchasing second-hand personal computers

1. First checkout the specification of the computer whether the seller has advertised the right configuration. This can be done by pressing Delete button on the keyboard when the booting process initiates.

2. The BIOS Set-up gives you the entire detail about the specification of the system.

3. Get a proper copy of each software sold with the computer. Programs installed on PC will no longer be in use if you format your hard disk. Make sure you are given the CD or floppy disks with software, including the operating system.

4. Always demand the software CDs for those components, which are present in the system like motherboard, graphic card, sound card or modem.

5. If possible, try to format the hard disk and reload the operating system again for better results.

6. Try the monitor on different resolutions and refresh rate setting; check the brightness and contrast.

7. Reboot the computer a few times to check the boot up process.

8. Try reading and writing from the floppy drive.

9. Check the keyboard and mouse that each button is in working condition.

10. The important task is to check the surface scan on the hard disk that can be done on the DOS prompt. If you find bad sectors are on the hard disk try to avoid that system because it may give you problem in future.

11. Play audio or video CD if a computer has CD-ROM.

12. If possible ask for the bill or copy of the bill that will give you assurance about the authenticity of the product.

The following table can give you an idea how much will you spend if you take home a PC on rent or purchase one: