where are the kids getting their computers these days?
January 16, 2011 1:32 PM   Subscribe

My dad wants to buy a new computer that works right out of the box from a brick and mortar store. He's in Albuquerque, NM. Where should we be going? We're fine with big box or local, we just don't know which stores are going to be best for customer service over the long run.

He wants a Windows box that can do all the basics-- net surfing, Quicken, email, Word, etc. He doesn't want to spend much time setting it up. He has a monitor/keyboard/speakers/etc, he just needs a new box. We want a place with good customer service for if it breaks; he's avoiding buying online so he has a place he can take it if there are problems with it.
posted by NoraReed to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
What your father wants isn't so easy to come by, if it exists at all.

A Windows box working the way he wants it out of the box and with rock solid local support?? Um. Best suggestion would be:

1. BestBuy and their Geek Squad or whatever they call themselves today.

2. At one point Gateway (or was it Dell??) had opened a store at the Coronado Mall. I have no idea if it's still open, nor can I speak to the quality of Gateway machines of late.

I would not buy a machine from a local place for service. Local computer shops are way more likely to go under than a big box store. That being said, I would avoid Baillio's as they are the worst hybrid of local/big box known to man.

Finally, I would very much encourage you/him to consider buying a low end Mac, such as a Mac Mini, instead. Apple has at least one store there in town and their service is very good. The Mac Mini is only about $600 and works for all you've mentioned pretty much out of the box. Well, you'd still have to install Quicken and Word, but you'd have to do that on a Windows box too. And of course Macs are somewhat less prone to what I like to refer to as "user created problems" such as malware, spyware and the creepy crud that just seems to build up/slow down Windows machines due to an action taken by the user. Downloads, errant clicks, etc.
posted by FlamingBore at 2:02 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

For this kind of service, I would look for a small local shop that custom builds for their customers. It may be a little more expensive than a big box, but you won't be buying a box filled with bloatware that you don't need, and if you need help, you're not dialing an 800 number.
posted by TrialByMedia at 2:06 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have bought a few laptops from Best Buy. BEWARE. They have a $150 "restocking fee" should the thing not work when you get it home. As in, no, you can't just nring it back and say, oopsies, this doesnt work, or is missing x, y, or z. That takes effect the minute you walk out the door. Pretty lousy policy. As for the Geek Squad? I only had one interaction, when the keyboard stopped working (except for the 9, and I). Theid advice was "Yeah it's fried man, you should just buy a new one." YMMV.
posted by timsteil at 2:19 PM on January 16, 2011

We haven't been there in a while, but I-40 computers at Eubank and I-40 has always had pretty good customer service. Their website. The other friends we have sent there have been pretty happy with them.
posted by annsunny at 2:35 PM on January 16, 2011

Your dad should go talk to the folks at Baillio's. It's a local place with good prices and customer service. The associates in the computer department should be able to help him with whatever he needs. I've shopped there (in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe) for computer parts/service, appliances, and home and car AV toys. Definitely worth at least a look.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 2:38 PM on January 16, 2011

There are only a couple of local computer shops left. I think a Mac Mini is probably his best bet still, but if that's not an option try PC Magic Pro on Eubank or Computer Corner on Menaul.
posted by signalnine at 3:00 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

He's considering going the Mac Mini route now; if he can get the Quicken-for-Mac thing to work I think he's gonna go with that.

Also he is thrilled and impressed with the hivemind. Thanks for that!
posted by NoraReed at 5:08 PM on January 16, 2011

Go with the Mac Mini. You can always just install Windows on it and run it like a regular PC, but he will have the option to use it as a Mac as well. Also, the resale value can't be beat. Maybe look into Parallels or VM Ware Fusion for Quicken -- I remember the Mac version being pretty terrible.
posted by blackiron at 6:07 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Another vote for the Mac mini. You can run Windows natively with Boot Camp, or run Windows in a VM with Fusion or Parallels. Or go the best route and ditch Windows altogether :) It's certainly less hassle not dealing with spyware and other junk.

There's Quicken for Mac, Office for Mac (or iWork). If there's an Apple store nearby, it's a no-brainer.
posted by santaliqueur at 6:40 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Please be aware that Quicken for Mac has fewer features than Quicken for Windows. I love my Mac and so I put up with it, but if your father relies upon Quicken for financial fancy footwork, he should check first that Quicken for Mac will do what he wants.
posted by egret at 3:22 AM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I second looking at a local shop, for the expertise and personal touch. It's not quite as critical for a Mac Mini, but there are some things a local shop might be more willing to touch that an Apple Store wouldn't.

Also, is he coming off of another computer?
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:55 PM on January 17, 2011

He ended up getting a Mac and dual-booting for Quicken. Thanks all!
posted by NoraReed at 8:00 AM on January 28, 2011

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