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Looks like Compusa has the best paid tech support plan.
I have had a Gateway for 5 years and have had great luck but they have closed the country stores and I don't want to have to ship it if it has a problem.
Having said that, I've been fixing/supporting/maintaining HP's for years in various corporate flavours and they're also what I use for my own business at home. I'd say go for it.
If you're like me, you will NEVER EVER BUY an HP (corollary:Compaq) or Gateway. You might consider Dell. Otherwise, unless you are totally time-strapped (like I was last November when I ordered a Tiger/Systemax box) you will build your own.
If you just want a decent (though not spectacular and CERTAINLY not tweakable) box to turn on and GO, you're fine with the big brands, though I'd opt for Dell WAY before the others (it does tend to be a tad more expensive - but it's a LOT better, especially considering tech support or lack thereof).
[I've been building my own boxes, etc. since 1984. Why did I buy a Systemax? Because I didn't have the time or energy to mess with building from scratch just then due to a full-time job 80 miles round trip from home, down an ice-slick 8 miles of mountain road in the winter.]
[[Caveat One: I have a friend who was lately with Compaq before the merger or whatever with HP. HE just bought Dells....]]
[[[Caveat Two: for laptops I never consider ANYTHING but Dell.]]]
For a laptop I would go IBM - I did a Dell and to make a long story short it took six months, three warranty trade ins, and BBB intervention to get a working machine. I have a thinkpad that shipped with windows 3.1 that still works flawlessly albeit very slowly.
I am the opposite. For laptops, I would consider anything APART from Dell. Don't get me wrong, Dell make good desktops, but the laptops are substandard. They refuse to honour faulty parts to be replaced under warranty. To top it off, you can't call them laptops because putting one on your lap for more than about half an hour will burn your lap - Dell laptops have been known (but rarely) to get so hot that they melt their own case.
This experience wasn't with my own computer but with my aunt's. From the start her computer had faulty hardware. Her hard drive and her sound card had to be replaced.
But it isn't the hardware that made me dislike the company so much. It was their support. When I came into the picture a year or so later, the OS started having a bunch of error messages as soon as they started up the computer. They were often different messages and nothing seemed to trigger them. A while later, the computer just stopped booting up. I tried reinstalling windows, and the setup program would start, but it would always get the same type of errors before it completed. I had a few other operating system cds around, so I tried them all, and got the same result. I called support and told them this, but they said it was probably a faulty setup cd, and that we could only use the one shipped with the computer, and that we would have to order a new one before they would send a repair guy to look at it. The thing is, they charge for the cd. We went ahead and ordered it, and of course, it still did exactly the same thing. They refused to refund the money for the extra setup cd, but finally sent a repair guy to look at the computer.
Over the next few months, the repair guy replaced the mother board, the power supply, the hard drive, the ram, the sound card.... EVERYTHING in the computer. It still would not work. This computer was still under warranty so we just wanted to get the computer replaced. They wouldn't do it, and instead, replaced the mother board AGAIN. The computer still did not work.
We ended up having to call the main office and threaten to sue them before we got the computer replaced. It's not over though! The new computer worked fine for about 2 months, then it started having problems of its own. This time, they had to send it in for repairs. When they sent it in, it was before their warranty was up. The repair place had the computer for well over a month and during this time the warranty expired. They tried to charge my aunt for the repairs.
I think this whole ordeal lasted over 6 months and during this time they didn't have a steadily working computer, not to mention all the hassle of dealing with tech support.
I'm sure that this experience isn't typical of all HP users, but after going through something like this it makes me want to steer as far away from this company as possible.