[AI] Will you choose a new-age desktop over a laptop?

Subramani L lsubramani at deccanherald.co.in
Tue Sep 11 06:53:10 EDT 2007


This item reminds a joke that used to go around during the early days of
call centres. It seems a guy from the US called up the Indian call
centre executive to ask if the "system tray" can hold his coffee mug. 

Subramani

-----Original Message-----
From: accessindia-bounces at accessindia.org.in
[mailto:accessindia-bounces at accessindia.org.in] On Behalf Of sweety
bhalla
Sent: Monday, September 10, 2007 2:42 PM
To: accessindia at accessindia.org.in
Subject: [AI] Will you choose a new-age desktop over a laptop?

Will you choose a new-age desktop over a laptop?

A  couple of years ago the personal computer (PC) market offered mostly
faceless rectangular boxes decorated only with logos, devoid of bright
colours or
anything that could be deemed as innovative PC casing.

It is heartening to see that computers are now packaged in different
colours, not just grey. And that's simply because home users are more
picky about their
computers that are not just functional devices but a part of ordinary
domestic equipment.

While laptops make good sense for home users as they take up less space
and can easily be carried from room to room while also be used by
different members
of the family, but experts often wonder if they can compete against the
ease of a full-fledged keyboard and a bigger screen. In that sense,
desktops still
have the edge in ultimate graphics performance and hard disk capacities.

While Manufacturer's Association for Information Technology or MAIT, the
apex body representing Indian IT hardware, training and R&D services
sectors, pegged
the desktop penetration in the business segment at 18 per cent, it was
the household consumption that topped the list.

Domestic consumption of desktops grew 23 per cent, accounting for 26 per
cent of the total Indian desktop market, with sales crossing 14 lakh
units.

With a revenue base of Rs 10,431 crore from desktop sales alone in
2006-07, players like Acer, Lenovo, Dell, Sony, Sahara, Zenith, LG and
HCL, among others,
are struggling to balance their retail prices so as to fight the fast
penetrating laptop population among home users and the grey market that
is known
to deliver desktops at prices as low as Rs 10,000.

The PC market, particularly in recent years, has splintered into lots of
different segments, each of which offers varying and interesting
options.

Even a basic desktop PC today is not only an ergonomic PC with a small
form factor (SFF) but is equipped with a full set of ports including USB
2.0 and
Firewire, a DVD drive, and supports all high-performance processors and
graphics cards in most cases.

LG Electronics, the latest to plan an entry in the home PC segment,
hopes to deliver desktops with decent graphics, solid sound system and
strong processor
speed.

"There should be no compromise on quality and yet it should be priced at
a sweet spot of around Rs 21,000, comfortable for average households,"
says V Ramachandran,
director (sales and marketing), LG Electronics.

A home PC actually needs few frills to it. That's because one by-product
of technological advances and price drops of the past 10 years is that a
budget
PC can easily do the majority of things asked of it. Save for playing
3-D games, video editing and intense multimedia work, one can get a
capable machine
for Rs 18,000-20,000.

For this kind of money, users essentially get a processor like a Sempron
2400 from AMD, an Athlon XP 3200+, maybe even a lower-end Athlon 64
chip. If you
prefer Intel, your machine could be a Pentium 4, 2.6 GHz or maybe a
faster chip (at an extra cost).

That's ample processing power for any office tasks, for DVD playback and
for anything Internet related. In this price bracket, one is more likely
to get
a small TFT (15-inch) screen and somewhere around 512 MB of RAM (256 MB
should be the absolute minimum). A 60 GB hard drive, a CD burner and
standard PC
speakers, keyboard and mouse will complete the package.

Where the economies are made for the manufacturer is in the graphics
department. They assume you won't want to play 3-D games, so rarely give
you a graphics
card that can handle anything too modern. For many, that won't be a
problem, but it's best to know this before you hand over your money.

One growth area in desktop PCs has been the targetted home entertainment
machine. These computers can play all sorts of media without you having
to go through
an elongated switch-on and boot-up procedure.

However, in our view, it is still something of a false economy. You can
pay anywhere near Rs 30,000-40,000, which usually gets you a machine
with a nice
screen, fancy software but limited functionality beyond home
entertainment (certainly gaming seems to be a no-no). In case the user
decides to go down
this route, he can expect to get the Windows XP Media Centre Edition
with the machine, and it is easy software to master.

But there are a few who don't want to go the "cheap way". Vu
Technologies, a new entrant in the desktop market, is focusing only on
premium home and office
customers. "We wanted to be different from the barebones PCs," says
Devita Saraf, CEO, Vu Technologies.

The company has launched a limited edition of desktops, with the Boss PC
having a 22-inch monitor, central processing unit and keyboard for Rs
65,000. "The
exclusivity attached works for Indian customers who are looking for the
oomph-factor," Saraf opines.

Keep your eyes open for free bundled scanners and printer offers that
are the epitome of false economies in almost all cases. One cannot
expect great performance
from these, as cheap printers guzzle ink like there's no tomorrow. It
would be better if you budget for whichever device you need and choose
it properly.

Tricks that most vendors use to keep the costs down on the list involves
lack of monitor in the price mentioned, not including an operating
system, not
including VAT in the prices and not including delivery and/or credit
card surcharges. Check all these out in advance before you indulge
yourself with a
new-age desktop.

(Sweety Bhalla)
Assistant Manager
Mobile No. 09868300466, 09818132488
E-Mail sweety.bhalla at ifciltd.com
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