[AI] The luck of the draw

vishnu ramchandani vishnuhappy at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 14 03:02:16 EDT 2007


The luck of the draw

By L.N. Revathy

There’s many a slip between the cup and the lip, or,
in today’s digital times, between the computer one
wants to buy and the system one ends up with! 

Buying a PC or laptop is both easy and complex. While
it is easy to get finance to buy a system off the
shelf, it is not always so in deciding on the best.


There are a whole lot of issues to consider over and
above the system specification, such as price, brand
and appearance. 

>From components to software to accessories, new PCs
offer a bewildering array of choices. Sifting through
these can be daunting, as eWorld found in an
interaction
with vendors and end-users. 

Going beyond the basics 

Any basic PC would more than adequately handle
standard chores such as word processing and
spreadsheet such as the ones you find in a provision
store, a
pharmacy or a vegetable shop, among others. If such
PCs are connected to the Net, one would be able to
browse and check mail as well. 

For performing these basic functions, one can buy a
machine with an Intel Celeron or Pentium (dual core)
processor. 

A typical home user today is not content with these
functions. One might not tap the full potential of the
machine, but would look upon it as an ‘intelligent’
digital device. It has become a ‘show piece’, an
edutainment, more to say. 

Youngsters use the machine to hear music, download and
play games, watch movies and create photo albums. 

To perform these functions, one would have to buy a
middle-level or high-performance computer, with better
processor. This will mean additional RAM (as
more Random Access Memory helps software applications
to load faster), a higher capacity hard drive (to
store more multimedia files), bigger monitor and
so on. 

When user expectations rise by the day, who would go
for the Rs 10,000-PC, which had high visibility some
time ago in the media? 

“Small retail outlets buy the most basic machine to do
billing. The excise duty is the catch. When buyers
realised that they would not be able to buy it
for that price, they gave up the search and started
looking for PCs with better specification,” say
vendors. 

Going by the SOHO (small office home office) segment
demands, one would realise that a techie’s requirement
would be a lot more demanding. “The demand has,
by and large, picked up, but there are still many out
there who haven’t got the facts right,” say PC
dealers. 

Hard sell 

While buying a PC could be a daunting task for the
layman or first-timers, the selling proposition is
also not easy, say vendors. 

How do manufacturers resolve this issue? 

“We educate the sales force on the machine’s
capability. So, when a customer walks into our store,
the sales person is able to understand the buyer’s
functional
use and is able to suggest the system specification to
suit his requirement,” says Vivek Siegel, Country Head
(Retail), HCL Infosystems. 

Do you have such machines (to suit customers’
specifications) off the shelf? 

“We do, mostly,” maintains Siegel. 

Vista low on visibility 

As eWorld moved round the store, we came across people
who were looking for high-end PCs for doing 3D
graphics and the like. We watched them debate and
discuss the system specification only to note that
they seemed quite ignorant of the release of Windows
Vista Operating System. 

And this is eight months after the release of Vista! 

Poor Customer awareness 

“Not only is the awareness level low, even the
adoption is poor. Those who are in the know of it want
a system with best configuration but on Windows XP
platform,” says the Managing Director of Bloom
Electronics, S. Karthikeyan. 

Vendors, however, seem to be in a state of excitement
over their Vista experience. 

“It is totally different, both in appearance and
experience,” says Paul, a technician at Bloom. 

Then why is he unable to sell, convince the customer? 

“This is only a transition phase. Users are, by and
large, apprehensive about loading the Vista after
working on the XP for years,” says Karthikeyan. 

Some customers of Bloom, who had walked away with
Vista OS had, according to Paul, complained of
problems in loading other software such as Turbo C,
C++.
’They find some version of Oracle incompatible. Paul
attributes these issues to the existence of pirated
software in the PC. 

“Though the licensed software prices have come down,
India is still a poor country. 

Students, for instance, cannot afford to go in for
licensed software every time. 

The laptop/desktop is no longer costly, but what can
one do without loading the OS or other applications?”
asks an onlooker waiting to purchase a system.


Sureshkumar of Galaxy Computer Land is, however, more
positive about the entire issue. 

A dealer in renowned brands such as HP, Compaq, HCL,
Toshiba and IBM, this vendor, who has attended a
Microsoft training programme on Vista, says “all the
solutions are available on the Net.” 

‘No compelling feature’ 

eWorld sought feedback from Prof Rathnavel, at the Dr
Mahalingam College of Engineering and Technology on
Windows Vista. He, like other observers, says,
“Vista, a release from the Microsoft stable after
years of experimentation, is almost a copy of Mac OS
10. 

While Mac systems bridged the hardware-software gap,
to load Vista, one would need Graphics hardware, RAM
would have to be enhanced and the overall performance
of the hardware also needs to be improved.” 

There is nothing wrong with Windows Vista, neither is
there a compelling feature within Vista that would
induce one to switch over from XP to Vista, says
Prof Rathnavel. 

He points out that if the management decided to switch
over to Vista OS, then the RAM in the 1,000-plus
computers that students were currently using would
have to be enhanced. “RAM is not cheap,” he says. 

Is the dealer able to offer what the customer wants?
“We have a wide range,” say dealers, but those who are
in the know of technology beg to differ. 

One business user pointed out that dealers do not sell
multimedia with 2GB memory. “Why do you need 2 GB.. A
system with 1 GB is more than sufficient’ the
seller argues. 

But the customer contends that business systems are
well-specified, and the manufacturer invariably does
not make systems to suit these specifications.


Siegel, however, begs to differ.


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