“Business-class” is not just a marketing term.

Dell Latitude e6520

It really is better in every meaningful way.

Most people are aware that PC and laptop manufacturers will produce several product lines, aimed at different demographics. A great example is Dell, who produces three primary lines of machines. The Latitude line of laptops and Optiplex line of desktops are aimed at large businesses with significant IT budgets and are typically sold directly. The Inspiron line is aimed squarely at consumers and typically sell through regular retail channels. The Vostro line is somewhat in the middle and provides some of the serviceability features of the Latitude and Optiplex units while being priced similarly to the Inspiron line in an attempt to capture the small business market. What’s different, though?

First come research and development. More time is spent designing and testing business class units, sometimes to the point that a new business line will spend more time in development than an equivalent consumer unit will last from development to end of life. Every effort is made to ensure reliability and serviceability and no corners are cut to ensure a solid product makes it to market. Consumer units, largely, are developed separately and because cost vs. profit margin (which is split by the retail and manufacturer) are the driving factors during production much less time is spent on reliability testing.

Next come the actual quality of parts. For the business lines, everything from the design of the hinges on notebooks to the plastic used in the keyboard to the individual components used in the production of the system boards is considered, measured and tested. As a result the finished product is better built and constructed of higher quality parts. LCD screens, system fans, keyboards, palmrests, hard drives – all are usually of higher quality than what is found on the shelf at a big-box retailer.

Service life is a consideration. At Discount Electronics, we offer a one-year warranty on every computer and laptop we sell. That wouldn’t be a great idea if we sold strictly consumer items but because we deal primarily in business-class units we can offer our customers peace of mind even on refurbished units. While many systems we sell are very recent, some can be older models and the fact that it makes good sense to offer a full one-year parts and labor warranty on them demonstrates just how reliable they can be. Also, if something does happen to go wrong the availability and pricing of replacement parts for business-class units is typically better and less expensive than any consumer model.

Operating system options can vary as well. Consumer systems are typically sold loaded with Home, Home Premium, Starter or Basic editions of Microsoft operating systems. Business units usually offer the option of Professional versions. Many vendors now offer Linux as an option as well. Never mind an enterprise-class deployment, even for someone networking a small office or creating a workgroup at home this can be a huge benefit.

Business units usually offer a variety of docking or expansion options as well. The Dell E-series line is entirely compatible with the E-series line of docks which allow for a laptop or notebook to used just like a desktop computer when docked. The user doesn’t even have to unplug the AC adapter, keyboard, mouse or monitor and in fact doesn’t even need to open the laptop. Just dock it and turn it on with the button on the dock. Many models will also support multiple monitor outputs. Consumer units can benefit from USB or Express-card based expansion solutions but nothing beats a well-designed and properly implemented docking solution.

There are a great many reasons to seek out well-priced refurbished alternatives to brand-new consumer equipment, this is by no means a complete list. It certainly makes the prospect more appealling, however. Consider all of the advantages and features listed in this post and then consider that refurbished business-class hardware can sell for literally pennies on the dollar vs it’s original new price with no loss in performance or reliability and you have a very attractive proposition to consider.

What’s wrong with Windows Vista?

Windows_Vista

The truth of the matter: nothing at all.

While the initial release of Windows Vista was rife with growing pains and a major transition period for both hardware and software vendors, we are well past that period. Vista is now a fully mature operating system with several Service Packs that provide both stability and compatibility with almost all retail and a majority of commercial software and hardware available on the market today. The majority of PC and accessory manufacturers (Dell, HP, Gateway, Lenovo, Nvidia, and AMD / ATi to name a few) offer support for Windows Vista. Microsoft will be providing critical fixes and patches for Vista for the next several years, cementing the purchase of a PC running Vista as a viable option. There’s a real value as well: computers running Windows Vista are now considerably more affordable than identical PCs running Windows 7.

Both the 64-bit and 32-bit versions of Windows Vista perform better on modern hardware than Windows XP ever could due to improvements in the way Vista works with hardware. RAM and hard disk caching are both handled and allocated more efficiently. Vista also handles support for devices like printers, mice, keyboards, external hard drives and wireless networks is measurably better than Windows XP. Even things like USB docking stations for laptops and upgrades like video cards for desktops can see performance gains and improved stability when used with a Windows Vista computer instead of one running Windows XP.

While it is true that Windows 7 represents an improvement over Windows Vista, that improvement is likely to be completely invisible to the majority of users. Those who want a machine with good performance while browsing the web, sending email and even for gaming will find Vista to be a great choice, especially when cost enters the equation. With the exception of the newest models, Dell’s line of business-class Optiplex and Precision PCs and Latitude laptops are exceptionally well configured for Vista and often come in more than a hundred dollars less than the very same computer running Windows.

Capable, secure and efficient. Considerably lower cost. What’s not to like? If you’re in Austin, drop by your neighborhood Discount Electronics store today or if you’re not, give our internet sales team a call. We’ll be glad to help find the perfect refurbished Dell computer or laptop that will meet your needs for the lowest possible price.

Where can I get a Windows 7 Computer?

This is a question I hear frequently. If you are like me and prefer Windows 7 to 8 you are in luck (for now). Discount Electronics has loads of Windows 7 Laptops and Windows 7 Computers.

It doesn’t look like there is any relief in sight. Microsoft is replacing Windows 8 with Windows 8.1? Expect Windows 7 computers to become harder and harder to find. If any of you were around for Windows Millennium (ME) you know what I mean. 6 months into the launch of ME we had a wait list of customers looking for 98SE computers. I am hopeful the situation doesn’t get as bad this time around. But I have a couple Windows 7 laptops hoarded for myself just in case ;)

We here at Discount Electronics will do our best to keep an assortment of Windows 7 computers and laptops in stock at very affordable prices. And as always, each and every one will come with our now famous one year warranty.

Cryptolocker Ransomware

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First there were viruses, then Malware and now Ransomware. If you have ever wondered why anyone would do such a thing the answer is now clear. Money. As of today it is estimated that Cryptolocker creators have cleared over $30M US.

Once the thieves behind Cryptolocker have encrypted your files you will have 4 days to $300 by Bitcoin. A popup appears on your screen with a countdown starting at 96 hours. The warning indicates that if you don’t pay up all your encrypted personal files will be gone forever. And that is an accurate statement.

How do you catch Cryptolocker? It is most often transmitted as an executable disguised as a PDF file. Customers have told us that it appeared to be an accounting report.

How does Cryptolocker work? Cryptolocker encrypts users’ files with asymmetric encryption. This type of encryption requires a public and private key. The most recent version, detected as WORM_CRILOCK or WORM_CRILOCK.A allows both the infection and encryption to access removable drives.

How do I protect myself from CryptoLocker? The most important thing to do right now is have incremental backups that are not attached to your PC or the web. There are several accounts of the encryption infecting DropBox and Google Drive. Not to say that you are at additional rick using these types of backups only that they do not protect you from infection or encryption.

Avoiding file sharing will limit the risk of exposure but as these executables are cleverly disguised it is impossible to be 100% sure you won’t trip over one as an email attachment.

 

Can I Customize a Refurbished Computer or Laptop?

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Not that long ago, the answer to that question was ‘no’. We here at Discount Electronics were asked that very question so often that we had to do something about it because, well, we just hate to say no to our customers.

So now the answer is ‘yes’, you can customize a refurbished Dell PC or laptop. Want to double the memory, no problem. Want a second hard drive, sure thing. You want a dual video card and 2 monitors? Coming right up.

It took us a little while to get the website side of things up and running but the real tricky part was getting the equipment upgraded in time to get it in UPS trucks the same day you ordered. After all we are known as the fastest computer store in the West. But with a little schooling from Henry Ford and some trial and error we are now right on schedule.

Every custom PC or Dell Laptop you order before 3pm will ship the same day. That stands even if you want a bigger hard drive, more memory AND a wireless network card. Go ahead, test us.

What to do With Your Old Gadgets?

Sell Us Your Electronic Stuff

So you moved up to the latest and greatest iPad or or Android phone. Now what do you do with the old one? You could leave it in the kitchen drawer for a couple years, give it to a needy neighbor or turn it into that paperweight you always wanted. Or you could turn it into cold hard cash.

Discount Electronics will pay you on the spot for your old electronic stuff. We buy tablets, phones, laptops, monitors, computers, laser printers, computer parts, game consoles, electronics guitars and other instruments, LCD TVs and just about anything else with an on/off switch.

It’s easy. Just bring your stuff and your ID into any of our stores and we will make you a fair offer and buy it on the spot. Even if you aren’t close to one of our Central Texas stores Money Matt G will help you sell your stuff through UPS.

No matter whether you have one broken iPad or your company has 100 old laptops  we’ll buy them all. Just come on buy or give us a call at 512-459-0026.

Can I Upgrade a Refurbished PC or Desktop Computer?

Upgrade Before You Buy

One disadvantage of buying used or even refurbished laptops and computers was the fact that you couldn’t customize them as need to fit your use. Well that has changed. As of August of this year DiscountElectronics.com will allow you to upgrade the refurbished laptops and computers they sell. You can double the memory, add a bigger hard drive or even add a wireless card to your PC.

As much of our daily computing becomes web or cloud based refurbished computers and laptops make more and more sense. For most of us all we need out of a computer is a screen, keyboard, browser and an internet connection. Sure a big hard drive is great if you want to store your photos and music locally but with services like Google Music and Picasa some of us don’t even need that.

Truth of the matter is Facebook looks just as good on a $99 PC as it does on a new $500 computer. So why waste the money. The refurbished computers at DiscountElectronics.com have better warranties than those on new computers at Big Box retailers.

Where should I buy a Refurbished PC?

Refurbished Computers

You will find numerous retailers jumping on the refurbished computer bandwagon, all wanting to rid you of your hard earned money while shouting ‘go green’ in unison. Truth is they are just reselling refurbished computers and are not computer refurbishers.

Why does that matter to you? It matter because these big name, big box retailers will send you up stream when you have a problem. They are quick to broker the deal when it means taking your money but backing that transaction up with a warranty and customer service is not in the interest of their bottom line.

These big box retailers are not providing a service. They are just marking up the price. This is what makes Discount Electronics different. We refurbish, sell and warranty the computers ourselves. There are no middle men. That means a better price and a better warranty for you.

Buy your refurbished computer direct from Discount Electronics for as little as $99 and get a real one year parts and labor warranty. This isn’t a sideline for us, this is what we do. Since 1997 we have been refurbishing end of lease computers from Fortune 500 companies and selling them to individuals and small businesses all over the US at a fraction of the original price.

We have been on the Inc 5000 list of fastest growing companies in the US for 6 years in a row and win the coveted ‘Best of Austin’ award year after year for best computer store. We have 8 retail locations in Texas and 100+ employees. Discount Electronics knows computers and understands the economics of small business. Whether you need one or one hundred refurbished computers we are here to help.

Can I get a replacement key for my laptop keyboard?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

That depends. How much time do you have? Although a replacement keyboard is easy to come by the keys are much harder to find. Even though all of the replacement keyboards for a particular laptop look alike and connect to the laptop in the same way, the method used to connect the keys to the laptop keyboard is very different keyboard to keyboard. That is because one model laptop may have as many as 6 different keyboards. They all look the same on the surface but each is different when it comes to keys.

The Dell Latitude D620 keyboard is a great example. The keyboard itself is simple to install and any keyboard from any Dell Latitude D620 will easily fit another D620. They keys are not nearly as interchangeable. There are 6 models of keyboard for the D620. Each keyboard has completely different keys giving you less than a 17% chance the key you get will fit.

You are much better off buying a complete replacement laptop keyboard. They are much easier to find and install.

Should I buy the extended warranty?

warranty

Let me answer that with another question. What’s wrong with the warranty that came with the computer? Many big box retailers are charging in excess of $100 for in store warranties. One sales associate described it to me like this. ‘If you don’t buy the extended warranty you are at the mercy of the manufacturer and we all know how that can be.’ While his statement may have been accurate it was not reassuring.

Why is it that goods can be sold with such flimsy warranties? Big box retailer #1 will stand behind the computer or laptop you buy from them for 14 days and then either you pay big bucks for the extended warranty or take a hike. I asked specifically, ‘If this laptop’s hard drive fails 6 weeks from now could I return it for an exchange?’ ‘Absolutely not.’ The clerk says. ‘If you have paid for the extended warranty we will fix it. If you didn’t buy the warranty you will need to take it up with the manufacturer.’ Then he ads ‘I’m not sure they’d cover a hard drive, since there is software on it.

I think there is something inherently wrong with all of this. That is why Discount Electronics includes an in store warranty on every product we sell at no additional charge. You never need to go back to the manufacturer. Every Computer and Laptop we sell comes with a year long parts and labor warranty. If that PC or notebook fails withing a year we will fix it for you for free. And we’ll do it right there in that store, fast. If you bought it online our Wall Street facility will preform the repair.

I am often asked why Discount Electronics is so successful and why the stores are always so busy. Service after the sale is the answer I always give. Buy one computer or laptop from us and you will never buy anywhere else again. Why would you? We can sell you quality Dell equipment at a fraction of the original cost and give you a warranty better than the one you pay for at the Big Box retailer. Many of our computers and laptops are so cheap that you will pay less for the computer and the warranty than you would pay for the warranty alone at the other store.

So the answer to the first question is NO.