Narrowing The Search

The Aiwa portable cassette player I’d been saving for was smaller than the Sony Walkman plus it looked a lot cooler which was the main reason I wanted it. I hadn’t been out of high school long, but had saved the nearly $300 to buy my first portable music player.

The same day my pay check arrived, I headed down the the local Inkleys which sold mostly cameras but also carried a few higher end portable cassette players on the market. The owner recognized me from my many visits to the store to compare models and answer my questions. I had narrowed down my search to two models and had decided the more expensive model was the best choice. As I pulled my wallet out, the owner stopped me and offered to let me listen to both models.

I assumed the more expensive one would sound better but it didn’t. In fact, I couldn’t tell the difference. The owner explained that the more expensive model included a motorized antenna which added not only to the cost but to the complexity of the player. I mixed my own cassettes and had no plans to listen to the radio so I ended up saving about a hundred bucks that day. The owner had earned my trust and I continued to purchase a number of items from him over the years.

I’ve thought about this experience with the owner of this small camera shop a number of times since I’ve started spending a good portion of my day advising people what computer to purchase.

Each day I speak with people who trust me to help them find the right system. Friends and family call to ask similar questions because the choices are so confusing. I hope I don’t sound like the Verizon employee in the SNL spoof video below. And as much as I try, I know there are times I do.

Through much trial and error I’ve found a system that works well for me. That includes a mid-range Windows 7 desktop, an iPad2, and iPhone 4S. I have as many friends attempt to sway more over to an Android phone as I do Mac fans trying to get me to abandon a PC running Windows. Contrary to what some people, moving between Windows and iOS devices is painless. As much as I enjoy the “it just works” nature of my iPad and iPhone, I still enjoy building my own PC by hand, with components I’ve selected right down to the make and model of case fans.

What works for me may not work well for you and vice versa. I’m fine if someone asks for my opinion on a computer, but decides to go with another model. Where I get frustrated is when my opinion is followed with a “But the guy at Best Buy liked this one..” or “Ya, but my brother doesn’t like that one…” type answer. My standard reply in those rare instances is “Then it sounds like you already have an answer” because it’s impossible to debate the imaginary Best Buy employee.

Maybe that’s why I enjoy building PCs for my father. He does his homework before asking my opinion and then we discuss options that give him the most bang for his dollar. I’ve lost count how many computers I’ve built for him over the years, but it’s quite a few.

And he even carries an Android phone.