It’s Computer Shopping Season — Tech Types in demand.

It seems that around this time of year, the dog days of sum­mer, friends and rel­at­ives start pinging me with ques­tions about buy­ing new com­puter hard­ware. I’ve come to call this time of year Com­puter Shop­ping Sea­son.

My own unscientif­ic obser­va­tions of this trend have con­cluded that there’s a bit of a mar­ket­ing push hap­pen­ing as retail­ers clear out older mod­els to make room new ones in the pro­duc­tion queue; to be fea­tured in the ‘back to school’ and upcom­ing hol­i­day shop­ping sea­son.

Which brings me back to the ques­tions people ask me (and likely you too), and the ques­tions I invari­ably ask in return.

Usu­ally, they describe a desktop / laptop / net­book / tab­let / pda that they’ve seen in an ad, and ask, “What do you think?”

My answer is usu­ally, “What are you going to do with it?” Because really, that’s the crux of the mat­ter; match­ing the sys­tem to the need. And since the people ask­ing these ques­tions are not always up to date on the latest and greatest com­puter tech, the sys­tem they’re look­ing at may be com­pletely wrong for their needs — such as buy­ing a $300 net­book to do ser­i­ous photo and video edit­ing, for example. Or try­ing to fig­ure out which com­pat­ible accessor­ies or soft­ware to buy with the new unit.

Sure, good salespeople can help out with this, but the reas­on I (and by exten­sion oth­er tech types) get asked the ques­tions by friends is because we’re trus­ted sources of inform­a­tion about this tech stuff. We’d nev­er steer our friends and fam­ily wrong, right?

For the most part we don’t, if we really do under­stand the need described. But some­times, even we, the trus­ted Tech Type doesn’t have the answer. Which is when I turn to the hard­ware sales­per­son.

There’s a reas­on *good* com­puter depart­ments hire know­ledge­able sales staff. They’re there to help you wade through all the mar­ket­ing buzzwords and glitz, to dis­till your need and provide a sys­tem that will meet the need.

Yes, some are on com­mis­sion, and some aren’t and some are bet­ter than oth­ers. But drop­ping a few hun­dred (or a few thou­sand) dol­lars and buy­ing some­thing that’s under (or over) powered, or has fea­tures you don’t need, or is miss­ing some­thing you do, is a recipe for dis­ap­point­ment.

Which is, in the end, why we tech types are asked about hard­ware and soft­ware in Com­puter Shop­ping Sea­son. We’re know­ledge­able. We’re trus­ted. And, we like to help. And we can help guide our friends and rel­at­ives, with assist­ance from know­ledge­able sales people, to the right decision.

This post of is one of many I pub­lish weekly at the Future Shop Techb­log. Read more of my stuff here.

Published by Brad Grier geek.hack