Upgrade? Downgrade?

It's time to retire my old 450 MHz pIII. On it, I have built countless civilizations; I have conquered and lost the world time and again; I have fought my way through the Black Mesa complex and the Kingdom of Ehb. Still, I need to trade up. End of an era? What do I care? It's just a computer.

Up until now I have always built my own machines. It's fun and I've saved a few bob. These days though, it seems like it's not worth it anymore. Dell will happily sell you a decent machine for less than $400, and nowadays OEM machines are fairly upgradeable.

I go to the Dell Small Business site. The Dimension 3000 looks like a good candidate - decent spec for decent price. Clicking around the site, I find four different ways to configure the machine - one through "Desktops", one through "Alternative OS" and two (with or without monitor) through "outrageous deals".

I click through all four and customize to the same spec - p4 2.8 GHz, 512 MB Ram, 80 GB harddrive and 17 inch screen.

I end up with four different prices -

  • $949, minus $200 mail in rebate = $749
  • $799, minus $150 mail in rebate = $649
  • $704, no mail in rebate
  • $949, no mail in rebate (this is the one with alternative OS)

Four different prices for the same machine, depending on which path I take to find it? That's not right.

Whatever. I'm not a fan of mail in rebates, but I decide to go for the $799-$150 option after all. Clicking through the check-out, it turns out that with sales tax ($76.67) and shipping ($79), the total price is $954.67.

So now the machine will cost me $800? And it'll take a couple of weeks before I get it, and then another 4-6 weeks probably before I get the mail in rebate? Ah, forget it. I'm going to Fry's.

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