In late 1998, just after moving to US, I bought a home PC, a Compaq Presario 5170, for more than $1,500.00. It was a modest configuration: 350 MHz Pentium II, 128MB RAM, 10GB hard disk, a CD ROM drive, a ZIP drive, Windows98 and a CRT monitor. Now that I recall, the smooth Circuit-City sales guy also sold me a store warranty program for more than $200.00, which, I could never use. Not that there was no need -- (a) after a couple of years of use, the power supply failed on a weekend and I found it easier to simply buy a replacement from Frys (than waiting for a weekday to contact the customer service); (b) few monthes later, the monitor konked off and I was told by the customer service that the monitor was not covered (I didn't read the fine print at the time of buying the warranty -- my mistake!); (c) After four years of use, the machine stopped booting. The warranty had expired by now, so I just did some trouble shooting of my own and got it working by adding a PCI based IDE controller.
But I am digressing from my main point.
During the winter of year 2000, I decided acquire a second PC by assembling a PC on my own -- partly to save few bucks and partly to go through the experience of doing something that I always wanted to but had never done. All in all, it was a humbling expereince -- after spending close to $800.00 and making numerous trips to Frys, I was able to create the machine I am using right now to type-in this blog entry. Its capabilities dwarfed my earlier acquisition: 900MHz AMD Athlon, 1GB RAM, 20GB hard disk (which I upgraded a number of times in coming years, the current one being a 100GB monster!), a CD-RW drive, and so on. Though somewaht unstable at times, it has served me quite well so far -- enduring all my h/w upgrade experiments and still humming along!
So, last weekend when my Compaq Presario, now primarily used by my 7 year old daughter whose collection of CD games need Windows98, broke down, and I couldn't fix it after a day of trial-and-error replacements, I headed to the local Frys for buying a new machine. And what did I buy? A GQ machine for $349.00 ( $378.00 with taxes): 2400 AMD Athlon (~2GHz), 256MB DDR RAM, 40GB hard disk, CD-RW, DVD ROM with Windows XP Home Edition. A far superior machine than anything I owned earlier!
In nutshell, I have been buying more and more powerful machines for less and less money. I realize that this is a well known (and well publicized) trend. But that doesn't diminish the feeling of getting yours money worth.