It's all very frustrating.
By the time you read this, I'll have my new 500MHz Pentium III system, but at this present moment in time I'm enjoying no such luck. Due to certain problems with a disk drive, the machine isn't here, so I am writing this column on my trusty (but old and, frankly, dog slow) Compaq 120MHz Pentium Overdrive.
I really, really wanted to be able to swagger around telling you how much more powerful my new PC was to yours, as it isn't very often one has the best desktop on the block. Alas, right now the only thing I can boast about is just how slow my underpowered typewriter really is.
All the same, this whole buying experience was a real eye-opener - you wouldn't believe the hassle I've had trying to pick the right hardware to buy. For the first time since I joined the industry I didn't know where to start. I was thinking: 'Shall I get a 450MHz Pentium II or do I wait for the Pentium III? OK, I want AGP graphics for sure, but how about AGPx4?
How many PCI slots? Do I choose 7,200 or 10,000rpm disks?' Sheesh, talk about embarrassing.
I'd always prided myself on having some idea of what was going on in the consumer world, but I'd obviously failed miserably here. I just hadn't realised after all this time that this so-called simple-to-buy consumer lead market had so many issues.
And astonishingly, it's still the same old rubbish that the industry churns out. Take 2D graphics cards for instance - what is this 2D stuff anyway?
Oh, right, 2D is just a new name for an ordinary graphics card - glad there's no chance of confusion there then. Then there's RamBus, followed closely by Firewire, USB - the list is endless.
See, I had this wacky idea that we were trying to make it simpler for the ordinary punter to buy a PC. Or, to put it bluntly, I thought we were making it easier to part the customer from their money. Instead, we have this lunatic situation where it's probably as hard a decision to buy a PC now than it ever was.
Sure, there's no shortage of smiling young men and women prepared to go the extra round to close the sale, but that's a complete waste of time when confronted by an industry apparently in love with change. How can the customer possibly make a decision when there are all these 'must have' technologies competing with each other?
At about this point, I suspect many in the channel will be pointing the finger back up the distribution line at the manufacturers that are supplying all this kit. This may be true enough, but what about the rest of you endlessly hyping these new technologies?
When all is said and done, everyone is part of this problem.
Rats - I have just received word that the 7200rpm, 14.4Gb hard drive I ordered with the system still hasn't come in yet (and I had to call them to find this out - now there's service for you). This gives me a little breathing space - should I upgrade to an 18Gb SCSI or perhaps a 20Gb EIDE?
Look, someone help me out here, will you?
Chris Long is a freelance IT journalist.
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