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Brand Name vs. Non-brand NameWho Do You Trust?
Authored by Erick, February 4, 2003
This is another issue that I feel strongly about. Back when I first started looking for a notebook, I wanted to get the most for my money so I figured that a lesser known company would give me the best value for my dollar. Well, I was right in one sense that the notebook would cost less, but as for value, that depended on how long the company was around after I bought my notebook.
Do any of you remember these names? Nimantics, AMS Tech, EPS Technologies, Transmonde, Power Computing. They all had huge ads in the computer magazines, great prices, nice notebooks and made quite a few sales... the only problem is they are all out of business. Transmonde was one company I touted because they strived to give the customer the best value and service, they used true mobile CPUs and worked hard to support their customers. They were backed by a large OEM (more on that later) so it seemed they had the right formula. Only problem was that the margins weren't high enough to compete against the likes of Dell, IBM and Toshiba. Other companies disappeared for probably the same reasons but what was left behind were a bunch of customers with no support for their broken notebooks.
First Moral: What good is saving a few hundred dollars if your notebook is worthless after 1 or 2 years? At least if you buy a brand-name notebook, the company will still be around to fix it if something goes wrong.
Now what is this OEM business I referred to earlier? Well, an OEM is an Original Equipment Manufacturer. It's not really a "dirty secret" (to quote a website) that most brand name companies use the same Asian companies to produce their notebooks. This being said, you will see notebooks that look similar to each other but bear different names. Dell, HP, Toshiba and IBM do this. So some people feel that if they buy a notebook made by the same OEM that the brand-names are using, then they are getting a similar product.
Second Moral: Just because a notebook has the same OEM, does NOT mean it is of the same quality or performance. Even though brand-name companies may use the same OEM, they have specifications that the OEM has to adhere to for each particular company. It could be a case design, a chipset, a BIOS update, the components used... whatever. If you've ever read Laptop Buyer's Guide, you can see that notebooks that are obviously from the same OEM will have different results in performance. I can take 2 exact desktop systems and tweak one of them so it outperforms the other by 20% to 50%, so remember that "same" doesn't always mean "same" (does that make sense?).
Okay, who cares if I buy a non-brand name and it doesn't look quite as nice or is just a little bit slower. It's worth the money right? There are a few non-brand name companies that have been around for a while, I'll just buy the extended warranty and it will be covered. Support should be just as good anyways.
Last Moral: Brand name companies tend to give you better support options. I know, I've heard and read horror stories about how bad the big names have treated some people. But that's true in any business. My point is that the type of support for a brand name notebook is usually better. On my Dell notebook, I have a 3-year, next day, onsite, accidental damage warranty. This means that someone will come out and fix my notebook the next day. I don't have to send it anywhere and pay shipping while they hold it for 2 weeks. If my screen breaks, it's covered. I can sell this notebook and that warranty is transferable to the new owner. Is this kind of warranty even available with a Sager or ProStar? (I mention these brands because their owners are usually the ones on the newgroup bashing the brand name notebooks)
I know everyone has their own opinions about this issue but from personal experience, the emails I get and the stuff I read on the newsgroup... you're just better off getting a brand-name notebook. But again, that's my opinion and it's really not worth anything if you don't agree. Just make sure you get the extended warranty (how many times have I said that?)
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