New price ceiling for Budget PC Chart

  Southernboy 15:03 18 Jan 2005

In the latest PCA, it is announced that they have reduced the ceiling price of budget PCs to reflect "falling prices". I am not so sure. It seems that several manufacturers have simply withdrawn well-specified models and replaced them with new models of lower specification.

For example, since December, the Best Buy budget PC (Mesh) had 1GB of DDR Ram, a 300GB HD, a three year on-site warranty and a Creative Audigy Sound card. The replacement Mesh has only 512MB of DDR Ram, a 250GB HD, a two year on-site (one year RTB) warranty and an onboard sound card, at a saving of £175.00. To upgrade to 1GB of Ram alone, costs £117.50, so where are the falling prices?

The excellent Evesham Axis 64 35DA in third place last month, has been replaced by the Axis Expression (also in third place), which also has seen a drop in the Ram from 1GB to 512MB. This, at a time when PCA have advised buyers that 1GB of Ram is "becoming the standard". Not anymore, it would seem.

I have been looking at the 64 35DA as a new PC, but Evesham tells me it is now obsolete, after only three months! As the Expression is not yet on the Evesham website, I cannot configure it to compare with the previous model.

All in all, I think the lowering of the price ceiling was an unwise move for manufacturers already working to tight margins, as they clearly feel they have to reduce specifications to qualify.

I must admit that I tend to confine my potential purchases to Mesh and Evesham as, not only do they tend to dominate the charts, but so many other makers seem ephemeral by comparison.

  Southernboy 12:29 21 Jan 2005


  t.long 13:11 21 Jan 2005

As I see it the price brakets for Budget, Power etc. are simply arbitry figures, while they can give a good indication of what one might expect for that given sum of money they are not absolutes. When people come to buy a PC there budget may be less or more than the levels set by PC advisor or other publications.

One thing that is talked about a lot now is the concept of the second PC. If the second PC is merely for the net and email then it can get away with lower specs. It could be argued that the 'budget' catergory price is set at a price range dominated by machines for this particular market.

The price limit change was I feel over due, with had had these very cheap PCs for a while now, and while they may not be up to editing video or playing Farcry in all its glory, they are all that a lot of people need for email and web surfing. In essence the higher price ceiling of PC Advisor meant it effectively ignored this segment of the market in the reviews.

  Southernboy 13:31 21 Jan 2005

I don't want a second PC, but I do want a PC with a decent spec. The previous limit for Budget PCs was fine and anyone with a lower budget had the opportunity to reconfigure down to reduce the cost. It is, currently, impossible to find an Evesham PC that approximates the spec. of the Evesham Axis 64 35DA, at the same price.

The problem is that these PCs come and go too quickly. The Evesham Axis 64 35DA was a fine PC and was around for three months. Trying to find a similar model is difficult. I decided to investigate the Evesham Axis Expression (the replacement #3 in the PCA Budget charts) and suprise, surprise, it is neither in their website, nor in their catalogue.

They do not make it easy to purchase, do they?

  t.long 13:44 21 Jan 2005

But component prices fluctate so much, this combined with 'Just In Time Manufacture' means that prices can change rapidly, and the cost will be passed to the consumer. Just follow the ups and downs of the price of RAM over a few months.

The new lower limit, and hence lower spec, PC chart might not suit you but it might suit others. It is I suppose a case of one mans poison...

I understand what you are saying about computer models coming and going very soon, but again that is the nature of the beast [market]. Maybe one day things will settle down, but I doubt it. Bring back the 486 and Windows 3.11 all is forgiven.

  TOPCAT® 14:42 21 Jan 2005

In PCA's defence I must point out the disclaimer under 'Prices' on page 192 of the latest magazine. The last paragraph says all.

I can only surmise that these vendors submit a PC for review within the price confines required, and then sit back to see how much interest is shown in that reviewed model. Not the best business practise as I see it, unless someone knows differently.

Nevertheless, component price fluctuations apart, it is extremely galling to decide to buy a particular machine and then find it is unavailable. I would certainly build to a reviewed specification if it meant more machines going out of the door. TC.

  Southernboy 14:33 24 Jan 2005

It wasn't there when I last looked. I can have only just been added!

  Southernboy 14:41 24 Jan 2005

and being told that the specification and/or the price had changed since last week because this or that component had risen in price!

I know all about variations in prices but the industry needs some sort of stability. PCs must be the only commodity that vary in price and specification from week to week! Many of us spend a lot of time doing research to decide what to buy, only to find the goalposts have been moved!

If a company introduces a new model it should be costed to ensure it remains current for a reasonable period of time. Am I the only person who values continuity and reliability, and recognises that one must be prepared to pay for it?

None of this answers my question as to where the "falling prices" that PCA mentioned are. As I said, you will find by matching the specifications of previous entries, prices have actually risen. I have no problems with this, if costs rise, but why not be up-front about it?

  t.long 15:47 24 Jan 2005

For some customers [business] the price of a computer/server is set for a period of time. But for others it has to move. While I am not sure that computers count as a commodity - though maybe RAM should be - I see your point. But other commodities do fluctuate, oil for example. It just in the case of oil the price rises tend to be absorbed by the retailer.

I do not think it is fair to say prices have risen, they have in my opinion fallen a great deal. It is a case of capibility, today a computer can be purchased for a few hundred pounds which a couple of years ago would of cost say seven or eight hundred. Were as the price of the latest most capible computers has reached a plateu.

I think this is more of an illusion caused by PCA recatagriseing the super budget limit.

  Southernboy 13:41 26 Jan 2005

over a period of some years but, over the last few months they have risen.

That is to say, certain manufacturers appear to have used the lower price ceiling in the budget category to increase prices.

How come, for example, that Mesh charge about twice as much as Evesham to upgrade from 512Mb RAM to 1Gb RAM? It is generally accepted that Mesh are better value for money, so how come Evesham are so much cheaper? Of course Mesh specify their RAM as 400, whereas Evesham do not give this information.

Is the devil in the detail?

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