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7 Tips for buying computers at Walmart or Amazon

Shopping for Walmart computers and Amazon.com

Walmart computersThis is what I bought. More images down below.

Welcome! In this article we'll look at shopping Walmart computers, what you might expect to find there, and Amazon.com as well. I know something about this as I just went through the process of buying my granddaughter a new computer for school, and while I was at it, looking for a new one for writing my articles. The ol' laptop is in retirement. Oh, sure, I may write an article at Starbucks with it at some point, but man, it was tired! 

The Criteria 

The criteria for both computers were largely the same. I wanted both of them to be fairly inexpensive. I know the rush of going "whole hog" with all the bells and whistles. As often as not you find that you way overpaid for stuff you don't use. Gaming computer? No. Computer with the latest processor? 256 gigs of SDD? That's geek for 256 gigabytes of Solid-State Drive. As opposed to a slower and less reliable spinning disk drive). It would be nice, but for a LOT more! I have found that solid is solid, and solid lasts. 

Criteria for her computer

  • Inexpensive
  • Reliable
  • Fairly fast
  • Decent storage
  • Wi-Fi
  • Camera

The kid is hard on electronics. So, the computer should not be expensive. The kid kills them by, we think, clicking on stuff better left unclicked.
Since school was starting, and "distance learning" no longer means sitting at the back of the class, the computer had to work the first time, and every time.
This unit would have to process fast enough, and with enough RAM, to not bog down.
The hard drive did not need to be huge, but more is more.
Wi-Fi is important, because I was not sure how they connect at their house.
The school requires that they be able to see you on camera when you are doing the distance learning thing, so that was a no-brainer. 

An All-In-One made the most sense, to a degree. That isn't how work it worked out, however. 

Criteria for my computer
  • Inexpensive
  • Fairly reliable
  • Fast, but not overpoweringly so.
  • Decent amount of storage
  • Wi-Fi
  • Preferably dual screens

I did not want to spend a lot of money on a new computer. At all. As I implied earlier, I want the most bang for the buck, no matter the purchase. A great example of this in my life was my 95 Camaro Z28 I bought new in 1996. It was Motor Trend's bang for the buck winner back then. A lot of car (and oodles of power) for not a lot of money. No, it would not beat a Corvette, nor a Supra twin turbo, but it did not need to. Sometimes it's just plain  important to have gobs of power available. Same with a computer. It just needs to do many things good, but a few extra ponies hurts nothing.

Reliability

This new computer would be used mostly for blog writing and website editing. It had to be pretty solid in normal usage. The Samsung Laptop I received as a gift years ago had been a workhorse since my old XP running Dell became an antique, and it had held up well. However, the laptop had developed an annoying habit of shutting off while I was editing stuff. Work unsaved is work lost. Not okay.

Speed

This one is a little tricky, as people often look only at the processor speed as their ultimate benchmark. They ignore bus speed, the pipelines in which data must travel, and connection speed. "It has a 28 cores running at 1600 Mhz!" Yeah, but that 4 GB of RAM, and 66 Mhz of throughput means you got serious lag. All I needed was enough processing power to match my connect speeds. Having said that, I am on a FiOS connection, so my up and download speeds are pretty good. That is, when it actually works. A topic for another time.

Storage

I came into using computers during the Windows 3.xx age, when a 240MB hard drive was fairly average. That's Megabytes, folks. Virtually no storage at all. Having said that, I am, to this day, as apt to delete unused stuff as I was back then. As a result, I have lost a lot of stuff through the years I wish I still had. For this computer, I'd prefer to have an SSD, Solid State Drive, but there's that ugly C word again, Cost. I'd settle for around 500GB of spinning drive. 

Connectivity

As I mentioned above, I connect through FiOS here in my office. A Cat5 connection was important, but at the same time I remember that the provider installed a special program years ago on my XP machine. I was not sure the Cat5 would work on the new machine, so Wi-Fi was important, just in case. 

Dual screens

Dual Screen Dell

I love, love, LOVE dual screens! I use this setup at my day job, and I found that moving data quickly is UBER easy with 2 monitors! Also, it comes in handy when I write blogs, many of which appear here on Frinedslr.com. Therefore, I can work on one screen and research on the other. However, a single screen is not a deal breaker at all. I could always add a second monitor, as I did.

Shopping them out

I took to the internet on a mission to find a great deal. Shopping deals over the years has taught me one thing in particular: The second you commit to the Best Deal Ever, a better deal will pop up. Every. Single. Time. Then comes the buyer's remorse. So, to minimize that, I shopped for computers all over, but focused on the best deals. 

Walmart Computers

Tip 1 - Buying a Walmart computer may feel a little like buying a Mercedes at Billy-Bob's Used Cars, but you know what? They don't make the computers; they just sell them. The computers come with warranties commensurate with the quality of machine. Not only that, but you can add buyer protection through Walmart. Also, not only can you get desktop computers, they also have tablets, laptop computers, all in ones, you name it. 

Having said all that, if you want a variety of choices, good, bad, and ugly, Walmart.com is where you go to shop Walmart computers,  but know that there are other places.

A quick aside: thankfully Aldi doesn't sell computers. There would be a slot on the side to insert a quarter every time you turned it on and you would have to package it yourself...

Amazon Computers

Amazon Computers

Tip 3 - Shop Everywhere and Compare

I not only shopped Walmart for computers, I shopped Bestbuy,com Amazon, and Staples,com and in store. More on that later.
After enough time comparing, I ruled out BestBuy and Staples in this instance, as they really did not have what I wanted for the price I wanted to pay in the time I had available. That left Walmart and Amazon as the best options. Shipping was going to be relatively quick, and the supply was plentiful. I was leaning towards Amazon, as a Prime member, why not? Free shipping and all that. Tip 4 - Use the heck out of Prime, otherwise it's a waste of money. Seriously, a couple large packages a year shipped for free pays for Prime. 

Looking at what Amazon had that fit my criteria for both computers, I settled on buying from Walmart.com. Of course as soon as I did, I found an even better deal on Amazon. Oh well. 

Tip 5 on Walmart Computers: Caveat Emptor

Walmart online and Amazon.com has two distinctly different ways of vetting their vendors. Many well on both, as well have their own sits to sell on. With Amazon, the most important sellers have the best ratings. On Walmart.com, it's all about the price. Ratings matter much less in how the retail giants deals with vendors. And that reflects in the quality of the vendor. My experience tells a tale.

I did not get what I ordered. The price was great, the computers that arrived are okay, but NOT what I ordered.

What went wrong?

Walmart Computers Bought vs Got

Never mind the dust on my desk, do these look the same?

The seller, "Discount Computer Depot" also found herebasically, substituted the displayed product with a lesser product. Same specs as to hard drive, processor, RAM. One computer came with a nice keyboard, the other with a filthy dirty pile of poo keyboard.

One computer came with an optical mouse, the other with a ball mouse.

Both came with Lenovo monitors.

Lenovo monitors

Neither computer came with the paid for Wi-Fi. Both WIFI's were to be shipped 48 hours after the computers. 2 weeks on, no Wi-Fi. I went out and bought two Wi-Fi adapters, $55 each. Since Walmart keeps dumping my reviews of this product (3 times so far - and no, I stated the facts only) I have written this article, AND added reviews elsewhere, including here. If you refuse to listen to your customers, you will have no customers. Simple as that. 

How do we know you actually bought this and aren't some crank?

Well, below is a screen shot from the sales page. See the "Write a Review"? Been there, done that, disallowed 3 times for far.

Walmart computer image

You see, the fact that the seller stinks is only partly Walmart's fault. They ought to give higher listing on search results pages to sellers with better ratings. Giving priority to sellers with good ratings ensures quality products will follow. This seller is also on Amazon, and they rate quite a bit better there, as Amazon operates that way. By the way, see, a good deal! 

You see...

I actually started this article a week ago, but time and life has kept me from finishing it. In that interim period, I held out hope that the Wi-Fi adapters would come, so what if I bought some already? The seller would have fulfilled their obligation. Maybe my reviews on Walmart.com would stick, and that the seller would make it right. I wanted to finish the article having given the benefit of the doubt, and, ultimately, the seller would vindicate themselves. Then we'd all walk off into the sunset holding hands and singing Kumbaya. Nope. Hasn't happened. So, Tip 6? Do not buy from Discount Computer Depot and repeating tip 5, buyer beware when buying Walmart computers online. My recommendation? Use Amazon. 

The computers I got from Walmart's seller

The two computers I received, though not what I ordered, work just fine so far. I can't speak of the one off-site, as I have not used it, but I hear it's doing great. Mine, I can speak on. The computer is fast, runs solid, so far, no troubles at all. The mini-tower whines a little, the innards, that is, but I give it a little tap on the top and that stops. 

The tower itself is a little loud. On "wake up" it huffs loudly. I think it may be mocking me. The power supply can be heard at all times. I will move it off my desk, probably tomorrow. 

Windows 10 Pro came preinstalled. I disliked Windows 10 until I had to start using at my day job. It is a pretty solid OS overall. 

Computer specs

Pros:

  • Windows 10 Pro - a solid operating system.

  • Intel Core i5 3.1GHz Processor. Fast enough, No hyperthreading, but I don't plan on doing any 3D graphic rendering. sooo...

  • 8GB RAM - ah, that's the stuff.

  • 500GB HD - large enough to do the job.

Cons

  • Not what I ordered.
  • No camera - I'll have to buy one
  • Came without the promised WiFi adapter
  • No speakers - well, that's not fair, there is a tiny, but tinny, speaker in the case, but you can't hear anything from it but a whisper.
  • 8 USB ports. Was pictured to have 10, 4 on front, 6 in back. This has 6 in back, 2 up front.
  • One VGA hook up. Sales images showed 2.

Other sellers

On Walmart.com computers, there are a good deal many other sellers, so don't take my angst with RoundSam as an indication that all Walmart computer sellers are bad. I'm sure many are great. I was willing to settle for a refurbished component system because of price. Yes, it's a Dell, and I love Dell computers, but what I really wanted for both computers were All in Ones. We have a Walmart bought HP22 all in one in the house. It's been a great computer. The only drawback was availability, and the fact that it comes with a Celeron processor. Ick. 

My Laptop was a BestBuy bought item, and it's been stellar. I just didn't see paying to upgrade from Windows 7 (loved it!) to Windows 10. Now that Windows 7 is losing support, like the great XP did before it, it's simply better to get an upgraded machine. 

Staples

I love that joint. Online, anyway. Every time I walk into the local Staples, they are a lot like Office Depot used to be. The Office Depot left town because they could not compete. And that was because they had no knowledgeable staff, and walk in customers were largely treated as nuisances. The local Staples, they know very little. If something is out of stock (like webcams) they don't offer to look up when they are coming in, or offer to look and see if another store has any. "Well, if you look on the kiosk you can order one." Well, Sparky McOffice-Supply-Guy, if I wanted to order one for delivery, I would have not wasted 20 minutes getting here, 15 minutes walking around looking for an out of stock item, only to have to listen to impatient glibbery. I made that word up. Just now. 

Anyway, they do have deals, but most of the time Staples seems overpriced on computers. 

Tip 7

When buying a new computer, simply buy brand spanking new. I have a little bit of buyer's remorse. Not much, but a little. My bigger concern is, if this thing was refurbished, and it wheezes, huffs, and rattles after being refurbished, what the heck was wrong with it before? Buy new, avoid all worries. I mean, without a decent computer, how can I be expected to bring you folks out there my delightful reviews and tips articles that turn into scathing bitch-fests? Huh? 

Anyway, thank you all who constantly read our stuff, we appreciate it a great deal! 

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