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Best & Worst Big-Box Laptop Retailers

Undercover testing at notebook retailers like Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and others proves that not all shopping experiences are the same.


Pages:  

costco_sh.jpg
Notebook SelectionA
Noteook
Accessibility
B-
Service/AttentivenessC
Product KnowledgeB
Overall GradeB-

 

CostCo

Commack, NY, and Brooklyn, NY

Showcasing a total of eight notebooks, the laptop area at the Commack CostCo was very small and, incredibly, six of those systems were HPs. We used our flash drive to test out an HP Pavilion notebook, playing music at maximum volume and typing in Word. We lifted the system up to observe viewing angles, which was easy thanks to a flexible security cable that provided enough room to get thorough hands-on time with the PC. By that time, Steve appeared. He correctly explained the difference between netbooks and notebooks, and when we asked if we needed a DVD drive, he told us they're not as important as they used to be, "because you can download everything."

Steve suggested we look at a traditional notebook when we asked about graphics power, explaining that a machine with good graphics didn't cost much more than a netbook, which is wrong. He said that we could "game and make videos" with the extra graphics muscle. After sharing that we wanted to know how to export a laptop's video to a big screen, he misleadingly explained that HDMI is an "HD cable with the best picture."

The Brooklyn location we visited displayeda sparse ten laptops, but there was a better mix: we saw Acer, ASUS, and Toshiba nsystems. After getting some hands-on time with the notebooks and using our USB key filled with media files, approximately five minutes had passed without seeing a single employee. So we had to ask for assistance.

Michael answered our netbook versus notebook question correctly bytelling us netbooks were small and portable, but then said that everyone is making them, "even Mac" (false). When asked if the lack of a DVD player in a netbook would be a problem, he mentioned that most items we'd want are available as downloads, which is true.

When it came to the topic of discrete graphics, Michael said they're good for games, but not much else (false). He also told us that HDMI was a new port designed to connect to HDTVs and monitors, which he offered to show us.

Despite the paltry selection and one flub about Mac netbooks, the salespeople at CostCo were relatively attentive and knowledgeable. Just don't expect much variety.

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