Horse Sense #95

Price Increases (and Savings) Are Here

In this issue of Horse Sense:

-Tony's 15 Seconds of Fame
-Is Your Battery Dead?
-Your PC Is Not Made in the US
-Price Increases (and Savings) Are Here


Tony's 15 Seconds of Fame

Various manufacturers and authors have had me review their products. With many others, I work behind the scenes in formal beta programs or I just use what I and my clients have experienced to help them produce a better product.  This year, Symantec asked me to be one of the few value added reseller partners involved in their flagship Symantec EndPoint Protection corporate desktop security application.  They also interviewed me about the product and placed my interview on their web site. Missed it? Don't worry. I am much better looking on the phone and I sound better in print. (grin)

Is Your Battery Dead?

The battery in the uninterruptible power supply under your desk or in your laptop may be dead.  Sure, if you test it, it may deliver the voltage you want for a very short time.  But, after two to three years, most lead acid batteries used in UPSs will not hold a full charge.  The same is true of laptops.  The battery is likely to die long before the PC does.  A laptop warranty might be three years, but it is not unusual for its battery to only be warranted for a year.  So, if you have an old battery and it is not behaving like you think it should, it is probably because it is effectively dead.  An ideal battery works without changing the charge it delivers until one day it completely stops working.  In real life, batteries degrade more slowly, so it can be much harder to tell if that battery you depend on will work.  If you are concerned, look very critically at any laptop battery over a year old and any lead acid battery over two to three years old.  Oh, and use can make a big difference.  If a UPS battery is not used for a year because you put the UPS on the shelf, it is likely dead.

Your PC Is Not Made in the US

Lenovo is now the #2 PC maker by global market share.  This Chinese company makes the equipment formerly branded IBM (like the ThinkPad). HP is #1, Dell is #3, Acer is #4, and Asus is #5.  Lenovo is also the only one on the list that is almost purely a PC maker.  HP and Dell sell lots of other equipment, software and services.  Acer and Asus sell a lot of PC parts.  None of these companies make a majority of their PCs in the US.  Even those PCs that are made in the US have most of their critical components sourced from the Pacific Rim, China, Taiwan, and Thailand.

Price Increases (and Savings) Are Here

Hard drive prices are spiking upwards because of severe monsoons in Thailand. As much as 25-30% of the world's supply of hard drives has been impacted.  Prices on some drives have already almost doubled since this article was written.  The good news is that companies like Western Digital and Honda are taking care of the workers impacted by plant closings.  Shortages already exist due to speculation.  You may not be able to get the drive you want at any price.  Companies that use hard drives like PC vendors and storage enclosure vendors are warning their resellers, raising their prices, halting distribution of their hard drive containing products until they can assess the status, or all three.

Toner and ink prices have been gradually increasing industry wide over the last year.  But this gradual increase has come as various manufacturers individually made 10-15% price hikes once or twice this year, so last month you may have paid $1, but this month it is $1.10. You do not have to print a lot before the price of the consumables is greater than the cost of the printer.  In fact, with many low end inkjets and lasers, if you replace all the consumables once, it may be more than the cost of the printer itself with consumables in it.

When you are buying computing equipment or anything else, do not look at what you need now, but over the expected lifetime of what you are buying.  If you have to print a lot, an inexpensive printer with expensive consumables could cost you a fortune.  If a printer might not meet your needs in a year, the cost will likely be much greater over time than a higher priced one that will.  Be especially careful with something you want to last a long time.  You do not want to gold plate a solution, but buying insurance against your future needs is wise.

While other commodities are increasing in price, LCD monitors and HDTVs are either decreasing in price or gaining many new features or both. There have been significant changes in the technology of these devices over the last three to five years.  They are thinner, lighter, brighter, and clearer.  They display motion and color better, have better contrast, use less energy, have better menus and controls, and are smarter than ever.  They can connect directly to the Internet for various services or wirelessly to a laptop to display content.  Higher end HDTVs have 3D capabilities, access to video streaming sites through the Internet, and are very powerful computing devices.

Some new printers, monitors, computers, switches, and other computing devices have gotten so energy efficient, that it may pay to retire equipment that is still functional and install brand new gear because they will pay you back over time in energy savings.  Many clients are saving energy costs and space while improving their reliability and flexibility by using modular blade servers, often with virtualization technology.

©2011 Tony Stirk, Iron Horse