with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Travel, Computer Shopping, and Other Holiday Tips

I’m barely home from a mad dash cross country trip driving across the United States from Seattle back to Alabama in a small motor home, and I have to turn around and fly back to Seattle next week, so I’m busy rushing about doing last minute holiday shopping and cleaning up. In the middle of this, my husband decided we need ANOTHER computer in our arsenal. So we spent last night computer shopping and I thought I’d let you in on some interesting information.

In years past, I’ve always bought products. They have long had a fantastic customer service and return and exchange program. Unfortunately, in the past two years, while I’m still a huge fan, I’ve found my pride in being a long time Gateway fan waning. For years, if you wanted the bestest, latest, hottest machine, be it desktop or laptop, Gateway was the only place. Dell and HP were way down the list, coming in as expensive and lacking in high tech, latest and bestest. This seriously changed for us last night.

Comparing apples to apples, we lined up similar laptop models, the top of the line we could find on their sites, from Gateway, (HP), and . Of all three companies, for the best laptop, fastest processor, fastest hard drives, and best of everything, shocker and surprise, HP won hands down.

In fact, HP had faster processors available as options compared to the other companies. And faster drives and more options all around. By the time I added up the fastest elements from the options with HP, HP was still $300 cheaper compared to the other two brands. My husband and I had no qualms about adding a three year service plan and a few other bells and whistles because we felt were getting a lot more bang for our buck.

Now, HP right now has an instant rebate savings of $200 built into every order, and we added a few other things with rebates, but even without the rebates, Gateway was lower than Dell, and HP was lower than Gateway in price. Just thought you should know.

A few other things you need to know that I’ve learned recently include the following tips and hints for travelers and shoppers.

Looking for Online Deals: Check out Gotapex.com. They list tons of online deals and coupon information with daily updates posted by anyone. We found some really good deals and spotted the HP $200 instant rebate there, too.

Airline Tickets and Travel Discounts: As I travel just about all the time, I’m always looking for the cheapest flights and discounts. Kayak.com finds some of the best and cheapest flights of any of the online airline ticket search services I’ve used. Searching for tickets to fly one way from Mobile, Alabama, to Seattle, it was $470. But Kayak.com helped me find a ticket from Gulfport, Mississippi, an hour drive away, for $125. I’d call that ticket prices worth investigating.

Beware Potential Airline Strikes This Year: Delta is already in bankruptcy and having all kinds of trouble, and their pilots union is threatening to strike. Next week, after December 12th, the pilots could declare a strike and cripple Delta. They may shut down their services, leaving passengers stranded. If you have tickets for the next couple weeks with Delta, just be aware of this possibility. With the holiday season looming, the union could have their airline by the throat, so it could be settled in minutes, but who knows. Other airline unions may strike in support, which could really mess up all travel plans everywhere. Watch the news. Better informed than hassled.

Compare Prices: Don’t forget that there are some great price comparison sites on the Internet to help you find the best price for your holiday shopping. Price Grabbers, My Simon, Price Scan, Biz Rate, Next Tag, and others like those found on Google’s List of Consumer Price Comparison Sites are some good resources to help you find the best price for your holiday gifts.

Share the Internet Wirelessly: With so many people traveling this holiday, if you have a wireless router, why not open it up to share for the next few weeks as travelers pass through your area. Turn off any passwords or blocks that keep freeloaders from riding your Internet connection for free. You can close it up after the holidays, but help neighbors with visiting family members jump on and off the Internet between holiday festivities to pick up email, check websites, blog, or do simple work projects via your Internet service. Traveling across the country, I found that the dream of free WIFI for the traveler is still a long way off , and many WIFI connections wanted payment or a password when I did finally find a WIFI hot spot. Be giving and sharing with your Internet this year. It will make the world a better place. Or at least one that stays more in contact with the world.

Spread Alturism: My mother came up with a sweet idea. Instead of giving gifts this year, which is a drag and a pain a lot of the time, not knowing what to get for which person, and wanting something useful but not knowing what they can use, she is handing out envelopes filled with love, compassion, and faith. She is making donations to some great organizations who are working hard to help victims of Hurricane Katrina and the earthquakes in Afganistan and to other organizations spreading joy and hope around the world. Some favorites include Habitat for Humanity building homes for homeless and poor, The Red Cross doing worldwide humanitarian efforts, and The Salvation Army which also does national and international good works and is working hard feeding and helping victims of Hurricane Katrina, Wilma, and Rita even now as they face the chills of an early winter for Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. People are sick of all the stuff, so give the gift that benefits multiple people this year and you will have a lot of happy relatives who don’t rush back to the store the day after Christmas to return your delightful gifts.

Any other great tips or suggests for holiday and online shopping?

Oh, and Happy Holidays.

One Comment

  • Posted December 8, 2005 at 1:00 | Permalink

    I always recommend that my customers buy a three year warranty on notebook computers. It’s very tempting to go for a really cheap deal but with the amount of heat that a notebook generates it’s no wonder that parts get tired.

    I bought a Compaq Evo five years ago. It’s had a new system board once already and is now only good enough for basic websurfing or word processing. The on board ports are all tired and I’m sure that it’s because bits and pieces have warmed up and dried out.

    My Dell (working on it now)is two years old. One system board, one charging curcuit and charger and now the CD-RW/DVD-RW has died. It’s got a year of the warranty to go so I’ll put it in for another warranty claim.

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