Computer Shows: The Thrift-Store-Find Feeling X 100.

I know you’re reading this on your computer right now.

I’m not trying to be a creepy stalker. But, I mean, really; I don’t know a single student – or person, really – on my campus or even enrolled in my school who doesn’t have their own computer. Whether it’s a chunky tank of a desktop or a sleek and sexy notebook, everyone at school has their own computer. It’s not even a luxury anymore; yes, libraries all have computers for your use, but who really solely depends on the library for computer use? No one I know.

Trouble is – and this is the trouble now-a-days with everything – computers are EXPENSIVE. Even the proverbial cost of an arm and a leg will probably only get you a second-hand Dell off of craigslist. Mind you, I’m not knocking the second-hand craigslist computer; I’m typing this up on one of them right now. But if you’re looking for a new compy that can keep up with you, you can expect to be in the hole about $700. Right?

Ladies (and that one gent), let me introduce you to a new friend of mine: computer shows.

My mom and I decided to head down to a computer show last weekend for the heck of it. She needed more RAM and I wanted to see if there was anyone who could fix my poor, mostly dead laptop. So we wandered in and found a guy in the back who was fixing laptops right there. After waiting in line for a few moments, he looked at my mom’s laptop really quick, then gave her a quick estimate on how much updating it would be (a nice $120). He also told me that it would be about $300 to replace my laptop’s broken screen, whereas HP told me that it would cost me around $900 and I might as well just get a new notebook.

I handed that man my laptop and $300 before he could say, “It’ll take me about a week.”

My cousin, who had met us there with my aunt, was all squeals when she found a $50 copy of software that sells for about $400. I bought a nifty wireless mouse for $17.

But the bargains had only just begun.

My mom was looking around for a new laptop for my aunt. We found a couple of really nice guys for a reasonable price of $435, tax included. After a bit of searching, we found the deal of a lifetime; a tablet PC for a measly $425. It was the floor model, so it had a few scratches here and a little dent there.

“I’ll give it to you for $400,” the man behind the table loaded with laptops told us when he saw our faces. He must’ve confused our amazement for skepticism. My mother and I immediately ran down to the ATM, scrounged together the necessary cash, and bought it there and then. We would later find out that the model – a small, adorable little Toshiba Portege M200 – retailed at about $1000.

Convinced yet? You ought to be. I’m not trying to plug anything here; rest assured of that. But with computer hardware and software prices the way they are, I’d feel all but guilty not sharing this diamond in the rough. So if you’re looking for a new laptop, a pair of speakers, or just some cheap software, find out when and where the nearest show is and go.

Oh, and my mom? She kept the tablet laptop for herself and gave my aunt her recently updated laptop. I can’t really blame her.

[Picture credit goes to: (again)]

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