You really want the latest computer gear and hardware. Besides making you look cool-as-heck, the latest and greatest electronics can make your job as an event professional so much easier. There is nothing worse than getting on-site and having someone who is using a laptop that was built in 2007, has 4GB of RAM, and is running Windows Vista. I kid you not; this actually happened about two months ago. Luckily for us, we always have backups for our backups, and we were able to loan out a nice, fresh, and fast computer so that the registration desk was not backed up into the alley.
I get that not everyone can afford to drop tall cash on a new shiny Lenovo or on the latest Samsung Galaxy smartphone, but there are ways to be state of the art without breaking the bank. Let me clarify… No one who works with me, for me, or around me pays full price for anything. Doing so is just not bright. Electronics manufacturers are cranking out stuff so fast that there is always something on sale, on clearance, or refurbished, and being the idiot in line at the Apple Store waiting for some new hardware release is just plain stupid. And cold. And desperate.
So, how do we do it? How do we get the latest and greatest electronic hardware without bankrupting our companies and our clients? That is actually the easy part, we shop at places that we know and trust that have good value and good stuff. We did the research a long time ago and are not looking back.
Where to get the equipment that powers meetings and events:
Yeah. Costco. The warehouse place that sells gallon jugs of mayonnaise and 400 packs of potato chips is also our number 1 spot for computers. The biggest reason Costco is our go-to spot is that Costco never, ever, stocks crap. They only stock the best of everything from wine to couches. If it is on their floor, you know that they did their homework. It is also a bonus that all of their computer hardware items usually have some type of upgrade over comparable items at BestBuy or Walmart. They will routinely offer a computer that sports an extra 500GB of storage, more RAM, or a mouse. Buy a tablet, get an included case kinda thing.
Another big reason to purchase from Costco is their Concierge Service and extended warranty for electronics. For members that purchase in-store or online, you receive free technical support for any Televisions, Projectors, Computers, Touchscreen Tablets, Cameras, Camcorders, Printers, or Monitors, and on top of that, Costco extends the manufacturer’s warranty on computers and some other items to two years from the date of purchase.
An example of a machine I would buy at Costco is this HP computer.
Amazing deal. $799 gets you a machine that would make any gamer kid jealous. Nothing will slow this thing down, and we know that all event professionals like to have 27 internet tabs, 300 emails, and 15 Excel spreadsheets open at the same time, and I know that your desktop is loaded with 500 files, programs, and pictures… You need This computer to do all that without the poor machine having a stroke.
Our number two destination for electronics is Micro Center. Why? The flipping amount of inventory, the knowledge base, and the cost at the weirdest-smelling store in the United States. Seriously, I have no idea what the smell is in all of their stores; it is like a cross between moldy, wet, cheese, and fresh-out-of-the-box electronics. Odd, yes, but a visit is worth the olfactory intrusion.
In addition to offering online prices in an in-store setting, they have, by far, the best selection of refurbished items I have ever seen, and when it comes to registration desk machines, show computers, or staff rigs, nothing beats refurbished. You can get top-of-the-line machines for next to nothing. Oh, and for you Apple people out there, they offer amazing deals on Apple products, especially the certified refurbs. An example of their refurb deals is a 2015 Apple MacBook Air for $599. Not bad…
Here is the kicker. They are not everywhere, and not everything can be purchased online. A lot of their amazing deals can only be had in-store, and they only have 25 locations in California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. I am lucky to be in Chicagoland… we have two of the 25.
Amazon is every event and meeting planner’s best friend, and there is not much to say except that when it comes to electronics, the prices are hard to beat. When you are on-site at an event, and you forget an X, a Y, or a Z, there is nothing better than having it delivered the same or the next day. Before leaving for any event, we set our hotel as a delivery location, and when something is needed, we have it dropped off. No muss, no fuss.
A hidden gem is the Daily Deals page. This is where we get all of our phone charging cables, SD Cards, and other miscellaneous crap that you always want two of. While writing this post, I popped over to Amazon to show an example and bought an AUKEY Power Strip with two outlets and four USB ports for $14.99. Check this thing out; how awesome is that for the staff office or your hotel room?
Oh… I also got a four-pack of iPhone Lightning Cables for $11.99. Cables are always good to spread around because someone always forgets a charging cable.
Newegg and TigerDirect
New Egg and TigerDirect are our backup favorites. TD was our favorite when they had actual stores (they purchased the old CompUSA), and both offer great online deals, so If we can’t find what we need at Costco, Amazon, or Micro Center, we look here. One of the two will have it and well below the price of most others. Heck, they are sometimes cheaper than our actual favorites, but favorites are favorites.
Do More Research?
This is where we shop. You will notice that there are only five spots. Once we know what we want, we don’t waste time running around doing 30 hours of additional pricing research. We understand that these spots offer fair deals, and doing any more looking is wasting time, and time is money. I need what I need when I need it, and dithering over the extra ten bucks I am going to save by getting a computer from TechGuy2982 on eBay is not money or time well spent.