Should you buy a desktop or laptop from QVC or HSN?

Should you buy a desktop or laptop from QVC or HSN?

Summary: If you're a channel-flipper like myself, you may have switched past home-shopping juggernauts HSN and QVC, which tout their great deals in a folksy manner that doesn't have the in-your-face obnoxiousness of a typical infomercial. When I see them hawking PCs, however, I can't help but be a little skeptical: Are these really better prices than you can find elsewhere?

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If you're a channel-flipper like myself, you may have switched past home-shopping juggernauts HSN and QVC, which tout their great deals in a folksy manner that doesn't have the in-your-face obnoxiousness of a typical infomercial. When I see them hawking PCs, however, I can't help but be a little skeptical: Are these really better prices than you can find elsewhere?

So I headed over to these channels' Web sites to see what's currently on offer, and how the deals stack up against other online outlets. You probably won't be surprised to hear that you can do a lot better -- either getting more computing for the same money, or the same computing for less money -- if you don't pick up that phone and place an order with HSN or QVC.

In some cases, the channels are selling last-generation products when you can get newer components for the same price. For instance, HSN.com has an HP Compaq Presario CQ56 series laptop available for $499.95 that comes with an Intel Celeron 900 processor, 2GB of RAM, and 250GB hard drive. But HP's own site has a version for $30 less that comes with an AMD Athlon II processor, 3GB of RAM, and a 320GB hard drive.

Similarly, the Dell Studio XPS 8100 desktop that QVC is selling no longer is available on Dell's site, though it's similarly priced to a configuration Dell offers for the Studio XPS 8300. You still get 8GB of RAM, 1.5TB hard drive, and 21.5-inch LCD monitor, but you get a newer Intel Core i7-2600 processor, and a Blu-ray reader and a DVD burner instead of a DVD-ROM and DVD burner. Oh, and it costs $1,338.99, while the QVC version costs $1,445.96.

Now in its defense, QVC does offer its PC Treasures software bundle, which includes Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 and a four-year subscription to McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2011. Whether that's worth buying an outdated HP 21.5-inch All-in-One 200-5251 desktop, featuring a mere Pentium processor, 4GB of RAM, 1TB hard drive, and integrated graphics for $1,109, when you can currently get a new and similarly sized HP Omni 200 Quad with a Core i5-760 quad-core CPU, 6GB of RAM, and a discrete graphics card (albeit a budget board) for just $899 is up to you to decide.

So why buy a PC from a home-shopping channel instead of elsewhere online? Perhaps the three- or four-payment plans they tout to purchase a product sound more appealing than the full price elsewhere. Maybe buyers just don't know enough about computers to realize they aren't getting the best deal possible. Or maybe it's just easier to pick up the phone and order without bothering to make the minimal effort of getting online and doing five minutes of comparison shopping.

No matter what, people considering buying a computer from HSN or QVC owe it to themselves to do just a tiny bit of work to make sure they're really getting the best deal possible. Otherwise, it is a textbook case of you getting what you pay for -- too much for too little.

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Mobility

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27 comments
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  • RE: Should you buy a desktop or laptop from QVC or HSN?

    Well put and I agree. The point you're missing though is the audience. People watching HSN and QVC generally aren't tech-savvy individuals. They don't generally know what the latest or greatest is let alone need it.
    kovo715
    • RE: Should you buy a desktop or laptop from QVC or HSN?

      @kovo715 And they're not exactly shopping savvy, either.
      cgarrett
    • RE: Should you buy a desktop or laptop from QVC or HSN?

      @kovo715 Exactly! Anyone who is watching/buying off of HSN or QVC are your general consumer and demographically are over 50, the least tech savvy generation. So in essence they are preying on the uneducated public.
      jrogers3264
  • RE: Should you buy a desktop or laptop from QVC or HSN?

    The people I know that do zllot of shopping on those channles generally think thy are getting the best deal they can on a quality product. Even though I have shown them that you can generally beat those deals just on Amazon. But they have the channels credit programs an get bonus points etc and are happy. Guess that is their target audience. I am not.
    tgschmidt
  • RE: Should you buy a desktop or laptop from QVC or HSN?

    Actually, in this case you're *not* getting what you pay for by buying from QVC or HSN. I've seen a few of those segments while channel flipping and I'm always bothered by how bad the deals are. Oh well.
    gotamd@...
  • RE: Should you buy a desktop or laptop from QVC or HSN?

    Yup.
    Another episode (or three) of Barnum and Bailey.
    One born every minute.

    :D
    rhonin
  • RE: Should you buy a desktop or laptop from QVC or HSN?

    I saw an episode of HSN where they were trying to sell people the Dell Inspiron Duo for $750+ and I got mad because the same product is available for $529.99 to $589.52 online.
    LP212
  • It's mostly eye candy for couch potatoes

    First dazzle them, then seal the deal by adding delivery-to-the-door convenience. That's their secret selling sauce.
    klumper
  • RE: Should you buy a desktop or laptop from QVC or HSN?

    "[i]Or maybe it?s just easier to pick up the phone and order without bothering to make the minimal effort of getting online and doing five minutes of comparison shopping. [/i]"

    It [b][i]does[/i][/b] come down to the target audience. In the late 90's I worked for a lawyer who used a computer every day and had done so for years. One day he came over to me and said, "I have a letter [he'd been typing] on my screen. I need to save it."

    My reaction was "... yeah? ..."

    "I don't know how to do that. ..."

    This guy had been using a computer at work for [b][i]years[/i][/b] and he was just using it as a typewriter! Type text in the wordprocessor and hit Print. When I tried to explain to him about "drive letters" and "paths", he got mad and said I was making things "too complicated."

    Places like QVC and HSN are following Henry Ford's aphorism -- "The customer can buy a car in any color they want -- as long as it's black."

    I've been working with computers for 30 years and in the beginning literally wire-wrapped a computer from Popular Electronics. I worked as an electronic technician for a decade. But when I recently went to upgrade my motherboard, I still had to ask the salesman what the differences were between the three Intel processors I was considering. [b][i]I'm[/i][/b] familiar with things like L1 & L2 cache, hyperthreading, FSB, PCI vs. PCI-e, SATA vs. PATA, USB 2 vs. USB 3, etc. The average person with no tech background could spend [b][i]months[/i][/b] "comparison shopping". All they would accomplish would be to get more and more confused.
    Rick_R
    • RE: Should you buy a desktop or laptop from QVC or HSN?

      @Rick_R,

      Same sentiment here. A tech support guy of the 90's who fixed thousands of Macs and PCs, the confusion with all these different flavors of PCI, SCSI (yes, SCSI is still used for backup) and Core-this or that CPUs totally lost me. Ehh, friggit, I just buy a few months old system for $500 on eBay. Should work. Mostly. As well as anything sold in a store.
      mrdelurk@...
  • RE: Should you buy a desktop or laptop from QVC or HSN?

    You have to remember that some people live for the HSN and buy everything on there. They think they are getting deals, so why not jack up the price and make some extra money from these suckers. By the HSN standards, they are just doing business, and good business at that. If people will keep paying, we will keep jacking up the price.
    Bates_
  • RE: Should you buy a desktop or laptop from QVC or HSN?

    But... but... look at all the free software that comes with these gems of deals. :-)
    ITOdeed
  • RE: Should you buy a desktop or laptop from QVC or HSN?

    These same people buying PCs on QVC or HSN and thinking they are getting a great buy are the same ones who think a POS Esteban guitar from QVC or HSN is as good a guitar as a Martin or a Taylor when they aren't even as good as a low-end Ibanez or Yamaha.
    12stringer1975
    • RE: Should you buy a desktop or laptop from QVC or HSN?

      @DaveDean Yikes! I was fooled on that Esteban crap. I even watched closely when Esteban played live and seeing that his action and sound was really good. When it arrived I couldn't believe what a sucker I was. The strings literally were an inch and half from the frets and I tried to turn the tuner bar and it done nothing. I own Martins, Ovations, Yamahas... so it wasn't like I was a newbie... just a sucker that was dupped! I did give it away to my son-in-law. He thought it was a nice gift until he learned to play a little... lol. And this was about 5 years ago. I am trying to erase that tragedy from my memory... thanks alot... lol.
      SpankyFrost
      • At least you're up front about it

        @SpankyFrost <br><i>I am trying to erase that tragedy from my memory... </i><br><br>There isn't a soul reading this who hasn't been taken at some point along the way. It's a hopefully defining live-and-learn moment for any poor sop deceived.<br><br>Caveat emptor = procured as is, and subject to defects, including human ones!
        klumper
  • RE: Should you buy a desktop or laptop from QVC or HSN?

    QVC and HSN are far from the worst rip-off artists on TV. Pick any infomercial with their "Get a second [item] absolutely free!! Pay only shipping and handling." (which usually runs $19.95 for something that costs $2 to ship).<br><br>Since when is paying $19.95 the same as "absolutely free"?<br><br>You can read horror stories on the Internet about people calling to order some $20 item and ultimately getting billed a total of $100 for "free" items.<br><br>Where are the "truth in advertising" people when you need them?
    nfordtchrpub
    • RE: Should you buy a desktop or laptop from QVC or HSN?

      @nfordtchrpub which reminds me of the rip-off artist the BMG and Columbia House were. Pay a penny for 12 albums. Holy sh*t, what a bargain! Till you get the shipment and your bill is $47 for just 3 albums... MORE to come! Unbelievable!
      SpankyFrost
  • Anyone dumb enough to shop on TV

    deserves a Celeron-powerd computer!
    pete_w_flynn@...
  • QVC does one thing good

    I DONT WORK FOR QVC. THIS IS NOT SPAM.

    TRUE HASSLE FREE 30 DAY RETURN POLICY.<br><br>You truly can send your computer back if you don't like it hassle free. It isn't like other places that say they are hassle free but when you attempt to take it back you pay a stocking fee or just get the run around. QVC is HASSLE free. PERIOD.<br><br>Not saying this is a good enough reason to purchase from them. But for some people, the option to pay it out over 3 or 4 months plus try it out for a month and KNOW they can send it back without any issues is worth purchasing from QVC.

    Plus some people live in remote areas and don't have readily access to stores with computers and online shopping with the variety of computers available is overwhelming. So they tend to trust the QVC sales people.
    techsys2
    • RE: Should you buy a desktop or laptop from QVC or HSN?

      @techsys2 Everyon has Walmart and they have the same return policy.
      SpankyFrost