Does low cost mean low reliability?

I'm in the City of Lights this week...ah yes, Paris...
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

I'm in the City of Lights this week...ah yes, Paris...home to the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Musée du Louvre, and some of the most talented artists. Small wonder it's the world's No. 1 tourist destination.

Did you know that the Eiffel Tower has more than 2.5 million rivets, sports over 40 tonnes of paint and it'll take 1,652 steps to get to the top? In fact, the Tower was erected for the Paris Exhibition in 1889 and only intended to stand for 20 years, until its designer Gustave Eiffel suggested it would make a good long-range radio tower.

It's my first trip to the French capital, and I'm here to cover a one-day conference. Because it's such a quick turnaround, I decided to leave my office laptop behind and opted instead to work on my ultramobile PC (UMPC) during my stay here.

Weighing less than 1 kilogram, the UMPC would be much easier on my shoulders than a laptop, especially as I maneuver my way through X-ray machines and customs at the airports.

But, a colleague questioned whether I should place so much faith on a device that costs less than $1,000 and which computing performance isn't comparable to a laptop. He joked that he could never put so much trust in a system that costs only a few hundred dollars as it might just break down anytime.

I was a little apprehensive about relying on my UMPC for work purposes. However, my uncertainty was primarily over whether I could cope with working on a smaller keyboard and screen over a span of several hours--and not because I thought my UMPC would conk out on me anytime.

Does low cost always mean low reliability? For that matter, does high cost always mean high reliability? I don't think so.

A piece of product or technology shouldn't be judged based on how much it costs, but on how well it serves your needs.

Most legitimate businesses have typically one key objective in mind--to safeguard its brand and reputation. And one primary way of protecting their brand is to ensure they build products, all products, that their customers can rely on to stay up and running 24 by 7, even if these systems are sold for "only a few hundred dollars".

It's the same problem that local and smaller IT brand names face. Customers often bypass these vendors, despite the fact that they can get the same IT capabilities and functions at a cheaper price, and opt instead to go with more expensive but bigger, branded IT shops.

And that's a pity because sometimes, the local and smaller brands can provide more dedicated attention and better service--all they want is a chance to prove their worth.

Meanwhile, my UMPC is working fine. I wrote and posted this blog from it, and so far, I've yet to find any significant difference between working on this device and my office laptop.

Besides, I'm in the land of romance, culture and the arts...what could go wrong, really?

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