Take the mystery out of PC purchases

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Molouk Y. Ba-Isa | [email protected]

Published — Wednesday 20 January 2010

Last Update 20 January 2010 3:00 am

At least once a week someone telephones me to get advice on what’s the best computer to buy. I start my answer the same way every time, “It depends…” The truth is that there isn’t a “right” computer out there on the market — although I can always think of several “wrong” ones. Happiness with a PC purchase is achieved by choosing the best machine for the use requirements, while taking into account personal taste and budget.

At the heart of any PC purchase is the power of the central processing unit (CPU) and the graphics processing unit (GPU). This is usually communicated to consumers through a confusing specification label on the PC. While buying an overpowered machine is simply a waste of a good chipset, purchasing an underpowered machine results in daily regret as the PC becomes a source of frustration rather than an enabling tool.

“Once consumers bring a PC home, over the next couple of weeks they try to do different things with their new computer. Sometimes they’re really pleased with the performance. But sometimes they discover that applications run really slowly and their online experiences are pretty depressing. That’s when they start to have regrets and wish they had bought a more powerful PC,” said Sasa Marinkovic, senior manager, EMEA Marketing, Advance Micro Devices (AMD). “Lots of people went out and bought a Netbook last year. They liked its small size and they thought it would be good for their needs because they just do simple things, such as surfing the Net and sending e-mail. Consumers figured that all they required was a PC to connect to the Internet. But then they went to a Flash-heavy website and found that it took at least a couple of minutes to load up and run. Consumers were disappointed. That wasn’t the performance that they had in mind.”

Over the last few years, AMD realized that the specification stickers on PCs weren’t doing much to help consumers select a PC that was right for their needs. So working with retailers and PC manufactures, AMD developed VISION Technology, a new way to communicate PC benefits to consumers. Rather than the traditional model, which focuses on the technical specifications of individual hardware components, VISION describes the value of the whole system. The VISION logo is an instant expression of the combined processing power of both the CPU and GPU. It emphasizes how an AMD-based PC is optimized for video, digital media and content creation activities. VISION describes a PC’s capabilities in terms of what can be enjoyed on that machine — see, share, create. This helps consumers to make truly informed buying decisions.

Currently, VISION technology contains three levels of increasingly rich PC system capabilities: VISION Basic, VISION Premium, and VISION Ultimate, to reflect the different usage patterns of PC consumers, from digital consumption to content creation. Descriptions of the types of activities available at each level will be available in-store and online, so that buyers can align their needs and make the right choice for their preferred experience. The company has also developed an online destination, http://vision.amd.com, which will give even the least tech literate consumer a head start in making the best PC purchase. Later this year, AMD plans to introduce a fourth level, VISION Black, to enable the highest end capabilities sought by enthusiasts, primarily on desktop PCs.

“AMD VISION is all about helping consumers choose the best PC performance for their specific computing needs” Marinkovic emphasized. “There are sound technical reasons behind the combinations of processor, chipset and graphics processing unit (GPU) at each level. A calculator created by AMD is used in defining the levels. All the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) does is input the hardware specs into the required calculator fields and the VISION tier is assigned. There’s no guesswork. PCs built with an AMD CPU and GPU will still come with all the currently available information on technical specs. But if you don’t know much about gigahertz and gigabytes, you’ll still be able to buy a PC that’s right for your needs. AMD VISION is just an easy way of clarifying in seconds what a specific computer can do.”

The VISION concept launched in October and there are now more than 100 different PC configurations created under the VISION program from manufacturers including HP, Acer and Lenovo. These are now entering the market globally, and in fact several became available in Saudi Arabia in the past month.

In addition to bringing clarity to its consumer product offerings, AMD is also working to realign its channel. With the merger between AMD, a company with a strong presence in CPU technologies, and ATI, a leader in 3D graphics, there has been a need to ensure that consumers are given the best information to build a balanced platform when selecting PC components — rather than just considering the components individually. AMD has now simplified its channel infrastructure and increased its education activities so that all AMD partners have complete information on the company’s offerings.

“There are three different tiers for our partners — elite, premier and select, with select being the highest level. We are actively seeing feedback from our channel in each region so that going forward we customize our strategies and communicate the message about AMD’s offerings in a very clear way,” said Marinkovic. “While AMD makes great technology, we haven’t been doing enough to share information about the power of the AMD experience and the benefits our technology brings. We need our partners to reach out to consumers to let them know how AMD can make their digital lives more vibrant.”

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