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  (Source: Engadget)
Consumer Reports/Consumerist investigation details Best Buy's worthless optimization service

With Circuit City now out of the way as its major competitor in the U.S. consumer electronics retailing business, Best Buy is plowing along with little resistance. The Richfield, Minnesota-based company employs over 150,000 people and has over 1,000 stores in 49 states.

However, Margins are notoriously slim in the consumer electronics retail business, and Best Buy has been using its Geek Squad services subsidiary to help bolster revenues.

In its latest investigation, The Consumerist tackled Best Buy's Geek Squad optimization services which retails for $39.95. During its investigation involving 18 Best Buy stores in 11 states, the publication looked to determine 1) What exactly is included in the optimization service, 2) How does Best Buy market the service, and 3) Is it worth it to the consumer to purchase the service.

The results were pretty much in line with what most tech heads would expect when it comes to services offered by Best Buy or similar big box retailers. The Consumerist found that one Best Buy rep promised that optimization would boost a new PC's performance by 200%. In actual Consumer Reports testing, however, it was found that at least one machine which had been optimized by Geek Squad performed 32% worse than a stock, non-altered system -- in fact, none of the optimized systems performed better than machines that were fresh out of the box.

So what exactly are these optimizations that are being performed? According to The Consumerist, Windows Updates were downloaded on machines, desktop icons had been cleaned up a bit, and some UI tweaks were done to make navigation "easier" for the consumer.

Even more telling were a few other issues that cropped up in the investigation. While Best Buy's Geek Squad removed desktop icons related to trialware that is notorious for cluttering and bogging down new systems, the offending programs were still left installed. A power cord for one of the systems had even been left out of the box after the "optimization" was performed.

In addition, at least one reader was told that she could not buy a new laptop at the advertised sale price because all of the machines in stock had already been pre-optimized -- and thus came with a price tag that was $39.95 higher -- and there were no un-optimized machines in stock.

Understandably, The Consumerist surmised that not only is the service not worth the $40 price tag, but it didn't even improve the performance of the new machines.

For its part, a Best Buy representative noted that the service "isn't for everybody" and that "I would get optimization for my parents."

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apple rules
By queuetrip on 1/5/2010 10:49:29 AM , Rating: 1
There is no need for optimization on an Apple computer, which is why newbies (or those annoyed with Microsoft) should buy Apple computers... once the sting of the price subsides, you have a computer that just works.
(although there are some things one needs to re-learn... like how to do things without the right-click)

RE: apple rules
By morphologia on 1/5/2010 5:28:25 PM , Rating: 2
For "newbies" read "people with more money than competence" and for "computer that just works" read "computer that requires specialty service and possibly return to OEM for the slightest problem"...and you'll be closer to right.

All Apple does is narrow the spectrum of parts used by painstaking compatibility testing, and then apply the same narrow spectrum to the support provided by software. If limiting the options of those who know better by pandering to a small number of parts OEMs and shunning the rest is all that goes into making a better computer, that still doesn't explain why it costs 2 to 3 times as much as a PC made with THE SAME EXACT PARTS. And I'm not making that up...I built a high-end Mac on the Apple Store and built a comparable PC on an online retailer (won't name names) and the Mac was 64% more expensive for the EXACT SAME PARTS. What are you really paying so much extra for...comparison shopping and common sense by proxy?

You can avoid all those nasty Windows problems that Apple likes to whinge about if you (a) follow the compatibility guidelines provided by the various hardware manufacturers, (b) abide by the Windows approved software and hardware guidelines, (c) avoid things you know darn well aren't on the level, like various freeware (sleazeware!) applications, and (d) learn just enough about computers to not look like an easy mark to a Best Buy employee looking to push pricey Geek Squad favors.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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