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You are hereHome > Buyer's Guide > Step 3: Sites Visits

Step 3:
Sites Visits


This 3rd step may have a funny name to many of you, unless you have actually performed sites visits in the process of deciding on a purchase. What you would do on those sites visits is to see the product in live action and talk with real users of the product to determine what they like and what they don't like about the product, the vendor, and the service the vendor provides.

If you usually stop at Step 2 and then rush in to make your purchase decision, you will end up disappointed quite a number of times. It might not matter too much when the purchase is for a cheap item, but when hundreds (or thousands) of dollars are involved, you would be wise to obtain the opinions of current users of the item before you choose between the candidates on your shortlist. I have personally seen too many otherwise experienced project managers buy software applications based solely on a comparison of the features set on paper and end up with a dud. In too many cases, the premise of a special feature sounds better than the execution.

Why is it not enough to just stop at Step 2? Well, consider that most vendors are not stupid. They know well enough that you are going to compare their products with other vendors' products. So, they try to build into their products most of the features they know most people ask for. The clincher is that, when you ask current users of the product, they might tell you that a particular feature might be so cumbersome to use in practice as to be totally useless. So, what if you made your purchase decision because that product had this one particular feature on paper? Strictly speaking, the vendor was not lying; they were just being sneaky. Buyers beware!

How does this apply to us? Well, say you want to buy a digital camera mostly for action shots. You want to catch really fast action at the most dramatic moment. You go through Step 1 and Step 2 and end up with a shortlist of, say, three cameras. One of the cameras has a top shutter speed of 1/2,000 sec. while the others max out at 1/1,000 sec. A fast shutter speed is needed to stop action, so is the first camera better than the other two? Not necessarily. When you read the detailed reviews, and especially the users' opinions, you might find that the first camera has a horrible shutter lag, i.e. the time between the moment you press the shutter release and the moment the camera actually takes the picture is, say, 2 sec. Result: you would stop all the action -- but 2 sec. later, thus missing those dramatic moments that you caught only in the viewfinder but not on your storage media.

Trust me, you need to read the independent reviews and users' opinions before you buy. And, asking the salesperson is not going to guarantee you an independent opinion.

Click here for some of the best digital camera review sites on the Internet.









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Step 4: Trial & Buy >>






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