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  •   Electronics: Making Sure It All Computes

    By Rob Pegoraro
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Sunday, November 22, 1998; Page H5

    When I decided to buy a Palm III – 3Com Corp.'s endlessly versatile, incredibly cool pocket-size computer, doing something as low-tech as driving to Tysons Corner to buy it seemed silly. And expensive as well, given all the reports I'd seen in the PalmPilot news group about the low, low prices available from online vendors.

    My first step was to hit a handful of price-comparison Web sites. Courtesy of the Net's free flow of information – and the remarkable willingness of investors to underwrite Web operations that may lose money in perpetuity – you can log on to a batch of free sites that list online stores' prices, lowest to highest, for just about any computing-related product.

    I tried PriceScan (www. pricescan.com), the easiest of the bunch, as well as ComputerESP (www.computeresp.com) and an older site, PriceWatch (www. pricewatch.com). All three pointed me toward BuyComp.Com (www.buycomp.com). I'd never heard of the place, but it offered steep discounts and, well, its home page looked nice.

    I was facing the perennial problem of dealing with new stores online – how can you tell who you're dealing with? But here, the Internet has a solution to its own problem: I simply went to the DejaNews news-group archive (www.dejanews.com) and did a search for discussions of BuyComp. I saw that other people had asked about the company before and had been told by satisfied BuyComp customers that, yes, the place was for real.

    Thus reassured, I clicked back to BuyComp and ordered a Palm III for $100 off the list price. Delivery wasn't terribly swift, owing to limited supplies of the product and my own cheapskate pick of ground delivery. But I did win one last bit of cheap amusement – BuyComp's order-status page linked me to a United Parcel Service site with daily updates on my new toy's trek across the country.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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