Tuesday, September 13, 2011

NUS Notebook Tender Scheme

It was once that prices for notebooks under the NUS Notebook tender scheme were attractive. This is no longer the case.

I was dumbfounded to find the prices for NUS notebooks to start at $1.4k. These prices would be reasonable perhaps only a few years back, but not today. It is possible, and in fact not difficult, to purchase a decent notebook for slightly more the half the price. You're not even getting crap at $800; you'll easily get a 2nd generation i5 processor, and if you're astute, a discrete graphics card more than capable for graphics, video, and games.

But I digress. Perhaps it is indeed possible to purchase a low-cost laptop outside. We might argue that the NUS laptops are much higher spec, which accounts for their comparatively higher cost. However, after doing some comparisons, I find that in general, it is possible to purchase similar or superior spec laptops at lower prices outside. The price differentials generally work out to be on the order of $100 ~ $200. These figures were obtained by comparing the prices listed on the NUS website and flyers from the recently concluded COMEX.

It now appears that in terms of price, the NUS notebooks are not attractive, nor even competitive. Perhaps the only saving grace comes in terms of the software packages bundled; all NUS models come with Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite. Only if one does indeed need these software packages, and factors in these at their full selling price, does the NUS option become competetive. However, I am very much doubtful.

There are several points that I find distasteful about the entire affair. The notebook prices are uniformly high, and in my opinion cannot possibly be optimally suited for the needs of every student. Not every student needs, or wants, a superior laptop in the course of his studies. Not every student uses Adobe Creative, or even possibly Microsoft Office. The main factor of choice appears to be neglected in the equation. I fear that students have been made to tolerate paying for unwanted features that are merely the result of some administrator's list of 'necessary features'.