The Obsolete Gamer Show: Episode 8

Build vs Buy PCs
Build vs Buy PCs

The topic of building a pc or having it built for you is not new, in fact I wrote about that very subject earlier this year. However we wanted to ask some of the people who make a living offering custom built systems what they thought of the building versus buying debate and so we reached out and ended up having three great conversations on the subject.

We began the show with my recounting my first showing up at the Red-Eye Lan party with my Compaq PC and being almost laughed out of the building and from there learned that being a real gamer meant building your own PC. Then I began working at Alienware and from that side I saw how having a great team put together and support your own rig is pretty awesome in itself. Both Ignacio and I agreed that while it is true that almost anyone can put together a system it takes a little bit more to build a great gaming or high end PC and if you can find a good company who will offer you support and a reasonable price then why not go for it.

We wanted to get our guests take on it and were happy to be joined by Chris Morley, chief technical officer for Maingear PC, Justin Melendez, co-founder of LanSlide PC and John Blain, consumer public relations for Dell/Alienware.

Each company has a different way of doing things, but the overall goal is the same and that is to give the customer the best computer they can at a price they can afford with a support staff they can depend on. In fact they will tell you that if you have a love of building a PC then go for it. However, it is not for everyone and if you decide you want a well-built system then do you research and be informed before you make your final choice.

Obsolete Gamer would like to thank our guests for coming on the show and we covered much more than just PC building and buying. So have a listen and tell us what you think.

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LanSlide PC – Free Gaming Computer Help

my computer crashed again
my computer crashed again

LanSlide PC

It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned computer user or brand new to the world of PC’s at one time or another you will need some help. Unfortunately there are countless stories about outsourced and uninformed support centers that leave you more frustrated than when you started. Many companies are now claiming they will provide you the best support if you buy from them. Others will charge you extra if you want premium support, but here is something we haven’t seen in a while, a company willing to offer help, for free, no strings attached.

LanSlide PC’s are offering help to anyone with a computer question regardless of if you purchased a system from them or not. They have created a section on their website where you can submit questions on anything computer related from buying to building and maintaining. Once you submit your issues someone from LanSlide will contact you within 48 hours and that is all there is to it.

We had to look into this because many people have complained that it takes longer than 48 hours to get a response from a big name corporation. Also, we wanted to make sure there wasn’t any trickery going on. It is a rule on the net that if its free it costs too much because you will end up worse than you started but Justin Melendez from LanSlide PC’s assures us it is on the up and up and agreed to address our concerns and answer our questions.

Lanslide Gaming PCs logo
Lanslide Gaming PCs logo

Obsolete Gamer: This does sound like a great idea, but the first question is the one you mentioned in your press release. What is the main reasoning behind this new program?

Justin Melendez: That’s a good question! It’s one we’ve asked ourselves many times over the last few weeks. To be honest, it just seemed like something people would like. We gave a talk at Connecticon about how to build, buy, or fix gaming computers, and we told everyone there that they should feel free to e-mail us for help. The response was so positive; we thought we’d try opening it up to everyone and see how it goes. From our point of view, doing positive stuff for the gaming community will pay off in the long run, so we’re not worrying too much about what will happen in the short term. If you want to get technical, the idea is that building trust by helping people will help the business, and we think this is the sort of thing that could take off virally very well.

 

Obsolete Gamer: It is certainly true that many people cannot build their own PC. Do you think your program can help those that have never built one before?

Justin Melendez: Our service is open-ended enough to help anyone, though how we help really depends on their level of experience and comfort. For someone coming to us asking how to build a gaming computer with no technical knowledge at all, we would answer as much as we could and point them in the right direction to continue learning. A lot of people really just don’t know where to start, so our goal with them is to get them over the initial barriers to building the machine and be there for them along the way as they have questions. For someone who knows something about what they want but has simply never started a computer from scratch before, we’ll be able to be more detailed and guide them through more of the process.

Obsolete Gamer: How deep do you plan to help someone? For instance, if they need help from step 1 to step 100, how would you handle that?

Justin Melendez: Steps 1 through 11 will be free of charge. However, steps 12 through 100 will require them to perform odd favors for us, such as sending us pictures of them wearing silly hats or mailing us postcards from random locations. In all seriousness, though, we’re here to help as much as we can. If someone has general questions about building, buying, or fixing a gaming computer, we’ll answer them as fully as possible. If someone has a very specific question about step 34 of some process, we’ll do our best to help them with their specific situation. In general, though, we’re not always going to be able to cover everything in one e-mail. In those cases, we’ll give them the information they need to get started and ask them to come back to us as they need assistance.

Obsolete Gamer: What about those who build custom rigs all the time, what can you offer them?

Justin Melendez: Even experienced users have a question or need a second opinion from time to time. In general, our staff is going to be more up-to-date on the latest gaming components than your average user, so even people who build custom rigs on a regular basis will find our service helpful. On a separate note, one of the major benefits to buying a computer from a company is having computer support available in case of trouble. People who build their own systems don’t have access to that, so this is a great solution for them when they need troubleshooting help.

Obsolete Gamer: What steps have you taken so you are not flooded with questions from those just wanting free support?

Justin Melendez: None whatsoever! The simple answer is that we hope that people WILL think of this as their personal support line. This service isn’t just to help people build computers, but to answer any questions anyone has about gaming computers in general. Whether that’s fixing, buying or building, we’re happy to help.  We’re tossing this out there for free with the hope that word of mouth will spread it around, so that lots of people will be left with a positive impression of what LanSlide Gaming PCs is all about. The hope is that growth on the free computer help page will eventually lead to an increase in sales and allow us to continue offering the service for free. At the moment, we’re just putting this out there and seeing how it goes.

Obsolete Gamer: Would you say that many people can “assemble” a system, but few know how to take the time to fully research, shop for, and then “build” and “maintain” a custom system?

Justin Melendez: Assembling is probably the easiest part of building a computer. Not everyone is comfortable with it, but it is something almost anyone could learn to do. But, as the question implies, the research, configuration, and maintenance of a custom computer is definitely where the majority of the work comes in. When we go around and give talks about building your own computer, we spend most of the time on these aspects because they’re the most complex and often the hardest to learn about. So yes, I’d have to agree with the statement above.

Obsolete Gamer: Is it just about cost, finding the lowest price parts that work together, or is optimization the key to building a good, long lasting system?

Justin Melendez: The lowest price parts are often the ones that cost you the most. You need to balance many things when choosing your parts, but the most important elements of compatibility and quality are the ones that will govern how well your system works, how long it lasts, and how much trouble you’ll have when setting it up. That’s the primary message we try to drive home when advising people on how to begin their build: choose parts that are going to work together from the beginning, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time, money, and aggravation. Of course, that’s what we do for all the systems we build, and avoiding these difficulties is a major reason people choose to buy their computers from us.

Obsolete Gamer: Do you think having a program such as this will hurt your business or custom PC shops in general?

Justin Melendez: At first, it might seem like helping people build their own computers or educating them about buying computers so they avoid buying parts they don’t really need would be detrimental to a gaming computer company. However, our stance is that a more educated public is a good thing for PC gaming overall. The PC world is often fraught with frustration, and we believe that helping people make good decisions about their computing needs will make them happier in the long run and lead to more positive experiences gaming on the PC. We also hope that having a central location where people can go to for their problems will be a boon to the community and encourage more people to game on the PC.

Obsolete Gamer: Do you think custom builders such as yourself are unfairly attacked by those who build their own system for what amounts to wanting to turn a profit?

Justin Melendez: It’s really a matter of personal opinion. Some people feel very strongly about this issue, and that’s fine. Most people understand that building your own machine is not for everyone, and it’s really up to each individual to decide what makes the most sense for them. A lot of people just want to use their computers, not spend time maintaining them, and those people often prefer coming to a builder like us. On another note, we agree with a lot of the points of the attackers, which is part of why we founded LanSlide in the first place. Many computer builders are overpriced and try to sell you things that you don’t really need. While we offer any configuration anyone could want, we will always recommend a more sensible setup that suits the needs of the user over something that’s going to put more money in our pockets.

Obsolete Gamer: What is your take on the eternal build versus buy debate?

Justin Melendez: There are advantages and disadvantages to both. If you build your own machine, you’re likely going to get it cheaper than if you buy one, but you won’t have access to things like warranties and the customer support that comes with buying a computer from an established company. If you buy a computer, you’re likely going to pay more for the expertise that comes into play when assembling and configuring the machine; however, you won’t have to go through the headache of putting it together yourself or returning parts that aren’t compatible or are defective. Another plus is that you can be guaranteed that it will work out of the box, and, if it doesn’t, it’s someone else’s problem. So really, it comes down to personal preference and level of comfort.

I must say I like the idea of a group of people helping the gaming community to make it a better place and it looks as if the folks over at LanSlide Gaming PC’s are doing just that. So if you find yourself with a gaming computer question you should give them a try and let us know what you thought of the experience.

Obsolete Gamer would like to thank Justin and everyone at LanSlide PC’s for talking with us.

The Interview – Justin Melendez – LanSlide PC

LanSlide Gaming PCs logo
LanSlide Gaming PCs logo

LanSlide PC

Some people may ask why is there still a need for LAN parties with console domination, MMO’s and high-speed internet, but if you are asking those questions then you don’t get the point. A LAN party is just as much about social interaction as it is about gaming. I personally met the majority of my Miami friends after joining a LAN party and it was the best experience I’ve had regarding gaming.

Earthquake entry level power
Earthquake entry level power

LanSlide PCs is a company that peeked my interest because not only do they build high-end gaming systems, but they focus on the LAN party aspect of PC gaming. Originally people would bring whateversystem they had to a LAN party and often the custom or self-build systems were extremely large and heavy. However, as time went on more and more people built smaller systems so they could specially take them to LAN parties. The company Shuttle was a godsend to LAN party goers because of its small form factor. Having a place to turn to in order to have custom gaming systems build for LAN parties just seemed like a good idea.

Now while LanSlide does specialize in custom build LAN ready systems that doesn’t mean they aren’t meant for everyday and even extreme gaming. Another good thing is that their wide array of options allows you to select a system that fits your needs from components to price. You can select your processor choice and build from there with various case sizes and pricing from around $800 for the entry level system all the way up to $4800 for the extreme gaming rigs.

LanSlide PCs PC Pack
LanSlide PCs PC Pack

Now their PC-Pack is defiantly a LAN go’ers dream, it is a large backpack designed to hold almost everything you would need to take to a LAN party. I was able to get my hand on one and I was impressed by its sizes, design and craftsmanship. The pack can hold a 22 inch flat panel monitor, gaming keyboard, headphones, your mouse and a ton of other accessories you would need for on the go gaming. What’s cool is the pack splits when opened so you can fit all your items in separate compartments where they remain protected and won’t bounce around. My only complaint was on the website under “What doesn’t fit” it lists Florida.

You’ve seen Justin’s gamer profile, but we wanted to get a little more information on him and LanSlide PC.

What is the vision, the overall goal of LanSlide?

LanSlide was founded by a group of gamers sick of dragging their oversized desktops around. We’re dedicated to bringing powerful but portable desktop computers to the gaming community because we find being together, in the same room, gives a level of interaction and shared experience that can’t be matched over a computer connection. So I guess you could say our vision is to make it easier for gamers to get together and play games. At the same time, our goal as a company is to create affordable gaming machines that are well-suited to the needs of our gamers. Too many companies have forgotten that last bit, which is a big part of why we felt we needed to create LanSlide.

With high-speed internet and consoles, do you believe LAN parties are still popular?

All you have to do is look at conventions like PAX and Digital Overload, where tons of gamers show up with their gaming rigs, to see that LAN gaming is alive and well. A close friend of mine has two of the major consoles, yet I can’t remember the last time we played a game on them; I’m over there several times a week with my PC, however. The multiplayer games are just more interesting on PCs. Try playing an RTS, MMO, or FPS on the console; it’s just not as good for that kind of game play. I think consoles have PCs beat in the single player genre (although they don’t have to, hint hint, cough cough game producers), but when it comes to multiplayer, PCs are where all the interesting stuff is happening. High speed internet and the move towards centralized servers only make it easier for people who are not in the area to log in and join up. People have always liked to get together in person, no matter what their interests, and what better thing for gamers to get together over than video games.

What makes LanSlide stand out from other manufacturers?

When we took a look at the industry, we found that a lot of computers were oversized and overpriced. So when we founded LanSlide, we set out to change that. All of our computers are portable and we make a point not to overcharge for high-end machines. We also take the time with our customers to make sure they’re getting the best machines to suit their needs. We’ll often e-mail back and forth several times with a prospective customer to help them build a computer. In addition, we take our feedback very seriously, and when someone has a good idea, we try to implement it as quickly as possible.

How would you help a gamer choose one of your systems?

It really depends on what kind of games they play. There’s a wide range of PC gamers, from the hardcore to the super-casual. For most people, who only need one video card, we recommend any of our small form factor systems. For people who are really hardcore and want insane rigs that are going to blow everyone else out of the water, we have a mid-tower that’ll take 2-3 video cards. If you want to do all of that AND do it in 3D, go for one of our 3D systems, which set you up with everything you need to game in 3D. Our biggest piece of advice, though, is to make sure you get a rig that’s going to solve the in-game problems you’re having and improve your gaming experience. We also recommend you buy a system that leaves you some room to grow as a gamer.

Tell us about the concept behind the PC Pack?

You go through the trouble and expense of buying all this awesome gaming gear, so shouldn’t you have something to protect it? That’s the idea behind the PC Pack (http://www.lanslidepcs.com/productdetails.asp?pid=40). It’s basically a backpack designed to hold and protect up to a 22″ widescreen monitor, extra-long gaming keyboard, mouse, headphones, and all the other things you need to run your desktop. It makes it easy to transport your computer in one trip, since our cases are all easy to carry, and everything else goes in the PC Pack and can be put on your back. Imagine the difference when walking into a big LAN party on the third floor of a conference center, where you only have to make the trip once, half the weight is on your back instead of in your arms, and you have a free hand to open the door. There’s just no comparison to moving your computer without it, plus it saves you the heartbreak of losing your brand new monitor to a flight of stairs.

How do you think 3D gaming will change the face of PC gaming?

3D gaming makes for a more immersive experience, and that has a huge impact on the player, making it possible to get much more involved in the game. There’s nothing like the feeling of being the main character in your favorite FPS, ducking to take cover behind objects while you work your way through the enemy camp. Furthermore, we believe that, as 3D gaming becomes more prevalent, game developers will start designing specifically for 3D, and that may create a whole new class of games that play in new and amazing ways.

If you haven’t experienced a true LAN party you should and if you need a system to take then LanSlide might be right up your alley. In the end you can’t replace the interaction you get face to face and in person so anyone who is fighting to keep LAN parties going is awesome in my book. I personally loved to go to LAN parties then load up an Atari emulator sometimes just to piss people off, good times.

Justin Melendez: Lanslide PCs

LanSlide Gaming PCs logo

Name: Justin Melendez

Profession: I am one of the co-founders of LanSlide Gaming PCs. I wear a lot of different hats around the company. Primarily, I am responsible for business development, product management and setting our overall direction.

Company: LanSlide Gaming PCs

Favorite Classic Game: Starcraft, without a doubt.

Quote: It’s timeless and perfectly balanced. I still get together every Wednesday night and play with a group of friends. You have to hand it to a game that is still going strong 11 years after its release date.