PC Fair came and went. This one was even bundled with the Digital Lifestyle Expo and GoMobile Expo. Did anyone really notice?
I was curious about this particular edition of the event because it was promised to be a 3-in-1 affair. The PC Fair itself, I am quite familiar with. A previous job had me attending each one as an exhibitor. Sitting in a booth and watching people go by is quite the experience. But is it worth spending time there as a consumer?
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Our own Lowyat.net forums have several threads on the topic that appear like clockwork. Which also provides an interesting timeline of when the once illustrious expo began to lose its shine. If anything, we can be reasonably assured that the community is representative of people who would make the trip to PC Fair if there was a good reason to be there.
The switch appears to have begun around 2010, although around that time there was still some prospect of getting a good deal. Mid-2011 is when the doubt properly set in and people decided that shopping at Plaza Lowyat (no connection to Lowyat.net) is not only cheaper, but also more convenient. The current consensus is that the only reason to visit PC Fair is to check out the variety of booth babes.
So is it cheaper to shop around outside? It was time to find out. A friend recently bought an Asus Vivobook from Digital Mall (the second best choice), so a comparison would be easy to make. I didn’t recall the exact model, but all I had to do was find something with similar specifications. Intel fourth generation Core i5, 4 GB RAM, and discrete graphics card.
It didn’t take long to locate. The seller quoted a special price of RM2,999. A whole RM100 off his usual asking price. I felt special. Except that I remembered that it was available outside for about RM2,700 or something like that. Sure he would probably throw in a couple of freebies to make up the difference, but doesn’t that just come up to buying the “free” gifts? Still, it might just be a fluke and deals could be hiding somewhere.
A visit to Dell produced more of a neutral result. The starting price (where all bargaining begins) is about the same. Actually, it is the same. However, some models were offered with a free 1TB portable hard drive at the PC Fair. A fair deal I would say, except that these were on the more expensive models that probably aren’t selling as well as some people hoped; like the XPS AiO. The extra bonus is quite tempting, but the price might be a little high for the average bargain hunter. No idea if anyone took up the offer though, merchants don’t like to talk about those kinds of things.
Interestingly enough, some deals could be found. Not from the larger vendors, but from the smaller booths that are easily overlooked due to the lack of signage. One booth advertised Samsung phones and tablets at close to half the regular price (I wish I had remembered to get over the surprise and take a picture). Unfortunately, this was only one exception in the entire building. And it was tucked away in an easily missed corner.
So prices are quite hit and miss, slightly leaning towards miss. If you’re looking to get things on a low budget, this might not be the place to be anymore. But that’s only half the story. Commenters on the forums also say that heading to Plaza Lowyat (again, no relation to this site) is more convenient. Funny thing about this is that since nobody has any reason to go to PC Fair anymore, it’s actually quite empty. There is no overwhelming crush of bodies to fight, and walking against the flow of traffic isn’t too hard.
This recent edition may have suffered from being on the same weekend as Animangaki. Which probably ended up taking away a good portion of the urban young adults who keep consumer technology going. That’s just speculation, I can’t really prove anything. Plus, Pikom doesn’t publish visitor statisitcs and that makes it harder to spot patterns.
So is it worth going to PC Fair? Well, it’s not entirely more expensive than anywhere else; so you won’t be conned out of your hard earned money. However, it’s not much cheaper either. I would say that if you wanted a new notebook/Ultrabook/tablet/smartphone and by random coincidence PC Fair is happening at the same time, it doesn’t hurt to drop in and take a look. If not, don’t waste your time waiting and just head over to your nearest Plaza Lowyat equivalent.