Computers: Bothered and Bewildered

First-time buyers face a tougher choice than ever

Robert Rabkin, a surgeon from Sausalito, Calif., considered himself a pretty savvy consumer—until he decided to buy a personal computer. Nothing he had learned while buying cars or stereo rigs prepared him for the trauma of shopping for a microcomputer. Not only was the equipment expensive ($2,500 and up for a complete system) and dauntingly complex, but the manufacturers seemed to be in a state of constant turmoil. "I didn't know what I was getting into," says Rabkin. "I was afraid anything I might buy...

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