^ Yep. Proper
refurbs, i.e. by the actual manufacturers or another outfit that's reputable, is often a good bet. My experience hasn't been that they are necessarily better
than a new product, but certainly, on the whole, just as good.
Just make sure it IS in fact refurbed by someone reputable. Not computers per se, but related: back when I worked at GameStop, we had "refurbished" consoles, that were really just used consoles that we'd send back to corporate for a few days, before they'd send em out to another store marked Refurb, with about a 25% chance that anything was actually DONE to the console to address whatever issues it might have had.
I wouldn't buy a straight-up used PC, personally.
Anyway, I also recommend a custom build if it's possible. You get to pick exactly what you want and pay less for comparable performance vs. a prebuilt (barring a sale). If you don't feel up to building it on your own and don't have any computer geek friends to assist, I've heard there are computer repair shops who will build a system for you. I've never used one, however, so I can't speak to the availability, price, or reliability of such a service.
I do have to disagree with Sector 7
on WalMart, not for any reason of the shopping experience you're likely to have or anything like that, but simply because it's WalMart. Don't give them your money, they're a horrible company that treats their employees like dirt.
That said, they do usually offer pretty competitive prices on a variety of products, so if your budget is super tight, I'd understand if you just felt you had
to take advantage of a deal you saw there. But avoid them if you can.
Re: Windows 8 - to anyone saying "you don't even need to get rid of the Metro/start screen/etc once you get used to it", that may be true for YOU, but some people just don't like it. And it also depends on what you want to do with your computer. Myself, I have zero interest or need in any app that runs only in the Metro UI. I want a computer that I can use in the same way I used my Win7 computer, and with many of the same programs. And as to RobertVA's
point about the ease of swiping over on the left - it may not be hard,
exactly, but it can be less convenient - I'm a keyboard shortcut guy, I use them to navigate around my open programs FAR more often than I use the mouse to do the same, so it definitely is a bit of a bother. And it's not just about "how hard is it to swipe in from the left", really, it's more about the fact that there's absolutely no good reason why we should have to adjust to doing that after well over a decade of doing it a different way. It's change for the sake of change - the traditional ways of sorting open programs work just fine, there's no reason to suddenly make it so SOME of your programs must use a different method. And that's also indicative of another issue with Win8 - "some." Shoehorning two UIs into one OS is just a bad idea anyway, regardless of how good each UI might be individually.
Thankfully, it really isn't
hard to get all the metro and swiping start screen junk to just go away and not come back unless you WANT it to come back. As far as I know, for basic functions like watching videos, writing docs, etc. there are NO Metro programs that don't have an equivalent (usually better) desktop program equivalent. Third-party programs like Pokki
offer a good, customizable option to turn the start button back to a Win7 style start menu, and you can minimize your use of that "Charms" bar, too, with a bit of work.
So I agree with the statement "With some time put into customizing it, Win8 can be made quite usable, you can basically make it into a Win7 variant." But I don't agree with the statement "You don't need to do that anyway if you just take the time to get used to the Metro/start screen stuff." That's entirely
dependent on the person, some people simply do not - and never will - like using those aspects or get anything useful out of them.