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VALLEY WEEKEND | BARGAINS

Store Helps Novices Ease Into Technology

Computer Renaissance's used and reconditioned equipment lets you get up to speed without a big outlay of cash.

September 19, 1996|GERI COOK | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

With the exceptions of music and apparel, no products widen the generation gap as much as computers.

We all know parents or grandparents who have suffered the humiliations of learning about computer technology from people less than 4 feet tall.

So if you want to take the technology plunge but wonder if you'll sink or swim, you may be reluctant to invest in the latest models, generally the stock of any mainstream computer store.

And you certainly don't need to spend thousands of dollars just to keep simple home records. What most of us need is a basic computer that does simple spreadsheets, balances the checkbook, keeps track of investments, offers word processing and lets us communicate via e-mail and surf the Internet.

Until now, only computer-magazine classifieds and sporadic computer shows have led consumers to used, reconditioned computers. But along comes Computer Renaissance, a new franchise concept from Grow Biz International (remember Once Upon A Child and Play It Again Sports?) where the common theme is buying, selling and trading used and new merchandise.

They provide an alternative for families, students and small businesses that can't or don't want to purchase the latest technology in computers, which changes so quickly you can't keep up anyway.

The quality used systems offered by Computer Renaissance have the capability to perform the common computer tasks that most of us need, yet they typically sell for half, or sometimes much less, than new systems found at large retail stores.

For instance, an AT&T system 386SX/16 (4MB RAM, 164 MB hard drive, a 1.44MB floppy drive, keyboard and mouse) that six years ago sold new for $2,895 is $199. A Compaq 486DX2/66 (4MB RAM, 240MB hard drive, 1.44MB floppy, keyboard and mouse) about two years old is $599.

Neophytes need to understand that neither printers nor monitors (except when attached, as in laptops) are included in computer prices. For a used monitor, figure anywhere from $150 to $250, and a used printer should run $50 to $150.

All used equipment carries a 30-day warranty on parts and labor, and there are extended warranties available. New hardware also is sold here at heavily discounted prices, but the real bargains for computer beginners are the used models. Once you've become the computer whiz you never thought you could be, that's the time to consider the latest technology.

The staff here is knowledgeable and patient with those of us who use computers as souped-up typewriters and for endless games of solitaire.

* Computer Renaissance, 8953 Tampa Ave., Northridge. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. (818) 727-9150.

*

WEEKEND SUPER SALE

When a manufacturers outlet store has a sale, dedicated bargain hunters pay attention. Cotton USA's outlet in Woodland Hills regularly sells its 100% cotton apparel at wholesale prices, but until Oct. 9 you can deduct another 20%. Others, however, may head for the parking lot sale Oct. 6 when everything, mostly seconds and irregulars, will be $5. So take your choice: 20% under wholesale on first quality or $5 for slightly flawed goods. Cotton USA Outlet, 22559 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills. Hours: Monday-Saturday and Oct. 6 (Sunday sale) 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (818) 225-8725.

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