Back to School

Need Tech? Local Retailers Have You Covered

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By Melissa Fox

Upgraded electronics are high on everyone’s list, especially since work/ study-from-home orders have turned these once-luxury items from “wants” to “needs”. Despite facing global challenges in supply, island tech shops are prepared to meet the demand for new (or new to you) technology this school year.

Supply chain issues are part and parcel for business owners on an island where the majority of goods are imported. Faced with concerns like component shortages, manufacturer shutdowns, and extended wait times, local retailers have become adept at thinking on their feet and coming up with outside-of-the-box solutions to provide Bermudians with the products and services they need, when they need them. In anticipation of continued delays, many buyers planned ahead, ordering larger quantities of stock than normal from a variety of vendors.

“We have been able to accommodate our customers because we’ve anticipated the fact that things would be hard to get,” explains PTech general manager Todd Martin. “It has been a difficult time for us to source, and we have had to go beyond what we typically would. As a result of the pandemic, we’ve had to reach out and get creative.”

Joseph Calauro, manager at Redlaser Ltd., agrees: “The challenge has been, and will remain, availability. We have a good supply of tablets and laptops, computer sleeves, wireless headsets, and earbuds, which have become very popular for Zoom calls, but supply is worse now than it has ever been, and we expect things to continue to be this bad until at least the beginning of 2022.”

Parents on the back-to-school mission for new tech for their students will find a variety of devices in stock at both PTech and Redlaser Ltd, including tablets, laptops, desktops, and the accessories that go with them.

Budget-conscious and eco-friendly shoppers will warm to the trend of upgrading existing devices or purchasing refurbished products from authorized resellers in favour of paying top dollar for something new.

“Why replace it for the sake of replacing it when you can stretch it another two years or so, or hand it down to someone who might not need as much processing power and can still benefit from a slightly used one?” Mr Calauro says.

If you plan your purchase and try to use the device as intended, you’ll likely see it to the end of its lifetime, anywhere between 3 and 5 years. With external storage and little fixes, like upgrading a hard drive or RAM, it’s possible to improve the performance of an older machine, at least long enough until supply has improved, and you can easily get your hands on an affordable replacement.

For those not interested in tinkering with their technology, the island is home to several authorized retailers for brands like Dell, HP, and Apple, and many local service providers are certified and happy to honour brand warranties.

“Refurbished products are a great way to meet your tech needs,” adds Robert Swainson at MobileTech Ltd. A refurbished item is one that will have had a small manufacturing issue that was fixed and then certified for sale.

“They generally have a shorter warranty length, but the price tag can be much nicer.” MobileTech is a “one-stop-IT-shop” and the Lenovo authorized sales and service centre for Bermuda, and though they cater more to commercial clientele, they provide retail services both in their brick-and-mortar location and on their website,

The “It” Tech Items for 2021 Technology has changed significantly over the last several years, but the largest changes come in the smallest packages. Tablets have become de rigueur for schoolwork, Mr Martin notes, because of their affordability and functionality, which is far beyond “what a laptop would have done 10 years ago.”

Mr Swainson also argues in favour of tablets augmented with a wireless keyboard or laptop for schooling, adding: “With most schools adopting cloud-based delivery methods you don’t need to have a machine powerful enough to launch the space shuttle.

And with wireless and mobile devices we can kind of spread out to different corners of the house. During Lockdown I was able to convert the garage to my at-home workspace.” That schools are trending towards cloudbased computing is great news, considering the difficulty buyers have been having getting printers on the shelves.

“We’re struggling to get printers of any kind, any model, any brand,” says Mr Calaruo. “It’s our biggest obstacle.” The same goes for PTech, though Mr Martin notes that they have a number on hand, with limited quantity expected.

Even though prices are high and shortages are expected to continue, Bermudians on back-to-school buying trips should find that our island retailers have gone above and beyond to guarantee students have the tech they need to support their educational journey this school year, and, as always, the sooner you can make your purchase, the better. As Mr Swainson cautions: “Don’t try back to school shopping the week before the schools reopen. We advise our clients to make decisions as quickly as possible as things sell out sometimes in hours.”

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