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Bring Desktop from US or Buy new One in EC?

I want to buy a desktop in the US and ask my mom to bring it on the plane, but the more I think about it, the more complicated it seems.

I guess I can buy a desktop here, what do you guys think?

Some issues/concerns:
-How to get the desktop OS to be in English?
-Where to get a desktop with with something like AMD A10?
-How do warranties work when buying in Ecuador?
-Is there  a place that can put together a desktop for me
if I just bring the motherboard, CPU, hard drive, and RAM (they supply the rest?)?

OK..so I know no one has responded yet...but the more I think about it and the more I research it just seems that bringing a desktop on the plane is too much of a liability.

So, what parts do you suggest that I buy from the US (CPU, RAM, etc.), and what parts should I get here (case, etc.)?

From what I saw when we were there a few weeks ago, I'd bring one from the US. First point I'd make, regardless of the import issues, is whether you really need a desktop? Unless you're doing particularly intensive computing (video editing, graphics-intensive, etc.), I'd just use a laptop but then have a docking station at home. That way you can have all the comfort of full-size keyboard, monitor, etc. at home, but if/when you need to leave home, simply undock it bring your laptop with you.

Whichever route you choose, we didn't experience any issues with customs, and I was very much pushing the limitations of how much technology one can bring into the country. Again apart from customs, another advantage of a laptop is that you can easily bring it in carry-on baggage, where you're more in control of how it's handled. With checked baggage, I'd be very leery of how rough it's going to get handled. The laptop in carry-on, but other parts like monitor and docking station in checked baggage would concern me less.

If you were to choose to only buy "select" parts in the US, then I'd focus on the motherboard, CPU, memory, SSD drive (def. cheaper in US), and graphics card. Plus any "unique" add-ons that the average person may not need, which would be difficult to purchase there at an affordable price. A lot would be very dependent on how you're using your computer. If you're just performing relatively straightforward functions, I'd stick to a good laptop w/ upgraded SSD drive and just match it to a docking station when at home.

languagetraveler :

From what I saw when we were there a few weeks ago, I'd bring one from the US. First point I'd make, regardless of the import issues, is whether you really need a desktop? Unless you're doing particularly intensive computing (video editing, graphics-intensive, etc.), I'd just use a laptop but then have a docking station at home. That way you can have all the comfort of full-size keyboard, monitor, etc. at home, but if/when you need to leave home, simply undock it bring your laptop with you.

Whichever route you choose, we didn't experience any issues with customs, and I was very much pushing the limitations of how much technology one can bring into the country. Again apart from customs, another advantage of a laptop is that you can easily bring it in carry-on baggage, where you're more in control of how it's handled. With checked baggage, I'd be very leery of how rough it's going to get handled. The laptop in carry-on, but other parts like monitor and docking station in checked baggage would concern me less.

If you were to choose to only buy "select" parts in the US, then I'd focus on the motherboard, CPU, memory, SSD drive (def. cheaper in US), and graphics card. Plus any "unique" add-ons that the average person may not need, which would be difficult to purchase there at an affordable price. A lot would be very dependent on how you're using your computer. If you're just performing relatively straightforward functions, I'd stick to a good laptop w/ upgraded SSD drive and just match it to a docking station when at home.

Yeah...I want to run a program that suggests an AMD FX or i7, SSD, and 8+ GB RAM.

wlae84 :

the more I research it just seems that bringing a desktop on the plane is too much of a liability.

What research did you do that makes you think there will be a problem with a bringing a desktop.  Unless there is a new restriction I don´t know about,  bringing one desktop computer shouldnt be a problem.

Nards Barley :
wlae84 :

the more I research it just seems that bringing a desktop on the plane is too much of a liability.

What research did you do that makes you think there will be a problem with a bringing a desktop.  Unless there is a new restriction I don´t know about,  bringing one desktop computer shouldnt be a problem.

Not an issue with customs, but rather with the integrity of the desktop.

I've read enough to get me concerned that it could get damaged, especially the hard drive. Although the HD could be taken out, it still seems a  little risky from what I've read. In addition to that the excessive luggage fee in light to the damage risk just makes it a deal breaker for me.

Nards Barley :

Unless there is a new restriction I don´t know about,  bringing one desktop computer shouldn't be a problem.

Nards' sunny optimism about Ecuadorian customs may result from the fact that he's better than I am at following the number-one rule for new EC arrivals:

#1:  Don't expose yourself or your family any more than is absolutely necessary to the bureaucracy here.

I wouldn't underestimate the wily dogs of SENAE (EC customs), as 84 expressed earlier on the things-I-miss-most thread (report #28).  The issue of possible damage in transit is valid, as well.

So what could go wrong....

  -- There COULD be "a new restriction" that Nards doesn't know about.

  -- The desktop computer and-or its box could be large enough to trigger problems, for instance, say there's a monitor with the computer and it's above some size limit.

  -- If the desktop arrives in its original box or packing materials, SENAE could deem that the computer is an item for commercial re-sale in Ecuador.  They could slap on a big tariff before Nards finishes his next glass of jugo de maracuya.

What else....

What if 84's 66-year-old mother has trouble communicating while trying to get past SENAE, or does not answer questions to the satisfaction of the wily dogs, or gets frustrated and annoyed....Do you think SENAE lacks the power to interdict the computer and store it somewhere, pending payment of some outrageous set of tariffs that could not all have been predicted....

LT's advice is sound.  If you don't really need a desktop model, consider a new laptop.  Your mother could remove it from the original box, cover it in bubble wrap and put it in her carry-on -- in this manner, probably flying under the SENAE radar while also protecting the hardware.

Just ignore the laptop idea if you absolutely must have a desktop computer to enable a program that suggests "an AMD FX or i7, SSD" and mucho RAM -- whatever that phrase means to you.

I think the biggest issue is protecting Mom:  don't expose her unnecessarily to unpredictable issues.

That sound you hear in the background:  it's the dogs of SENAE, licking their chops while awaiting your juicy desktop computer.

cccmedia in Quito

wlae84 :

Some issues/concerns....
-How do warranties work when buying in Ecuador?
-Is there a place that can put together a desktop for me....

Warranties:  actually, let's turn this around.  What if you successfully get a computer purchased in the U.S., into Ecuador...and then it has problems.... 

Even if the manufacturer allows the unit to be returned to the United States for repairs...the shipping expense, the time involved and the "tramites" (formalities) that the EC bureaucracy may impose will probably cancel any good a U.S.-originated warranty could conceivably do. 

Ipso facto, another reason not to try to have Mom bring in a desktop computer.

----

As for setting up a computer in Ecuador, consider doing the following starting with #1 until you find something that works...

1. Try doing it yourself in accordance with mfr's instructions.

2.  Ask a geeky friend to help you.

3.  Get referral(s) from folks you can trust not to spread news of your new acquisition all over town.

4.  Ask your nearest computer sales or service shop to send a guy.

cccmedia in Quito

languagetraveler :

I'd just use a laptop but then have a docking station at home. That way you can have all the comfort of a full-size keyboard, monitor, etc. at home, but if/when you need to leave home, simply undock it bring your laptop with you.

I love LT's technical advice so far on this thread.

Which brings us to the matter of computer security around town in Ecuador.

Let's focus on laptop(s) since it's unlikely anyone's going to be toting a desktop model outside on any kind of a frequent basis.

The main point is this:

Carrying a laptop carrying case, or something that looks like one, makes the owner-carrier potentially a target in the cities.

I know this from experience, as I was carrying such a few years back when I inadvertantly wandered onto the notorious Loja Street in South Quito.

Realizing my mistake, I started to walk North, but was accosted by a four-man "pandilla," who put me on the ground, stole $55 from my pockets, and ran off in four different directions, one of the "delincuentes" with my carrying bag.  (They did not show a weapon.)

Moral of the story:  if you're carrying a laptop, carry it in something that isn't likely perceived as holding a laptop.

And the kicker is:  there was no computer in my bag.

cccmedia in Quito

I would buy a mini pc in the US and bring it. Buy the perifials here. Don't sweat warranty issues too much since the cost of hiring a tech to fix anything that fails is cheap.

From my experience, customs is pretty lax. Every time I fly to Quito I smuggle an extra cell phone or two. If you bring a mini PC Out of the box, customs won't even know what it is and probably won't even question it to avoid looking foolish.

jessekimmerling :

I would buy a mini pc in the US and bring it. Buy the peripherals here. Don't sweat warranty issues too much since the cost of hiring a tech to fix anything that fails is cheap.

My Toshiba PC laptop (bought new circa 2011) has stopped working twice since I moved to Quito in 2013.

The first time, I took it to a repair shop two blocks from my condo in El Centro.  They fixed it in several days for about $65.

It went down again two or three months later, and they fixed it under repair-warranty for no additional charge.

Both times they erased my files, and since the second time, the PC works but a message appears during log-on saying that this is not a genuine copy of windows.

cccmedia in Quito

We usually pay $20 for in home service. It sounds like you didn't have your data backed up, so yeah... you lost everything.

Do you have a windows installation cd? If so, it should have your serial number so you can register it and get rid of the pirated software warning? It's a Toshiba, so you probably only have 10 minutes till it crashes and you lose all you data again. If I were you I'd go get an external HD or some CDs to back up your important stuff...

What are you doing still sitting there? Go, man, go. Run like the wind.

jessekimmerling :

It's a Toshiba, so you probably only have 10 minutes till it crashes and you lose all you data again. If I were you, I'd go get an external HD or some CDs to back up your important stuff...

What are you doing still sitting there? Go, man, go. Run like the wind.

Thanks for the heads-up, Jesse. 

I had no idea the sky was falling. ;)

cccmedia in Quito


                                                                          .

Ccmedia,

If that message is a function of your Windows not being activated, the there are utilities that you can download from torrent sites that will activate it.

To know if your Wibdows is activated go into control panel, then system.  Near bottom if screen it should indicate.

cccmedia :
jessekimmerling :

I would buy a mini pc in the US and bring it. Buy the peripherals here. Don't sweat warranty issues too much since the cost of hiring a tech to fix anything that fails is cheap.

My Toshiba PC laptop (bought new circa 2011) has stopped working twice since I moved to Quito in 2013.

The first time, I took it to a repair shop two blocks from my condo in El Centro.  They fixed it in several days for about $65.

It went down again two or three months later, and they fixed it under repair-warranty for no additional charge.

Both times they erased my files, and since the second time, the PC works but a message appears during log-on saying that this is not a genuine copy of windows.

cccmedia in Quito

There is a utility called "RemoveWAT" which will prevent it from displaying that message. However, on the bottom of your laptop will be a label from Microsoft. On that label is code (5 groups of letters and numbers), All you have to do is right-click on "Computer" (in your menu) and select "Properties". Scroll down to the bottom of that Window and you should see a link where you can enter a new Product Key.

wlae84 :

I want to buy a desktop in the US and ask my mom to bring it on the plane, but the more I think about it, the more complicated it seems.

I guess I can buy a desktop here, what do you guys think?

Some issues/concerns:
-How to get the desktop OS to be in English?
-Where to get a desktop with with something like AMD A10?
-How do warranties work when buying in Ecuador?
-Is there  a place that can put together a desktop for me
if I just bring the motherboard, CPU, hard drive, and RAM (they supply the rest?)?

What kind of an app are you planning to run that requires the extra horsepower?

Converting the desktop O/S to English is very easy.

Computers can be purchased very easily here. The cost will be a bit higher for an equivalent computer in the US. I priced out a system with a quad-core i5 (4440) for $500 + 15% tax recently. I do all kinds of heavy duty computing and this processor is adequate for my needs.

Be aware that a higher end fast AMD chip is going to require extra cooling (likely liquid cooling especially if you want to overclock it).

Warranties are the same as in the US.

I will put a desktop together for you for no cost. I have done many of these and am retired now with lots of time on my hands.

Have you logged into Ecuador tourist site? Your allowed one new one used electronic,while traveling the screen should not be more than 32 inches. You say your mom is bringing this?
A desktop is rather heavy, for her to carry on/off the luggage belt etc. how about a Laptop?

Actually there are many different desktop models. There are ones that do not weigh that much. You can buy "all-in-ones" for example: That is, everything is built into the screen (like the Macs are these days). They are still considered desktop computers.

Also, buying a regular desktop case can still be quite light. It depends on what material the case is made of.  If the case is steal it will weigh more. If it is built of aluminum it can be quite light. In that case the heaviest component will be the power supply. An SSD drive is quite light.

I do a lot of image editing and am planning to install all of my editing software on my Dell laptop and hopefully buy a 24-30 inch monitor in Cuenco to allow for better screen rez. Anyone have any warnings or thoughts on this plan. What are costs of monitors there? Thanks, SR

Senor Ramon :

I do a lot of image editing and am planning to install all of my editing software on my Dell laptop and hopefully buy a 24-30 inch monitor in Cuenco to allow for better screen rez. Anyone have any warnings or thoughts on this plan. What are costs of monitors there? Thanks, SR

Probably around $250 to $300, although haven't priced one of  that size recently.  A 19 inch LG is around $140. I bought a 15 inch monitor recently for $99.  You might consider bringing a 22-24 inch television in your luggage or a carry on since you can use it as a monitor, tv, and with its HDMI port, plug a video player into it.  Any bigger than 22-24 inch, you may be subject to additional taxes, so I wouldn't do that.

I would also bring a spare hard drive for your laptop, since those are over $100 here.

Where in Ecuador can I buy a dell computer?

i bought a Dell laptop at the Paco store in QuiCentro mall, Quito, two years ago.  I paid $505.

I was extremely dissatisfied with the clunkiness of the PC.

Within several months I was so frustrated with the thing that I bought a MacBook Pro at the Mac store in the same mall. 

The cost of the new Mac was more than twice what I paid for the Dell .. and totally worth it.  The second purchase solved about 20 problems I had with the Dell laptop, including speed, user-friendliness issues and capability.

I'm typing on the Mac right now.

cccmedia

Check the fb swap meet pages for expats.  Lots of people sell laptops there.  Both my wireless keyboards for my main computer quit working, so I thought no problem, I will just buy a new one that plugs in to avoid future problems.   Stupid me, I thought all keyboards were the same,  but they are not.  The letters and numbers are but everything else (function keys) aren't named the same thing or are in crazy places.  My husband converted it to a US keyboard through the computer settings, but I have to use my broken one to see where everything is located on a US keyboard.  Needless to say I don't go on the computer anymore.  My friend had a laptop, brand new he brought in his container recently.  It's brand new fully loaded but I don't the brand, what he wants for it or if he still wants to sell it.  If you pm me, I can find out for you.

This is a no brainer:

Buy it and bring it.

The cost of computers in Ecuador is much higher than in the USA.  And buying a used computer brings with it all the issues of someone elses old machine including all their malware, spyware, etc.

Even bringing in more than the the 2 or 3 computers allowed without taxing ...and paying the aduana for the extra technology is worth the cost against having to find exactly the machine you need here.

hfredman :

Where in Ecuador can I buy a dell computer?

Dell has an Ecuador online store Dell Ecuador, the difference in the price is essentially shipping and duty fees, at least for workstations.

It will be interesting to do a cost comparison between two identical models.

cccmedia :

i bought a Dell laptop at the Paco store in QuiCentro mall, Quito, two years ago.  I paid $505.

I was extremely dissatisfied with the clunkiness of the PC.

Within several months I was so frustrated with the thing that I bought a MacBook Pro at the Mac store in the same mall. 

The cost of the new Mac was more than twice what I paid for the Dell .. and totally worth it.  The second purchase solved about 20 problems I had with the Dell laptop, including speed, user-friendliness issues and capability.

I'm typing on the Mac right now.

cccmedia

Hey man, you sure it wasn't an HP?

Last year (2015) I bought an HP laptop at SuperPaco at QuiCentro Mall in Quito, and was surprised at the price -- only $503.

Dear Supersleuth,

I stand corrected. 

The Cheese Desk regrets the error.

I stand by my comments about the superiority of the MacBook Pro that I purchased in Quito.

cccmedia

cccmedia :

Dear Supersleuth,

I stand corrected. 

The Cheese Desk regrets the error.

I stand by my comments about the superiority of the MacBook Pro.

cccmedia

No problem.

P.S.
I will take a Dell over an apple any day.

Nards Barley :

P.S.
I will take a Dell over an apple any day.

I have an apple; I have a rubbish bin..

Oooo, dump the junk.

To the topic...
Assuming someone is in the same position as our 2015 OP, no way should you take a desktop unless it's something very special and it would have to go in check in anyway.

Fred :
Nards Barley :

P.S.
I will take a Dell over an apple any day.

I have an apple; I have a rubbish bin..

Oooo, dump the junk.

To the topic...
Assuming someone is in the same position as our 2015 OP, no way should you take a desktop unless it's something very special and it would have to go in check in anyway.

I have been using Windows forever, so no interest in learning Apple's OS. Plus only big money Expats should buy Apple products in Ecuador imo.

Have 3 mini desktops in my house currently and have previously given away or sold two while in Ecuador. Got another in the mail.  Two of them hooked to televisions.

Nards Barley :

It will be interesting to do a cost comparison between two identical models.

Indeed, but the comparison will be lopsided if we include Black Friday and Cyber Monday Dell deals.

Comparisons between Apple and Dell for me and others is useless, and I have experience with both. Simply put, Apple is much easier to use for many people who are not as tech savvy. Apple also makes beautifully built machines that are solid externally and internally. But Apple can't do somethings that Dell can do and are in essence useless to some people including myself as  I run programs that can only run on Windows, and running such programs on Apple non-natively is not an option. This is also true for gamers, as high end Dell system will obliterate Apple in every category.

vsimple :
Nards Barley :

It will be interesting to do a cost comparison between two identical models.

Indeed, but the comparison will be lopsided if we include Black Friday and Cyber Monday Dell deals.

I tried briefly to go through the checkout processs.  There was a 14 inch laptop with a Core I3 processor that seemed pretty reasonabl4 for ecuador at $419 plus some unspecified charges of around $79 that was probably duties.  To know shipping, I was forced to go through the process of creating an account and it was there that I quit.  They wanted a 5 digit zipcode and I have a 6 digit one in Cuenca.  They wanted more digits for my area code than 07 I put in for Azuay.  In any case I gave up.

Nards Barley :
vsimple :
Nards Barley :

It will be interesting to do a cost comparison between two identical models.

Indeed, but the comparison will be lopsided if we include Black Friday and Cyber Monday Dell deals.

I tried briefly to go through the checkout processs.  There was a 14 inch laptop with a Core I3 processor that seemed pretty reasonabl4 for ecuador at $419 plus some unspecified charges of around $79 that was probably duties.  To know shipping, I was forced to go through the process of creating an account and it was there that I quit.  They wanted a 5 digit zipcode and I have a 6 digit one in Cuenca.  They wanted more digits for my area code than 07 I put in for Azuay.  In any case I gave up.

That’s great info, so for a $419 laptop they added $79 or 19% in duty fees. While we don’t know how much the shipping would be, we can probably assume that the shipping costs will be cheaper than an individual shipping it himself as these companies have corporate accounts with couriers.  The price may very well be much cheaper than buying a DELL system at a shop here.

Again it’s good info, and buying through DELL is definitely a viable option for people living here.

I just read on the customs website that shipments coming into Ecuador will no longer allow cell phones, so not sure about computers.  Within the next 6 months I will be doing a trip to Miami for contacts.  If it's not too heavy and will fit in my carry on I may be persuaded to bring one in if anyone needs one.  Just let me know.

wlae84 :

Yeah...I want to run a program that suggests an AMD FX or i7, SSD, and 8+ GB RAM.

Plenty of high end laptops will do that and no transport issues.

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