Accessing PC Pinpoint's help
The PC Pinpoint process begins when you log on to the PC Pinpoint Web site and sign up for an account for $14.95. The service then automatically downloads and installs a diagnostic application.
Once installed, the app tests performance on your system. For instance, it reads disks in the floppy and CD-ROM drives to see if they're functioning correctly, catalogs your current applications, and checks to see what additional hardware you have installed. A personalized page displays your system information. From there, you select the specific system component you're having trouble with, such as a sound card or a disk drive, or select a more general problem, such as system slowdowns or crashes. After a few moments, the service displays several possible solutions to the problem, including text and screen captures detailing how to implement a software fix or text and photos of possible solutions.
We tested the service by changing the hardware configuration on our DVD drive so that it no longer worked under Windows. The automatic Web diagnostics were no help, but, through PC Pinpoint's Web site, we were directed to an online chat session with a tech-support representative who quickly suggested the correct solution. However, the Web service did perform well with a sound card problem, offering good, step-by-step text and photo instructions that explained how to fix a variety of related sound problems.
Interface could be better
We found PC Pinpoint's Web interface a bit confusing and, frankly, a bit amateurish, both in style and layout (see the screenshot for an example). The automated advice also appeared vague; we wish it were more customized. For example, support questions about a laptop often returned results related to desktop PC fixes. In addition, the support suggestions were occasionally off base. For instance, under the topic Computer Slows Down, PC Pinpoint suggested that we run ScanDisk and defragment our hard drive as the first possible solutions to a variety of software problems. While recommended for overall system maintenance, both are time-consuming, first-step processes that may not resolve your problem.
Price can't be beat
Unlike most paid-for tech support that charges per incident, PC Pinpoint offers a variety of time-based subscriptions. For $14.95, you get one week of unlimited problem solving for a single PC. A payment of $49.95 buys you a full year of support. That's an incredible value, considering that the price includes both online and 24/7 toll-free support, not to mention the company's money-back guarantee. It's almost a risk-free computer solution and a much better deal than Microsoft's going rate of $35 per call.
If you need no-hassle tech support available at any time, you can't argue with PC Pinpoint's value proposition. The fees are a small price to pay for a helping hand when things go wrong. But PC Pinpoint's Web-based diagnostics and fixes aren't yet sophisticated enough to replace a powerful, all-around system utility such as Norton SystemWorks 2002.