BEST COMPUTER STORE (1998)
For most people, "best computer store" is probably an oxymoron. How else to explain the spectacular popularity of mail-order operations like Gateway 2000? If it's not the scattershot inventory of some superstore dabbling in "personal electronics" that drives you to the catalogs, it's the discomfort of a carpeted showroom policed by some tanning-booth habitué in a bad tie. Uptown's First Tech wins the dubious honor--not because it's slightly better for ambiance, service, or inventory, but because of the simple and perennial drawing power of the latest generation in Macintosh PowerBooks, a rare enough thing these days. The place may feel about as welcoming to the casual browser as a Porsche dealership's parking lot. But some of us have no shame at all.