Buying a laptop

It was time, my trusted companion my dell latitude D630 was getting older. In the 5 years since I got it I have swapped the hard drive for lager ones twice, reloaded the Windows three times, replaced two keyboards, and replaced both of the hinges. Now I took this machine long beyond its designed life span it was developing a few issues. I was at the point where I couldn’t justify dropping any more money into a 5 year old laptop.

So here are a few insights I came across while looking for my new mobile workhorse.

Shop in stores, buy online

Yes there is a reason for brick and motor stores; But its not to buy anything its to see the what is out there. Online shopping is great you can get computers customized, preloaded with the software you want and you almost always get better pricing. It is just there are some questions that can’t be answered until the computer is in your hands. I go into the big chain stores and use them like show rooms. While I am there I can get a feel for a laptop, ie:

  • I can make sure that the keyboard is comfortable for my hands
  • I can feel the heft of the machine does it feel solid or does it feel like its being held together with duct tape.
  • Online might be able to tell you what ports laptop has but until you put your hands on a machine you will never know if there placement is going to work for you.
  • It is impossible for every store to have every model of laptop but most stores do have an offering from all the major manufactures. Chances are they will have a model that is close if not exactly what you want to give a try on.

Good: Light :Cheep

There was an old expression Good Fast Cheep With laptops it is “Good, Light Cheep”

  • If its good and cheep its not going to be light,
  • If its good and light its not going to be cheep
  • If its light and cheep is not going to be good.

I don’t deny it, weight is a factor most people that want a laptop want it for the portability and they want it as light as possible. But ask your self if that extra half a pond worth sacrificing processing power or shelling out another $200 on the asking price? For example the Macbook air is a trim 2.9 pound, but has a $1,400 price tag. While my new ” target=”_blank”>Lenovo E530  was around $635 5.3 pounds and has almost the exact same specs.

The Processor

If there is one stat on a laptop you cannot ignore when shopping is the processor. Ram, Hard drive, wireless card, optical drives are all upgradable fairly easily and affordable. The processor however your pretty much married to it. Its not impossible to upgrade a laptop processor but when you factor in the time and parts involved its usually cheaper to buy a new laptop. So if pricing is an issue get the one with the great processor and the undersized hard drive you can always swap it later.

Get a Laptop Case

This is a little off topic but I think it needs to be said. You just plunked down somewhere between $400-$2,000 on a laptop: Protect it and get a real case for it, and get one that fits. I have seen machines beaten to death because people carry them in old back packs, over sized purses, and those re-usable tote bags you get from the grocery stores. There designed to carry eggs and tomatoes, not technology. For more laptop buying tips Eric Grevstad of  PC Magazine did a good article about it.

If you still need some more help finding the right laptop for your needs please call me. I can help you find the right machine, the right bag and accessories so you can make the most of your new laptop. I am Joseph Serrago and “I teach computers to behave themselves.” (including laptops)


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