Buying a laptop by doing online research can be quite confusing. The sheer amount of alternatives, configuration and brands lead to a confusion over what to buy. I experienced this for the second time recently and thought would share a few learnings.
- Decide your budget: I was looking at something in the range of $1000-$1200. Cheaper the better! If you fix on the budget, it will allow you to weed out 80% of the options.
- What configuration do you want? I was clear that I needed 512MB RAM, minimum 40GB harddisk, a DVD RW drive, Wifi and the works. But when it came to I got confused. There was Pentium 4, Celeron, Pentium M, Athalon, Turion and some more. I wanted to get a Centrino processor initially. Then I realized Centrino is not a processor, but a combination of Pentium M processor, specific variety of motherboard and Wifi support. Then my final choice was between a Turion and a Pentium M. Another important point is the battery life. My choice of laptop changed completely when I read that the battery did not last for 3 hours of the model I liked.
- Mac anyone? I am an Apple fan. So I would prefer a Mac for myself. Since this laptop was not specifically for me, I opted for the “usual” laptops Mac Powerbooks are available at reasonable prices now, so I strongly recommend you consider them.
- Search, compare, search: I used computers.com last time to compare the models. Unfortunately it did not help much this time. I was much happier with PriceGrabber for the search and comparison. I especially liked the feature to select products across pages and compare them at once. PriceGrabber also allows for a very fine level of searching and filtering the results. I shortlisted items by RAM first, then by the price, and then by processor.
- Confusion! You will certainly face a lot of choice in the models. That is where the real confusion will start. You will get items of similar configuration and price points. Some with a little bit extra here, and a small price addition. This is where the buyer in you has to wake up and take a call on which features are important for you and which ones are not. Go to the product’s official site to find more information. Filter based on your preference of the brand. But don’t get stuck with confusion for long. Time will not sort it out.
- Calculate full price: There will be tax and shipping charges. Calculate them when you are comparing prices of products. Shipping can add a large weight to the price tag.
- You may not get the one you liked the most: I found a refurbished Sony Vaio on an auction site. The model was superb – with a docking station and theatre quality visuals and sound. I was ready to buy refurbished piece for the price was good. But by the time we could put a bid on the item, the auction was over. Similarly another item that I liked, had a too long shipment schedule. I didn’t have that much time. Still another was out of stock! It is perfectly fine if you don’t get the model you like the most!
- You will be happy with what you get: I was thrilled to see the Dell Inspiron 6000D. It had a very wide screen, is sturdy and works well! I am sure you will also be happy when you get the laptop in your hands.
Remember, there are no custom duties when you bring one laptop in India. If you are thinking about getting two after reading this, think again!