I have had several requests on buying new laptops and how does one go about it, so i had initially posted references to some online guides, but now I have decided to pen them down myself.
Many folks are equally confused on the variety of processors, RAMs, hard disks, screen sizes etc that are available. Though the variations and permutations and combinations are a plenty, it essentially can be broken down into eating at a buffet!
What are the basic components that make up the laptop?
- Hard Disk &
- Screen Size
Though there are many more categories that one can dive into- such as video ram, ports, battery life etc, I am going to stick to the very basics, because those who know the differences between the video ram and regular ram might have outside support in purchasing their notebook PCs.
Before you set off on this expedition down the buffet line- you need to figure out what and where you wish to eat – so similarly- ask yourself-
- How much can you spend and MOST IMPORTANTLY
- What am I going to do with this PC?
Given the answer to the above two questions, you will find it a lot easier getting the right PC for you. Leaving the first answer aside, I have complied a short table that one can use when looking at “What am I going to do with this PC”
Though the above list is not exhaustive- it is indicative of what one can look at.
NetBooks / Tablets – Though they are a rage today, netbooks and tablets provide a good amount of mobility but provide what I would call passive experience – or in effect it allows you to read/ engage but not create in a true sense. Yes, there are many online tools for work such as google docs, zoho docs etc, but nothing beats the office suite and a desktop / keyboard mouse experience.
Netbooks are very handy if you travel a lot and respond to a lot of email, and if you are going to be using just one or two office applications, but if you are looking at multi tasking, I would urge you to look at good entry level laptops.
The look and feel experience-
Buying a laptop is a high involvement proess, which requires us to do considerable amount of research. I would suggest the following game plan.
- Visit the nearest retail shop where you get an idea of screen sizes, ergonomics of the various brands.
- Try typing somethings in word or notepad to get an idea of the keyboard layout and mouse/ trackpad sensitivity.
- Browse a little to get a feel of the speed.
- Open multiple applications and see how the system slows down.
- One nice test is to have all the applications open and get the screen saver to start. If the sysetm cannot handle the load it will slow the screensaver and it wont appear smooth.
- Look at the prices and the models on offer
- visit another retailer and check the same.
For India- i have found that Croma offers some good deals and rates. Having suggested a few friends to buy from there, it offers a good experience of buying and you can compare laptops with competing products.
In terms of brands, I have a personal preference with Toshiba, I have found their builds to be excellent and have not needed to run behind the service team for anything. Though some friends have had other experiences, my 6 toshiba’s have never ceased to amaze me.
So while picking a brand, look at the following -
- Ease of service- where is the closest service center?
- Warranty terms- is it a comprehensive warranty or just repair warranty?
- Extended warranty options- Most laptops remain with us for about 5 years. Warranty usually covers 1 year and maybe you can buy another 2 years, but support beyond that is a challenge. so look at companies willing to give extended warranties.
Though I do recommend online research, I also recommend that you don’t allow yourself to be influenced by it – remember very few write good reviews and many write bad reviews. So for every 1 bad review written on a product, there would be about 10000 folks who have not bothered writing about their experiences (good or bad). Remember, the market has its own way of natural selection so a bad product would be killed off- naturally. And also, a review of a purchase involves a lot of personal sentiment- so it might be skewed towards the purchaser’s preferences. Sites like CNET, Toms hardware news, Tech Republic etc do offer reviews which tend to be more technical- do go through it and decide on the technical aspects of the system.
Lastly, spend about 1500 more and buy yourself a portable hard disk which is use ONLY for backup. After spending a song for the new machine, don’t scrounge on this. Remember, its your hardwork that goes for a toss if the hard disk crashes!
So, How is this like a buffet? Well, its simple:
- Decide how much
- Decide the experience you want
- Select the components