The Simple Guide to Buying a New Laptop

If you need the performance of a desktop machine, but on the go, you want a laptop. These machines can offer a pretty wide range of features and can can also range pretty wildly in price, from around $350 to $2,000, so doing your research on this purchase is definitely recommended.

Short & Sweet

For those who don’t really want to do the research, I’ll just throw out a few great models. I haven’t tried out every laptop myself though and I’m not a professional reviewer, so while I can’t guarantee that these will be the very best or even most up-to-date suggestions, they’ll be models that the vast majority of owners are happy with.

My Business Recommendation: The Lenovo Thinkpad T420 is durable, comfortable for extended use, and features a whopping 10-hour battery life. Like many Lenovo machines, it’s not the most stylish, but it’s not designed for that. It’s the epitome of practical.

My Budget RecommendationThe HP Pavilion G4 balances performance and price to help you get the job done at a netbook-like price. If you’re short on cash and don’t have any unusual demands for your laptop, this could be the right machine for you.

My Luxury Recommendation: The MacBook Pro is slick, powerful, versatile and meticulously designed. But that’s reflected in the price tag.

My Gaming Recommendation: The Alienware M17x will fulfill your gaming desires and probably also impress your friends. There’s no getting around it though: gaming laptops don’t come cheap. Unless you really need to be gaming on the go, you can save over $1000 by just using a desktop as your gaming machine.

If you already know you want to go for one of these, skip down to Getting a Great Deal section below.

Way of the Geek

Now, for those willing to do a little more research and put in a little more time, you’ll be rewarded with a laptop especially suited to your specific tastes and needs – plus, you’ll save money, possibly in the hundreds of dollars.

Step 1: Check out some reviews

Here are some links that may help you shop for a new laptop:

Step 2: Try it out before you buy

Once you find some models you like, it’s a good idea to look for them on display at stores like Staples or Best Buy. You probably don’t want to make your purchase here, but you can still give these machines a test drive. In particular, you’ll want to make sure the screen looks good to you, the keyboard feels comfortable, and the touchpad works smoothly. You may also want to pick up the laptop and judge whether it’s something you could see yourself hauling around.

Getting a Great Deal

Here are some great sites to shop for laptops, with manufacturer-specific sites listed last:

  • TigerDirect.com often has deals for popular laptops – just go to the site and search for the model you’re looking for.
  • Amazon.com is another great resource, especially for refurbished machines. Just make sure, if you buy from an independent seller, that they have at least 1,000 ratings (though more is better) and a satisfaction percentage in the high 90s.
  • Overstock.com has a lot of discounted laptops, both new and refurbished.
  • eBay.com is another place to get laptops, though if you buy here, you want to make sure you’re getting either a new machine or manufacturer refurbished - not seller refurbished. Also make sure that you’re buying from an eBay top seller.
  • NewEgg.com has a limited range of laptops, but it can never hurt to do a quick search and see if they have a deal on what you’re looking for. Buying from NewEgg usually lets you avoid paying sales tax and you can sometimes even buy below the Minimum Advertised Price, which is why you can sometimes only see the price of any item once it’s in your shopping cart.
  • The Dell Outlet Store sells refurbished Dell laptops, often with incredible deals on Scratch & Dent items. The items in the store change every day though, so if you don’t see the particular machine you’re looking for, just check again tomorrow.
  • Toshiba.com lets you browse through Toshiba’s laptops and even see prices, though you can’t buy directly from their website. In order to make in order, they’ll point you to a few authorized resellers.
  • HP.com, like the Dell website, allows you to purchase and even customize laptops right from their website, without going through a retailer.

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