Making a decision on which notebook to buy isn’t an easy one, as if lacking the knowledge to understand the details and specifications wasn’t bad enough, one can’t help but being bombarded by worrisome thoughts like whether the notebook will serve its purpose well or whether one had spent more than required. To make matters worse, there are sales people who quite often mislead potential buyers by painting exaggerated pictures.
Unlike the PC Buying Guide Buying guide, the Notebook Buying Guide will be using a different approach on determining which is the right notebook for you.
Notebooks, unlike PCs, are not flexible in terms of customization and quite often you’re not given much choice on upgrades other than the RAM size and a few other things. It’s impossible to have a comparison like the one seen in PC Buying Guide as there are hordes of notebook brands and to keep track of their ever-changing models, specifications and price would be a tedious task, state their price and specifications wrongly and I could get into trouble. Sorry, no hot-soup for me. Thank you.
So how do we go about deciding on which notebook to buy then? Some people say the best way to decide which notebook (a.k.a. laptop) to purchase is easily done, just compare the specifications of the notebook will do. Yeah sure but do people know what they’re comparing in the first place?
In this article, I will be covering non-technical aspects of buying a notebook that are important but quite often overlooked.
For Your Consideration
Here are some practical and non-technical factors that you should consider before making your purchase. 🙂
Note : Some part of this guide is not applicable for online purchase. Use common sense when necessary.
This is the MOST important point to consider in all your computer purchases, whether it’s for notebook or a PC or even a single component – what do you want out of it? It’s like buying a car, you buy the one that serves your purpose best.
You need to know what you intend to do with it, for example – is this machine just for typing documents and browsing the Internet? Is it for presentation? Will this notebook follow you every where?
I know it’s obvious that you can’t buy what you cannot afford, but purchasing a notebook is more than just buying the notebook itself.
Sometimes you need to consider whether to spend on accessories, such as a carrying medium if it doesn’t come along with the package, an additional mouse for convenience, or even various upgrades or support from the seller, so on so forth.
Dimension (Width & Depth)
Do prefer something small? Would you mind if it’s big enough to be used as a tray? Take a look around, choose one that you’re comfortable with. The dimension of the notebook will determine the screen size for your notebook.
I wouldn’t recommend anyone to bother about height unless they have preference for notebooks that are slim when closed.
Try carrying it, I’m sure the shopkeeper / sales person would let you try that as long as you don’t drop it. Feel the weight of the notebook, see if you’re comfortable with it.
If you find the weight is just nice then you’ll have to bear in mind that what you’re carrying is just the notebook alone. After your purchase, you’ll be carrying more stuff along as you’ll normally receive a free bag and inside the bag you’ll be placing stuff like power adapters and various other what-nots that you may decide to stash in there.
While testing the weight, it’s very likely that you’ll be estimating the weight by lifting it with both hands. In actual usage, the notebook is carried on your shoulders most of the time. Don’t believe me? Just look around the next time go out, most people carry their notebook on their shoulders with a slingbag. The only time the notebook is carried by your two hands is when you move it in or out of the carrying medium, or perhaps when moving across short distances with less than 10 seconds travel time.
Not all notebook monitors are the same. Some monitors are better than others. As you check out the notebooks, note the notebook models that have monitor output that satisfy your eyes. Ask the sales person about the monitor type if you’re in doubt or if it’s not stated. Do remember that I mentioned that the notebook dimension also determines the size of the monitor. So on a smaller sized notebook, you could be on the same resolution but at a smaller scale, so take note of the screen and how small the words could be.
Keyboard & Touchpad (Ergonomics)
Make sure you try out the keyboard and touchpad as well. Imagine yourself typing a document and browsing the Internet. Type some stuff, moving your finger along the touchpad, click on the touchpad buttons. Do you find it too sensitive? Do you find it difficult to use the touchpad buttons? Does the touchpad interface feel rough? 🙂 Make sure you choose a notebook that you’re comfortable in using the keyboard and touchpad.
Warranty & Support
This is probably the most important aspect of notebook purchase and quite often overlooked. You must know in detail what you’re getting.
– How many years of warranty do you get? eg. 1 year? 3 years?
– What does the warranty cover? eg. Does it cover accidents like spills?
– Is the warranty recognized Internationally? This might matter if you intend to buy it some place and use it more often in another place.
– How’s the support availability? eg. Do you have to bring to their Service Center or can they come to you instead?
– Are there any support upgrades? Like DELL for example, they provide a basic level of warranty but gives you various warranty upgrade options.
– Does doing my own upgrade void warranty? Yes, this should be brought into consideration. It could be cheaper to upgrade on your own, like RAM size for example, but will it void the warranty? Remember to verify this with your seller.
Paying for good-looking notebook is not necessary. Only consider paying for good looks only when you are required to impress people you meet. 🙂
So there you have it, a guide that works even a few years from now. For a more technical approach, head on to Notebook Buying Guide : A Technical Approach – the second part of the Notebook Buying Guide. 🙂
I’ll update both articles from time to time if some good ideas come up. If you have any way to improve this guide? Leave a comment or contact me. I’d love to hear what you have in mind.