Laptop buy options, shopping sources and merchant comparisons.

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Laptop buy options, shopping sources and merchant comparisons. Laptop Buy Options & Sources


A great laptop buy. Think of it as a game. The object: get the laptop computer of your dreams at a price that would make Scrooge happy. Your opponent: every on and off-line store vying for your hard earned dollars. Strategy is critical to winning any game. If you know the strengths and weaknesses of any merchants you're dealing with you know beforehand that you're shopping smart.

Although there is no single best way to shop for a laptop computer, the more decisions you make before you pick up the phone, visit a website, or trudge over to your local computer store looking for the perfect laptop buy, the better off you'll be. Decide, for instance, what type of machine you want: a laptop decked out for gaming or are you a road warrior looking for an ultraportable to ease the strain of running to catch all those cross-country flights. How much hard disk space and memory do you need? What size viewing screen? Is weight a primary consideration?

Why is this important? Because you'll establish your needs (what you must have), your wants (what you'd like to have), and your budget (what you can realistically afford). Making these decisions beforehand takes a lot of the emotion out of the buying process, and it helps ensure that you don't buy more than you need or spend more than you can afford.

Let's take a look at the different types of merchants and what you can expect to receive and not receive from each laptop buy vendor class.

Laptop Buy Options

A Laptop Buy Factory Direct: The Good Side

  • Most build to order, so you get the latest technology.
  • Great selection of components and configurations.
  • Special free upgrades, discounted or free shipping, mail-in rebates,

    and other incentives can cut costs.
  • Better and longer warranties.
  • Extended warranties and service policies available (at extra cost).
  • Knowledgeable sales reps.
  • Great tech-support hours.

Factory Direct: The Down Side

  • Often pay list price (be sure to scan rebates section).
  • You can't try before you buy.
  • Tech-support lines often clogged during prime time.
  • Beware of fly-by-night companies whose ads promise

    too-good-to-be-true prices.
  • You must know exactly what you want.

Factory Direct Sources

  • Dell
  • Gateway
  • Toshiba
  • HP/Compaq
  • Fujitsu
  • Acer

A Laptop Buy at On-Line Computer Superstores: The Good Side

  • Large product selection.
  • Very competitive prices. Far better than the factory-direct manufacturers sites.
  • Always have different "specials" for overstock and inventory reduction.
  • Frequent "blow-out" sales slash prices.
  • Good selection of factory-refurbished models.
  • Most ship the same day and often with free shipping.
  • Good return policies.

Online Computer Superstores: The Down Side

  • Selection size can overwhelm first-time buyers.
  • Configurations can't be customized.
  • Sales reps often have limited expertise.

A Laptop Buy at Local Computer Stores: The Good Side Blog de frases con imágenes y fotos en general, amor, animales, paisajes Frases con imagenes

  • Great for beginners.
  • More personalized service.
  • Knowledgeable sales staff.
  • Better product support; many offer training.
  • They service what they sell.

Local Computer Stores: The Down Side

  • Cannot compete on price. Pricing can run high.
  • Limited selection, although they can usually order what you want.
  • Caution: Make sure your local store has been in

    business at least five years.

Local Computer Store Sources

  • Consult your local Yellow Pages.

A Laptop at Office-Supply Superstores: The Good Side

  • New models from major manufacturers at competitive prices.
  • Price-protection and price-matching policies.
  • Genuine bargains, although quantities are usually

    limited to stock on-hand or what's available in another branch.
  • Many offer "same-as-cash-financing" and extended

    warranties that kick in after the manufacturer's warranty expires.
  • Generous return policy.

Office-Supply Superstores: The Down Side

  • Limited selection of new models.
  • Often no in-store service department.
  • Knowledge of sales varies from store-to store,

    but it's better than most retail chains or warehouse clubs.

Office-Supply Superstore Sources:

  • Staples
  • Office Depot
  • Office Max

A Laptop at Home Electronic Stores: The Good Side

  • Generous financing and return policies.
  • Smaller selection and frequently older models.
Home Electronic Stores: The Down Side
  • Limited ability to upgrade before taking delivery.
  • Commissioned based sales staff sometimes steer

    you toward products based on what they're paid,

    instead of what you want or need.

A Laptop at Warehouse Clubs: The Good Side

  • High volume translates to significant

    savings on some models over computer retailers.
  • Usually offer a no-questions-asked return policy

    within a 90-120 day time period. Verify with your local store.

Warehouse Clubs: The Down Side

  • Less selection.
  • Selection usually lags behind what you'll find

    factory-direct, mail-order, or in computer stores.
  • What you see is what you get--no ability to customize.
  • Very limited in-store sales help.
  • Service or support only available from the manufacturer.

Warehouse Club Sources

  • Sam's Club
  • BJ's
  • Costco

 Laptop Buying Tip

When purchasing a laptop with Windows Vista, remember that Vista is a RAM memory hog. 512MB won't do it. 1GB is okay, but you'll be much happier with the speed of your laptop with at least 1.5GB. Leave the 512MB chip installed and install a 1GB chip in the empty slot.

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