Are you on the prowl for a new laptop? Today's laptop market offers something for everyone. Small netbooks are ideal for Web browsing and simple tasks, while powerful laptops are great for gaming and other resource-intensive software. Affordable options exist for shoppers on tight budgets; while high-end gaming laptops typically cost more than $1,000, cheaper laptops capable of running the same software can be purchased at nearly half the price, but with small declines in performance. Deciding which laptop to buy usually comes down to finding the balance between how much you can spend and the degree of performance you need.
Which operating system comes installed on this laptop?
Most laptops come complete with a factory-installed operating system, so make sure to ask your sales staff which operating system is installed (including which version of the OS), especially if you have other hardware or peripherals that require a certain OS to run properly.
Does this laptop have a built-in Web cam and microphone?
Built-in Web cams and microphones are somewhat standard on new laptops these days, but not all new models include these features. Even if you're not planning on using your Web cam and mic, these features are especially useful with chat and teleconferencing programs such as Skype and FaceTime, which are gaining in popularity. These features are especially useful for college students, as more professors and study groups are utilizing this online communication technology.
Can I play the latest games on this laptop?
If you intend to use your laptop to play some of the latest, graphics-heavy games, make sure to ask the sales staff before you buy. The biggest issue with most laptops is the graphics card, and even with a powerful processor and plenty of ram, you'll have a hard time getting most newer games to run with basic on-board graphics. Ask which laptops are designed for gaming and check online benchmark tests for performance reviews on specific laptop models. Mid-level Toshiba laptops are generally affordable options for playing newer games on lower settings.
Can I buy this laptop cheaper online?
Two of the best places for buying laptops are TigerDirect.com and Newegg.com, online retailers that specialize in electronics. You can also find great online laptop deals at Amazom.com, which gives you a breakdown of which retailers sell which laptops at various prices. Never buy a laptop until you've searched for online laptop discounts. If you're determined to buy from your local electronics store, you can always ask that store to match lower prices you find online.
Does this laptop have a CD/DVD drive?
In an effort to make laptops slimmer, lighter and more compact, many now come sans CD/DVD drive, which many would argue are unnecessary to begin with. If you require a CD/DVD drive, however, make sure to check with sales staff or read the product specs online before purchasing!
Is this laptop reliable?
Different brands of laptops have different track records for reliability. For example, Toshiba laptops are generally regarded as dependable, while HP laptops have some of the higher return rates of all the major laptop brands. Before buying a laptop, search for online reviews about that model to see what you can learn about that model's durability. Sometimes, you may find great laptop deals that don't seem as impressive when considering the long run.
Will this laptop work for my needs?
Depending on what you are most likely to use your laptop for, some will work better for your needs than others. If you're primarily going to be browsing the web and checking email, most laptops on the market will work well for your needs, but power users and gamers will require more precise specs. Talk to the sales staff to find out which laptop will work best for your needs, while still staying within your budget.
What does your warranty policy cover?
Find out what parts of the laptop the manufacturer covers in their warranty and if they will do the servicing themselves, if you have to ship it to them, or if they will outsource the repairs to a local vendor.
Do you have any recommendations for me?
If you have a friend or family member that is good with computers, ask them if they have any recommendations for you, making sure you tell them what your wants and needs for a laptop are.
What is your return policy on laptops?
Make sure you find out what the return policy is for the vendor you're purchasing the laptop from because there are occasions when laptop are "dead on arrival." If the return policy on the laptop is not favorable for the customer, you should look for the laptop elsewhere.
Do you offer an extended warranty that covers accidental damage?
Accidents happen, especially with portable electronics. Many larger retailers offer protection plans that will cover repairs or replacement in the event that your laptop gets damaged due to drops, spills or other mishaps. Ask the sales staff whether they offer a protection plan and what it covers!