When buying a gadget or an electrical appliance, you want something that’s shiny, sleek and is made using the latest that technology has to offer. However, these products are on the high end of the price spectrum, so they are not necessarily something that typical consumers can afford.
What if you’re a student and you need a laptop computer for your college work? You don’t really have the budget to buy a Macbook Pro or the most expensive model from Dell, HP or Acer, so you look for more affordable laptop models.
The good news is that there are certain compromises that you can make to buy a laptop that’s within your budget, but without sacrificing so much on features and functionality.
Wanna Save Big on Buying a Laptop? Skip the Features You Don’t Really Need!
When shopping for a new laptop, there are certain traps that you should not fall into. Number one is that you should not go over budget. There is a tendency for buyers to get carried away, wanting more memory, better features or a higher speed. There’s nothing wrong in paying extra for such features but if you will end up not using them, anyway, you will just be wasting your money.
To give you more of an idea about how you can save big when buying a laptop, here are some of the features that you most probably do not need:
A backlit keyboard is not necessarily a standard laptop feature so you need to pay extra if you want one. Although this is a pretty cool feature to have, the light used to illuminate the keyboard actually decreases your laptop’s battery life. You can simply rely on your touch typing skills or look for an overhead light instead of paying extra for a high-end laptop, simply because you want a backlit keyboard.
Unless you’re a graphic designer, a gamer or a video editor, you would not need discrete graphics. This feature is included in laptops with high-end GPUs, and it typically raises the unit price of the computer so it is something that you could most probably do without.
Ethernet Port/VGA Port
An Ethernet port is the old school way of connecting to the Internet. But now that almost every café, airport, mall, park and even airplane offer wireless Internet access, you do not necessarily need a laptop with an Ethernet port. A VGA port which allows you to connect your laptop to a projector or a TV monitor is also something that you can skip. The newer HDMI and DisplayPort features are better.
Also called IIEE 1394, Firewire was a feature developed by Apple during the 1980s and 1990s. This technology has been recently replaced by USB ports which are present among all laptops and other gadgets, so you don’t really need a laptop with Firewire.
With the proliferation of video chatting services, laptop manufacturers have thought to incorporate High-Definition webcams on their devices. This is likely to leave you frustrated, however, because you cannot use the feature to its full potential. The bandwidth limitations and the speed by which the people you are video chatting with use to connect may limit the capabilities of the HD webcam, anyway.
Kensington Lock Slot
A Kensington lock slot allows laptop users to use a cable and a lock to physically secure the computer somewhere. Most low-end laptop models do not have this and if you’re a casual user who does not frequently go to coffee shops or public places to work, you might not need this feature at all.
From premium cable TV shows to music and games, everything is going digital these days so there is no need for you to pay extra for an optical drive.
Finally, do not be tempted to go over your budget ceiling when buying a laptop just so that you can have a core i5 or a core i7 processor. If you are simply using a browser to do quick searches on Google or if you only work with one Microsoft Word document at a time, there is no need for you to invest in a laptop with such powerful, expensive processors.
Ways to Save Big When Buying a Laptop
Now that you already have an idea about the features that you can skip when buying a laptop computer, what other ways are there for you to save big when purchasing such a gadget? Take a look at the following list:
What will you be using the laptop for?
The price range of laptop computers is anywhere from under $500, to as much as a couple of thousand dollars. This variety in prices simply shows how many options there are for the typical laptop user. The number one thing that you need to consider when buying a laptop is: what will you be using it for?
If you’re a college student who will simply be using it for word processing, e-mail and research, a budget laptop would be suitable for you. If you’re a gamer, a graphic designer, a video editor or a photographer, you might need a bigger-screen laptop with high-end specs. If you’re a web developer, you would also need a model that’s from the mid- to the high-end price range.
Again, choose a laptop model based on what you will be using it for. Don’t bother paying for extra features that you do not need in the long run so you won’t end up wasting your money.
Familiarize yourself with the laptop’s specs
Again, being a wise buyer all boils down to knowing exactly what you need from a gadget. If you are looking for a gaming laptop, you would need a model with sufficient specs like a high-end video card and excellent sound to boost your gaming experience. If you’re a student, you can easily stick with a laptop that has a 15-inch screen because there are many budget models available under this form factor.
According to MoneyCrashers.com, the average laptop user would only need the following specs for a computer: 2GB RAM, 100 GB hard drive; any core duo processor that’s above 2.0 GHz; and a wireless card G/N. You might also need a built-in webcam, HDMI hook-ups and Bluetooth capabilities. For other applications, you may want to look for higher or better specs but for typical, everyday computing use, these specs should do.
Consider buying last year’s model
Similar to when you’re buying mobile phones, gaming consoles or other high-tech gadgets, a newer model is bound to come out after just a few months – that is how fast technology is evolving. That $1,000 laptop that you bought now will depreciate in the market in just a matter of months or even weeks – so it pays to consider buying last year’s model.
If you really want to own a specific model, don’t immediately buy it once it comes out of the market. Wait for a few months for the price to go down so that you can get a better deal.
Shop from online outlets
If you want to get great prices not just for laptops but other electronic items, you may wish to avoid giant electronics stores. You can purchase what you need from online outlets instead. From these outlets, you can take your pick from open-box items which are sold at discounted rates.
Make a comparison of the prices offered at different websites
Once you have a specific laptop model in mind, check on the available prices at Amazon.com and the official website of the manufacturer. You can also check out great deals from tech websites which offer a review of the latest laptop models which are released in the market.
Once you’re decided on the laptop model and brand, you should naturally buy from a reputable website which offers the lowest rate for the product. Some of the websites that you can visit for comparison shopping purposes are MySimon.com and PriceGrabber.com.
Know how to look for discounts
There are many tech websites and laptop manufacturer websites which are more than willing to offer you great discounts for their products once you sign-up for their newsletters. You can also go online to search for discount codes, voucher codes and similar offers. Better yet, wait for the big tech sale like Cyber Monday or Black Friday where almost all laptops and electronic products are sold with huge price slash-offs.
You can also take advantage of student discounts which are usually offered by companies like Apple and Dell, Acer, PC World and Apple all offer refurbished laptops at reduced prices – if you are considering buying such.
You can also take advantage of rebate purchases to enjoy even more savings. Based from this list, you can see that there are many ways for you to save big when buying a laptop computer. Just because you’re buying it cheap does not mean that the quality of the machine needs to be sacrificed.
As long as you know exactly what the laptop will be used for, you can find a suitable model with the features that you need, at a price that will not burn a hole in your pocket.