Part 1 of The Laptop Buyer's Guide.
If you're a complete beginner to buying a laptop computer, this is without a doubt the simplest, yet most important piece of advice that you'll ever read. I know that this is a very powerful claim but failing to heed this tip can cause you unnecessary frustration and a serious waste of your time and money.
With that said, the first and most important step you must take before you even start any sort of shopping around, price comparing or product review reading is (drums please!)...
Yup! Ask yourself "why". That is more than enough. Asking yourself why you want to buy a notebook will determine wether you get the best possible machine for the best possible price or if you'll just make a decision that will cost you in weeks and months to come.
Let me explain... for some reasons still unknown to me, when people decide to buy a thing, they usually turn to individuals whose advice is actually better to avoid. By the way: Just for your information "laptop" and "notebook" are the two common words used to describe these type of portable computers. Quite frankly, I have no idea which of the two terms is the proper one but I know that technology savvy people and manufacturers tend to use the latter and consumers settle for the former.
If you venture into the laptop department at your local computer store and ask one of those friendly salespeople, pardon me, 'customer assistants' for advice you will invariably be asked one question: "How much money do you have to spend?". This, my friend, is your cue to secure your wallet and run.
The salesperson wants to determine your budget and then 'advise' you on how to spend every penny of it, thereby maximizing his or her commission or meeting a quota. A few months down the line you may realize that you don't even use many of the bells and whistles for which you paid dearly.
On the other hand, if you ever ask a technophile -- someone who's in love with technology and who lives for the latest, fastest or most powerful gismos -- for some laptop buying help, he'll recommend to you the latest, fastest and most powerful notebook computer.
This causes a problem for two main reasons: 1) any thing that is "latest" is most of the times also "more expensive" besides being unnecessary. 2) you can never win at the "latest craze" game as faster and more powerful portable computers enter the market on a weekly basis. You will never have the most powerful laptop on the block, period.
There's also a third group of people who will try to give you advice regarding a notebook purchase: Those whose money is at stake.... Some of such people are called bosses, financial managers, parents :), husbands or wives, banks, basically anyone whose money you might use to finance your laptop computer (except for loan sharks of course...).
I know of an accounting firm that provides its auditors with laptops to use on the move. I kid you not, these notebooks spend more than two thirds of their life cycle being serviced because they are such cheap and useless piece of... garbage -- I almost swore! :)
And there are more people who will try to give you advice. They do it because they want to help out or show off but ultimately, only YOU know what is the best laptop computer for you. There isn't any shortage of advice in this world but most of the times, it will throw you off track by confusing you.
Again, ask yourself:
Why do I *really* need a laptop?
Then write down your *exact* motives.
Enough preaching, here's a quick practical example before I finish off...
Suppose that you're a working mother with two wonderful children with so many different hobbies and after school activities that you spend half your days driving them back and forth. You feel that you need to purchase a laptop because you could be writing more of your book that's in the pipeline but also polish all the columns you write as a freelance writer for extreme combats related publications, while you sit and wait for your daughter to finish her kick boxing classes and your son to finish the wrestling practice (pretty rough family, you mob are :)
That is a pretty good reason why and a smart one if you may allow me to give you a compliment. With that in mind, when you decide to buy the notebook, you'll know that the latest Pentium IV 2.8 GHz with 40 Gb is a very nice laptop but not for you thanks...
Ask yourself "Exactly why do I need a laptop computer?" and your answer will be your ultimate guide in your shopping journey.
Now that you know exactly why you want that laptop, let's get to tracking down the one with your name on it.