Laptop buying advise

Ocassionally I’m recommended as “the guy who knows computers” to help friend-of-a-friend computer newbies make a right choice when shopping for a computer. Usually my job here is to make sure that they don’t be too thrifty for RAM, or don’t spend too much on processor or graphics if it’s an office/internet machine.

In past month or so, two ladies asked if I could help them make a right choice for their new laptop.

My first question is always about the budget, followed by the usual ones (although I knew the answers) such as: “what’s the main purpose of the computer?”, “do you care about the screen size?”, “do you have a preferred operating system?”, etc.

Then the wishlists

Wishlist 1:

  • I’m ready to spend around 1000 for a good piece. (Hey, it’d better be a good one for the money!)
  • Which brand would you recommend? (I’ve only used Dells so far and I’m really OK with them. You can’t go wrong with IBM.)
  • How about Toshiba? (Well, from what I’ve heard it’s 3rd class in terms of laptop users satisfaction. However, I’m pretty sure computer geeks get frustrated about stuff that an average user could get along well or even consider it a feature.)
  • What do you think of this Toshiba Satellite S234 XYZ? And M34PQR? (No idea before I look inside…)

After some net browsing for IBMs, Dells, Sonys and HPs (being the first and second choice from my side) we kept returning to Toshiba Satellite A300 XYZ.

But it’s so nice!

So, after calling the store, the sales guy recommended the A300 PQR as the best buy at that time. I agreed it’s a better balance of resources/money so it was a deal.

Wishlist 2:

  • It shouldn’t cost more than 500.
  • I want it to be small so I can carry it around. I’ve heard about 10″ screens. (But your eyes won’t be happy to have to look at the spreadsheets with those glasses, I’m afraid.)
  • It should have 2 something (No problem! 2GHz, 2GB is about standard.)

This time we went to a shop.

We have a great deal for Dell Studio models and some Toshiba’s!

After looking at a number of small ones which sacrifice the performance in favor of size, I attached myself to 15.4 Dell Studios available in different colors and two different processor/memory options. I thought this was my five minutes: for like 40 more money you get a better processor and an extra GB of RAM! And even the more expensive one was within the budget!

Guess what? We kept returning to Toshiba Satellite A300 XYZ.

But it’s 700!

But of course, it was so nice and shiny…

Conclusion: when picking a laptop for a lady, pretend it’s a pair of shoes. Try to let her see as much different models as possible. She’ll eventually love one of those, and then you can see if custom options are available to adjust the price/performance.

But wait, it reminds me of my desktop tower case… I was in love with a Chieftec, but it wasn’t available in black, so I’ve had to go for a compromise. It did hurt.

I guess it’s just a matter of taste, and numbers are not so important anymore.

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