Buying Guide: How to Choose The Perfect Laptop

With the increasing number of advertisements and the decreasing prices of hardware, it might have become easier to choose the perfect laptop these days. Or has it? Well, there’s no such thing as the ‘perfect’ laptop. It is only whether a specific laptop is perfect for you or not, and that’s exactly what we’re about to address in this article. So here are some very simple steps that will help you choose a laptop that suits your needs perfectly. Some of these tips might seem too simple and rather cliché, but are important before you get your card swiped for that dream machine.


When buying gadgets, it is most important to know exactly what you’re buying and whether it is worth your money. If you see a laptop with a Core i3 CPU, 4 GB RAM, a 320 GB hard drive, an optical drive and discrete graphics for 32K, you know that it’s a value for money laptop. However, this is where the contemplation starts, as to whether you should buy a 30K laptop of a specific brand or buy a ‘better’ or ‘known’ brand that offers the same thing for a slightly higher price. The latter might offer you better after sales or might look slick, but its performance will be the same, because of the similar hardware. So the only decision you need to make is whether to pay a premium for the aesthetics and after sales. Ofcourse, this is just an example, the higher the price of the laptop, the more confusion there will be with regard to features and other aspects.

It is you who’s paying the money and you’re the one who’s going to use the laptop, technically, so why hesitate from asking questions? The sales rep might ask you as to what kind of laptop are you looking for, and when you say light, easy to carry and inexpensive, he might even show you a netbook and say it’s perfect for you. So get your facts straight. Netbooks are different from laptops in almost all aspects. Just because netbooks are cheaper, doesn’t mean that they are the perfect choice. The same goes for laptops across segments. Just because a particular laptop brand doesn’t have a super-model or celebrity as their brand ambassador doesn’t mean that it’s inferior. The point is; that you need to make a mental note of your priorities, such as applications you want to use, and ask the sales rep whether the machine is capable of running those applications seamlessly. If you’re not convinced with what he’s telling you, you can always come back after doing some research.

Read reviews
This is the most important step you must take before your purchase. It doesn’t cost much to know as to which laptop would be best for you, as there are online reviews which will tell you why the laptop is good or bad and whether it suits your needs. If you’re not accustomed to technology websites, use search engines, type the model number of the laptop and read up.

Reviews are great sources to give you an idea on what the product is capable of

Reviews are great sources to give you an idea on what the product is capable of


Word of mouth is a very powerful source of influence when you purchase anything, so why should gadgets be any different? When you ask a friend or associate as to which laptop you should buy, more often than not, you’ll hear a brand name, say Dell, HP, Lenovo and others that are usually advertised in news papers and other mediums. However, one Dell laptop may suit your requirement and another might not, and the same applies to all brands. Once you’ve singled out a model, read reviews and also see what other users are saying about it. This way you get a broader perspective and know exactly what the laptop has to offer. Needless to mention that, if your purchasing your laptop online, then reading reviews is a given.

This is something you’ll either get to know from the reviews you read, or if you have a friend using a similar model, or, it’s best if you go check it out yourself. There are aspects like build quality, sturdiness, ergonomics, how comfortable the keyboard, touchpad and mouse buttons are, whether the screen size is sufficient, how heavy the machine is. These are tangible things that you can’t measure just by looking at the product online. However, if you don’t have access to the model, online reviews are a good option to bank on.

Again, performance is something that can only be measured once you use a laptop. If you already own one, then here’s what you can do. Usually every review has performance benchmarks, and to see how the new laptop measures up against your existing one, you can run similar benchmarks on your laptop. This way you’ll know how fast the new laptop would be. If your old laptop completed a file compression task in say 110 seconds, and the same task can be completed in 45 seconds on the new machine, the verdict is obvious. However, it’s advisable to run a series of different tests, and not just bank on one.

Don’t make price the only factor
A mistake that many people make is that they weigh the whole situation with respect to the price of the product. You’ll have to be slightly flexible if you really want a good deal. You don’t want to be stuck with a laptop which fits perfectly into your budget, but cannot do half of the tasks that you actually bought the laptop for. So it’s a good idea to increase your budget slightly and see what you get. The competition across brands is pretty fierce and chances are that, for a few hundred rupees more, you might get exactly what you’re looking for.

Keyboard layouts, connectors etc. are things to keep in mind

Keyboard layouts, connectors etc. are things to keep in mind


Advertisements are a means to make a product look good or atleast make it sound interesting enough for people to buy. Now, we’re not saying that ads mislead people, however they bring out the best in a product upfront which usually attracts people into purchasing it. So it’s a good idea to probe and see whether you actually need the laptop that’s being offered at a ‘discounted price’ or comes with ‘freebies’. How good is a laptop that comes with a free carry bag, a Bluetooth dongle, headphones and such, but is unable to run applications that you want to use? On the other hand, if you’re happy with using the laptop, then everything else matters less. Remember, in comparison to your laptop purchase, these accessories are cheap, and also, they can be bought separately. On the other hand, if you like a 5-star rated product with freebies at a good price, then it’s a clear sign that it’s time to stop contemplating.

Interpret ratings
If a laptop is really good, then you’ll notice that it is rated as 4.5 or even 5 by different reviewers. Essentially, a 3.5 rating would mean that the laptop is average, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good product. The rating might have dropped slightly due to the slightly higher price or comparatively inferior looks. So, it’s a good idea to read the final verdict of the review. Also, appearance is quite relative, so you don’t want to rule out an excellent product just because it got a lower rating based on looks.

Avoid compromise
If you’re getting an Intel Core i3 laptop by say Rs 2,000 more, then it’s better than settling for a machine with older hardware such as a Core 2 Duo machine. If a 27K laptop looks really good and performs well too, why buy the 25K machine just because it costs slightly cheaper. Remember, you’ll be using the machine for atleast a couple of years, if not more.

Check the warranty and service
All laptops come with warranty, but the after sales service differs across brands. Dell, Apple, Asus and HP are a few brands that offer excellent after sales service, but clearly, they are slightly more expensive when it comes to value for money and price-performance ratio. Or let’s put this as, other brands offer slightly cheaper laptops, where their value for money is better than after sales service. In any case, it’s your call to decide whether after sales service is more important or the initial cost of the laptop (laptop parts can be really expensive, especially the screen).

These are just a handful of steps that are within reach of every person who wants to buy a laptop. Given a choice, you can even go out there to malls and retail outlets to check out various brands and models. This is a biggie especially if you’re style-conscious. Also, see what friends have to say, and listen to the reason as to why they like their laptop. If those reasons are similar to what you’re looking for, you’re on the right track.

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Published Date: Sep 13, 2010 10:18 am | Updated Date: Sep 13, 2010 10:18 am