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3 Important Tips for Buying a Laptop

Updated on October 14, 2009
Ninja Laptops?
Ninja Laptops?

Learn the Secrets of the Ninja Laptop Masters!

Sort of. Ninja Masters probably used abacuses and their lightning-quick reflexes to calculate weapon trajectory. If you insist on something more high-tech, these tips will help you. Here are a few tidbits they won't tell you at the laptop store.

Always Buy 3 Years of Protection

Actually, purchase 2 kinds of protection. Purchase the extended warranty and strongly consider the accidental damage coverage. Laptops break. I sell quite a few and eventually most come back. Modern cell phones, which have no moving parts, don't even last 3 years. Laptops are both electronic and mechanical. We subject our portable computers to extremes of heat, cold, and shock that would make us miserable. If you're not comfortable, your laptop isn't comfortable. Repair center technicians can discern the difference between damage and warranty-related failure. Returning your shattered screen for warranty replacement is futile.

Ask Where it Will be Fixed

Before you buy the warranty (before you buy the computer), ask the salesperson where to find the repair depot. Press for a detailed answer. You will probably learn about a 2-tiered repair system. Level 1 might be in the store or relatively nearby. The level 1 technicians handle basic problems like corrupted hard drives or intermittent keyboards. They can swap out parts but their diagnostic skills are limited. Serious problems may require an extended trip to the manufacturer. That hospital might be in another time zone. The turn-around for a factory repair could be as long as a week or two. You must decide how long you are willing to be without your computer. Be wary of loaner machines. You'll have to pay for all your files and programs to be transferred to the loaner, then transferred back when your original computer returns.

You Get What You Pay For

The hot deals these days are refurbs. Refurbished computers sell for much less than new machines because they are used and they are usually one or two steps behind the performance curve. You probably won't notice the performance shortcomings. However, You are buying a unit that's been reconditioned after someone else employed it. The concept is almost the same as a used car. Unfortunately no CarFax service exists for your refurbished computer. You have no idea if it's been subjected to extremes of heat and cold or if it's been kicked around the room by a toddler. Hopefully you recognize this as another reason to add the extended warranty.
Don't worry about viruses or spyware on refurbs; each hard drive is thoroughly scrubbed at the factory.

I am comfortable with refurbs if the coverage is sufficient. Since I expect it to fail anyway, it makes sense to let the previous owner absorb the depreciation. Regardless of whether you purchase new or preowned, be sure to develop an effective back-up strategy that works or you. In a strange way you may be more conscientious about backing up your files if you are slightly suspicious of the hardware.


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