Choosing the right laptop is a lot like choosing a new car. It's a very personal decision motivated by budget, needs and of course some personal taste.
Let's start with the first criteria.
The quick list below will give you a reasonable idea of price ranges for different categories of laptop:
Donald Trumps worst nightmare
You're a businessman on a mission. You have e-mail, word, excel, powerpoint and internet explorer open at the same time. You toggle between huge spreadsheets and dynamic presentations while listening to a cd or streaming video. You need as much power as you can find and should settle for nothing less than a true intel processor. Expect to budget around R 14k +
A mobile warrior of note, you're either found in the office, working from a coffee shop, your car or an airport on your way to or from somewhere but can't quite recall which at times. You need speed, durability to handle the knocks of life and SAA's cabin crew all coupled with a battery life that could power a space shuttle. You definitely need to be in the R8k+ range to get what you need out of a laptop.
A millionaire in the making
You're a business person with a keen flair for creating documents, zapping off copious e-mails at all hours of the day and night and surf the internet better than a "dude" on Bondi beach when the waves hit their peak. You need reliability and features, features and more features becuase you just don't know what you'll be doing tomorrow. Expect to have a budget of between R6-8k for the basics.
Unashamedly normal, you pop out a few e-mails, play with the occasional spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation and surf the web. No great shakes really, you just need the basics and want it to be pretty and robust. Budget around R5-6k for an entry level unit that will be reliable and pleasant to work with.
Warning - warning - warning. We love a bargain as much as the next guy, but when you dip below the R5k mark for a laptop, you need to pay the most attention and really listen carefully to the salesmans patter to make sure that you don't end up with a high-tech doorstop in a few months. Make no mistake, getting a laptop between R4-5k is possible, but you really need to shop around. There are options in the celeron and centrino processing range that will do the basics, but don't be expecting lightning performance out of Pastel or a battery life above 2 hours. Read the fine print and hold onto your cash tightly until you're 100% satisfied that you're comfortable with what you're getting.
Ok, that being said, here are the do's and don'ts:
- Always check which version of Microsoft Windows will be on your laptop when you buy it. Yes, there are many different versions and a number of those don't allow you to connect to a company server - which would mean a lot of frustration with your new shiny toy when you can't couple to the work network to get your mail and files. Make sure you're fully aware of what operating system comes with your laptop.
- Microsoft Office (that's word, excel, powerpoint and outlook) rarely comes with a laptop (or pc) when you buy it. This is an additional product from Microsoft that you need to buy separately. It will always be cheapest to buy this at the same time as your new laptop so be sure to ask. Don't take for granted that the software is included and be careful of "starter editions" and "office ready" or "pre-loaded" always ask and make 100% sure you know what you're getting for your money.
- Ask if your laptop comes with a bag or not - bags can cost a few hundred Rands for a good one and many laptops like HP come with a carry bag as a standard
- Ask about the warranty - how long is it under warranty for and if you need something repaired under warranty, will it be repaired in your city or sent to Jhb for example for repair - in which case repairs could take 2 weeks or more. Find out in advance what the repair and warranty policy is.
- How many usb ports does it have? best to check that there are enough for your printer, cellphone, iPod, iPad, USB desk fan and of course external hard drive. If there are only two, remember to add the cost of a usb hub to give you a few more ports that you may need.
- What is the battery life and what does a replacement battery cost if you need one?
Happy hunting and of course, if you need advice, we're only a phone call or e-mail away. Feel free to schedule an appointment at our Cape Town or Centurion offices to discuss your requirements.