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Buying Tips, Erick's Laws


Last Updated: July 31, 2000

The following are some guidelines that I and a few others follow when it comes to buying a notebook:

  1. You are the FINAL judge!
    Notebooks are sort of like underwear... very personal. Just because one "fits" someone else, may not mean it will fit you. You can read all the reviews and look at all the websites (like mine), but when it comes down to it... only you can tell if it is right for you. So... what does that mean? Well, when you narrow it down to price and features, try it out to see how it is. Notebooks are not as interchangeable like desktop machines, you can't change the keyboard, pointing device or screen later on if it doesn't suit you, you have to be sure that what you have is what you will be happy with for the next 2 or 3 years.
  2. You have to buy sometime, now or later, but when you decide, do it!
    I know everyone is afraid of obsolescence, but no matter what, mobile technology will always move. Whether you wait for the new Celeron mobiles or the Pentium IIIs, there will always be a new notebook on the horizon, which takes me to...
  3. Buy what you need now and if you can afford it, what you may need in the future.
    Some people get caught up on trying to get the newest thing or making sure that their notebook has the ability to "expand" in the future. As I said above, there will always be something new so just get what you can use and more importantly what you can afford. And if you got the extra cash, try to go for something with the newer technologies so that your machine will last that much longer, but don't get too greedy. Zoomed Video may sound good, but do you really need it? In actuality, you should be concerned about getting CardBus support or USB because that has more expansion possibilities than Zoomed Video. And remember, your notebook WILL be obsolete one day, so don't expect too much out of it in the future, just get the most out of it that you can in the present.
  4. ALWAYS get the extended warranty!
    I can't stress this enough... if you plan to keep your notebook longer than a year, then you should make sure your warranty lasts longer than that. Again, these are not desktops, you just can't run down to CompUSA or the computer show and get a new video card and pop it in, these things are better left to the people who built them, and extended warranties nowadays run only about $100 to $300 -- well worth it. Otherwise, you may find yourself stuck with a nice looking paperweight.
  5. When you do buy, make sure the vendor has a money-back guarantee.
    This is a corollary to Law #1. You have to see how it works first and give yourself some type of parachute.
  6. I highly recommend buying brand-name only
    I say this all over my site but since I've started writing this site, I've seen many smaller notebook companies go out of business. I used to think that you could get away with saving a little money and going with a non-brand name. But after all the e-mails I've received from owners who no longer have a company to provide support for their notebook, I've realized that you would be better off spending a little more and getting a brand name. Or if you really need to save money you can still buy brand name by getting one off an auction or buying an older or refurbished model (like I did).
  7. This is the oldest law: You get what you pay for.
    If the deal is too good to be true, then it is exactly that. Use your resources, just by the fact that you are reading this means you are not someone to be fooled easily. Research the product and post questions in the comp.sys.laptops newsgroup. Or even e-mail me, I don't know everything (nor will I ever), but I will try my best to help you. And... at the very least, if you use Law #5 (money-back guarantee), you can bail out and get back your retirement fund. At $3000 to $5000 a pop, you should have some way to protect yourself.
  8. Last but not least: Always use Law #1

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