5 of 9 in Series: The Essentials of Buying a Laptop and Accessories
After you decide to buy a laptop computer, you should stick with name-brand laptops made by big companies whose names you recognize. The reason is that laptop technology is not as modular as desktop PC technology, so you need a reliable, well-known name to ensure that you're getting the quality you're paying for. Also, it's easier to find service and support for national name brands than for lesser-known equipment.
Obviously, you want to buy your computer at the location that will give you the best deal plus the service and support you need. Beyond that, you should buy from local dealers as opposed to huge discount stores, office supply stores, chain stores, or even the Internet.
Local computer dealers have a reputation that needs to be only as big as the community they serve. Although their prices may not be the lowest, the people you buy from and who offer you service and support are all local, and buying from them helps the local economy. They're people you meet face to face, and are maybe even your neighbors. As such, local dealers are your best choice for buying any computer.
When you’re considering nonlocal dealers, such as Internet and catalog dealers, buying a laptop is generally safe; just keep in mind where the support comes from! Also ensure that they have real street addresses so that you can verify their existence. Companies that list only 800 numbers may be fly-by-night operations, and you may never see your laptop — or your money — again.
When paying, don't ever put money down on a laptop. Laptops come fully assembled from the factory, and there’s no need to put money down to "hold" one. If possible, pay for your laptop with a credit card. The law offers far more protection to credit card users than to people who pay by check or (don't even think about it) cash. When you’re buying from the Internet or some other nonlocal dealer, verify that it doesn’t charge your credit card until the order ships. This is standard practice, but some dealers apparently haven't gotten the word yet.