For Seniors: Laptop Buying Decisions —Price Range - dummies

For Seniors: Laptop Buying Decisions —Price Range

You can buy a laptop for anywhere from about U.S. $299 to $5,000 or more, depending on your budget and computing needs. You may start with a base model, but extras such as a larger monitor or higher-end graphics card can soon add hundreds to the base price.

You can shop in a retail store for a laptop or shop online using a friend’s computer. Consider researching different models and prices online and using that information to negotiate your purchase in the store if you prefer shopping at the mall. Be aware, however, that most retail stores have a small selection compared to all you can find online on a website such as Newegg.

Buying a laptop can be confusing, but here are some guidelines to help you find a laptop at the price that’s right for you:

  • Determine how often you will use your computer. If you’ll be working on it eight hours a day running a home business, you will need a better-quality laptop to withstand the use and provide good performance. If you turn on the computer once or twice a week, it doesn’t have to be the priciest model in the shop.

  • Consider the features that you need. Do you want (or have room for) a heftier laptop with an 18-inch monitor? Do you need the laptop to run very fast and run several programs at once, or do you need to store tons of data? Understand what you need before you buy. Each feature or upgrade adds to your laptop’s price.

  • Shop wisely. If you shop around, you’ll find that the price for the same laptop model can vary by hundreds of dollars at different stores. See if your memberships in organizations such as AAA, AARP, or Costco make you eligible for better deals.

    Consider shipping costs if you buy online, and keep in mind that many stores charge a restocking fee if you return a laptop you aren’t happy with. Some stores offer only a short time period in which you can return a laptop, such as 14 days.

  • Buying used or refurbished is an option, though new laptops have reached such a low price point that this might not save you much. In addition, technology goes out of date so quickly that you might be disappointed with buying an older model which might not support newer software or peripheral devices such as Bluetooth headphones.

    Instead, consider going to a company that produces customized, non–name-brand laptops at lower prices — perhaps even your local computer repair shop. You might be surprised at the bargains you can find (but make sure you’re dealing with reputable people before buying).

  • Online auctions such as eBay are a source of new or slightly used laptops at a low price. However, be sure you’re dealing with a reputable store or person by checking reviews that others have posted about them or contacting the Better Business Bureau.

    Be careful not to pay by check (this gives a complete stranger your bank account number), but instead use the auction site’s tools to have a third party such as PayPal handle the money until the goods are delivered in the condition promised. Check the auction site for guidance on staying safe when buying auctioned goods.

Some websites, such as Epinions, allow you to compare several models of laptops side by side. Others such as Nextag allow you to compare prices on a particular model from multiple stores. For helpful computer reviews, visit sites such as CNET or Epinions.