It’s reader solicitation week around here. I recently received an email from a reader who’s in the market for the laptop. He writes:
I know that you have being using laptops for some time. Thought you might be a good person to ask advice on buying a laptop. These are the obvious questions in my mind: Should I buy used or brand new?, Any reliable second hand stores that you recommend? Should I go to a online store (Dell) or visit a store (London Drugs, FutureShop)? Which stores to visit and which one to avoid? How do I find the best deal?, Centrino vs Pentium 4? What brand is better (Dell, IBM, Toshiba, MDG, etc.)? Do I need extra warranty? I know, I will be using this laptop primary at school, work and home. At some point I need to install Oracle, which means I need minimum 512 RAM.
I am not a hardware expert. My recent laptops which I’ve bought for my business have both been Apple PowerBooks. They’re exceptional, but they may not cut it for your requirements. Plus, I dig their gorgeous design.
My meagre advice runs as follows, and I make no guarantees against being totally wrong. In my experience, London Drugs has the best tech support, while FutureShop has the worst. The same goes for competent staff. A FutureShop employee (who was Russian–why are they all Russian?) once tried to convince me that a software firewall was adequate. Yeah, thanks for that. Support from Dell is probably all right as well, but at least with LD you can go somewhere local instead of shipping off your computer.
Unless you’re a total PC guru (which I suspect you’re not, if you’re asking me), I would recommend against buying a used computer. You have no idea how it’s been treated. Most of the PC laptops I’ve used have been Toshibas, and they’ve been pretty decent. That’s all I’ve got…does anybody else have opinions (I know you do)?