As someone who works from home, I’m on my computer a lot. So, a functional laptop is pretty imperative. So, when my current laptop started to lose its pep (it has to be plugged in to even work at all!), I knew it was time to investigate purchasing a new one. But, a purchase as big as this one requires some serious research. If you’re in the market for a new one yourself, check out how I narrowed down my search to find the perfect laptop for me!
Step 1: Talk to family and friends.
The most reliable reviews, in my opinion, are from people you know, since they’ll give it to you straight about what they really and truly like and dislike. So, in true 2015 fashion, I reached out to my friends and family through Facebook. I got some responses about brands of laptops that they like (Apple, Asus, and Microsoft), so I was able to get some idea of which ones were popular within my circle.
Step 2: Pick a budget.
The range of prices for a new laptop can vary quite significantly - everything from $119 to $1,800. So, first, I sat down to figure out the right budget for me. Considering I don’t have a ton of cash, I decided somewhere around $300-400 would be about right. There are several budget laptops available within this range, so I knew I could find something that wasn’t too expensive, but would still fit my preferences.
Step 3: Come up with specific needs.
I’m not a hardcore gamer or video editor, so I don’t have many needs that the most basic laptop can’t cover. I usually use my laptop for checking email, writing blogs (in Google Docs or in Word), and streaming movies. I knew I didn’t want a tablet or 2-in-1, because I prefer the more traditional setup. Also, battery life is pretty important, in case I want to take my work on the go.
Step 4: Choose screen size.
After looking through some laptop options, I decided to forgo a touchscreen. I already have a tablet, and would probably get frustrated getting used to using a laptop with a touchscreen. I also determined that I wanted a screen size ranging from 13”-15” - the most standard size (anything bigger, and it would be too heavy, and smaller would mean it’d be uncomfortable to stare at the screen for too long).
Step 5: Decide on brand and operating system.
Although a lot of people I talked to are obsessed with their Macs, Apple laptops simply didn’t fit my budget. I’m also not a huge fan of Dell or Toshiba because of previous experience with the brands. So, I decided to stick to HP, Asus, or Acer. Also, once I started my research, I realized I needed to learn the difference between chromebooks and windows. This article from Laptop Mag was super helpful in breaking down the pros and cons for each one. But, since I still like using Microsoft Word and Excel, I decided to stick with Windows - which also helped eliminate some of the laptops from my list.
Step 6: Review research from experts.
I wouldn’t consider myself a tech expert, so I knew I needed to rely on some serious research to help me figure out which laptops are the best on the market. After a quick Google search for laptops, I found these 3 blogs to be the most helpful:
All 3 of these articles helped me put together a list of laptops that fit my preferences and were within my price range.
Here were the preliminary options:
HP Stream 13
Acer Travelmate B
Step 7: Narrow down choices.
HP Stream 13: PC Mag lists this as a great inexpensive option with Windows 8.1. It’s ultraportable, has a pretty fast 2.16GHZ Intel Celeron N2480 processor, and a super long battery life with up to 9 hours before you have to plug in (more than any of the other ones I saw). Although the downsides are narrow viewing angles (don’t care) and not a ton of storage (doesn’t matter), this seems like a good pick for around $239 at Best Buy.
Asus EeeBookX205TA: Laptop Mag says this is a notch above other budget laptops because of its long battery life and lightweight design. But, I think it might be a tad too small with a screen of 11”.
Acer Travelmate B: PC Mag likes the quad-core Intel Celeron processor and how lightweight it is (under 3 pounds), however the only ones in my price range are 11”, which is too small for my liking.
HP 15.6” Laptop: Although this wasn’t in any of the top 10 lists I saw, this laptop is on the bigger side - a bonus for when I’m looking at the screen for a long time. It also has a solid 4th Gen Intel Core processor, easy portability, and about 5 hours of battery life. It’s available for $349 from Best Buy.
Acer Aspire: The Acer Aspire has a good sized HD screen (15.6”), an Intel Celeron processor, and has 500GB of hard drive. Best Buy has it for around $359. However, I’m thinking the screen might be a little too big for what I want.
In terms of battery life: the Asus EeeBook leads at an astounding 12 hours, followed by the HP Stream at 9 hours. The Acer Travelmate B can run for around 7 hours, while the Acer Aspire is around 6.
The HP Stream is probably my best bet. It’s the lightest (at 3 pounds), so it’ll be the most easy to carry around with me. Although the screen is a little smaller than the other ones I was thinking about, it’s considered a great buy by PC Mag. The best part? It’s one of the cheapest options as well!
Step 8: Look for the best bargain.
After I figured out that the HP Stream 13 was right for me, I needed to find the lowest price. Here’s where a couple of retailers stood:
Step 9: Search for applicable coupon codes.
Although HP might offer the best deals, I decided to order my laptop from Best Buy. I have a credit card through them, and would love to rack up some rewards points! Also, ordering through Best Buy gets me a $25 Microsoft Apps Store gift card, 1TB of Microsoft OneDrive storage for 1 year, 1 year of Office365 Personal, and 60 minutes of Skype per month for 1 year - which definitely makes it the best bargain overall!
So, there you have it...my complete laptop purchase process! Hope when you’re in the market, you can use this blog to help guide your own search!