Earlier this week I bought a new laptop. My currently laptop is around 3 years old and it's starting to show it's age. It has 768MB of memory, much less than many computers have nowadays. When I have my 700 Firefox tabs open, it really slows down to a crawl. I realize I could fix this fairly cheaply by buying some additional memory. The other problem is that if I'm not careful about leaving all the vents open to air, the laptop will overheat and reboot (without warning). I've lost a good amount of work this way. My friend says that I could take a can of spray air to the vents and fix this problem. So in reality it would take me $30 to make it a fairly functional computer again.
So why didn't I go that route? I asked myself my five questions before making a purchase. As these problems crept up, a new laptop was getting closer and closer from going from a "want" to a "need" to protect my income. The other side is that there are some productivity gains to be had as well. Simply having the extra memory and faster processor should get me through tasks quicker. In addition to these, I'll have a web camera for the first time. It's a small thing, but I'm sure I can talk with my niece and nephew back east. I got a WXGA+ screen which is a 1440x900 resolution instead of my current 1200x800. That's going to lead to a sharper picture. I also will get an HDMI out, which will be great streaming Netflix movies easy to my televisions. Finally, I got a built-in bluetooth card, which means I can teather to my phone and get Internet anywhere my phone has data.
However, I am most excited about the price. I had done some research and came really close to buying a refurbished system on CompUSA's site. I saw a computer that gave me most everything (no bluetooth) for $610. A friend said that if I go that way, I should look at the Dell Outlet. I saw deals that were similar, maybe a little more - nothing to sway me much. I remembered that at times Dell has coupons. As luck would have it, one of these coupons was for 20% any refurbished laptop over $500. And then I found that I could get all the above with a Intel Core 2 Duo T5750 and 4GB of memory (just a tad more than the 768MB I have now) for $503 it was impossible to resist. Yes, I did get a refurbished system and that may be a concern to some. (Who knows, maybe I'll be writing an article about How I Lost Money on a New Laptop 6 months from now). Pricing the computer new, it would cost $869... after a $279 instant savings that Dell is running now.
So my tips for saving money on a laptop... look for refurbished, and try to stack coupons from places like Ben's Bargains. You can also follow Fat Wallet's Laptop message board as they show good deals that in stores. For instance, Big Lots is currently getting some overstock from Circuit City and clearing it out at very cheap prices. Each store only gets a few and it seems like they sell out quickly, but that was my plan B. I liked the Dell laptop better.
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