New Laptop: Paid for in Cash, Of Course

As I mentioned on Tuesday, I did go out to Best Buy to purchase a new computer — a laptop, since my old 2003 Compaq Presario desktop had gotten so slow that it was killing my productivity (researching and writing for a freelance gig was taking FOREVER).

So I braved the mini snowstorm we were having and went to our local Best Buy store. Pretending I didn’t know what I wanted, I asked the salesperson what his recommendations were. After talking about my needs and wants (in a computer, not in a relationship), he narrowed down the options to three models with the new Intel Core i3 processor: a Dell, a Toshiba, and an HP. Which was great, because my research had already led me to the Dell and HP models he pointed out. The Toshiba model was one I hadn’t considered.

What I wanted
At least a 15″ screen, 4 GB RAM, at least 320 GB in hard drive space, a numeric keypad, a webcam and a good processor. The Intel Core Duo processors, an earlier generation of Pentium processors, were featured in a lot of the laptops I’d looked at, but the new Intel Core i3 appeared to be faster in online technical reviews.

What I Considered
Even though it was the cheapest of the three at $650, I immediately nixed the Dell, because it didn’t have a numeric pad, the wireless card wasn’t great, the screen seemed small at 15″ and it “only” had a 320 GB hard drive. It was down to the HP and Toshiba models. I paced back and forth between the two, trying out the keyboards and mice, trying to determine which one would hold up best over time. Both had the numeric keypads, 500 GB hard drives and bigger displays than the Dell (the HP had a 15.6″ screen; the Toshiba, 16″). They also both featured newer-generation Wireless N cards — ideal because we have a wireless router as part of our Verizon FIOS TV & Internet package. I wanted something I could take into another room of the house when I felt like it.

What I Bought
After a good 20 minutes of consideration, I wound up with the Toshiba. The deciding factor? The mouse! It was easier to use — it moved much more smoothly than the HP’s version. The screen display seemed sharper, also. So I came home with the Toshiba Satellite A505-S6005 model. The price seems status quo for these models, and so far, I’m very happy with the purchase. I am getting used to the widescreen display and Windows 7 operating system, plus the laptop mouse is a bit tricky.

The Key
The purchase was made in cold, hard cash! Well, via debit card, but you get the idea. I spent $679, plus 7% state sales tax. The price was between those of the Dell ($650) and the HP ($699). My freelance income paid for the cost of the laptop, and it will be used for at-home gigs. So it wasn’t purely a “pleasure purchase.” I originally wanted to wait until we received our tax refund, but my old computer was barely hanging on, so I had to change my plan.

Warranty Concerns
The laptop came with a 1-year limited manufacturer warranty, and I declined the Best Buy extended coverage for the time being so I can do my research more thoroughly. I have up to 14 days to purchase a 2- or 3-year contract through the retailer, or up to 9 months to buy one directly from Toshiba. The additional cost is around $200 for either, and I’m not sure if it’s worth it. It covers hardware only — not software. Part of me thinks it’s not worthwhile because surely I could get the laptop repaired for $200 or so if something were to happen, right? It’s a game of chance — spend the money on an extended warranty and never use it, or skip the warranty and wind up with a large repair bill should something major go wrong with the laptop. I’ll make my decision in the next week.

Funny aside: I started to panic about making such a large purchase, and almost decided against leaving the house in the first place so I wouldn’t spend the money! Then, my old computer started crapping out on my as I was typing, serving as the catalyst for me getting my butt out of the door.

How do you feel about extended computer warranties — yea or nay? Are they worth the price?

11 comments to New Laptop: Paid for in Cash, Of Course

  • RainyDaySaver

    @Lillie: The keyboard was a big thing for me, too. The HP did have better-separated keys, but I liked the way it felt to type on the Toshiba.

  • Lillie

    I am going to do the same thing: pay cash for my computer. Lately, I have experienced the same issues with it moving slow and definitely impacting my productivity as well. I am torn between the Dell (I currently have one) and HP. My plans are to try the keyboard out and see how it feels and go from there. For reason, I have a pet peeve about that.

  • Ally

    Good for you. Hope you enjoy it in good health!

  • Money Honey SF

    congrats on going out into the mini snowstorm to get your laptop.

    I personally never buy extended warranties for my tech products. I find that they usually don't break within the warranted timeframe. It's better for you to save that money. Good luck with your new dig!

  • RainyDaySaver

    @Ally: Hubby is also IT guru, but he really didn't have an opinion on laptops — sees all computers as the same. He did try to guide me to a desktop model, but I wasn't having it. And when I said 'mouse,' I meant the wireless one. The Toshiba's was easier to work with than the HP's.

    @ParisGirl111: Thanks for sharing your warranty experience! If I buy one through Best Buy, I would have to take it there myself and they it would be out for repair for weeks at a time. I'm looking into the Toshiba one, too, but I don't think I'll get a technician coming to my home, lol.

  • ParisGirl111

    Congrats on paying cash for your laptop! I have purchased the warranties before and thank goodness I did. After about two weeks with my new Dell, the monitor just didn't look right. The warranty covered the parts and labor. Th dell technician came to my job, changed out the screen (expensive part that I didn't have to pay for), and I never had to leave work or waste gas going anywhere. I was so glad I got the warranty!

  • Ally

    You should have asked me! My husband is Director of IT at his nonprofit. He selects all of their laptops as well as some of the clients he has on the side. He helped my mom order one. Sounds like you're happy. Funny that the mouse did it for you, I use the wireless little one, but I guess if you're laying in bed or on the couch, that won't help much. Only really works on a flat surface.

  • RainyDaySaver

    @eemusings: That is a good point. Warranties don't cover the software, or theft. I'm thinking our homeowners insurance may cover theft.

    @psychsarah: Thanks, I am! I've also heard that 'sending out' your computer under the warranty can take weeks at a time. Even a month would be far too long, nevermind 60 days. I'm leaning toward being anti-warranty, myself.

    @Dan: I've never owned a laptop before (I know, I finally joined the 21st century). I'm thinking the numeric keypad is recent, with the advent of the widescreen versions. Wider = space for keypad. I know what you mean about the points/coupons. I don't have a card with them, as I prefer to pay in cash, and don't buy much from them to warrant a card.

  • Dan

    I'm not sure I knew laptops offered numeric keypads. I probably would like one, but oh well.

    I bought Best Buy's warranty, but partly because I have a Best Buy Mastercard and am in their points club thingy — and if you don't use the warranty during its term, they credit you a certain number of points. So in the end, if I don't use it, it will only have cost me either 1/3 or 2/3 of what I spent, because of the store coupons I'll receive. If that makes sense…

  • psychsarah

    Hope you're enjoying your new purchase! To answer your question:

    Depends on whether you can actually take advantage of the warranty. I bought the extended warranty on my grad school laptop, and when stuff went wrong, the company was going to take up to 60 days to fix it. My dissertation would have ground to a halt without my computer for 2 months, so I paid out of pocket instead of using the warranty I paid a fortune for. Apparently I'm still riding the bitter bus on this one…

  • eemusings

    Last time I got an extended warranty, because I bought a pricey (to me) laptop. And then it got stolen. And I didn't have contents insurance :@.

    My parents went halves with me on my current laptop (a cheapie) and they didn't think paying for the extra warranty was worth it. So no, I don't have one right now. It's been a year so far and hoping it can last another couple of years…