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 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.
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?