Should You Splurge or Go Frugal on a Laptop?
Whenever it comes time to buy a laptop, I always have to do a little pre-buying decision dance in my head. How much do I want to spend? Do I really need to spend that much? Or can I get away with some lesser specs and spend half of that amount?
Buying a computer definitely feels like a major purchasing decision. After all, unless you have money spewing out of your water faucet at home, you usually won’t be buying a computer everyday (or even every year).
So, to splurge or not to splurge, that is the question. To make a smart consumer buying decision like this a little bit easier, let’s use two real-life laptop options from opposite ends of the price spectrum: the premium HP Envy 14 and the budget-friendly HP dm1z.
The Price Difference: ~$500
The high-end, premium HP Envy 14 usually runs about $900, depending on your preferred configuration. Conversely, the cheaper HP dm1z would usually be in the lower end of the $400 to $500 range. Price tag difference? A cool four or five Benjamins.
Let’s be honest. Both of these laptops can handle basic computing tasks without issues. And you’d be surprised what “basic” entails these days. Not just browsing the web, sending email, listening to music, and editing documents or spreadsheets. We’re talking streaming 1080p HD movies from the laptop to an external monitor or HDTV, transferring files through gigabit networks, even playing 3D graphics games that would have required a $2,000 desktop tank of a machine only five years ago.
Because of this, sometimes I think it’s odd to even consider buying something more expensive than a little dm1z when it will do most everything I’d need.
The newly refreshed HP dm1z after coupon, is now available for $370 to $400 depending on the configuration option you choose.
The Performance Difference
So if both of these computers at vastly different prices will cover the basics, why would anyone splurge on the pricier option?
Good question, young grasshopper. The thing is, although computing power has significantly advanced through the years, some of the more sophisticated software programs have also grown to require more power to run them well. Video and photo editing takes as long as ever (if not longer) due to upgrades to higher resolution images and video. Modern computer games with more detailed graphics also require stronger, dedicated graphic cards. And with our habit of running so many of these things, it’s nice to have a new multi-core processor, or one that can scale up its speed when necessary.
Whether the performance difference should factor into your buying decision basically boils down to this — Do you just consume content? Or do you produce or manipulate it, or play a lot of video games?
If all you do is watch Youtube, talk on Facebook, check your email, and occasionally write papers or make presentation slides for school or work, then lower-end option like the HP dm1z can be a great fit for you while being kind to your budget.
On the other hand, if you handle video/photo editing (or you plan to in your next classes or job) and other computing intensive tasks (such as CAD work), you probably should move up to something like an HP Envy 14.
The Style and Look Difference
One bonus of splurging on a more expensive laptop is that you usually get a “nicer looking” machine in addition to the better internal hardware. Design and style is of course always subjective, but most people will agree that the HP Envy line of laptops are pretty slick, thanks to their clean lines and the smooth silvery or black finishes.
Other nice (and functional) eye-candy includes a red LED-backlit keyboard on the Envy 14 Beats edition, letting you know exactly where you’re typing — while looking like a hotshot as you’re composing the next literary masterpiece at the local cafe shop.
Finally, lets not forget screen size. Budget netbook-class laptops are usually around 10 to 12 inches. Premium laptops are rarely in the 11-inch size (although the mighty expensive Macbook Air is one of the few exceptions).
The Bottom Line on Splurging
When you “splurge” on a laptop, do it because its features are exactly what you need, whether that’s more RAM, faster processor, bigger hard drive, a better graphics card, or all of the above. And if you do that, you probably aren’t splurging at all. You’re buying a laptop that will fulfill your needs and last for several years to come (after all, laptop performance across the board is far advanced from just a half-decade ago). Like every big ticket purchase, your best bet is to first consider your budget, and then consider how much of your needs can be met with the finite budget you have.
This is a guest post by Dave at Dealzon.com, thanks to the folks from HP.
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