What To Look for When Buying a Laptop; Most people make at least one of these laptop buying mistakes. These end up either costing them money upfront or forcing them to spend more money because they have to upgrade too soon.
I’ve been guilty of some of these in the past. So, I put it together here to help you avoid the most common laptop buying mistakes.
Laptop Buying Mistakes, What To Look for When Buying a Laptop: Laptop Buying Guide 2021
1. Overlooking ergonomics
When people shop for laptops the majority of the time, what they are doing is simply comparing a list of specs and this isn’t only true for online shoppers.
The next time you are at a store you see someone looking at laptops, watch them and you’ll see that they are going from one to one taking a look at the display and then just reading the specs sheets.
They don’t type on the keyboard. They don’t use the trackpad; they don’t play around with the brightness on a display and they don’t pick it up to see how heavy it is.
They are about to spend some serious cash on a device they plan on using for the next bunch of years and they don’t even try it before they buy it.
Now I know that not every person has access to every laptop that they’re considering but I’d recommend that you can try a similar model maybe with the same keyboard and trackpad just to give yourself a sense of the ergonomics.
2. Overpaying for a laptop
Speaking of spending money. Another mistake that people make is overpaying for a laptop, look this happens with every product.
The most expensive laptop that you’re considering, if a laptop is more expensive because of a feature that you’re going to use and that’s going to provide you with value, then, by all means, invest in it.
But if you’re just spending more money on a laptop that costs more because that laptop is better then that could be a waste of money.
3. Buying the cheapest laptop
Now at the other end of the spectrum is buying the absolute cheapest laptop. If it’s a budget laptop and it serves your needs now and, in the future, go for it.
But if you’re saving 100 or 150 bucks now only to have to replace it in two years spending 1200 bucks, you end up spending more money.
But that’s because the majority of users’ performance to price ratio is very high and most people don’t need more power than the m1 MacBook air offers.
4. Overlooking portability
The next mistake is one that I’m guilty of and that’s overlooking portability. When 17-inch laptops came out immediately got one after seeing them at the store.
I like a lot of desktop real estate and I couldn’t wait to use the 17-inch display. Well, guess what? It was so heavy to bring with me that I never used it.
It just stayed at home where, of course, I was going to use it when I have my main workstation available.
So, think about where you’ll be using your laptop and then consider whether small and light is or isn’t more important than a bigger machine.
Another mistake that people make is not considering the ports. You need to look at what type of ports a laptop offers.
How many of them there are and where they are located? Does the laptop charge via USB C? or do you need a dedicated power adaptor that you have to remember to bring with you.
Is there a thunderbolt port for faster connectivity or does it have an SD card slot, so you don’t need to remember to bring a dedicated card reader? Think about what you plan on doing with the laptop and then what type of adapters or hubs you’ll need to bring with you for your workflow.
Accessories are great, but you do lose some of that portability and convenience of using a laptop.
The next mistake that laptop buyers make has to do with storage. So first I want you to think about how much internal storage you need and you can look at your current laptop to see how much you’re using.
Then I want you to consider whether the laptop you’re buying is upgradeable or not.
I think the M1 MacBook is a great buy especially now, but they are upgradable. So, what you buy now is what you’ll have forever.
Now some other laptops allow you to upgrade SSD and RAM. so, you can make a smaller investment up front and then later on, when you have more money. You can upgrade. You can always supplement the internal storage with an external SSD.
But you want to make sure that you have enough internal storage for all your apps now and for as long as you plan on using that laptop.
7. Obsessed with one spec
The next mistake that laptop buyers make is becoming obsessed with one spec.
Manufacturers have become absolute marketing ninjas and they do an excellent job at making the buyer think that they need the latest and greatest features.
They get it in your head you can’t live without this one thing and then get you to spend more money than you need to.
So, since we just talk about ports a simple example would be a thunderbolt/ USB 4 port.
Yes, it offers higher maximum transfer speeds and it will allow you to use more powerful accessories like absurdly fast external SSDs.
But you should only spend money on these features, if you plan on using them otherwise, you’re just wasting money.
8. Not buying enough power
The next mistake people make is not buying enough power, we’re all on a budget. Well at least most of us are and we’re always looking for a good deal.
But if the laptop you buy doesn’t serve your needs, now or shortly then you’re just throwing away money, I get this question a lot like can I do XYZ, whatever it is video editing, photo editing whatever it may be on whatever laptop.
The issue is that most recent laptops can do all of those things. You can edit 4k videos even on pretty basic laptops using proxies. But I want you to think about time and money.
If it takes me twice as long to edit a video, because I have to transcode all the footage or because I can’t smoothly scrub the timeline or it takes forever for effects to apply, how many hours am I wasting by saving a hundred bucks up front?
Then multiply that by every video you’re ever going to edit on that laptop and you’ll see it add up really quick I’m only using video editing as an example but I want you to apply this to your needs.
9. Size doesn’t matter
I know I talk about portability already, but now I want you to look specifically at the size of the display depending on what you’re using your laptop for.
If you’ve got a laptop that’s too small it may be so frustrating to use that even though you can bring it with you, you don’t end up working on it.
So, make sure that you get a display that works for what you need and at the same time try to minimize the weight by looking at thin and ultra-thin options. If portability is a priority.
10. Forgetting the future
The next mistake people make is not thinking about the future and only buying for now. Now, this is a double-edged sword.
The whole concept of future-proofing, but there are levels there, when you put together your requirements, think about what you need now and what you think you’ll need for the lifetime of the device.
Now, this isn’t the same for every buyer because you might get a new laptop every three years, five years or 10 years but whatever that cycle looks like for you. Make sure that you get a machine that serves you well for that long.
11. 2 in 1 is not a laptop
Another mistake that some buyers make is thinking of a two in one as a laptop. In some cases.
But in other cases, you’re essentially buying a tablet with a keyboard attachment. Now in my experience, the two in one laptop that I have used haven’t been as good as laptops in that same price range and they haven’t been as good as the tablet that I already own.
So, you need to make sure that you want that hybrid touch screen functionality, because for the most part if you’re looking at laptops at that same price point. You’re going to be giving up on something maybe it’s processing power and maybe it’s the quality of the display.
But something has to give because of the additional cost the manufacturer has to put into the two in one.
12. Not searching reviews
Another mistake that laptop buyers make is not searching reviews. Now there are tons of reviews on google. So, find someone who you trust and read what they have to say about the laptop that you’re thinking of buying.
And don’t read just one, read a few of them, it doesn’t mean that you have to come to the same conclusion as the reviewer.
But if this is something that they take seriously, they should give you a balanced perspective and it may cover some aspects that you didn’t think to consider.
13. Brand loyalty
Another mistake that I see all the time is buyers that are blindly brand loyal. Now I completely understand that there’s some familiarity involved and assume that you had a positive experience with a brand.
Some rust’s built there but this shouldn’t come at the cost of you doing your research. What if this brand made great laptops at a great value five years ago?
But now it’s overpriced or maybe there’s another brand that’s putting out some amazing products and you’re missing out.
Because you’ve limited your research to one brand, take your time to look at the pros and cons of a different few brands and then get the one that works best for you.
14. Glossy Display
The next couple of mistakes has to do with the displays. The first one might just be a personal pet peeve. But I do not like glossy displays, they initially look nice at the store. But then when it comes to using them in real-life situations, I always get frustrated.
Now, this is where using the laptop at the store for a few minutes can help you get a sense of what you can expect.
15. High Resolution
The next mistake that buyers make is believing that they need a very high resolution display its true.
A nice 4k display looks amazing but do you need one on a laptop? If you do, cool get one. But otherwise, you’re paying a premium and your battery life will suffer.
16. Other peoples need
The last mistake is one that I see all the time and it just makes me shake my head. Now I’m talking about people who buy a laptop based on others people’s needs.
When you’re either reading reviews or accepting a recommendation from someone make sure that they are addressing your specific needs.
There are some amazingly powerful gaming laptops out, but if you need portability more than you need power. Then it’s not the right fit just because a laptop has better features doesn’t mean that it’s a better value for your needs.
What’s right for someone else might not be right for you, so please do your best to make an informed decision based on what you need.