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We’ve all had that pang of regret when we see the laptop that we bought only a few weeks ago on sale at half the price we paid. Or when we realize that the bargain laptop computer we bagged last month is not quite the deal we thought it was – because HP just released its latest version, which has double the memory and twice the speed for the same price we paid.
According to CostHelper, budget laptops cost between $300 and $700, while those designed for multimedia users and video gamers can cost $3,000 or more.
As a budget-conscious consumer, the timing when buying a laptop could save you big money. But the cost may not be your only consideration. We’ve put this simple guide together to help you navigate the market when you are considering buying a new laptop or tablet, including advice on how you determine when the best time is to buy a new laptop.
Why Do You Need a New Laptop?
Before we identify the best time to buy a new laptop computer, you should think about whether your intended purchase could be delayed – (read our opportunity cost article for some tips). You should also know exactly why you want to buy a new laptop or tablet. Here’s a few questions to get your thought process working.
Is your current laptop broken?
If your laptop is no longer working, you may panic into making a quick purchase to replace it. After all, in our digital world, how can you survive without your laptop? However, you may have some options available to you to help tide you over until you make a new purchase. For example, someone may be able to lend you their laptop for a little while, or if it is a screen issue you may be able to plug it into a monitor.
Do you need better performance for work?
Laptops are great – at least, until they aren’t anymore. If you use your laptop for work and it starts to age, the performance may not be able to keep up with what you need anymore. Laptops degenerate and you may find yourself having to do workarounds to complete tasks or wait patiently for programs to load. When you use your laptop for work this time is valuable, and buying a shiny new laptop could solve the problems.
Does screen size and laptop weight matter to you?
Before you head out to the mall and start shopping for your new laptop, you will need to think about what characteristics are important for you. Think about what you disliked about your last laptop. Was the weight annoying, making it difficult to carry around with you? Or did you mainly use it at home, and therefore weight was not an issue? What sort of programs are you running? Do they need a big screen size?
Is battery life a factor?
Are you the type of person who constantly has your charger plugged in? Do you normally sit at your desk at home to work or use your laptop? Or are you the type of person who is always forgetting their charger, or does a lot of traveling and needs a long battery life?
Is price the most important factor for you?
Price is likely to be a factor for most people. However, it will be more important to some than others. Do you have a set budget that you are unable to be flexible with? Is getting the features you need for your budget realistic?
In some cases, you could decide to delay your purchase until laptop prices are lower and you can get what you need for your budget. Other times, you may need to buy immediately.
When you are buying a new laptop, one of the best ways to decide which is best for your needs is to use sites like TechRadar.
TechRadar is an online publication that focuses on tech. It publishes in-depth reviews of a range of products – and its laptop reviews are especially helpful. The people writing its reviews really know their stuff and explain things in a jargon-free way – you don’t need to be techy to understand.
As tech journalists, the reviewers know the ins and outs of products and understand all the stuff that sounds like jargon to you and me. They then translate it into useful information, and explain how it affects the laptop in a way that’s relevant to you; for example, how the processing power affects the laptop’s speed.
The reviews are also often comparative. They don’t just say ‘This laptop is great’. They will compare it to a range of other similar options. They also have a review guarantee that states they don’t accept money for reviews – you know you are getting a fair and impartial verdict.
In contrast, Amazon, Walmart and other stores have reviews written by sales and marketing people. They are often not as accurate and in-depth and focus more on sales. The result is reviews that don’t benefit from the same level of tech knowledge.
Avoid Overspending on a New Laptop or Tablet
If you are due for a laptop upgrade, there will be a range of great options available to you. However, if you focus on the wrong features you can end up spending way too much money.
Figure out what kind of laptop you want. Work and gaming laptops will require higher processing power. If you work in video editing you will know the pain of trying to work on low-powered machines, with 4K video needing at least 32GB of RAM to run smoothly (which doesn’t come cheap).
However, if you are using your laptop for general browsing or hobbies, you won’t need such a high spec. A 4GB Chromebook can do the job just as well as a high-spec laptop.
Money expert Clark Howard says, “Chromebooks initially were lame, but now they’re fantastic. They’re simple, fast, and cheap. $199 buys you a very good Chromebook. They have decent battery life, you can get on the internet quickly, and they’re easy to travel with.”
It’s easy to trick yourself into thinking you need a fancy, high-end laptop. But it’s not necessary for most people. Don’t overspend on your new laptop, look for something with the features you need at a reasonable price.
When Is the Best Time to Buy a New Laptop?
There are certain times of the year when you can get cracking deals on new laptops and tablets. One of the most obvious is Black Friday – but you don’t have to wait for these mega sales days or brave the crowds to get great bargains on laptops.
When manufacturers release new products
According to market analysis published by Fortunly, the biggest selling laptops are HP, Lenovo and Dell, accounting for more than 60% of all sales worldwide. The major PC and laptop manufacturers release new products at three times of the year. When new models come out, the price of older models drops dramatically – making release cycles the best time to buy a laptop. Generally, these happen during back-to-school (July-August), holidays (September-December) and spring (Feb-April).
Back to school sales
When summer starts winding down, laptops start going on sale. The back to school sales tend to start at the end of July and can run into September. August is when the back to school frenzy is in full force and can often be the best time to snatch up a great deal on your laptop.
June/July – ‘Dads and Grads’ sale
As school shuts down for summer, Father’s Day quickly approaches. Many retailers start sales events around this time, including electronics retailers like BestBuy.
November – including Black Friday
With the holiday season rapidly approaching, November marks one of the biggest sale events of the year – Black Friday.
December – Cyber Monday
If you don’t want to wade through the busy crowds on Black Friday, you can often shop online, from the comfort of your home on Cyber Monday. Manufacturers and retailers offer a bunch of great deals and this can be one of the best times of year to buy a new laptop.
November is often the start of the holiday sales season, and for many retailers this will run all the way up to Christmas Day. If you missed the Black Friday deals, you will still be able to find a bunch of reductions on laptop prices all the way throughout December.
Even the Day You Buy Makes a Difference
It’s not only the time of year that makes a difference. The day of the week you purchase can save you a few bucks as well. Mondays are often the best day of the week to buy a new laptop.
Most manufacturers declare their rebates on a Monday. This means you may get money off a new laptop.
How to Get the Best Price Whenever You Buy a New Laptop
Whether buying because it’s an emergency or during one of the low-price periods, these tips will help you get the very best price.
Know what you need – don’t buy features you don’t need
Marketers are masters at getting you to buy things you don’t need. Before you start looking at laptops, write a list of what you need it to do. Buy a laptop that meets these criteria. If it comes with extra features, that’s great – but don’t pay more for them.
Consider price history
You can track Amazon prices on camelcamelcamel.com. Here you can see if you are getting a good deal or if the price of the laptop you want may come down soon based on previous trends.
Try before you buy – try instore and check prices online
While you can generally find the best deals online, it’s always good to visit stores so you can test out a product before you buy it. Check that it does what you want it to, and that it and feels and looks good.
Negotiate on price
If possible, you can try to negotiate your price. Some have guarantees ensuring that if you can find the same laptop cheaper elsewhere they will refund you the difference.
Use an online program that lets you earn cashback on purchases
When Is the Best Time to Buy a Laptop – Answered!
Laptops are not minor purchases and the number of options available makes it difficult to ensure you are getting both a good deal and exactly what you need.
Read reviews on sites like TechRadar. If you can wait for a good deal, do so. Shop around for the best price and make sure you only buy a laptop with the features you need.