Buying a Laptop – Part II and Scrapping Apple

Recently I wrote about the issues which arise when one tries to purchase a new laptop (it should have been pretty easy and straightforward, but it was neither). Finally I bought a Dell Studio 15 laptop with Intel i5 Processor (which I determined was best for home use with not too much of a demand on the CPU), 4 GB RAM (I debated between 4 and 6 GB and finally decided on 4 GB as adequate for the next couple of years !), 500 GB SATA HDD at 7200 RPM speed (faster than the normal option), and ATI Radeon Graphics card with 1 GB memory. I chose the 15-inch screen, as the weight difference between the 14-inch and this one was not that much. Certain options were only available for the 15-inch model.

The system arrived yesterday, and my daughter started using it today, but not before I was forced to call Dell Technical Support for resolving certain issues (such as screen flickering due to improper driver for the ATI Radeon card). Well it now appears that the system is working OK, but let me watch over it for the next one week before passing any judgement. Dell was surely easy to order as compared to all other makes. Little advice is required from Dell otherwise as all data for decision making is provided online. One can always research on the web for any unknown parameter, it is easy.

What I would recommend to readers are the following – go in for extended warranty (not just the one-year limited warranty offered as standard with the system) in the form of complete accident cover. It might sound a bit expensive but it is an insurance scheme about which I learnt the hard way when using our Apple iMAC for the past four years. It could be the most important decision when buying a new laptop with a high-end configuration – some peace of mind is critical.

Well, the readers would by now have realised what happened to my Apple iMAC – it had failed while out of warranty, and since this time the motherboard was found to have some fault, the only way I could have resurrected it was by getting a new motherboard, which would have costed me USD 800 (some INR 37,000). That was ridiculous, and hence the decision to scrap our long-time favourite Apple system. I feel rather sad that we would no longer have the pleasure of working on the elegant Apple O.S. and applications, which are a far cry as compared to the mundane Microsoft Windows (even with Windows 7, what Microsoft has tried to do is at best, copy Apple – they have repeatedly done that – but I am yet to evaluate Windows 7 O.S. in some detail, being an user just for the past 24 hours !).

Well, adieu to Apple. However, we continue to use other Apple devices. This experience taught me that it is very important to buy the total warranty extension while the system is covered, not after the warranty cover is finished. Apple does not allow that anyway – one has to purchase the extended warranty while buying the system, or atleast before the expiry of the original warranty. They call it “Apple Care” protection.

Hope Dell would do justice to their comprehensive accident cover program as well. All the best to laptop buyers. Avoid netbooks if you are heavy users with average or poor eyesight ! They are too small, may be the kids will like them, not other family members. It is better to have a large, high-resolution screen with high-end graphics. Further, heavy duty usage would demand a tougher system design, to replace the desktop needs. Budget – not less than USD 1,200 ! The other lower cost systems would be OK for regular browsing and word processing, you can get one for USD 600 to 700.


Vijay Srinivasan
9th Oct 2010


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