What laptop should I buy / get? and variants of that question is something that I am asked by many people. And my answer is usually the same – Don’t buy a laptop. That answer is then usually followed by a qualifier – UNLESS…. But what is the “unless”?
Basically there are a number of reasons why you shouldn’t buy a laptop. There are also a couple of reasons why it is the right thing to buy and this short post will give the reasons for and against why I think you should or should not buy a laptop.
Firstly, why should you NOT buy a laptop.
You should not buy a laptop unless you specifically NEED a laptop and the particular benefits it provides. You should ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I NEED to be able to carry the thing around?
- Will I be better served by spending the money on a desktop PC?
- Can I do what I need to do with a desktop PC instead?
- Do I have room in my home/office for a Desktop PC?
If you are able to situate a desktop PC in your home/office then you will certainly be better served by a desktop as opposed to a laptop. The main reasons are:
- You will get more value for money with a desktop. The equivalent specification laptop will certainly be significantly more expensive.
- A desktop will be easier to upgrade in the future should you find that it needs to do some function that you hadn’t thought of at the time of purchase. For example, you might need an improved graphics capability to work on images or video. On a desktop, you purchase the necessary card, plug it in, install the required drivers and you’re good to go. With a laptop, you can’t upgrade. You need a new one. Many other upgrades are similar.
- Your desktop will also be easier and cheaper to maintain should a component fail some time in the future. Only a few components are relatively simple to replace in a laptop. Of course, ANYTHING can be fixed if you’re prepared to throw enough money at it – but here I’m talking about realistic and economic repairs. Also, many parts in laptops are proprietary – that is that you need to get the exact replacement part from the manufacturer. That makes them expensive and they will not be a simple replacement either. On the other hand desktop components are generally generic – that is that you can purchase replacement parts for a fraction of the price and replace them relatively easily. For example replacing a keypad (tea/coffee and laptop keypads aren’t best of friends!!) in a laptop will cost around £50 – £70+ for a laptop depending on the make and model and will take up to an hour to do. A replacement keyboard for a desktop will cost from £5 and take less than a minute to do. Most other replacement parts are equally expensive and more complicated to replace. All too often, even relatively new laptops are scrapped simply because the cost of repair is simply not economic.
Secondly, when should you buy a laptop.
You should ONLY – in my humble opinion at least – buy a laptop for one or both of two reasons. Firstly if you MUST be able to carry the thing around. Travelling business people and students going off to College/University are two examples of people who might NEED to buy a laptop. Secondly, if you physically don’t have the space for a desktop PC in your home.
These are the only two compelling reasons why – in my opinion – anyone should buy a laptop. I’d be interested to hear any other compelling reason for buying one.
Of course, individuals are masters of their own wallets and if an individual wishes to buy a laptop for no other reason than to admire it – then that is their prerogative. Its their money and they are free to spend it as they wish. In this article however, I have tried to give an honest answer to a frequently asked question so that readers might be able to make a more informed decision when they find themselves asking this question.
I hope you found this informative and I welcome any constructive comments below.