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Is now a good time to buy a laptop?

Marketplace Staff Sep 1, 2006

Is now a good time to buy a laptop?

Marketplace Staff Sep 1, 2006


TESS VIGELAND: It’s back to school time for lots of kids of all ages this week.
Pencils? Check. Backpack? Check. Notebook? Check. But what kind of notebook? Spiral bound? Fine. But if you’re talking computer notebook, make sure it’s not about to explode in your lap. Laptops are having a bit of a PR problem these days, batteries literally going up in flames. Both Dell and Apple issued massive recalls. So we wondered, might this actually be a good time to buy one? Tom Merritt is the executive editor at CNET. Tom, good time to buy even if you’re a little nervous?

TOM MERRITT: Yes, no one wants to have a laptop explode on them after they spent a couple thousand dollars on one.

VIGELAND: Or even if you spend a dollar on one I would think.

MERRITT: You’re right, actually, at any price . . . explosion, not acceptable. But really you have to remember that even with the fantastic nature of some of these explosions, if you’ve seen some of the videos on the Internet, very, very, very small percent of the batteries have had an actual problem occur. Now that doesn’t mean there won’t be future battery recalls, so if you are buying a laptop I do stress that you should keep an eye on the news and make sure your battery isn’t getting recalled, but I wouldn’t let it dissuade you from purchasing a laptop at all.

VIGELAND: So why would this then be a good time to buy a laptop?

MERRITT: You can find laptops cheaper than ever these days, in general than you could before. It seems like most people when they’re switching to a new computer are considering getting a laptop, and the prices are coming down. You can find acceptable laptops that just surf the Web and do word processing for under a $1,000.

VIGELAND: My husband and I actually just recently bought a new laptop, and by the time we got finished listening to the sales pitch, I had no idea whether I needed an AMD chip or an Intel . . . what’s the best way to figure out what’s going to work for you?

MERRITT: Start with figuring out what your functions are that you want out of it. Don’t worry too much about the specs and the processor speed or and all of that. Do you want it to surf the Web wirelessly? Most people do. Do you want it to do word processing and e-mail? If you stop there, you can pretty much consider most any budget item out there from a reputable manufacturer. There’s an Averatec AV7160 EC1 . . .

VIGELAND: Excuse me?

MERRITT: That’s the name of these things, they’re always horribly named, it’s another way of just confusing you. Averatec is the part to remember, and cheap would be the other part. If you’re interested in doing more, then you start having to know a little bit about what’s inside as far as the video and I would always getting as much memory, as much RAM as possible because it’s pretty cheap and the more you have in the laptop the faster it’ll run.

VIGELAND: Tom Merritt is the executive editor at CNET.com. Thanks Tom.

MERRITT: No problem.

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