Planning to Buy a Laptop? Here’s How to Select the Best

It’s all about research. When you buy a laptop for school, college, personal use, or business, it requires you to match up your wants and needs against what’s available in the market. Or at least it should. Doing the front-end research gives you the best chance of finding the laptop with the features you want and need. They might even have some cool bells and whistles tossed in. Considering how many laptop brands are available, this article can help you cut the research phase down to size so you can get on with enjoying your new computer.
In researching laptops, these are the areas that need a close look:
  • Design features & specifications including performance stats.
  • Innovative features that go above and beyond other laptops
  • Availability and effectiveness of tech support and customer service
  • Warranty terms
  • Customer reviews
  • Price, because everyone has a budget. Does the manufacturer offer laptops at several price points to meet various budgets?
To be truly methodical, assigning point values to each of those categories makes sense if you want to rank each laptop you investigate. Based on those parameters, here’s a summary of some of today’s best laptops to buy,

What’s Popular Today?

There are nearly 100 laptop manufacturers worldwide. However, here are the top 5 laptop brands based upon market share and deep-dive reviews by a half-dozen organizations including Laptop Magazine, Digital Trends, TechRadar, and others.

 

Make Models Market Share
Lenovo ThinkPad, ThinkBook, IdeaPad, Yoga 25%
HP Envy, Chromebook, Spectre, ZBook, Probook, Elitebook, Pavilion, Omen 24.8%
Dell Alienware, Vostro, Inspiron, Latitude, XPS, G Series, Precision 15.6%

Lenovo

Based in Beijing, China, Lenovo sells a range of laptops that meet every price and performance point with models that include Chromebooks at the entry level and high-powered gaming laptops at the top end. Lenovo has become the market leader with one in four laptops carrying the Lenovo brand.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (8th Gen) is widely acclaimed to be the best laptop for business users. It’s available in several models powered by 10th Generation Intel Core i5-10210U Processor (1.60 GHz, up to 4.20 GHz with Turbo Boost, 4 Cores, 8 Threads, 6 MB Cache). Memory tops out at 16GB but for some reason Lenovo solders that RAM in place, meaning that if RAM fails, the laptop will need repair at a service center. The machine comes with 8 or 16GB RAM, UHD 4K graphics, 256 or 512GB SSD storage, a 14-inch display, and a battery that gives nearly 11 hours when running 1080P graphics, or 7+ hours in the UHD 4K mode.
Lenovo’s service plans include self-service, where the company sends “customer-replaceable parts” to you. For more involved repairs on-site service, depot service, customer carry-in, and mail-in plans are all available.
Predictably, the Lenovo warranty does not cover damage resulting from accidents – drops, screen damage, damage from liquids or immersion in liquids, etc.

HP

Running neck and neck with Lenovo for market share, Hewlett Packard has a long history in the PC arena. Today, it manufactures convertible laptops, fanless laptops, detachable two-in-one models, gaming machines, and high-end workstations. HP’s extensive product line has a laptop for every budget.
Two HP laptops most favored by reviewers are:
  • HP Elite Dragonfly: Using Intel’s 8th generation Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 in various models, this laptop has configurations and price points that meet every budget. It’s rated to meet ruggedness MIL-SPEC-810 and comes with either 8 or 16GB RAM, up to 2 TB mass storage, and a 13.3-inch screen.
  • HP Spectre x360 13t: The screen on this convertible laptop folds flat against the back of the unit to convert from a conventional clamshell laptop to a touch screen tablet-like device. It’s powered by an Intel Core i7 (5th Gen) 5500U running at 2.4 GHz and has 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD storage. With a nod to audiophile sound quality, this unit comes with speakers from Bang & Olufsen.
The warranty for HP laptops is limited to repair or replacement due to defects in materials or workmanship during the one-year warranty period. It specifically excludes from coverage any damage caused, “…as a result of accident, misuse, liquid spills, abuse, contamination, improper or inadequate maintenance or calibration, or other external causes.”

Dell

Laptops from Dell account for about one in every six laptops worldwide, and their XPS 13 9300 has been called an “engineering marvel.” It uses the Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor with eight cores, where the “G” refers to its built-in GPU that supports entry level and even mid-range gaming. With a 13-inch Corning Gorilla Glass 6 touch screen, this laptop has 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD storage. Additionally, a fingerprint sensor and face-recognition camera system come standard, along with an aluminum frame and ultra-thin bezel.
Dell offers excellent after-sale support for the XPS 13 9300 through its self-service online knowledge base, and via tech support by phone and email. Dell’s warranty, though, mirrors those of other laptop makers by excluding accidents from coverage.

Digging Deeper

If these summaries pique your interest for more detailed information, two websites have done in-depth research on multiple laptops. You’ll find one at Freedom 251, a site that reviews products, that provides great detail, and aims to help you find the best laptop. The other, Laptop Magazine, does similar exhaustive reviews and uses the six steps for researching outlined above.
After investing time to study popular laptops, make sure you can protect your new machine against damage. As noted repeatedly, manufacturers’ warranties only cover defects in materials and workmanship, which makes sense from their perspective. But from the consumer’s point of view, they want to know how to get service from an authorized source when problems arise. Furthermore, they most don’t want to wait long to get the laptop back in operation.
Upsie offers service contracts in the form of extended warranties. They cover accidents and promise to fix a host of problems including damage from drops, liquid damage, dead pixels, screen burn-in, and other display problems as well as failures of internal components. Buying a 2- or 3-year plan gives you three options.
  • Upsie can send you a shipping container to and from an authorized depot service center.
  • You can choose to work with a certified repair shop near you to have your laptop fixed.
  • Or, if the cost of repair is not workable, Upsie will replace your laptop. Occasionally, if a replacement cannot be located, they will cut you a check
Contact Upsie 24 x 7 at 877-844-7745 to learn more about Upsie’s industry-leading extended warranties, or visit their laptop warranty page and take advantage of an instant 10 percent discount. Then, compare Upsie pricing against other plans from your laptop manufacturer. You’ll find Upsie can save you up to 70 percent compared to plans available from manufacturers or big-box retailers.

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