However, when you arrive at the mall and you can touch the computer you want to buy, there are still some things to consider to avoid cheating and do not be fooled by the sensational offer or by the salesman, who obviously will weave only the praises of the product without showing us its weak points (and if the price is too low, the weak points are sure!).
It is not to discourage shopping center clerks and you do not even want to make a bundle of all the grass but obviously the seller does his best, tries to push the customer to spend money and, at times, he is not an expert in the sector .
For avoid most of the scams on laptops found in shopping malls or electronics stores we advise you to carefully read the chapters of this guide, so as to be aware of what we are going towards and what we are about to buy.
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Things to know before buying a notebook
To simplify the choice of the notebook to buy in a physical store, we decided to focus on a few parameters to evaluate, so that we can quickly consult them when we are in the store (perhaps by printing this guide, so that we can consult it on the fly and decide for ourselves if the laptop deserves to be picked up or discarded).
Components data sheet
Before exulting for the offer of a laptop for 300 Euros or less, make sure that it has the minimum requirements to run Windows 10 very well. Many completely underestimate what is written in the data sheet, convinced that it is enough to write two or three captivating words to be sure you made a deal!
To make a modern laptop run well, make sure that the following features are present:
- Processor: make sure there is an Intel Core CPU (i3 or i5) or an AMD Ryzen processor (3 or 5), with at least two physical cores (preferably 4). Let's avoid other cheap processors (Intel Atom, Intel Celeron, AMD A4 or AMD A6) even if multi-core: often they are very slow or do not offer the necessary power to be able to open more than two programs at a time.
- RAM memory: we have to focus only on models with at least 8 GB of RAM, so as to be sure to run Windows 10 and the most common programs without slowing down.
- Internal memory: carefully avoid the models with the mechanical disk (indicated as HDD or hard disk), even if it is supplied in a very large version (HDD 1 TB); rather we spend some extra money and only view models equipped with SSDs of at least 200 GB.
- Video Card: its presence is not essential on a work or study computer and most of the time it makes the laptop noisy and with little autonomy; fortunately, on many modern CPUs a very respectable graphic chip is integrated, excellent for managing the graphic effects of the operating system and for providing 3D acceleration to the programs that use it.
Those looking for a 300 Euro laptop are probably not too concerned that it is fast, but at least 2 or 3 programs together must run smoothly! We try as much as possible not to move away from this data sheet, so as to have the certainty of buying a good laptop also in shopping centers or electronics stores.
To learn more, please read our guide on things to know before buying a computer.
Another often overlooked parameter is the screen quality, understood both as a magnitude, both as a resolution and as a view (is it seen well or not?).
To begin with, if we want a laptop, we cannot expect it to be as big as a TV, otherwise it will also become difficult to carry it around. Laptops also have disadvantages compared to desktop computers, first of all that it is not possible to update hardware components and therefore the screen cannot be changed if we don't like it.
To check the quality of the laptop monitor you need have it turned on before your eyes before buying it. After turning it on, we open a Web page (How2do.org is also good for tests!) Or open a text document with a white background and check carefully, closely, that there are no small lines that cross the screen both vertically or horizontally.
This is a problem known as "screen door effect" or "mosquito net effect"and it's very annoying, since it can strain your eyes and make using the monitor frustrating.
Let's also take a look at screen resolution which is generally 1366 × 768, standard size for 15.6-inch laptops; FullHD monitors with 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution are now widespread, an excellent solution to be able to open Web pages in a more detailed and clear way (at first it will seem very small, but after a while we will get used to the higher resolution and it will become very convenient for us to use).
There are some 13 "and 14" laptops, which have the advantage of being smaller and making the laptop very light, to the detriment of the area we can view.
To learn more about every aspect related to monitors, we invite you to read the article on How to choose the LCD monitor and screen resolution.
In this chapter we will instead talk about a parameter that is often overestimated or is never very clear: battery life.
Walking in the corridors of the shopping center, reading the main characteristics of the laptops, you will find that they all have a battery lasting about 3 hours; in case you have to read declarations lasting between 8 and 10 hours, you must not absolutely consider them true in an absolute sense, since with a classic use of Windows 10 it is difficult to exceed 4 hours.
The fact is that there are no agreements on battery standards to date, so computer manufacturers can be free to advertise by emphasizing things like battery life.
In general, I would say that laptops with 4-cell battery (this is important to understand the autonomy) allow to reach 3 hours, while those with 6 cells allow to exceed 5 hours (obviously as standard indication times, without take into account open programs, the brightness level of the monitor and many other factors).
If we want to increase the autonomy of the laptop, we recommend you read our guide on how Extend the battery life of the handset.
As a general rule we recommend you refuse to extend the warranty proposed by the seller.
The extended warranty plays on the sensitivity of the person and on the fact that with a laptop that exceeds 1000 Euros of expenditure it is easier to accept an additional form of insurance on damages or problems of various kinds.
It therefore becomes easy to give in to the pressure of the seller to pay an additional guarantee. It may happen that you pour a glass of water or beer over the computer or that the laptop flies from the window; but how likely is this? Also the possibility that the computer is stolen is not something that happens so frequently, as does the breaking of a component within the two-year legal guarantee already provided at the time of sale.
In addition, most companies or shops that offer extended warranties or total damage protection, in the event of real problems, will do everything to find a reason (even banal) that invalidates that extended warranty. Even if the warranty is honored, the laptop will be repaired who knows where and the repair process can take weeks.
Obviously for internal damages, not dependent on user fault, there is the normal manufacturer's warranty included in any electronics product. Buying a computer online on sites like Amazon certainly offers a superior guarantee, because in case of problems there is always the possibility to ask for a return.
We avoid unnecessary accessories and gadgets at the moment
If not strictly necessary for the use of the laptop we do not buy extra accessories that increase shopping.
The shopkeeper and the shop assistant do their job and therefore try to sell as many things as possible to customers. When talking about electronics with an inexperienced customer (like when going to the mechanic), the seller can use big words and "advise" the consumer to buy "indispensable" extra accessories: these can be USB and HDMI cables for printers, external hard drives , memory cards and other things.
If we talk about cables we advise you to always buy them online, since in shops they usually have much higher prices and, if we really need them, they can be purchased in times of need on e-commerce sites with very fast shipments (as for example shipments dedicated to Prime Amazon users).
As you have seen choosing a good laptop in a shopping center or in an electronics store, it is possible: the only recommendation we feel we can give you and carefully read the advice seen in this guide, perhaps by inserting this article in the bookmarks of the smartphone or printing it on a sheet of paper, so that you can also consult it inside the shop and see if actually the notebook we have chosen deserves the expense to buy it.
In another guide we told you about Best Notebook of the year, excellent to read to get a clear idea on the model to buy.
Other good tips on how to buy a new laptop can be found in our guide on How to choose the notebook laptop PC and make no mistake.