After trying (without success) to get my laptop to play nice with my wireless card for about 10 gruelling hours, and hearing I’m getting a nice tax refund, I’ve decided on plan B: using my laptop replacement system.
Every few years, I buy a US$900-ish consumer laptop (using the best deal I can find), and sell it about 2 years later for about US$400. Then I buy a new one. This way, I always have a decent model, while paying very little (about US$300 a year). It’s a much better strategy than buying the latest new fancy model for US$2500 and keeping it 5 years. First of all, you’d be paying more per year. And second, on average, you’ll probably have a less powerfull system during those 5 years, since after 2 years my latest new laptop will be at least equally powerful to your older laptop, and after 4 years I’ll have a laptop that’s much more powerful than your old one.
So that’s been my system, and it has worked pretty well. An additional (and not to be underestimated) benefit is that you get a fresh Windows install every 2 years. One of the biggest factors in slowing down a Windows machine is simply the amount of time you’ve been working on it. And there’s really not much you can do about that, even with obsesive cleaning up of your computer. Installing a fresh Windows copy on a laptop yourself is an experience I can’t recommend.
I don’t spend too much time comparing laptops. I know I need a consumer model, I just look around for good deals (there are always a few good deals with rebates and such floating around) and then compare tech specs to check if there are no snafus. For example, on the laptop I decided on this year, you have to take out existing 128M memory cards (and pretty much throw them away) if you want to add memory. Not nice, but I can live with that.
So this year I’m selling my Compaq Presario 715US and buying a
HP Pavilion ze5730us Notebook. Pretty much the same computer, but more powerful. The harddrive is 40Gig instead of 20Gig, the processor is about twice as fast, I can install more memory (up to 1024 M RAM compared to up to 465 Meg on the Compaq) and it has built-in wireless. And a fresh XP install, of course.
Additionally, I’ll sell the old laptop in Belgium instead of here in the US. Laptops are about 20-30% more expensive in Europe compared to the US.