Your goal when buying a laptop computer is to find a model that meets your needs at a price that fits within your budget. There are several good places to look when purchasing a new or second-hand laptop including retail and online stores. Create a checklist of the features you would like along with the type of tasks you expect to be doing on the laptop. This will help keep you focused on looking only at models that will meet your needs and keep you within your budget.
Buying From a Retail Store
Retail stores are a good place to start looking if you don't have a specific manufacturer or model in mind yet. Stores like Best Buy, Staples and the Apple Store have qualified sales staff to answer your questions about hardware and software and can show you models that meet your needs. Other stores like Target and Walmart do not have sales people as qualified to help you due to the large variety of other products carried in each store, but sometimes special deals the store runs on laptops can make a visit worthwhile.
Once you have looked at laptops in retail stores, spend time online looking to see what else is available through online retailers. It is common for many computers to be available online and not through retail outlets. If you see a laptop you like at a retail store, look for online deals for the same or similar model. The largest selection of laptops online will be available at Amazon. But also visit online stores that specialize in computers and electronics like CDW, Newegg and Tigerdirect.
Refurbished laptops and corporate off-lease sales offer good bargains as long as you purchase from a reputable source. In both instances, getting a solid warranty is important. Sometimes corporate off-lease sales offer a better deal because the computer is being returned upon lease expiration, not because the person had problems with the computer. Refurbished laptops are available from manufacturers like Lenovo, Apple, and Dell, as well as online retailers like Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Best Buy and Newegg.
Buying Direct From Manufacturer
Purchasing directly from manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Lenovo and Apple allows you to customize the laptop instead of purchasing an standardized configuration from a retail vendor. When customizing online, go back to your original checklist of features so you get exactly what you want. Each manufacturer will ship directly to your home or office and provide instructions for extended warranties and return policies in case of any problems.