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Monday, March 03, 2008

Buying a notebook sensibly

I’ve been discovering the pleasure of working from home or a coffee shop, and it beats the grind and monotony of working from an office. All you have to do is maintain the discipline and put in the regular hours. The time spent sitting in a traffic jam is so easily converted into a productive period of quality output.

So, I decided to forego full-time employment out of sheer exhaustion and slid into part-time work effortlessly. To work from anywhere and at my convenience, I went looking to buy a laptop. There are so many to choose from and to make an intelligent decision is tough.

Actually, I didn't have too much of a problem choosing because I was sure which brands I really wanted to own - it was a toss-up between the Sony VIAO and an HP product. (I think making up your mind firmly about the brands you want to eliminate for whatever reasons, is the smart way to go.) One may not like the size, styling, features and I did ask for feedback from friends who owned laptops.

I did initially want to buy the Sony VIAO but though sleek looking, I discovered it is on the larger side and I had feedback from a friend who owned one, that the in-built mouse felt slightly disconnected. Another friend swore by his Toshiba but said it was not a lightweight product at all. So, I was scouting for a smaller, easy-on-the arm yet stylish and branded product. I had seen some good-looking HP models in TV campaigns (TVC) and advertisements and decided to check them out. Their eye-catching ‘The computer is personal again’ TVC certainly influenced my decision.

I, therefore, stepped into a Hewlett-Packard (HP) store in my neighbourhood ‘Gigahertz Now’ and checked out some of the notebooks and tablet PCs on display there. They were all so much sleeker looking than the early bulky pieces I associated HP with. There was one in particular which caught my eye – a special edition DV 2601 TX model. This is a notebook with a shiny two-toned snazzy, abstract design on the body, weighs about 2.5 kilos and really neatly put together in a small package. It had tonnes of features like an in-built web camera, Bluetooth enabled (which segued wonderfully with my camera phone because I made sure they were compatible and hotfooting together!), a Windows Vista operating system and the picture clarity is truly 75 mm widescreen quality.

The price the dealer offered me was Rs 54,500 and I took my time to plunk down the cheque despite wanting the notebook badly before anyone else bought it because this special edition pieces were selling like hot cakes and there was a waiting list for them. (The dealer told me they had sold 15 pieces in a month by then) But then I checked with the Tata store - Croma – and they were selling the same model for Rs 52,990, but I would have to wait since they were all sold out. They also had tied up with ICICI Bank to give the bank’s debit card holders a 5% discount on purchases made in their store. So, all in all, I was going to get the same notebook for Rs 50,340, which was Rs 4,160 less than the HP dealer’s price.

So, I went back to my local dealer and told the sales manager, Payal Agarwal the result of my homework and she told me that she would offer me the same price but would not be able to offer me the 5% discount since she didn’t accept credit/debit card payments. But then she also told me that she was putting in all the additional software I had requested free of cost, which Croma will not do. So, buying the new Office Suite 2007 (not the demo or the pirated version) plus Adobe Photoshop would cost me around Rs 11,000 extra. So, if I went to Croma and bought the notebook, I would have come home with a bare-bones metal shell and then would have to put in all the juice at my cost, which would have cost me, finally, over Rs 60,000.)

I also would have to wait for my notebook. Payal had a fresh piece ready for me and that cinched it for me. I went to her to buy my notebook because she was giving me the additional software as freebie and plus was willing to give me Croma’s sticker price.

So, it does pay to weigh out all the pros and cons before buying anything, especially big-ticket items because what looks like a good deal may be deceptively so. There is no substitute for doing your homework and then spending your money in a smart, sassy manner, where you come out with a winning deal.

(The price of this model has come down a bit now but please remember I bought this in November last year, when it was first introduced in the market.)

Written for MoneyLife magazine


alok said...

a very smart buy indeed!as always u have written it very well. Prices have come down since then. As they say, "buying an electronic gadget is like choosing a husband. U wait for some time n u'll get a better one at lesser price":P

Manali said...

:) The only problem is that you just might have to wait forever to "get a better husband at a lesser price" but electronic gadgets are always going to be available.