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How to Find and Buy a Budget Laptop

written by: John Garger•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 1/16/2011

When it comes to laptop computers, many buyers are unaware of how to choose among the great number of features that laptops offer. Read this article to learn some tips on finding and buying the least expensive budget laptop that fits your needs.

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    Laptop computers have grown in popularity in recent years as their features make them much more on par with desktop computers. In addition, laptop prices have dropped tremendously making consumers realize just how economical and convenient a portable computer can be.

    Finding and buying a budget laptop for the lowest price possible can be difficult given the number of features in a laptop and the fact that the major laptop manufacturers are constantly changing their lineup of notebook computers. In this article, you will learn how to assess the amount of money to spend on a budget laptop, the features you really need and don’t need, and how the concept of tiered marketing can help you get a laptop for a lower price.

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    How Much to Spend on a Budget Laptop

    Dell Studio 15 Budget Laptop If you are shopping for a budget laptop, it can really only be for two reasons; you either have to buy a budget laptop because you only have so much money to spend or you want to buy the least expensive laptop possible because you simply want to save money. In either case, it will be better in the long run for you if you fix a certain amount of money you want to spend in your head and stick with that number.

    With laptop computers, you typically get what you pay for. Unless you buy an underpowered netbook, expect to pay at least in the US$450 to US$650 range for a budget computer. Any less and you risk buying a laptop that doesn’t fit your needs; any more money and you risk jumping out of the budget range.

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    What Features to Buy in a Budget Laptop

    Features cost money. More ram, more graphics, and more screen size mean more money you need to spend. Think carefully about the features you really need. If you find yourself often squinting at the screen, consider that you need a larger monitor. If you store a lot of files on a laptop, consider a larger hard drive.

    The trick to getting the features you need in a budget laptop is to be honest with yourself about your needs. There are so many laptop choices out there that there is bound to be one that fits your needs and budget at the same time. Don’t settle for some features you don’t want or need simply because it is packaged up in a pre-configured laptop. Shop around and play with the manufacturers’ configuration options on their websites to get the right balance of features and price.

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    Tiered Marketing and Budget Laptops

    It is no secret that so many marketing mixes are made up of tiered marketing initiatives. This simply means that the laptop manufacturers tier their products to appeal to multiple levels of consumers. This makes it easier for them to market to the individual niches instead of the masses.

    If you look carefully at the laptops offered by manufacturers such as Dell or Gateway, you will notice that the high-end laptops in one tier look an awful lot like the low-end laptops of the next tier. Consequently, there is likely some overlap between each tier.

    Use this to your advantage and avoid building up a lower-tiered laptop. Look to the lower end of the next tier and you are likely to save some money with a pre-configured rather than customized laptop.

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    Buying a budget laptop can be difficult with the many choices that are available. Finding and buying the least expensive laptop takes some time and effort on your part to determine how much you want to spend, what features you really need, and how the laptop manufacturers have tiered their products. With a little extra knowledge in your corner, you are likely to get the laptop you need at the price you can afford.