As with any other big purchases I have made, I make sure that I do my research thoroughly. The research phase is especially important when it comes to buying electronics and gadgets like computers, laptops and mobile devices. There is a huge range o choices to make and one can easily get paralysed in simply deciding the best for one’s needs.
So it comes as no surprise that finding the ideal laptop for school (which I am starting my Master’s Degree in January) requires a lot of research. So many factors to choose from, so my conflicting priorities, so many laptops out there. Do I want to choose a thin and light laptop at a cost of battery life? Or do I want a powerful laptop with all the bells and whistles that costs a ton and compromise on weight? Am I willing to spend that much just so that I could get a nice looking laptop, or do I simply need a cheap and simple one that would just get me by during lectures and writing assignments?
It’s easy to just go with the best reviewed ones and pay the premium. After all, the most sought after laptops are the one that ticked all the right boxes when it comes to battery life, performances, weight, durability and design. But if you carefully analyse your needs, you soon realise that there are other laptops out there that may perform just as good, if not better at a fraction of the price and still meet all your needs.
Take my purchase decision in getting a Lenovo Thinkpad 13 for example. Initially, I would never have imagined that I would get a Lenovo laptop. I never liked the design. It’s too traditional, plasticky, and very business-like in design. I set my mind on a Dell XPS 13 which has been touted time and time again as the laptop to get under the Windows platform. Dell really set the bar high. But there was something about the laptop that was gnawing at the back of my head: Price.
Yes it’s true, that if you want the best, expect to pay a premium. While the Dell XPS 13 suited my needs perfectly – its portable, light, comes with a great screen and awesome battery life – I sought to challenge myself, if I could find one that closely resembles what I was looking for, at a fraction of the price.
So off I went, scouring through various websites, looking at catalog after catalog of various laptops, reading reviews, analysing the pros and cons, readjusting my priorities and needs.
Price was a huge factor this time round. The last laptop I owned was a MacBook Air. It was quite expensive, but not exorbitantly so. My priority at the time was longevity and durability. I needed to use that laptop for 4 years during my undergrad studies and it paid off. It was a wise decision to get that laptop. For a premium, you get a device that lasts really long and performed really well. And the MacBook Air is still running strong. Now my dad uses it and loves it.
For my grad studies, I needed something simpler. It’s just a two-year Master’s course. I just needed a laptop that could do simple productivity work using Word, Powerpoint or Excel. I needed battery life to be decent. I don’t need a super high resolution screen, or a super accurate, high contrast monitor. What I do need is a comfortable keyboard, easy to type on and a fairly accurate trackpad. I need a laptop that performs well enough, boots up fast enough, at least an SSD installed. And all these features I need, must not cost more that the cost of the Dell XPS 13. And none of my needs mentioned above placed design and aesthetics high on the list. Upon reflection, I came to realise that I don’t really need a laptop that turns peoples head and grab their attention. That is where I found my ideal laptop.
The Thinkpad 13 is perfect. 13 inch screen at Full HD resolution. Perfect. Screen brightness is average but meet my needs perfectly. Battery life is long enough for the whole day, provided I just use simple applications and light web surfing, which is what I intend to do on this laptop, not to play games or run complex tasks and programs on it. Keyboard is astounding. I have heard numerous times that Lenovo keyboards are some of the best and it rings true. I have felt or typed on a more comfortable keyboard in my entire life (at least on a laptop) As I am writing this, I am typing on my Lenovo Thinkpad 13 and it is just splendid. Fingerprint scanner for logging into Windows is a bonus and the trackpad is fine enough that didn’t leave me terribly annoyed by its inaccuracies or unresponsiveness. I would prefer the keyboard to be backlit, but its a minor inconvenience, one that I can live without. It’s running on a Core i5 Skylake processor, not some underpowered coreM, has a DDR4 RAM (that’s right DDR4), 8GB of it, which is more than enough for my needs and it comes with a 256GB SSD. For me, it doesn’t matter what kind of SSD its inside, so long as its an SSD. I don’t need the superfast kind, just fast enough to boot windows without the time it takes to make coffee. I/O wise, it has 3 USB 3.0 ports, an SD card slot, USB-C, which is a amazing and HDMI out. It’s ports galore! Oh, did I mention that the Thinkpad 13 is MilSpec certified, meaning it pass military specifications when it comes to surviving rugged and rough treatments, like shock, and dust exposure? Thinkpad 13 is rugged. Rugged enough to be handled, transferred and used outdoors in rugged conditions.
All these specs came at just S$930. Yes its under S$1000. Originally, it costs around S$1300. But because I am going back school, I took advantage of Lenovo’s student pricing and got it down S$1030. Timing was perfect. SITEX was just around the corner in Singapore and they announced further discounts on select laptop models. On the Thinkpad 13, it went down to $930. I immediately ordered online the moment the price went down further. That was how I got the Thinkpad 13 at just S$930. It’s a steal.
So far as of this writing, I have used the Thinkpad 13 for a couple of hours and I am loving it. Typing is absolute bliss, which would definitely help in my future writing assignments during school. It’s light enough that I can tolerate bringing it around in my backpack, and overall looks really minimalistic on the outside. Barring any technical issues that might arise as the result of using it (touch wood), I think I made the right personal choice in getting the laptop at a great price that would perfectly meet my needs. One think that I truly appreciate right now is that I have cultivated a habit of thoroughly doing my research before buying something, rather than going with my emotions and getting something expensive that I might regret further down the road. One aspect of research that is important, which I only realise is that you have to be brutally honest with yourself, when it comes to choosing one expensive item over another. You really need to think logically when it comes to making such decisions, list down your needs and separate your wants, and then make the decision. In the end, you will soon realise that you can save a lot of money getting the thing you need rather than paying extra on things that you don’t.