Things to look out for when buying a laptop

Buying a laptop is stressful. I needed a new one and saw a fantastic offer at Game for an Acer. Without thinking twice I jumped in and purchased. Big mistake. Less than two months later my laptop started randomly shutting itself down and refusing to start again. According to my sales contract I had a six month warranty – so I took the laptop back.

It was sent off for “repairs”. Keep in mind it wasn’t sent to Acer but a third party. It was kept for 3 weeks. Towards the end of the fourth week when I started making a noise I was told that it would take a further 3 weeks to fix! Game then informed me that actually there was no warranty and I needed to now pay for the time it had taken to not repair said laptop.

Long story short, I had to make various trips to said Game store, rant, rave and eventually my laptop was returned to me. 6 months on it still shuts itself off whenever it feels like it and according to the third party repair centre “it works fine.” Though I imagine they’d have a different response now that the warranty (which we finally confirmed DID exist) has run out (possibly one with a few thousand rands attached to the end).

I decided to chat to Luane Lavery from Dell and Mbali Zondo from Core (they supply Apple products to South Africa) and ask them what things to look out for when buying a laptop.

Please note: we did ask Acer to weigh in as well but as yet we’ve not received a response to any of our emails to them.


Both Luane & Mbali agree that you need to keep these factors in mind when purchasing a laptop:

  • Personal requirements: what do you need it for?
  • Portability: Luane put it nicely – “are you going to be a road warrior and spend a considerable amount of time travelling?” If you need your laptop to be portable you may want to look at something smaller and more lightweight than if you’re primarily based at your desk.
  • Battery life: Mbali says you need to make sure your laptop has great all-day-battery life so you can have the convenience of working throughout the day without worrying about your laptop dying.
  • Warranty & After Sale Support: Luane says these services are imperative to ensuring a great user experience. You want to know that any down time can be quickly corrected through great service when you’re faced with break issues.


Cheaper isn’t always better

Be careful of going for the great deal. Pricing is dependent on user requirements. As Luane from Dell points out, your specifications dictate the price. For example, if you require processing power there is going to be a price premium that would make the laptop a bit more expensive. Mbali says that instead of looking at price, you should rather look at the value you will be getting from the laptop. Many a time the overall value and satisfaction you may get from using a particular laptop goes way beyond the physical price.


After sales support

Whether you go for a Dell or a Mac – both offer some great after sales support. Don’t be fooled by retailer promises. Go direct to the brand (or you may fall into the same trap I did!):

Dell offers rich Hardware and Software Support to its customers; one of the support products is called Dell ProSupport, which offers the expertise and technology needed to keep your PC connected and productive so you can focus on what matters most.  You’ll get “how to” assistance for operating system and common software applications, plus help with anti-virus set up, data transfer,  backup and network set up. Support is available 24×7 and includes Next Business Day Onsite service after remote diagnosis. Minimize disruptions with direct access to highly trained experts available around the clock to address all your hardware and software support needs.  From customizing to optimizing to troubleshooting we are here for you throughout the life of your product.

-Luane Lavery, Dell

When it comes to Apple, if you purchase your laptop at any iStore, you are guaranteed to get free set-up of your Mac, free technical support as well as free training from our trained Apple experts. In addition to this, you gain access to all our customer and support services. iStore is the home of absolutely everything Apple.

– Mbali Zondo, Core



  1. Comming from the support side, I agree completely that Dell offers the best in warranty support for their laptops( and they also have the longest warranty period). Core on the other hand will only ever help you when a device is still in its first year of use and the damaged isn’t negligent. After that they tend to focus on selling you a new device.

    However because the Apple devices are so popular there is a thriving out of warranty support for them. This is also true for Lenovo computers who have both the highest growth of the sector and market share.

  2. I just bought a laptop (Dell) and fortunately I had my husband with me who is a computer nerd and works in IT so he knew the best to get. (It was when Dion Wired had their opening sale at Cresta).

  3. Thanks for the article very informative as I have the same problem with my Gigabyte Notebook – it use to shutdown at critical moments, and then the battery started it problem – shows full but dies after 30 minutes. A friend told me it was not worth fixing and is now an expensive paperweight. I have been scanning online for a reason replacement, Dell is 1st choice as I know them my old PC was that and it still worked after 20+ years 🙂 but reasonable priced (R5999) laptops are unknown makes like Ienovo, etc. I need a fast processor and large storage, as I work with lots of graphics and multimedia presentations so it has to handle this without having a tantrim in the middle of a presentation and I hate it when I go in to the shop to purchase and get bombarded with technical talk with I don’t understand as that is how I ended up with the Gigabyte. So again thanks will follow your advice

    1. Lenovo maybe a brand that isn’t well known in customer circles but it is far from unknown. Last year they sold more laptops than ANYONE else in the world. They are about 30 years old and bought IBM’s laptop division about ten years ago. I am using one and it is okay, has it’s issues but is very old. Hoping to get a new one in a few days.

      The other brand I personally like is HP. Their entry level stuff is nonsense, just avoid, but once you get into the mid/upper range they are some of the most reliable machines.

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