I just bought a netbook. It’s a Samsung N130. Buying it in itself proved to be a learning experience. So many things to consider especially if you are on a tight budget.
Know what you want
It’s really important to get straight what you actually need. In my case it was mobility, enough processing power to use basic office applications, good battery life, sufficient hard disk space and mobile broadband as a bonus. Chief among all my concerns was of course money, I wanted all this within 35-40k maximum.
Know what you can get
My chief constraint was the money. And my greatest need was the mobility and battery life so i was willing to work within these parameters to choose my ideal buy. The Mobile Broadband doesn’t come standard with most entry-level netbooks. And that was something i was aware of and willing to compromise on. Looks are something you can’t be too particular about when your on a shoestring but most current netbooks look swanky enough as far as these things go.
Know what’s out there
The next step is to explore the marketplace, see what’s out there. If you’ve never heard of OEMs or Original Equipment Manufacturers then its time you knew about them. Most leading brands get their products manufactured through OEMs and then basically stick their branding stickers on top (OEMs are typically tech manufacturing firms located in China and other East Asian countries).
This means that leading brands of computers have almost no difference except for the design cues and combination of features. So when looking for a netbook, look for the features you want and not the brand. Brand blindness will always make you go for the best deal. But i guess it’s always good to go for a leading brand, taking in to consideration availability of service support etc.
A bit of active googling sorted out things for me up to this point very nicely. If you don’t know what kind of processing power you need for you work etc it’s also always safe to ask a techy friend for advice. Who will in turn, also do some (albeit more intelligent) googling and get you the answers you need.
So now we come to the most important bit. Computer accessories in Sri Lanka get typically up 15-20% added in price because of taxes. The margins of retailers are currently much less than they used to be due to the increase in suppliers and the commoditization of laptops but still, best prices are found abroad if you have the access.
By far the cheapest place for netbooks is the US. An advanced market and some serious competition means that netbooks get sold and bought by the truckload. The exchange rate also plays a role in calculating the prices, and the retailers you have access to online will be far less than the options you could get if you were physically in a mall in Singapore say, but if you must work with what you have, have a browse at the price levels of the web savvy retailers in this market should give you a standard idea of availability.
UK was not that cheap. Neither was Singapore. Australia was not that great either but I managed to find a good deal at harveynorman. There was an ASUS EeePC HA 1005 for sale at 328 dollars which was quite cheap. But when my friend went to check it out it had sold out or something. So he had a brose around the mall and got me the Samsung.
There is no point shipping a netbook through courier. The shipping charges will cost you the difference in price. And if you can’t sweet talk customs into letting it through incognito you’ll have to pay taxes in addition. I got mine down through someone traveling to SL from Aussie. Ha had to bring it without the box to give the appearance of it being his.
All in all. A few things had to fall into place to get the timing right. But the price was worth it. the N130 cost me just AUD 340. About Rs. 36,o00. Pretty sweet.
Get it checked there itself for faults. Attempting exchange after its in Sri Lanka is needless to say, needlessly costly.