The Quick Guide to Recession Laptop Buying

This is a guest post from Sam at, thanks to the folks from

Many news reports have been saying that in the upcoming holiday season we’ll see consumers across the country spending more cautiously with their budgets in mind. This is completely understandable as its always difficult to make large spending decisions when the economic outlook of not only your individual household, but the entire country, appears to be on shaky ground.

Negative sentiments aside, if you happen to need a new laptop, there is actually no better time to buy than now.  Seriously, no joke!  Retailers are impeccably mindful of consumer sentiment and tightening wallets and thus have been aggressively discounting computer and laptop prices since the recession started full swing in 2007-2008.

One particular well-timed class of computers introduced in 2007 were netbooks.  These small, light-weight, and often inexpensive laptop computers quickly gained major market share because their attractive $300 to $500 price range made it incredibly affordable for most people to get a computer powerful enough to handle all the basic computing tasks such as web browsing, emails, and word processing.

Computer history lesson aside, the surge of netbooks and subsequent developments really helped to accelerate the affordable computing market, with entry-level / budget laptops dropping in price to match netbooks’ price range and battery life.  These days, you can easily buy a lightweight, ultraportable laptop for under $400, or you can get a larger screen 15-inch machine with comparable performance also around the $400-$500 price range.

One of my favorite current “netbooks” is the popular HP dm1z 11-inch ultraportable.  I put the word netbook in quotes because the netbook-class of laptops these days are far ahead in performance of similar size/price machines back in 2007.  Today’s ultraportables can easily stream HD video content and even run lightweight 3D graphic games or applications.

The HP dm1z has been well reviewed by Engadget, Anandtech and other major publications, and for good reason.  These wallet-friendly laptops are fast, capable, and stylish enough for all usage scenarios.  And the current 2011 models run only $370 to $400 after coupon.

If an 11.6-inch screen size isn’t to your liking, you could opt for something like the 14-inch HP dv4t, another viable option in the budget computing category.  This 14-inch laptop comes in many different configuration, with the cheapest of the bunch being a $470 Pentium B950 processor or similarly priced Core i3-2330M equipped laptop.  If the processor model names don’t mean much to you, don’t worry, 99% of other buyers aren’t familiar with them either.  Suffice it to say these processors will be fast enough for all the basic computing tasks mentioned above.

Finally, you can always head to the mainstream size of 15.6-inch laptops with the bestselling HP dv6 models.  While some of the higher-end configurations run as high as $800, HP thankfully has offered some more affordable options that offer a pretty big performance bang for your buck, thanks to the brand new AMD A6 series processors, released just a few months ago.

At an attractive price of $570, the A6-3400M comes with 4GB of RAM, and even a Blu-ray player so you can watch high-definition movies straight from your laptop.  The quad-core chip in this laptop is fast enough to move beyond basic functions to tackle even more intensive tasks such as medium video gaming or photo editing.  An all-around great bargain for those needing a little bit more performance, a larger screen, but still at a reasonable price point.

The great thing about all of these laptop choices is they are all very capable machines that will last through the years.  We’ve come a long way since budget laptops were first introduced years ago. Today’s “budget” machines are multitudes more powerful than the high-end machines of just a few computing generations ago, and their range of capabilities will happily perform up to many people’s expectations.  From chatting with your relatives on instant messengers, sharing photos on Facebook with friends, or jumping on video Skype calls with personal or professional contacts in other cities, you’ll be well served by any of the three frugal-friendly laptops listed above.  While a worldwide economic recession is far from an ideal situation (to say the least!), at least we no longer have to spend nearly a thousand dollars just to cover our basic computer needs.