When purchasing a laptop its VERY important to understand some basic concepts about laptops before purchasing something for the right price with the right performance for your needs.
Before i start though a litte word about ebay, laptops, sellers and prices in general. Firstly yes there is a huge difference in prices between one seller and another but have you stopped to think WHY? The reason why is simple, buying someone's has-beens is not a good idead, yes their laptop will go for less, but for a good reason, that reason being that they have no idea what they are selling and dont really care about little problems they 'forget' to mention. ALWAYS buy from someone who deals exclusively in laptops, laptops are a very unique strand of computing and it takes a specialist knowledge to understand their pro's and cons compared to a desktop machine. Think of it like this, when you buy a car from the local paper its more than likely the gearbox will fall out in six months time, buy from a dealer and it has been THOROUGHLY CHECKED for you by a professional (assuming they have good feedback of course). And that brings me on nicely to my second point, feedback is important but 100% is unrealistic as its a simple case of luck sometimes whether you get negative (do you lose £10s in commission and listing fees to refund or stand your ground if the mistake IS NOT YOURS) So ALWAYS buy from a specialist or an engineer who knows exactly what they are selling and how suitable it is for YOUR personal requirements :) DO NOT EVER BUY FROM BOX SHIFTERS/DELBOYs on ebay, when you have a problem and need help you will get no help thats worth squat from them at all. Make sure the seller is an accredited official computer engineer like myself who can give both HONEST AND ACCURATE ADVICE
So, you want a laptop? Well dont forget laptops are designed for efficiency NOT performance. Secondly it isnt the processor speed that is the be-all and end-all of performance. Computers rely on a matrix of components and a weak point in any area will kill any advantage a faster processor can deliver dead in its tracks. So myth no.1 destroyed is processor speed is NOT the most important aspect of your laptop, my 1ghz Pentium 3 mobile laptops are FASTER than other sellers Pentium 4 laptops and even the PeeCee world disposable crap thats fed to you.
choose a laptop that has Windows XP Pro or Home (slightly less robust but adequate for most users) for a start (ONLY XP 64bit if you are purchasing an AMD Turion/Athlon64 laptop for a start!)
Windows XP should be completely updateable aswell, so make sure you go onto microsoft's website (www . microsoft . com) and check as soon as you purchase your laptop that microsoft successfully validate your installation of XP otherwise YOU WONT BE ABLE TO DOWNLOAD THE LATEST MICROSOFT UPDATES AND IMPROVEMENTS TO WINDOWS XP
Secondly if you plan to run XP make sure the seller can provide or at the very least upgrade the laptop for you to 256mb RAM as an absolute minimum. Otherwise the laptop wont even run at full speed even when idle. 320/384mb RAM is a huge improvement over 256 on some laptop.
Ask if the battery holds a charge, laptop batteries are VERY expensive and some models are very difficult to obtain.
Make sure you ask a seller if there are any of the following on the screen
PRESSURE MARKS ON THE SCREEN (white or dark areas on the screen due to a bad screen)
SCRATCHES ON THE SCREEN (these will become very annoying and cannot be repaired so beware!)
DEAD PIXELS (some are very noticable and again can NOT be repaired only the LCD screen replaced)
Make sure you have ample hard disk space for your purposes (windows XP take 1.1gb alone!) any seller worth his salt can advise you in this area. Hard drives are not easy to replace AND copy your data across to at a later date.
Take very special notice of what type of memory is used, for example 100mhz is noticably slower than 133mhz memory based laptops
If a seller cannot answer technical questions about what you want (ask them what RPM the hard disk is as a good example 4200rpm is ok 5400rpm is much faster and hence will improve your computing experience)
Finally DONT GET CAUGHT UP IN THE BULLSHIT, a well configured Pentium 3 laptop with a good graphics card will do everything bar running the latest games.
DONT BUY CHEAP MAKES LIKE ACER,ADVENT,PACKARD BELL ET AL. If you can go for a Dell (c400, and centrino models ONLY) OR IBM they know what theyre doing trust me!
If you want ultimate performance then go for a Pentium 4 DESKTOP processor based laptop from DELL as these are the fastest money can buy, Centrino's are like an old diesel, great economy (battery life) not the best performance!. The fastest laptops money can buy ARE PENTIUM 4 HYPER THREADING 3.4/3.6ghz laptops NOT LAME CENTRINO 2Ghz ONES.
If you do want to play the latest games make sure your laptop you purchase has DEDICATED NVIDIA OR ATI 256Mb GRAPHICS CARD AS MINIMUM. My DELL Inspiron 9100 laptops will run rings round all but the latest NVIDIA 7800GTX 256mb graphics card equiped laptops (and even then the Centrino processor will struggle to keep up with a proper power based processor like a DESKTOP P4 HT processor)
If in doubt ask an experienced laptop engineer like myself (if a seller cant even comment on repair's dont bother, they're just box shifting NOOBS trust me. any idiot can go and buy 30 laptops from a supplier, but like insurance companies you wont know how good they really are until you have a PROBLEM)
Finally DONT COMPARE AN IBM LAPTOP TO SOME DISPOSABLE RUBBISH FROM HP/ADVENT/ACER etc. YOU WOULDNT WALK INTO A MERCEDES/BMW/AUDI showroom and expect to get one for the price of a Skoda now would you?
Im always available for free impartial technical advice on laptops @ Laptops_Shop_UK ebay user ID.
NEVER PURCHASE FROM SELLERS WHO WONT ACCEPT PAYPAL, THIS IS BECAUSE THEIR GOODS ARE NOT OF THE HIGHEST QUALITY AND YOU CAN REQUEST A REFUND FROM PAYPAL VERY EASILY!! I personally ONLY use PayPal when purchasing items myself. Paypal carries a hefty charge however so its OK if a seller only offers it on the condition that the fees are contributed towards. After all when you go to Sainsbury's and they charge you 2.2% for the pleasure of using your card you dont even know it!!
Always ask a seller if you can collect the item in person, IF THEY REFUSE WALK AWAY FROM THE SALE. If they have nothing to hide they will allow this even if you have no intention of making the transaction in person :o)
one final note, some sellers use cheap couriers like parcelforce or omega or citylink. DONT BE SUPRISED TO BE CHARGE TWICE FOR DELIVERY if you miss your delivery, they charge to re-deliver, always pay a few £'s extra for SPECIAL DELIVERY BY ROYAL MAIL (which has upto £2500 insurance and a refund promise if the item is delivered late).
I hope this helps people looking to purchase their first laptop, ebay is a fantastic place but please be careful and dont buy from boxshifters or amatuers, a little bit more expenditure on a Laptop will ensure a happy and smooth experience for yourself.
good luck and enjoy the wonderful world of ebay