It’s about that time again: back to school shopping. 

This year, American families are expected to shell out $83.6 billion on school supplies, according to a study from the National Retail Federation. That’s a 10 percent increase over last year’s bill of $75.8 billion, and the must-have item at the top of the list carries a hefty price tag: Laptops. 

So, what should you look for and avoid when buying a laptop? Here are some tips to find the right laptop for the right price: 

Buying new 

There are plenty of good deals on new laptops, along with plenty of bad deals. For the most part, you get what you pay for when buying new. 

Extended warranties are usually where the retailers usually get you as they are ringing up your purchase. While you might contemplate shelling out the extra couple of hundred dollars, on top of what you are already spending, we are here to tell you it is not worth it. Laptops come with a one-year manufacturer warranty. The extended warranties usually only cover factory defects, like a hard drive or battery going bad and not accidental damage. Laptops are built well and meant to last for quite a few years if you take care of them. By the time your hard drive wears out, you’ll be ready for a new laptop. So, save yourself some extra dollars and just make sure you register your new laptop with the manufacturer so if something does go wrong within that first year, you are covered. 

Buying used 

Buying a used laptop through popular sites such as OfferUp or Craigslist can be tempting, but it’s important to understand what you’re buying. I’ve had clients at Marcus Networking who think they are getting a great deal only to find out they got exactly what they paid for. 

Ask for the seller for proof of purchase to make sure what you’re buying isn’t stolen, or look up the computer’s serial number to make sure it’s registered in the seller’s name. If you’re looking into buying a used Apple laptop, meet the seller at an Apple store to validate the ownership right there. 

If any of the above makes you uncomfortable then buying used it is probably not the best option for you. 


Chromebooks can be a great alternative for your kids. These devices are limited in what they can do and are less expensive than its full-capability counterparts. 

Chromebooks can’t download or install traditional programs but have internet access and can run Google apps like Gmail and Drive. Some models also have access to the Android app store. 

Whatever kind of laptop you decide to buy this school year, sometimes all it takes is a little shopping around and research to find the best deals.