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Circuit City Wouldn’t Allow Me to Buy the Computer I Wanted

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I’ve been planning since the middle of August to buy a new notebook computer to replace my five-year-old Fujitsu C-6631 1 GHz laptop, which is finally presenting operational problems. Well, purchasing a new computer isn’t easy. I want to spend between $1,500 and $2,500 and I want these features in addition to the standard wireless, multimedia card reader, DVD+/-RW:

* 17″ WUXGA display
* 2 GB RAM
* 120+ GB hard drive storage
* numeric keypad
* Intel Core 2 Duo processor

HP Pavillion Notebook ComputerI can’t have all of that for $2,500. In fact, the only computer I’ve found that meets all of the conditions (other than the numeric keypad) is the QOSMIO, which is too expensive. I finally decided I’d be willing to bend on the WUXGA display and settle for WXGA+. The best option was an HP Pavillion DV9030 from Circuit City.

They had the model on display, but none in stock. After asking the sales associate to check, we determined that no Circuit City in a 50-mile radius had the model either; I would need to order it from the warehouse (and pay shipping).

I wasn’t about to do that, so I left the store empty handed yet again. It appears that Circuit City will be receiving some new HP Pavillion models shortly. I’ll decide between the DV9040 and the DV9060. I’m surprised there is still no model with WUXGA resolution, however.

If I keep putting off this purchase, I may end up convincing myself that I don’t need a new notebook computer. However, at this point, I still believe it will make my life easier.

Updated January 16, 2010 and originally published October 24, 2006. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar kurt

You can get an external keypad to use when a lot of number entry is required. They aren’t expensive ($15).

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,535 (Platinum)

I’d be willing to live without the numeric keypad.

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avatar Cazi

Ever consider buying a laptop with all those things (minus keypad) and then a seperate USB numeric pad?

Kensington has a pretty nice one that is a USB numeric pad/calculator.

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avatar J.D. @ Get Rich Slowly

I suspect a Mac isn’t an option for you (and I’m not trying to evangelize in their favor), but Apple just updated its laptops today. This is something I’ve been waiting for.

17″ (1680×1050) display
2.33 core 2 duo
2gb RAM
160gb drive (faster 100gb drive for $100 less)

$2800 – $2700 with small, quick drive

Now that it’s out, I’ve got to decide if I’m actually going to buy it. That’s how it always works. I have these grand plans to purchase things, but when it comes time to do so, it’s hard for me to pull the trigger…

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avatar RSN

If you’re at all willing to order online, I would really suggest checking out Tiger Direct (http://www.tigerdirect.com). I’m not sure if you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for, but I’ve bought from them before and have found great prices and very good customer service.

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avatar Rich Slick

For a moment, I thought you would recount a story about how Circuit City wouldn’t actually sell you the laptop before they tried to upsell you.

In 2004, I went to Best Buy to buy one of the first 64bit laptops. I found the right laptop at the right price and it even had a $200 rebate.

I asked the sales clerk for the laptop but before he would give me the laptop he asked if I wanted an extended warranty.
“No” I said.
“How about joining BestBuy poing club?” he asked.
“No, I just want the laptop and go” I replied.
“You’ll need anti-virus for your laptop” he says as he reached for a box of McAfee.
“I don’t need that I just want the laptop” I said.
“Do you have high speed internet?” he asked.
“I just want the laptop, can I speak to a manager” I responded with agitated voice.
“Sir, there are some serious legal issues if I don’t tell you about these things” he whimpered.

Manager comes over.
“I just want to buy this laptop and nothing else” I said to him.
“He’s just doing his job telling you about some great products that you might need with your laptop” manager says.

“Can you ring me up?” I ask with menacing grin.
“Sure” manager takes laptop and scans it.

Needless to say that I have yet to step in a Best Buy now for two years and I won’t for at least another 3. They are on my five year ban list of companies that I boycott for horrible service.

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avatar Aaron

J.D. You beat me to it. I was going to recommend he look into the new 17″ mac laptop. Flexo, I switched a couple of years ago while in grad school, so I received the education discount and an operating system that has significantly improved my productivity.

The education discount brings that 17-incher down to $2,599. Thrown in an $80 copy of Parallels software, and you can run windows in a virtual machine simultaneously. Which allows you to run quicken and other select apps when you want without any risk of you computer dying on you due to spyware, virus, or windows developing it’s own crashing problems.

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avatar J.D. @ Get Rich Slowly

Oooh — Aaron, you just inadvertently made another argument in favor of me buying a new Mac laptop. I had forgotten about Parallels. I hate the Mac version of Quicken, so with Parallels, I’d be able to use the far-superior PC version… Nice.

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avatar F. D. Bryant III

I would recommend try looking outside the brand names. I personally buy notebooks through http://www.discountlaptops.com. They sell laptops directly from the guys who make the brand names. I buy Sager Notebooks (http://www.sagernotebooks.com) and I am pretty sure you can get all that you are looking for with perhaps more within your budget.

An important factor to consider when buying a laptop is the service behind it. Especially if you are not technically inclinded and even if you are technically inclined. We all know what the brand name reputations are and I all can say is that the support I’ve received from Sager and Discount Laptops has been equal if not better than that.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,535 (Platinum)

When it comes to switching to Mac, something which I have considered, it’s the software issue I’m concerned about. I’d like for my Windows Mobile 5.0-powered iPAQ to sync with iCalendar or some other productivity/office software.

I’d also like not to *pay* for software, which I may or may not have done since (or before) registering WWIV for $25 in 1991.

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avatar samerwriter

Remember that you can always load Windows onto your Mac, either with parallels (as someone else mentioned) or natively, if you don’t need to run both Mac and Windows software at the same time.

I’ve been waiting for the Core 2 Duo to be available in the MacBook. Now I’m just trying to figure out what configuration to get!

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avatar Special Ed

You might want to look at http://www.powernotebooks.com. They have a 10/10 rating on resellerratings.com. They have excellent products and customer service.

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avatar Jonathan

Dude, that thing looks like a beast! 17″! I’m trying to find one that’s 4 lbs and has 4+ hours battery life for under $1200.

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avatar Anas

Trying going with dell. I always use http://www.dealsoveramerica.com

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avatar 2million

Wow I am running a 5 year old (refurbished when i bought it) 850Mhz machine which I upgraded to WinXP. Maybe that would explain why I can’t seem to get all my work done. I have been thinking about it for years…but there has always been something else on my priority list to get purchased 1st.

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avatar Adam

Best Buy has the model you’re looking for.

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avatar Don Rena

You should get a Dell laptop, i had an HP whose screen went dead after two months and the customer service really sucks i was not able to get any replacement parts. The only option they gave me was to buy another computer

Decided to throw it in the trash bought a Dell great system, latest technology on it, tough and service i have received is excellent.

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avatar JLP at AllFinancialMatters

I bought an HP Pavilion dv8000 on June 1 and have been pretty happy with it. I’m pretty sure you’ll like HP.

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avatar Cindy

IMHO, the big-box electronics stores are great for trying out different manufacturers/models. Then I order directly from the manufacturer so I can configure exactly what I want.

Last year I ordered a laptop from Lenovo (formerly IBM) and went the custom configuration route. They also offer pre-packaged configurations (like what you find in a store) for those who are in a hurry. There’s usually an online deal going, too. Sometimes pre-packaged is more economical but only if one meets your exact requirements. My stuff arrived in about 3 weeks.

I’ve been totally impressed with Lenovo’s service, and have taken full advantage of the warranty to learn more about the OS. They partner with local hardware companies for service, and their partner replaced my sticky CD/DVD drive with no hassles (other than leaving it for a week).

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avatar Chris Ross

I just bought a dv6125se at Best Buy – not the model for you (15″, no numeric) but what I saw when researching was that Best Buy had some of the same models as Circuit City, but was selling them at Circuit City’s after-rebate price without rebate.

You can also look at Amazon. the dv9040 you mentioned is 1699 before rebate. 1524 after. No tax, no shipping.

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avatar Valerie

Did you actually check with Circuit City.com? Usually they will ship to the local store, with no shipping charges to you. I’ve bought several things that way.

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avatar Jeremy

Good lord – $2500 for a laptop? And this is a site about personal finance??

Right now can get a Dell e1705 w/core 2 duo @ 2gig, 2gig ram, 120gb hd, 8x cd/dvd writer, integrated wireless & bluetooth, 17″ wuxga, upgraded 80w battery for $1312

Add an external keypad for 10 key and you’re set for well under budget. Don’t compromise on the resolution – if you’re going 17″ you’ll want WUXGA on the monitor. WXGA is marginal for 15″ IMHO, and unaccaptable at 17″

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,535 (Platinum)

“$2500 for a laptop? And this is a site about personal finance??”

Different people have different needs. You even say so yourself. If I don’t compromise on WUXGA resolution, it can easiy cost that much.

I don’t write about saving every possible penny like you might see on other personal finance blogs because that’s not my philosophy…

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avatar Sydney

Why dont you just order the 9040 directly from hp? its the same price as it will be at circut city WHEN THEY FINALLY GET IT and its ready to ship NOW. Thats what I’m doing. I had the same experience with no joy from circuit city AND best buy. I tried to buy the 9030 from circuit city – sold out, and the 9035 from best buy – sold out.

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avatar Sydney

the hpdv9040us has 240 gb space and is $1649 after a fifty dollar rebate for the last person’s comment who asked about pricing. It comes with every conceivable bell and whistle including a free upgrade to VISTA when it’s released. It includes built in webcam, microphone, Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2 GB RAM, 17â€Â? WUXGA display, built in wifi, tv tuner, anything you could possibly ever want. (you can check me on the details at hp’s website to make sure I got everything right) If you TRIED to build all of that into a Dell you’d be spending three thousand. So I think this is an EXCELLENT bargain for the money. you can find all of the info and order it on hp’s website since it hasn’t been released yet for circuit city and the other stores apparently. Anyway, I just ordered mine. Crossing my fingers. Oh, I forgot to mention. It has the same glossy black hp finish as the 9030/35 which is really cool and slick looking. As a female businessperson, that stuff is important to me too ;)

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,535 (Platinum)

The preconfigured 9040us has WXGA+ resolution according to hp.com, so I’d have to configure one to include the WUXGA. The higher resolution does increase the cost, but the rest of the stats on the preconfigured model are great.

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avatar Jeremy

You listed your requiements and I posted a laptop that was very close to meeting them (everything but the integrated 10 key) that cose $1312. If you want to spend a couple hundred extra for the HP to get the integrated 10 key I understand that. But the $2500 number is a little silly, given the stated requirements.

I completely understand not pinching every penny. Quality gear is worth paying for, but you shouldn’t overpay either.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,535 (Platinum)

Jeremy,

I’ll check up on the Dell — I didn’t look at their website in the last few weeks after originally seeing their prices were much higher than anyone else’s. The number pad isn’t the deciding factor, I’m looking mainly at the RAM, processor to an extent, and resolution.

All right, I just checked. Configured similarly to the HP (ie., using quality parts like NVIDIA rather than ATI Mobility, 2GB DDR SDRAM at 667 MHz instead of 1GB at 500 MHz), it’s several hundred dollars more than the HP. The price difference is probably due to Dell’s WUXGA vs. HP’s WSXGA+.

I prefer the quality parts because I’m already familiar with the problems with ATI Mobility and I do want the computer to last five years.

I’ll wait. I would have liked to have one before leaving for California over Thanksgiving. I’m not going to pay $2,500… $1,500 to $2,000 should get me the system I want, but I just might have to wait a few more weeks.

My company offers a small discount for Dell products, but ebates has similar discounts for HP and other manufacturers and retailers…

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avatar Jenny

I had the exact same situation with the same exact laptop and the exact same store (maybe different location). I also was offered to get it shipped, I needed it right away so I would have to pay overnight shipping too. Why do they have it on display to never have the PC you want?

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avatar Tina

Rick, I understand how you feel about offering everything the guy did at best buy, but the fact is he really has no choice. I work at best buy, in car audio and that is part of what our job is. Believe me you woundn’t believe how many people you have come back because something happens to their computer, and well they cannot do anything about it because they don’t have a service plan, or anything like that. Our jobs there pretty much depend on that. You were saying it was bad customer service, but the store tells us we are cheating a customer if we dont offer the “complete solution.” Blah, I sound brainwashed dont I.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,535 (Platinum)

Tina: If the customer is obviously not going to buy the service plan, the salesperson shouldn’t keep pressuring. It’s a waste of time. Offer the plan, describe the benefits if the customer is unfamiliar, but don’t harass.

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avatar Cyndy

you should look into the Special Edition HP Pavilion dv6125se Entertainment Notebook PC of the HP Pavillion dv6000 series, it is the best

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