Buying laptop online vs store? Which is better?


A few years ago my brother wanted to buy a new laptop. They were getting cheaper, and his old one was almost 3 years old. Two main choices were open to him – buying the laptop online vs store.

Pros of buying a laptop online

Don’t have to leave your home If you’re like me and like to avoid the hustle and bustle of shopping malls, online laptop purchases are great. You can sit at home in your pyjamas, browse dozens of sites comparing models and prices then purchase it without leaving your house. This means you save on petrol, parking fees etc… And if it’s raining out there is even better – stay inside by the warm fireplace!

To purchase one online, hit a few sites and then select the right laptop for you. You can sometimes get a better deal if you buy it with a bundle or add more memory etc. Also – no waiting! Prices may be lower than in stores! And most sites offer a next-day delivery option so you don’t have to wait more than 1 day for your new machine to arrive! But there is a drawback – some shops will not honor the warranty if purchased online… And what happens when something goes wrong while using it?

Cons of buying a laptop online

Warranty policy

If you purchase an item from an online retailer’s website rather than through their physical store, their own warranty policy will apply not the store’s one. Some stores will refuse to honor warranties for items bought off the line which can be difficult when something malfunctions.

You will be able to find laptops for sale cheaper on websites like eBay/Amazon because they don’t charge tax on these items however this extra saving is very small compared to all of the risks involved in buying this way (which I will discuss more below), not only that but you won’t get any warranty with your purchase or be able to return it for any reason.

If you buy your laptop online, the only thing you will save is money (which isn’t much at all). A warranty will cost you extra and if there is an issue with the product, most likely you will have to send it back before they can send a new one which costs more time and money rather than just picking up the phone and asking them about your problem.

Third parties

Buying online communicates information about you to third parties. Remember that purchasing online means transferring your financial and personal details to a number of different companies, which can leave you vulnerable to fraud, identity theft etc…


Laptop purchase is an important one. You don’t want to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on something that doesn’t work, so it is advisable to buy from a retailer that has good customer service and will be able to replace it if there are issues with the device.

Pros of buying a laptop in store

There are so many advantages of buying a laptop in store.

  1. Firstly, you can try out the laptop to see if it fits well in your hands. It is always better to actually get a feel of the product before buying. You can also ask any questions you have about the product so that there are no surprises when you get home!
  2. Another great thing about shopping in-store is that you can simply go back and change your mind within 14 days of purchase if something doesn’t feel right with the purchase.

Shop advantage is that you can see it in your hands, try it out with different software, check for any defects before committing yourself. The disadvantage is that you can’t buy it immediately! It will be shipped to you, which takes time if they are not in stock locally. You’ll need to wait at least 2-3 days but sometimes more than 1 week. Also if there’s a big demand in your area then people may queue outside shops waiting for them to open.

Cons of buying a laptop in store

There are so many disadvantages of buying a laptop in store.

  • Firstly, it’s well known that laptops can be expensive. If you go to a store, the prices are higher than what you would pay online because of the costs associated with fitting out a retail space and employing staff there.
  • When buying in-store, it’s also really easy to end up paying much more than expected due to sneaky upgrades (or even extras like extended warranties). What many people do not know about these kinds of stores is that they make money by selling these items at inflated prices.

Customers might feel pressured into buying something if there is someone waiting on them hand and foot offering great deals. This difference in pricing could tempt many, especially those who do not have access to the internet or who are for immediate purchase. While Amazon and other online retailers have a more lenient refund policy, there is also the dreaded “buyer’s remorse” to think about.


Tips on purchasing a laptop online

The best thing is to do some research before you buy! On the internet, there are all sorts of consumer review sites where people talk about their experience buying items online. Take advantage of this information – look for reviews by people who have bought the same device you are considering, and see what their experience was.

  • Did they have any problems?
  • How were these dealt with by the company?
  • Can you contact them easily if you should need to return it later?

Make sure that there is a warranty – this will be useful should anything go wrong, or just as an extra piece of mind that you are getting an item that has been thoroughly tested. Remember too that the warranty may not be valid in your country, so check before buying if this could be an issue for users. Also, check on return policies – many items cannot be returned once used!

Be aware also of whether taxes need to be paid on the purchase price. This can make quite a difference to how much you pay at checkout. In some places, this is dependent on the total value of the laptop too – so ensure you check to see if this applies.

What to do if you can’t make up your mind between buying a laptop online vs store?

If you can’t make up your mind between the two options, you should consider both. If you do not have enough money to afford both, buy the laptop in-store and return it if you don’t like it within 15 days or so.

In conclusion…

Remember that there are always risks involved when buying a laptop online. However, it can be a very convenient and cheap way to buy a laptop if you do your research thoroughly beforehand. Ensuring that the company is reputable, has good customer feedback, and offers a warranty should give you just as satisfactory an experience as shopping in-store. Whether you decide to buy from a retail store or online shop, make sure you know exactly what product specifications to look for before making your decision!

Anyways, if you have purchased a laptop and are having issues, you will be pleased to know that we provide fast laptop repairs in Melbourne.

I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...