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Laptop buying guide — best laptop deals

Read our laptop buying guide to find the best laptop deals and bargains.

Laptops are better, faster and lighter than ever before. But all that extra power doesn't necessarily mean you're looking at a huge outlay. Our laptop buying guide should help you find the best laptop deals and bargains rather than duds.

Laptop comparison — free laptops

If you shop around, you can sometimes find a laptop bundled with a monthly mobile broadband contract deal that lets you spread your payments. Although much less common than they once were, bundled deals can make a lot of sense in terms of convenience as well as cost.

Free laptops are unlikely to be top-end powerhouses with incredible specs; they're much more geared towards the regular everyday user. But you can still expect them to charge through office programs, photo and video viewing, Facebook, YouTube and basic online games.

best laptop

Laptop bargains

There are two main types of free laptop deals: those with a separate internet connection, and those with the connection built-in (integrated). The internet connection will be the same type for both, using 4G technology to connect, and they'll have the same capabilities.

The only real variable is from provider to provider, which differ in terms of coverage, network charges or data allowances. On the whole, speeds will be very similar, although some carriers have faster 4G than others.

Free laptop bargains with built-in broadband

These deals offer laptops with mobile broadband built in, meaning you don't have to plug in a USB modem to get online. Everything you need is installed and ready to go out-of-the-box. You can still use other internet connections, although these will need setting up individually.

Pros

  • Convenience — you can just pick up your laptop and go without worrying about a separate USB stick, or SIM card, or any connection details.

Cons

  • You can't take the internet connection anywhere else. It's locked to the laptop, so if you have another device, you'll need another connection.
  • You can't troubleshoot, upgrade or replace the laptop and internet connection separately.

USB stick and laptop combo

These laptop deals are the most common, simply because they offer greater flexibility. A laptop is provided with a separate USB connection dongle. Although this means more in the way of hassle, paper and devices, it gives you the flexibility of a completely mobile USB connection.

Pros

  • You can share the USB stick with another device, including other laptops or tablets.
  • You can upgrade either the laptop or the USB separately, if you're unhappy with just one of the services.
  • You can troubleshoot problems individually.

Cons

  • More to deal with. If you forget your USB dongle at home, you can't get online.