My Search-Imbued Laptop Purchase

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It is early June when my colleague Morgan and I realized that we were both in the market for laptops with near-identical criteria. Primary requirements were that it be ultra-portable (less than 3 pounds), yet could serve as a primary computer. This implied that it have a decent size screen, sufficient hard drive space and a certain sexiness just for ego's sake.

To make a long story short, our two-week conversion funnel consisted of a series of activities punctuated with searches. As it would seem, all roads either commence with or lead to search.

Research

We commenced with a few direct navigation visits to Dell, Sony and CNET to gather the basic specs. From here we conducted a rash of blog searches to narrow down the list.

In-Store Visit

That week, Morgan agreed to meet me at Circuit City to assess the options. This took all of 10 minutes. Given the constant rain, we took advantage of the store's Internet access to continue our search for the perfect computer. We found a few models that Circuit City didn't offer, most notably an incredibly sexy Samsung Q30 sold only overseas. A quick Froogle search led us to a brief flirtation with buying the Samsung on eBay.

E-Mail

At home, I searched for additional sources selling the Samsung. Sure enough, I find a Britain-based retailer specializing in bringing the best of Japan to those in the United States. I fill out a contact request, and am promptly e-mailed a quote.

Word of Mouth

Over the week, I discussed my impending purchase with Keith, a Sony VAIO loyalist. I was beginning to feel swayed, and swayed Morgan to meet me at the Sony store. We headed straight for the lightest machine on our list. Despite its sleek look, Morgan commented on the impossibly small screen: "Going blind just isn't worth it." Our hopes were dashed. We trudged across the street to RCS, where the selection was dismal, at best. To the salespersons' chagrin, we spent an hour online conducting research on a product line not sold in stores: Dell.

A Phone Call

As it turns out, the Dell X1 is a neat little package. Morgan decided to call Dell to clarify a few points. He did. He also scored a nice discount. And a week or so later, our machines arrived.

Product Experience

Much has changed since I last bought a laptop.

Three years ago, I recall sitting on the floor installing software from a disk while speaking to customer service in India. Today, my laptop arrived with software already installed, which meant that the first 24 hours were spent pimping my machine.

And while this is where the funnel might seem to come to an end, it is really only the beginning. As I downloaded applications and set up passwords, it became apparent how deep my reliance on search had become. And we are not talking about Google.com. Picasa, Google Earth, iTunes, Mozilla, Firefox and its search extensions -- these are the progeny of our love affair with search. I started to wonder if I really needed Microsoft Office at all.

In a few years, perhaps I won't.

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