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How Much Does Build Quality Affect Your Mobile Gadget Purchase?



nokia_booklet_3g_retail_packaging_slashgear_9-540x375Interesting discussion going on prompted in part by Michael Gartenberg’s post on SlashGear about the Nokia Booklet 3G. He lists four reasons (style, quality, indulgence, battery life) why it is worth buying, even at a steeper price than most Netbooks. In doing so he says this about performance issues:

So I’m not going to discuss the relatively slow processor or hard drive. We can agree that the Booklet isn’t a speed demon.

Granted smart consumers realize that Netbooks aren’t performance based purchases. That said, I’m wondering how much style, build quality, and indulgence might play a factor with in your minds, fellow GBM readers. I have to admit, the low cost of many Netbooks have often made me think of them as disposable purchases, and consequently as I have been examining them, build quality has taken a back seat to issues like price and keyboard size. My observation is this, if I’m going to drop more than $400 on a Netbook, I’m probably going to opt for something with more performance capability than a Netbook. Again, I’m not a Netbook user, so my perspective may be totally different than yours.

So, what do you think? How do Gartenberg’s 4 reasons figure into your decision process?



  1. Ryan P

    12/02/2009 at 2:11 pm

    I just bought a netbook. I spend a while figuring out which one was right for me, and I finally settled on the HP Mini 311. My priority was small size, because I was getting tired of carrying my larger notebook around to all my classes. After size, my priorities were screen resolution, price, and relative performance. Battery life was an issue, but because the battery on my other notebook is completely dead I would be happy with only a few hours of life. What really decided me on this one was the inclusion of the Ion chipset so I could continue to play my (older) games on the go. The primary thing I would like to see in future netbook purchases would be the inclusion of a button to turn off the trackpad since I almost never use it.

  2. Ben

    12/02/2009 at 5:13 pm

    Build quality is extremely important in my opinion, even with a “cheap” device. $400 is still $400, and GREAT DEPRESSION or not, I’d think twice before spending it. I’d be angry if it turns out the $400 thing was junk.

    But even more important is if I have a need (as much as one could possibly need two computers) for the thing. A netbook (especially the 10in ones) doesn’t give me any portability benefits over a normal ultra-portable laptop, but has many performance disadvantages. A netbook might fit into my life if I had a powerful desktop and no laptop.

    Style is nice, but is an afterthought–unless we’re talking something obviously gaudy like those “fashion” netbooks, which I’ll stay away from.

  3. Chris Davies

    12/03/2009 at 2:31 am

    While I agree generally with Michael’s points, in the end the performance factor seems to be a bigger issue for me – the device has to do what I want/expect it to do. In the case of the Booklet, I got a review unit through and wasn’t impressed; the build and design are both excellent, it has a real premium feel, but I can’t get past the sluggish performance. I could still be using the review unit but it’s sitting in its box in the corner – it doesn’t do what I need it to do in order to keep using it.

    I actually talked to some Nokia execs earlier this week about it; their argument was that I’m a “power user” whereas they’re content with the Booklet’s performance. I personally think a machine should be able to open up a few IE8 tabs without getting sluggish, and that it’s not too much to expect for even entry-level users to want that too.

    I suppose what I’m saying is that style/quality/indulgence/battery life are all great, but if the device doesn’t suit your needs then neither you nor anyone else will ever see it to appreciate those factors: it’ll be sitting in its box in the corner, another regretful purchase.

    (quick disclosure: I write for SlashGear, the same site that Michael’s editorial is published on)

  4. Flash

    12/03/2009 at 4:38 pm

    As I get older (and wiser??) the more I see the value in buying quality. For the same performance in a computer, for example, I’ll happily pay a premium for a Fujitsu or a better Sony over, say, an HP (All my HP’s have died within 3 years). I’m finding, now that I spend more money on a better quality product (actually more a better quality BRAND) that I’m making better purchase decisions and having far less buyers remorse.

    But any device still has to have the performance I need, regardless of how well it’s constructed. It’s just that I’ll pay more for quality as a feature on devices with equivalent specs.


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