Image: iStock/nattakornmaneerat

In recent weeks, schools and universities around the US have transitioned to remote education on short notice due to the coronavirus pandemic. To help with online learning and distance collaboration, students must rely on a host of technology solutions ranging from tablets and webcams to high-performance laptops.

As a result of the recent demand, a number of devices are in short supply across online relaters and brick and mortar outlets. Recently, a number of top major manufacturers reported a laptop shortage of approximately five million devices.

That said, many school districts, students, and parents are being forced to make tough decisions about their computing needs with limited supplies. In this report, we will detail some of the key considerations to keep in mind while shopping for a new laptop during peak demand.

Go directly to the source

In the two-day delivery era, online shopping has increased significantly in recent years. Due to brand loyalty or standard browsing habits, individuals may peruse a handful of companies when looking for a new laptop. While Amazon is a popular option, there are a number of other online options to choose from. Beca Truong, public relations manager at ASUS, the computer hardware company, suggests people consider visiting the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) online storefront to browse available laptop options. If a preferred website or brick-and-mortar outlet is out of stock, the OEM could still have models available.

SEE: Hardware inventory policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Consider other computer styles

It’s easy to go into the shopping experience with a particular model in mind, however, alternative options may be necessary during the run on laptop computers. Truong suggested people may want to consider opting for an all-in-one PC model or a desktop. While this may be appropriate for some workspaces, Truong did note that this route may not be appropriate for everyone. A desktop may be too cumbersome for some and the price point difference could turn off other potential suitors.

Expand the search

It’s very easy for people to fall into a routine with their standard shopping habits. That said, by sticking to the normal resellers or retailers when browsing in-store or digital window shopping online, customers can miss out on lesser-known outlets. Truong suggested expanding the list of resellers to browse through when looking for a laptop. Adding more options will only increase your odds of unboxing the ideal laptop during peak demand.

SEE: The 6 best microphones to help you sound better in your next video meeting (TechRepublic)

Take a closer look at your computing needs

During the shopping experience, a thorough examination of the product spec sheet may help guide you in the right product. However, more popular models may be in short supply in the weeks ahead. As a result, many people may be forced to settle on alternative options or reconsider other laptop models.

Truong suggests people may need to reevaluate their general computing criteria to find an appropriate laptop. To assist with the tough decision, Truong says people could break down the purchase into must-have features and option capabilities and then use these parameters to find alternative options.

Follow the sales

Whether it’s a laptop or a new webcam stand, one of the fundamental tips for shopping remains wholly the same: Follow the sales. Truong reiterated this sentiment, saying those in the market should keep an eye out for deals and sales in the near future. As Truong pointed out, the holidays are right around the corner and many companies will offer competitive laptop pricing in the weeks ahead. While this may not be a short-term fix for some, it does enable people to buy a less than spectacular laptop in the interim as they await a potential long-term fix as the holiday sales season ramps up.

SEE: Photos: Best webcams for Zoom, Teams, and remote collaboration (TechRepublic)

Mix up your approach

Lastly, it’s important to be diligent with the laptop search. Online stores and traditional brick-and-mortar locations regularly receive new shipments to keep the shelves stocked. Check online inventories regularly and potentially even call stores directly to gain a better understanding of inventory and shipments. Timing is another important shopping component to adjust with limited supplies and high demand. If you’ve had bad luck shopping online after work, maybe consider checking websites in the morning beforehand.