Comparison shopping for notebooks can be frustrating. Model numbers are long and don’t make a whole lot of sense. I work with these numbers on a daily basis and they continue to overwhelm me. Here’s a brief guide to decoding some of the popular models being sold on Black Friday.
Manufacturers assign series numbers to notebooks that describe attributes such as screen size and their general features and appearance. Extra letters and numbers are added, some of which are completely meaningless. Sometimes two retailers will have the identical notebook, but they’ll be advertised under two different model numbers. Here’s what some of the mumbo jumbo means:
Compaq: The Compaq C700t series is marketed as the C7##xx (C- followed by two numbers, then two letters).
HP Pavilion: This line of notebooks comes in several different series, all of which begin with ‘dv’, followed by four digits and either one or two letters. The first number indicates display size- ‘2’ means the notebook has a 14.1-inch screen, ‘6’ means it has a 15.4-inch display and ‘9’ stands for a 17-inch dislpay. If the second number is ‘4’ or below, it is an older model. If the second number is 5 or above it is part of HP’s latest line of Pavilions. The last two numbers are specific SKUs for retail stores. The letters ‘nr’, ‘w’, ‘cl’, ‘om’, ‘us’ and other combinations at the end of the model number denote the retail models. If you’re buying direct from hpshopping.com, the last letter will be ‘z’ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚ for all AMD-based systems, or ‘t’ for all Intel-based notebooks. If you’re buying direct from hpshopping.com the model numbers are easy to recognize – such as dv9500z, dv6500t, etc.
If you see an ad for the HP Pavilion dv6623cl, you can tell that it’s one of the latestÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚ 15.4-inch retail models and can compare it to the dv6500t at hpshopping.com or to the dv6627om at Office Max.
Sony: Sony VAIO notebooks have the cleanest numbering scheme of any manufacturer. The first three letters are always ‘VGN’. The next two letters denote the series, the following three digits denote the model, and the following letter(s) explain exact details such as colors. The model numbers are generally universal, meaning it’s easier to comparison shop. For example- the Sony VAIO VGN NR110E/S can be found at several retailers and it’s easy to see that this is an NR series notebook. The three digits give a general description of the specs an NR140E/S is faster than an NR110E/S for example. The final letter on a Sony model number often describes the notebook’s color. The ‘S’ in VGN NR110E/S stands for silver.
The VGN NR110E/P is also being sold on Black Friday, and by understanding this numbering scheme you can see that’s it’s identical to the above model, except for the color which is pink.
Toshiba: All of Toshiba’s Black Friday notebooks are sold under the series number, followed by one letter and four digits. For example – the P205-S7402 from Best Buy can be compared to other P205 models found at other retailers and at ToshibaDirect.com.
This is hardly a comprehensive list, but it’s important to understand that no retailer has a true exclusive on any notebook, from any manufacturer. They may have an exclusive on a model NUMBER, but you will almost always be able to find an identically configured notebook elsewhere.