Blogger and entrepreneur Dan Shapiro has a new startup that's all about making it easier to shop for the perfect laptop. It's called Sparkbuy and a beta version, accessible by invite codes, launched yesterday.
John Cook and Greg Huang each posted the news yesterday, here and here respectively. John also posted some invite codes with his story. I have some invite codes to give out, too; email me or leave a comment if you'd like one of mine.
I played with Sparkbuy yesterday and I very much like how everything is click, drag & drop and slide-oriented.
Have a look at the left column in the screenshot below. When I pulled "Long battery" from the list of twenty or so features into the the top of my "Your Prioirites" list, the order of the laptops profiled immediately changed. You can add, eliminate and re-order the features in the "Your Priorities" list. Sometimes your tweaks cause the laptops profiled to change, sometimes they do not.
What's more, you can click on a feature you've prioritized to reveal a slide bar that lets you get more granular with the given specification. The popup in the screenshot illustrates this. I clicked on "Fast" and as I dragged the slide to the right, the popup told me how many laptops were being progressively eliminated from those profiled. I really like that feature.
I don't know hardware well enough to know if Dan's company is hitting on all the right criteria, nor if its database is comprehensive enough. But I love the user experience and will certainly use this site before I buy another laptop. And I'll likely put off buying a new TV until Sparkbuy begins to index those - that seems to be the electronics category planned next.
Update 2:40 pm PT: As I mentioned, I don't know laptops that well. But someone who does, who is a world-class UI expert to boot, emailed me a critique after trying the Sparkbuy beta himself. With permission, I am pasting his emailed thoughts here:
"It's kind of interesting, though I think it could be improved by displaying the value sliders for each attribute so you you don't have to slide them out. (Travel sites typically show you the flight times that you can tweak while looking at the results and filter real time.) I'd also add the ability to sort the list by name, price, etc. and finally add a search feature for the results, so that you don't have to page through.
"I'd also add a Processor category (their "Speed" rating is meaningless to me) and offer Android and Linux OS options (especially for the tablets).
"Also the database seems to not be fully current as Dell's new Inspiron Duo didn't show up."