View from the top of Old Man of Coniston hike in Lake District National Park, England.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Preston, Lancashire, England.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Wyke, West Yorkshire, England on May 29th!

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Two new laptops... but we can't use them yet!

First order of business yesterday was to go laptop shopping. I had already done quite a lot of research online, so I had a good idea of what we were looking for. It was more a matter of what kind of deal we could get, and if they had the ones we wanted in stock.

Power Electronics is a big chain store in Norway. We went to their largest location just south of Bergen.

But they didn't have the laptop that we were wanting for Ruth. This was the one we had looked at as a "demo" model at the Power store last week. Which was kind of disappointing because the girl had thought that this store would actually have a lot more selection and that they would be willing to match the price that she had offered.

We were trying to get both laptops at the same store for two reasons. 1) we might get a better deal by buying two laptops at the same time, and 2) both laptops would be on the same invoice to make claiming the tax refund just a little easier.

But they did have the laptop I wanted, and in stock. 

They offered a couple of other options for what we were looking for for Ruth, but I wasn't quite sold. I wanted to do some more research to be comfortable with what we were getting. There was another big electronics store across the road, so we went over to see what they had.

And we lucked out!

They had a brand new unopened box Asus Zenbook 13.3" with the new OLED screen technology and it was exactly the same price as the display model one we had been looking at.

This is the laptop we bought for Ruth....

With Intel i5 processor, 8GB RAM and 512 GB storage for 5,997 kr ($771 CAD, $595 USD) tax included. And it only weighs 1.1 kg (2.4 lbs).

Then we walked back across the street and bought a brand new unopened box Asus Vivobook 15.6" with OLED screen...

Also with Intel i5 processor, 8GB RAM and 512 GB storage for 6,999 kr ($900 CAD, $695 USD) tax included. Mine weighs 1.8 kg (3.9 lbs).

The OLED screens are made by Samsung. They offer several benefits including lighter weight, less power usage, and more accurate, vivid colors. However you also have to be more careful to adjust the brightness levels of the screen according to the ambient light, and not to leave any one graphic displayed long term because they are more prone to "burn in" images.

Our new laptops... still in sealed, unopened boxes.

So, we bought both laptops... but we can't use them yet!

One reason we bought them here is because we can claim back part of the extremely high 25% value added tax (VAT) that was included in the purchase price here in Norway. In order to do that, all of the rules say that the product has to be in new, unused condition when presented to customs for inspection when you leave the country. 

This brings me up to a sore point. Both the stores that we bought from have entered into agreements with a refund company called Global Blue to process the tax refund. This is a big scam in my opinion, because Global Blue keeps 30% of your refund as their fee. And there is no way around it because the stores are under contract with Global Blue. Normally, you would print off a customs form that has to be filled out by the store at purchase. Then you take the form to the customs office at the border when you depart and get the form stamped. Then you mail the form back to the store, and when they receive it they credit you back the 25%.

But with Global Blue, all of the forms are included in your sales slip. You still have to go to customs to get it stamped at the border, but then you just hand in the form at the global blue office in most airports and ferry ports, and they credit you back right away. For this convenience, they collect their 30%.

So for Ruth, she should get a refund of 870 kr ($112 CAD, $86 USD), and I will get a refund of 1,020 kr ($131 CAD, $101 USD) which is about 17.5% compared to the 25% that we should be getting. Like I said, it's a bit of a scam.

The net cost of Ruth's laptop will be 5,127 kr ($660 CAD, $509 USD) and mine will be 5,979 kr ($770 CAD, $593 USD) both of which are quite a lot cheaper than a similarly equipped laptop would cost in Canada.

So now, we have to wait until we depart Norway on July 26th. I've read that customs often don't ask to inspect the item, but it's an expensive risk to take if they were to decline the refunds because the box was opened. Our old laptops are still working... but frustrating to use. They'll survive until the 26th... I hope.

With that done, we were off to the islands!

The western Norwegian islands. In fact, the entire west coast of Norway is a series of thousands of islands. The area is well serviced with ferry routes though.

Scandinavian homes.

An old church we drove by.

Max, on the ferry.

This is one of the Norway's new battery operated electric ferries.

When the ferry docks, a robotic charge point moves into place and provides a high voltage 350 kWh charge in just six minutes. The batteries are under a lot of stress and produce a lot of heat so they are water cooled. It's a really high tech system. Using the electric system instead of diesel in just one ferry is the equivalent of taking 3,100 cars off the road. They now have 18 such electric ferries in Norway and more conversions are under way.

Ruth, enjoying the view.
It was a 35 minute ride so we got out to see the scenery.

We don't know the exact cost of the ferry ride yet because it's all electronic and it takes about 48 hours to show up in our prepaid ferry account.

We are on the island of Selbjørn.

I'm surprised at how many people live here and use the ferries on a daily basis.

Max, parked at GPS 59.996665, 5.104956

It's just a picnic area before the bridge leading to a smaller island. Not ideal, but it's a quiet road with a car passing every ten minutes or so. And it was really quiet overnight.

Today, it's windy and overcast with the sun peeking out every now and then. We're off to find a hike.

Record low deal on a Fire TV Stick. Prime members only.

And in Canada...


  1. I recently bought a Chromebook. Similar to a laptop, but way faster and half the price of a laptop. Hopefully it will perform better than the $1200 Dell that died within a month of its 2 year warranty expiring.

    1. You can't say that a Chromebook is "way faster" than a laptop because there are too many variables. A Chromebook's speed is generally related to the speed of your internet connection because they are designed to operate using the cloud. Also, because of that, they have very limited storage. But yes, they are far cheaper because they have far fewer capabilities. A Chromebook would not be suitable for our needs.

  2. Great looking laptops at very good prices, especially with your rebates. Just hope you don't have any issues with them since you aren't able to actually try them out right away. I expect they'll be fine, though.

    1. We are pretty excited about our new laptops and we can't wait to use them but that rebate is a nice chunk of money so we will be patient and wait out our time. We think that they will be fine too, we like to stay positive about things like that. :-)


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