Posted November 23rd, 2012 by Mark with No Comments
Unlike desktop computers, laptops come in many different shapes and sizes. In addition, different people like different things. Before you commit to a particular model, go somewhere that has a good selection and try them out individually. Keyboards in particular can vary widely between models. Here is a laptop buying checklist with some other points to keep in mind:
Portability. Laptops are all about tradeoffs. A larger, easier-to-read screen, means a heavier laptop. A faster processor means lower battery life. A lightweight machine means a smaller keyboard, and generally a lower-power processor. Depending on your needs, the choices include basic, yet ultra-portable small laptops that are great when traveling, mainstream laptops for everyday use, or a desktop replacement with bigger screen sizes and features. You have to decide which combination of features works best for you.
Screen Size & Finish. There are two aspect ratios to choose from – the wide 16:9 and the standard 4:3. The wide-screen is great for surfing the Internet and opening documents side by side. Screens also come in “glossy” and “matte” finishes. A glossy screen has very sharp and easy-to-read characters, but can reflect like a mirror. Not good if your office has a window behind you. Matte screens don’t reflect nearly as much, but the characters are a bit harder to read.
Keyboard. Small laptops have small keypads; so try typing on the laptop that you want to buy to make sure that you’re comfortable with it before closing the purchase.
Touch Pad or Pointing Stick. As with the keyboard, make sure that you’re comfortable with the touch pad or pointing stick that comes with your laptop model. Some have distinct mouse buttons, while some just have “areas” of the pad that act like buttons when you press them. Buttons are give a better response. Note that you always have the option to use an external mouse.
Memory. The more RAM it has, the faster your laptop will work for you. Look for at least 4 Gigabytes of RAM – more is better.
Processor. There are so many different processors, it’s difficult to recommend a particular one. In general, though, faster is better.
Ports. Most all peripherals use USB ports, so if you have a lot of things that need connected at the same time, make sure the laptop you get has enough ports. If you want to connect the machine to your HD TV, make sure it has an HDMI port.
Battery. The two things that you need to look out for are the lithium-ion type (which means lightweight) and a higher number of cells in the battery (which means a higher capacity). Both conditions ensure a longer battery life. A bigger battery means a heavier machine, though.
Lastly, if all of this has your head swimming, you can always use price as a guideline. In general, if you’re spending at least $650, you’ll probably be happy with the specs. While the target price may change over time, I always recommend avoiding both the low and the high end of the market. Take a look at all the different models that are offered. Find the middle of the price range and buy there. Good Luck!