When technology updates almost daily and there is a seemingly endless sea of options and features, choosing a laptop can be overwhelming and frustrating. However, the choice is simpler than you think. Start by asking yourself what you need/want your laptop to do. Is it for work, home, or play? Do you want to store lots of multimedia or edit photo and video? Do you play a lot of games with HD graphics? By asking yourself these questions you can determine which type of user (listed below) you are.
The very beginning of the research process begins with deciding which platform you want to use. It simply depends on what you are comfortable with. Essentially, both Mac and PC have the same functions and features in different forms. If you are used to one or the other, stick with it, it will make your experience easier and more enjoyable.
Using a laptop as a primary computer will work for most people. Current models sport a lot of the same features, functions, and power of their desktop counterparts with the added portability and space saving design of a laptop. If your home use requires some serious power, a desktop may be a better fit.
Home/basic users should look for the following (minimum) specifications in a computer:
A student requires a little more power than your standard user but cost efficiency, portability, and durability are most important. Students should look for:
For the on-the-go user portability and battery life take priority. You may have to sacrifice some features for size, but with the new ultrabook options, the sacrifice in performance is minimal. Try to meet the minimum requirements below but remember to supplement accessory solutions of fill the voids left by the size restrictions, like port replicators and external drives.
Multimedia/AV and Gaming
Power, speed, and performance are the main staples of a multimedia/av/gaming users needs. Large hard drives, lots of RAM, and a fast processor will allow for multitasking and seamless rendering while a dedicated graphics card will allow for HD video and gaming graphics to play without any issue.
*Check with the game's specifications for minimum requirements of memory on the graphics card. Graphics cards have different memory capacity and some are more powerful than others. For example, DDR3 is 30% more powerful than the DDR2
Choosing the right laptop for your needs may seem like a daunting task. With our informative guides and charts, you will be able to determine which laptop best suits your needs.
Laptops come in a variety of sizes. They can range from a thickness of 0.5"-2" and can be anywhere from 2-10 lbs. They also have a wide range of features from barebones to a replacement for a desktop computer.
Unfortunately, there is no perfect laptop, which means getting some features may require you to sacrifice others. For instance, if you want a super-portable computer, an ultra-portable may be the best option for you. While you are getting a light-weight computer, you will pay a premium price for a computer with fewer features than a midsize. On the other hand, if you are looking for a desktop replacement you can get a lot of features, but your computer will not be as portable.
TYPES OF LAPTOPS
Netbooks are a great computer option for some people, but not so much for others. Netbooks are extremely portable-due to their small size and weighing three pounds or less. They don't require a lot of power and are far less expensive than larger laptops. Netbooks are usually $500 or less. Netbooks are really great for surfing the internet, email correspondence, creating and editing small office documents, and possibly to play a CD or DVD with an external drive. Features like a fast processor will not be found in a netbook.
*possible optical drive
Ultra light and Portable
Think of an ultraportable computer as a more powerful, slightly larger net book. The net book has more features and is larger for easier use. The netbook also comes with a higher price. Unlike a net book, the ultraportable laptop can function as an everyday computer. They will be small and light enough to bring them most places-especially convenient for business travelers. Not as powerful as a desktop replacement, the ultraportable will make up for what it lacks in portability.
*possible optical drive
The midsize or conventional laptop is designed to give the user anything they need for basic computing. Word processing, storing music and digital photos, watching DVDs, and on-line communication are easy on a midsize laptop. They are larger than an ultra light and therefore don't travel as easily.
These are the largest and heaviest laptops. They will have the most power and options-similar to a desktop computer. Due to their larger size, desktop replacements are too big for routine movement, other than throughout the home or office. Desktop replacements have the most power, have the fastest processors, and most features of all the types of laptops-out of the box. These laptops can be used for gaming and multimedia, audio, visual work.
Tablets are similar in size to having just the screen of a laptop computer. Since it does not have a keyboard, it uses a touch-sensitive screen that can be controlled with your fingertips. Navigate through the screen controls, menu navigation, web page navigation and application operation with just a few taps. Some tablets can be flipped 90 degrees so the bottom half of the screen is a touch-keyboard that can be used for writing documents or responding to e-mails. The advanced mobile processors and large internal memory let users do virtually everything they would do on their desktop or laptop in a much more portable way. The internet can be access via built in Wi-Fi or connectivity to 3G or 4G cellular data.
How much memory do I need?
How big should my screen be?
What do I need to know about drives?
Drives are essential components of any computer. Some serve as storage space for your files and some are for multimedia playback like CDs and Blu-rays. There are internal/fixed, external and upgradable drives available. Take stock of your personal needs to determine which drives you need and which you can live without.
Users should always consider their personal needs when determining which hard drive size is right for them, however, adding a few external drives to your collection will add some functionality and security at the same time. Portable drives like external hard drives and flash drives can be used to transport files across the world or as backups for your current hard drive. All users should create backups of all their files.
The hard drive is the attic or garage space of your computer. It's the place where you store your files like your music, photos and videos, as well as critical files like program information and personal documents. The most common hard drive employs a spinning magnetic disk that stores your files. The faster the disc spins (RPM) the faster your computer can retrieve the files, and the more battery is consumed.
Another style of hard drive is the Solid State Drive (SSD) style. The faster speed and compact size are the reasons SSD hard drives are becoming more popular. However, this increase in performance is not without an increase in cost.
It's important to consider hard drive size when shopping for a computer. The more files you have (or will have) the larger hard drive you will require. However, with accessories like flash drives and external hard drives, as well as writable media like CD-R and RW discs, your file storage options are rather flexible.
CD, DVD, and Blu-ray Drvies
Media, media, media! Most laptops come standard with CD/DVD writing and playing drive, or multi-drives. Some higher end models come with Blu-ray reading/writing capabilities allowing for greater storage and higher quality playback. Just like hard drives, users have an external option that connects via USB port.
After you have determined how much power and storage space you need, it's time to wade through the sea of features to decide which are critical to your experience, and which you could live without.
All features described below aren't necessarily included on ALL models.
A common set up involves plugging the laptop into the TV via HDMI cable while connecting a wireless keyboard and mouse. With this set up users can wirelessly control their laptop from the comfortable convenience of their couch using their HD television as the display.
Wi-Di (Wireless Display)
Multi Card Readers
Networking and Modems
It is also to consider the dual-band router option. Certain devices use lower frequencies than others and without a dual-band set up, the network will function on the lowest common denominator. With a dual-band network, frequencies remain mutually exclusive and each device will function at its highest level.
Mice and Keyboards
Owning a laptop gives you more freedom than a conventional desktop but, you may need a few extras to be connected to the internet, digital camera, hard drive, camcorder, mp3 player, or your printer.
Laptops come with a Wi-Fi connection built-in, but not everywhere you go will there be a wireless signal for you to connect to the internet. If you are a frequent traveler or need to access the internet but are not near a Wi-Fi signal, you will need to get cables or a mobile wireless card.
The cables you will need in order to connect to the internet are either a CAT-5 cable plugged into an Ethernet port or a phone cord plugged into a modem. The two other ways to connect to the internet are with a mobile broadband card from your wireless provider or you can buy a laptop with the mobile wireless card built-in.
Most of the peripherals you will want to use in conjunction with your laptop will come with their own connections or cables. Printers are the possible exception. Printers need a USB cable that will connect your laptop to your printer. One exception, some printers are Bluetooth enabled. When working in conjunction with a Bluetooth enabled laptop, you will not need any cables at all.
Installation & Services