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Sunday, November 06, 2005

How to Buy Laptop

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Prioritize Laptop Price, Performance, & Portability
Before looking at system specs, decide whether features or portability matter more to you. Many students and frequent travelers consider portability a deciding factor when buying a laptop. On the other hand, lighter and smaller laptops are generally less powerful than their heavier counterparts.

More expensive laptops either offer more features or greater portability than lower-priced models. For example, "desktop replacements" have all the features you'd want from a full-sized desktop PC, but they weigh a lot, and you wouldn't want to carry one around for long. Similarly, thin-and-light notebooks and bargain notebooks have a lot of the same features, but the thin-and-light models weigh less and often cost more. If your priority is budget and features, more than portability, consider buying a bargain notebook. If you'd rather have less weight to carry, it might make sense to step up to a thin-and-light or ultraportable.

When deciding how much laptop you can carry, consider the laptop's weight as well as the additional weight of a carrying case, an extra battery, any swappable drives you feel like bringing with you, a power cord, and networking cables.

Find a Laptop to Fit Your Lifestyle
Consider how you plan to use your laptop before you start shopping. It should meet your personal needs as well as the system requirements set by your Internet service provider.

Laptops for home Users
You want a second computer for the house that you can take with you from room to room. You want to email, surf the Internet, and do some basic photo editing. Look for a bargain laptop or desktop replacement with at least 800 MHz processor and 256MB RAM. If you have a wireless home network, make sure it includes built-in Wi-Fi.

Laptops for students
You want a lightweight computer that you can carry from the classroom to the library. As a starting point, find out which platform your school prefers and supports. Some universities don't care what kind of computer you have while others will provide you with a very specific list of system requirements. If your school doesn't have specific recommendations, look for an ultraportable or thin-and-light laptop with a processor in the Pentium-M family, with built-in Wi-Fi, at least 256MB RAM, a burner (either a CD-R, CD-RW, or DVD+RW/-RW drive), and a productivity software package such as Microsoft Office or Microsoft Works.

Laptops for frequent travelers
You want a lightweight computer to use at the airport and in meetings. Look at thin-and-light or ultraportable laptops with processors in the Pentium-M family, built-in Wi-Fi, at least 256MB RAM, and a suite of productivity applications such as Microsoft Office or Microsoft Works.

Laptops for business users
You need to travel, create presentations and spreadsheets, and hook up to a network. Depending on your need for portability, look at thin-and-light and desktop replacement laptops with the productivity software such as Microsoft Office, Wi-Fi (or an included Wi-Fi card), an Ethernet card, at least 256MB RAM, and at least 40GB hard drive space. Frequent business travelers will probably prefer thin-and-lights to desktop replacements. But, if you spend most of your time at a desk, the desktop replacement's superior power and features may be the way to go.

Laptops for multimedia enthusiasts
You want to edit video, audio, or photos with processor-intensive applications such as Photoshop. Look for a desktop replacement with at least 512MB RAM, a 2GHz or faster processor, and at least 80GB hard drive space.

A FireWire (also called IEEE 1394) or USB 2.0 port can also come in handy to transfer data from devices such as your video camera, digital camera, and MP3 player. If you want to burn DVD movies, buy a DVD+R/RW drive. You can also purchase these components separately in the Laptop Parts & Accessories category.

Laptops for gamers
Gamers want speed and amazing graphics. Gaming laptops have fast processors, high-end graphics cards, and slick displays, but you'll usually pay a premium for all the latest goodies. Look for a desktop replacement with a Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 64 processor in the 2.8 to 3.4 GHz range (or AMD equivalent), at least 1GB RAM, and a 256MB 3D graphics card. Article:

Notebook systems have grown in popularity due to their increasing performance and portability. Many systems are even now being marketed as replacements for desktop systems, but few can perform at the same level as a desktop system particularly when it comes to graphics. This guide will help you to look at some of the key items you want to look at before you purchase your next PC notebook system.

Size and Weight
Obviously the size and weight of a notebook is important. Ultraportables offer light weight and sizes, but sacrifice items such as optical drives. Desktop replacements have equivalent power to desktop systems, but they are heavy and bulky making them difficult to carry around. When shopping for a laptop, make sure to pick up the systems and verify its something you are willing to carry. Don't forget to also consider the weight of accessories such as AC adapter when carrying around the notebook.

Processors (CPU)
Notebook processors still lag behind desktop CPUs but they make up for that with their energy efficiency. To determine the right CPU to get, look at the purpose of the system. If it is meant to be a mobile web browser, email, word processing or even DVD player, any CPU above 1GHz should be sufficient. A desktop replacement should have a high-end processor rated at least 1.6GHz or higher for mobile specific processors or 2.8GHz for desktop processors.

Memory (RAM)
Laptop computers are generally more restricted in the amount of memory they can have compared to desktop systems. When looking at computers you want to make sure to check out the maximum memory the system can handle as well as the amount that is installed in the computer. It's also useful to find out if a memory upgrade can be done yourself or if it has to be done by a technician.

When purchasing a notebook, look at the native resolution of the screen as the size. A large size screen is generally preferred but some large screens have such high resolutions that it can make standard fonts unbearably hard to read. The size of the screen also impacts the size of the laptop. Newer systems with 17" screens tend to be very large and more difficult to carry.

Hard drive size is straight forward in laptops, but the choice of optical drives is important. One of the great abilities of laptops now is their ability to turn into portable DVD players. With a DVD-ROM or CD-RW/DVD combo drive, one can watch DVD movies through the computer or even plug it into a home theater system. Many ultraportable laptops often lack an internal optical drive to save on space.

The ability to connect to the net is integral to most laptops today. Look for systems that include a built in 56Kbps modem and Fast Ethernet. This allows one to get logged in for most situations. If you want ultimate portability, look at getting a laptop computer with an integrated 802.11b/g wireless adapter. More and more locations are available with wireless hotspots for connectivity.

Battery Life
How good is a portable computer going to be if you are only able to get 30 minutes of computing time on a single charge? Try to find the manufacturer’s listed battery life for the standard battery. Look to get a system with at least 2 hours of battery life under normal conditions. If you need extended time unplugged, look for laptops with media bays that can double as extra battery slots.

Warranty Plans
Laptops take a lot of abuse and are more prone to breakdowns due to their portability. When buying a system, make sure to get at least a 1 year warranty from the manufacturer. If you will be using the system heavily, a system that comes with a 3 year warranty might be a better choice but it will cost more. Third party extended plans are not a good choice unless service is done through the manufacturer.


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