Laptop buying guide – Important points to remember
Finding the right laptop to buy can be an overwhelming and intimidating experience for many people. There are a lot of different factors to consider when choosing the perfect laptop, such as its processor, memory, weight and accessories. Sometimes, prioritizing these features in order to make an informed decision that is within your budget can be difficult.
It’s important to remember that a computer is often the backbone of your daily activities. It may be your source of entertainment, your personal assistant, your confident and your friend.
It’s often your connection to friends and family and the hub of your digital life. When determining what kind of laptop is best for you, a good starting point is to ask yourself:
“what am I going to do with my computer?”
The answer to this question will help determine the answer to the more detailed areas below.
For example, are going to primarily keep your laptop at home or will it goes places with you? This may impact the how highly you prioritize the size and of your computer.
Do you travel frequently?
Again, this may be impact your ideal laptop’s size and weight.
Do you primarily just surf the Internet and do-email, or are you capturing and sharing lots of photo, it’s, downloading music and watching videos online?
Your answers to these questions could impact the type of processor, amount of RAM, and graphics you choose. In the end, it’s most important to keep in mind your intended use of laptop, and that will help make the laptop buying process easier. Find additional tips below:
• Processor – The brains inside the computer. Choosing the right processor is very important because it plays a major role in the style, battery life, responsiveness and weight of the laptop. The processor also helps determine how fast the computer runs and adjust to your activities. Intel’s latest family of processors is called the Intel Core processor family. In early 2011, Intel is coming out with the 2nd generation Intel Core TM processor family. Specifically, the Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors. The higher the number, the better and more powerful the processor. But how powerful of a processor you need depends entirely on what you want to do with your computer.
• Battery Life – How long the computer keeps its charge. The term “battery life” refers to how long a computer can function away from its power source after it’s charged. Some laptops have better battery lives than others. A number of factors affect the battery life of a laptop, including processor, screen size and multimedia activities. The Intel Core processors can actually aid in longer battery life because they are smart enough to know when extra power isn’t needed, so they slow down to conserve battery during those times. If you plan to travel with your laptop, then battery life is something you should be pay attention to when you purchase your computer.
Look for a laptop that has at least two hours of “standard battery life” and an Intel Core processor. And if you’re really concerned about battery life, you can usually purchase a larger battery when you buy the laptop. Larger batteries tend to mean more weight, so that’s something to keep in mind. Check out Intel’s tips for “External Battery Life” and getting the most out of your battery, whatever its size.
• Graphics – How images appear on the screen. Graphics is the word used to describe anything that you see on your computer’s screen other than text. It can include pictures, photos, windows, video and games. Traditionally, to display graphics you needed a special chip or card was that was separate from the computer’s main processor. Beginning in 2009, Intel took the separate graphics chip and integrated it into the main Intel Core processor.
Today’s laptops with Intel Core inside will give you excellent performance for watching Blu-ray* or high definition Internet video. Intel will introduce its 2nd Generation Intel Core processor in early 2011 and they suitable for all tasks including watching high definition video, 3D Blu-Ray*, and even running popular games like ‘World of Warcraft’ and ‘Starcraft 2′.
Intel’s graphics technologies also offer other benefits such as Intel Wireless Display, a feature that allows you to wirelessly project the contents of your laptop screen onto you big-screen TV. However if you are a hard core gamer, you may still want to buy a separate add-in graphics chip along with the more powerful Intel processor, as together they allow for an even better gaming experience.
• Networking – ability to connect to the Internet. Most people want wireless Internet connected laptops these days ad there are a few ways to do that. Most laptops come with Wi-Fi, which allows you to connect to the Internet wirelessly at hotspots or if you have a WiFi network at home.
Intel WiMAX is 4G mobile broadband access technology that comes with certain laptops. WiMAX wireless broadband covers large areas, often entire cities, so instead of having to go to a coffee shop to get connected to the Internet, you could be anywhere in a WiMAX service is available, but the technology is spreading quickly. Service agreements are offered as day passes and for longer-term plans. Several Intel Core processor-based laptops come with WiMAX technology built right inside the computer. Be sure to look for this in the product description.
Some Intel Core processor-powered notebooks can also come with a new wireless technology, Intel’s Wireless Display (WiDi), for projecting the content of your laptop wirelessly onto your HD television screen. It’s very simple to set up and allows for easy video watching and multimedia enjoyment. An additional adapter is necessary to make this work and its typically sold at the same place as the Intel WiDi-enabled laptops.
• RAM – How much memory is available on your computer. Random Access Memory (RAM) is measured in gigabits (GB). Your computer uses RAM to temporarily store information while you’re using it (before you manually save it to your hard drive). The amount of RAM affects how your computer performs, particularly while running multiple applications simultaneously. The higher the number of gigabytes, the more temporary memory you have. However, that doesn’t mean you need to have the highest number of GB possible in order to have a computer that suits your needs. What you want to do with your computer determines how high GB you need.
• Hard Drives and Solid-State Drives (SSD) – Computer data storage. Traditionally, when you purchase a laptop, it comes with a hard drive that stores your data. However, one of the single most significant improvements you can make to the performance of your computer is to replace a conventional hard disk drive with one of the new solid-state drives from Intel.
Traditional hard drives have mechanical parts and a spinning platter that takes longer to access data and make you vulnerable to a hard disk crash. Solid-State Drives (SSDs) have no moving parts, so are more rugged, consume less power and can improve your overall system responsiveness by upto 56 percent. A laptop with an SSD will boot up faster and open files quicker than a laptop with a conventional hard drive.
• Weight- How much laptop can you carry? Standard laptops weigh about five to seven pounds. Some laptops designed of r gaming can weigh up to 15 pounds.
Weight is determined by a number of factors: screen size, power, keyboard and more. If you’re willing to spend a little extra money, you can get a full functioning laptop that is ultra slim and in turn, ultra light. To go down in weight without going up in cost, you can still get a laptop in a smaller size, but you may have skimp on few features. What is most important to you? Functionality? Gaming? Light Weight? Price?
• Screen Size- The laptop screen measured in inches. Laptop screens usually range from 12 to 20 inches, measured diagonally from one corner to other. Screen size usually comes down to personal preference.
Some people prefer to watch movies and play games on larger screens. Larger screens also usually have higher screen resolutions, making images appear clearer. However, larger screens also take up more space, weigh more and can decrease the computer’s battery life.
• Keyboard and mouse – Attached to the laptop’s keyboard is usually a variation of a “mouse” called a track pad or a pointing stick (some laptops have both).
Before you buy a laptop, try out whichever mouse replacement the computer comes with and make sure it’s something that is going to be comfortable for you to work with. If not, you can always purchase a wired or wireless external mouse that will work with the laptop. The size of the keyboard will depend on the size of the laptop. Again the perfect size usually comes down to personal preference so its god to try typing on the keyboard before you purchase the computer.
If you can’t live with a small keyboard there is also the option to purchase an external keyboard that you can use for your laptop.
(Published in “Express Tribune” on September 9, 2011)