Friday, April 10, 2009

How to Choose a Laptop

Trying to decide on the perfect laptop can be intimidating if you aren’t already a techie guru. With so many options available today, it’s hard to know what model and specs will suit your needs. Plus, in the current economy its important to find the most cost-efficient option. To help you make your next portable computing decision, here’s an overview of the major features and specs to consider.

Size – Today’s laptops are getting smaller and smaller. From the ultra-portable netbooks to the movie-worthy widescreens, there are a lot of options to choose from. When picking your laptop size, consider the following:

  1. Where will I be taking this? If you travel a lot, a smaller model will probably make more sense.
  2. How intense are my viewing needs? Do you plan to do some major movie screenings or hardcore gaming on your laptop? If so, a larger widescreen model will be more satisfying.

Hard Drive- In the last few years, the amount of data a laptop can hold has grown exponentially. With today’s models, you can easily get up to 250GB of space (if not more!). However, the average user will probably not exceed 80GB, unless you have a GIANT music collection or take thousands of photos. Remember, you can always get an external hard drive if you run out of space.

System Memory – This is the amount of RAM in your system and is what keeps everything running quickly and smoothly, particularly when multitasking with several programs. For the most part, your options range from less than 1GB to 4GB of system memory. If you plan to use most current software, or run Windows Vista, you will want to get at least 2GB. However, keep in mind that most netbooks only have 1GB.

Battery Life – Do you take your laptop everywhere? If so, you will want a model that can hold a charge when you’re away from a plug. However, don’t splurge on long battery life if you will almost always be plugged in. As a general rule of thumb, batteries that can last 4+ hours are considered particularly long-lasting. However, some models wont even make it 3 hours on a single charge. Also, remember that how you use your laptop will affect its charge span. For example, word processing will take less power than watching a DVD.

CD / DVD – Small netbooks wont offer any “optical drive” on their models. However, standard laptops usually come with a CD / DVD drive that also has burning capabilities. You can also pay more for models that offer Blu-ray compatibility and LightScribe (a feature that lets you burn graphics on the top of a CD/DVD).

Video – You have two options when it comes to video, integrated or dedicated. This basically means you either have the video capabilities built into the system, or you have a separate video chip set. Integrated video, generally made by Intel, is fine for most casual users who do not watch high-def movies or play high-graphic games. Meanwhile, gamers will want a dedicated chip set from nVidia or ATI.

Remember, it’s a good idea to test out the model you want to buy. Even if you plan to buy online, get to a store first and see a few laptops. You want to make sure the screen suits you, the keyboard is comfortable, and the overall look and feel fits with your needs. Of course, custom models are difficult to see before you buy. However, trying out a similar model is still a great way to ensure you make the bbest choice. Good luck with your hunt! And be sure to check back soon for an article on netbooks vs. laptops!

No comments:

Post a Comment