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Laptop Buyers' Guide

Gone are the days that one has to work in the office tied-up to a desktop personal computer. Enter the laptop. Many also refer to it as the notebook. This is now the prime evolutionary state of what used to be the humble, dusty, and bulky desktop personal computer. With so many choices out there, who is to say that a particular brand or type would be the one you perfectly desire or appropriately need? Hopefully this will serve as a buying guide for your new laptop.

Who will use this laptop?

First things first, who will be using the laptop? This is essential because this will give you an overall idea of the specifications you will be looking for. For example, it the user has a job related to the information industry or has something to do with computers then go for the latest and premium in laptop technology. If it will be used by a student or just for browsing the internet and typical clerical task, then you must go for an affordable but decent device that is more user-friendly for the people that will be using it. It goes without saying that the effort will be futile when you buy a high-end laptop for a not so computer-savvy person who just surfs the internet and does a minimal typing job. The key here is proper matching of the user’s needs versus the functionality that a new laptop can adequately deliver.

External Specifications

With this you must also consider the other external specifications. When it comes to size, thickness is really an issue nowadays. Thickness equates to carrying weight also, so choose carefully. Do you need it a bit thick or extra thin? Most people would like it thin for easy portability. Recently, there’s even a laptop that could fit in a small brown envelope! Widescreen is the trend in recent years but all depends on the user if it really matters or not. Some will allow you to view spreadsheets data easily. Others pack it small yet compact enough for the basic user. If the user favours gaming more, than a bigger screen will be more in tune with their heart’s delight. For people who are highly inclined to technology, there’s the tablet pc, which is a hybrid laptop with a very wide touch-enabled screen – see the Apple iPad. Battery Life And then there’s the battery life. Most high-end laptops today will give you a wider screen or some other trade-offs but will most often sacrifice the battery life of your device. The smaller laptops have come up with a longer battery life due to its power consumption which is actually a lot less than most conventional notebooks.

Ergonomics

Another thing to consider is the ergonomics. Open the laptop; do you like what you see in terms of its keyboard layout? Some have a trackball or some other touch-responsive alternative to the more popular track pad.

Internal Specifications

For the internal specifications, here is a quick rundown. The hard drive – the higher the capacity of the hard drive, the more data you can store. For the processor, a dual-core processor would be faster as compared to a single-core processor and their predecessors. The more installed memory you have built-in the more applications you can run at once and performance will also be better. Please remember that the internal specifications won’t be that important to the casual user but will be highly critical for a person whose life revolves around this notebook.

Peripherals

For the peripherals, most notebooks come with a decent built-in camera for a decent web conference or video chat. Whilst others come with quality speakers for those who cannot live without their music. Most also come with an integrated card readers and wireless local area network (LAN) for wireless internet browsing. Bluetooth and infrared connectivity are either optional or built-in. And last, but not the least – budget. The buying guide for laptops won’t be complete without the buyer’s budget for the essential device. There are a lot of options out there. They are only limited by your budget. Just remember those key points as your buying guide for laptops and you’ll end up with a device that will compliment your daily activities.

Here are three typical laptop configurations that we’ve put together to reflect the needs of different users

IT professional/Gaming

Principal uses: e.g. Graphic Design, Advanced Home Office, Gaming machine.

Specification

Processor: High performance multi-core processors
Hard Disk: 160 to 500 GB hard drive options available with dual HDD
RAM: 4 GB to 8 GB
Screen Size: Display ranges from 15 to 19 inches

Other important features:

Full-size keyboards, backlit display with dedicated numeric keys and touch pads
Dedicated high-performance video and audio solutions
DVD burner/reader, memory card reader, LAN, modem, WiFi and Bluetooth
Maximum number of ports available
Least battery backup of 30-40 minutes for emergency

Price Range €1000 and Up

Sample Laptops that fit the bill

Laptops in Dell in price range above €1000


Laptops in Apple in price range above €1000


Mid range Laptop

Principal uses: e.g.

Home Office, Web browsing, Photo-editing

Specification

Processor: High performance single- and multi-core processors
Hard Disk: 120 to 320 GB hard drive options available
RAM: 2 GB to 4 GB
Screen Size: Display ranges from 13.3 to 15.4 inches

Other important features:

Full-size keyboards and touch pads
DVD burner/reader, memory card reader, LAN, modem, WiFi and Bluetooth
Smaller battery backup of 2 to 3 hours

Price Range €500-€1000

Sample Laptops that fit the bill

Laptops in Dell-Business Store in price range from €500 to €1000

Budget Laptop/Webbook

Web browsing, Email, Webcam etc

Specification

Processor: Low-power consumption processors such as the Intel Atom or the AMD Mobile Athlon / Sempron
Hard Disk 60 GB to 120 GB hard drive (SSD options also coming in some)
RAM At least 1GB
Screen Size 13-inch or smaller display. Usually ranges from 7 to 11 inches.

Other important features:

Less than 1Kg in weight
3 hours of battery life
Wifi
USB ports

Price Range €250-€500

Sample Laptops that fit the bill:

Laptops/Webbooks in Maplin with prices ranging from €250 to €500

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