The Inquisitive Guide for purchasing a new laptop

Instead of a traditional desktop computer, many people are opting to purchase a laptop for use at home and on the go. It is definitely more environmentally friendly (I am referring to power consumption). With so many features to choose from and so many specifications that people talk about, it’s important to know what you need before you buy. Especially when I get asked, “Which laptop is good?”. The answer to that question is then as good as me guessing if Kolkota Knight Riders will win the IPL v3.0, No one can tell you. Not unless you can tell what you are going to use the laptop for.

First and foremost it is important to know what is your primary usage of the laptop. Based on that you can decide for yourself the actual specifications of the laptop. Let’s say that we can broadly classify the laptops in 3 categories:

  1. A. Browse the Internet and do basic computing : You are definitely looking at a netbook which will give you the portability to move around in the house and do very basic work as the processor and configuration are meant for the same.
  2. B. Browse the Internet, Do some work as well as use it for music and entertainment: Now you are looking at a low end laptop that will enable you to do these things with decent hardware to support those functions.
  3. C. Browse, Work, Entertainment, Gaming and Design: As you would have guessed, you need to do a bit more than just the above 2 options and would need a fairly good laptop in order to do it.

If you haven’t gone shopping for a new computer in a while, the laptop ads may strike you as a bit confusing with phrases such as “2GB RAM, 8GB SSD, Level II cache,” etc. Fortunately, a little information is all you need to make sense of today’s laptop jargon. In order to make more sense of the specifications I will explain each term and then tell you what sort of a configuration you would need for optimum performance for the above types A, B and C. Simple enough ? Then let’s start.

Here are the basic features you’re going to want to pay attention to:

Processor: There are many different processors on the market which can make it difficult to find the one that’s right for you. But when you look closely most of the laptops available around use the very famous Intel Processor.

A : Netbooks will ideally use the Intel® Atom™ processors

B : Low end Laptops can do with the Intel® Centrino™ processors

C : High End Laptops would Ideally use Intel® Core™ Processors (Core 2, Core 2 duo etc)

Screen size: The screen size is completely up to your viewing pleasure. By using a smaller screen your portability increases where as by using a larger screen you can work on many things on the same screen real estate. You can choose a tablet-size computer with a screen that’s as small as five inches wide or a desktop replacement laptop with a giant 20-inch screen that’s perfect for playing DVDs, editing photos and videos, or even gaming. The key to making a decision is determining what exactly you expect to do with this new laptop once you get it home.

A : Netbooks ideally would have a 10” screen, enabling good browsing as well as portability

B : Low end laptops might have a 15” screen that would help

C: High end laptops will definitely have a wide screen starting from the 15.4” upto 20” screens

Battery life: These days with amazing advances in processor technology, operating systems, and battery technology, some laptops can run as long as eight hours or more before needing to recharge. Be sure to look at a system that will last as long as you need before recharging. Be it netbooks or even the high end laptops. The Important thing about the laptop batteries is to ensure that you do not leave it connected to the wall outlet all the time. You have to charge and discharge the batteries for optimum life of the batteries, else the batteries life is decreased.

RAM: The first of the Jargons,think of RAM (random access memory) as a way to measure your laptop’s intelligence. You may be able to squeak by with 512 MB of RAM if you’re going to be primarily doing email and surfing the Web, but most computer users will want at least 1 GB or more to run several applications at once. If you can’t afford as much RAM as you would like, you can usually upgrade your RAM down the road. But with new operating systems like the windows 7, vista and the sorts it would be preferable to have a larger RAM for optimum performance. Like they say, you can never have too much RAM.

A : Netbooks would work well with 1 GB of RAM

B : Low end Laptops would need 2 GB of RAM

C: High End Laptops with close to 4GB of RAM is good for good Performance.

CD/DVD drive. A good laptop can act as an entertainment center as well as a business tool. Some disc drives will simply read CD-ROMs while others allow you to record CDs and DVDs, too. However, if you’re looking for the ultimate in portability, like you get in a netbook, a CD and DVD option is not generally an option. Add to it, these devices tend to be power guzzlers and so affect your battery life for longer operation.

A : Netbooks do not usually need a CD/DVD drive

B : Low End Laptops would generally have a CD DVD Drive but most people would prefer having a spare Drive which is more portable.

C: High End Laptops definitely have this as an accessory in the laptop

Storage space: The more storage space you have on your laptop, the better. Though 160 GB means you can load nearly 40,000 songs on your laptop, an internal drive can fill up quickly in just a year or two. Storage space comes in two varieties today—hard drives and solid-state drives (SSD). Though hard drives currently dominate the computer world, solid-state drives are gaining popularity. With no moving parts, an SSD generates little heat, wastes less energy, and can take more punishment than a traditional hard drive. Unfortunately, SSDs tend to cost a lot more, but prices are gradually coming down.

A : Netbooks do well with about 160GB of Hard Drive Space or even less as most of your efforts are not centered to storing and using a large number of files on the netbook.

B : Low End Laptops are different, anything until 320 GB would be of interest when getting one of these

C : High Eng Laptops need to have a lot of Space, 500 GB or more.

One nice thing about hard drives is that you can always buy an external hard drive later down the road to increase your storage capacity as you need to. External hard drives are also nice to back up your information in case your internal hard drive goes bad. The avid downloader needs more than his share of these Hard Drives, because you will find usage for these with the Movies, Series and Songs you are downloading.

Network Connectivity: If your new laptop is WiFi enabled, that means it can use wireless hot spots at coffee shops, libraries, and other public areas, using them to access the Web. More and more businesses and public areas allow you to connect to hotspots free of charge, so you can stay connected almost anywhere these days. Additionally, if you choose to purchase your next laptop with wireless capability, you could choose to set up your own home network so you can be online throughout your house. Most if not all current laptop models contain an Ethernet port, which allows you to connect your computer to a DSL modem and networks that you typically find in a business environment.

Laptops these days have more than just network connectivity Bluetooth for your phones, ample number of USB ports to connect devices like webcams, standby mouse, cameras, camcorders etc. Ensure whatever you buy will have a lot of USB ports on it.

Now software : Well I have a post about the software for your new laptop and it’s here : 11 Must have software for your new laptop.

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  1. Nice one Melvin

      • misterjester
      • March 24th, 2010

      Thanks dude !!

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