Looking for the best laptop for your home or business? If you want to have some of the basics facts before you start shopping, here a small guide of purchase of laptops.
Laptops have made some drastic progress in the last few years and at that point in time they can easily be a substitute to a desktop for most users (the only exceptions being programmers and heavy gamers). While the price of laptops is a little bit more than a desktop for most users even the cheaper laptops will suffice for their regular needs. The price starts around $299 and can go all the way to $3,000; you will find the majority of the laptops in the $600 to $1,000 range. We will review briefly what are the musts and also what to not waist your time and money on.
The processor is the heart of your laptop. It treats the instructions and the data before redistribute them.
There are two main competitors in that market INTEL and AMD. Every brand has multiple processors segmented in several families. Is one of the two brands better than the other? Unless you are an absolute gamer needing the latest and greatest and most powerful processor, the response is no. Whether you use an AMD Athlon(TM) 64 X2 dual-core processor or an Intel® Core(TM)2 Duo mobile processor, you won’t really notice a difference. As both brands compete to improve their processors, every few months, one leads the other and then vice versa a few month later.
At the time you are ready to buy your laptop, check that you have one of the latest processors (something that came out in the last 12 months) and you will be all right.
The Random Access Memory (RAM)
Simply said, the more memory your laptop has, the faster and most stable your laptop will be. Count a minimum of 2GB to run Windows Vista and 1GB for Windows XP. If the laptop you are looking at has more, even better but it is not essential.
The hard drive
The hard drive stores your applications as well as your documents. The bigger your hard drive is, the more room you will have for your documents, photos and video. Keep in mind that external hard drives are available and will allow you to increase your storage capacity. Also, in case of breakdown, you will be well happy to be able to recover the part of your documents that was backed up. Accident happen to laptops, so it is definitely something worth looking into; many external hard drive can be purchased starting at $100 for 500 GB, that’s plenty of space and a great insurance policy against loosing precious pictures, documents…
As far as the capacity of the hard drive needed for your laptop, you need a minimum of 160 GB these days.
The graphic card
This is rarely something you are inquiring about at the time of a purchase and yet, it is a very important element of your laptop. In fact, as opposed to the classical PC, it is practically impossible to change the graphic card of a laptop. Once you have it, this is for life! (at least the one of your laptop). Graphic card such as the Intel X3100, nVidia 6100/7000 will suffice for a usage office, web surfing, video and photo. For gamers, look for nVidia GeForce 8600M or a ATI Radeon mobility HD 2600.
Most models have a 15.4 inches display with a resolution of 1280×800. This is sufficient for a regular use and even games. If you want an increased comfort, buy a laptop with a 17 inches screen (the keyboard will be bigger to). Latest trend, ultra portables and mobile computers with screens in between 9 inches and 13 inches which weigh less than 3 pounds for some of them; if your have a nomadic lifestyle, this is definitively something to consider.
Few person pay attention to them and nevertheless, this is a crucial point. All the laptops have basic connections.
- USB ports for peripherals such as the mouse, printer, webcam, MP3 player… In any events, two USB ports are not advisable. Three or four are definitively better.
- VGA port will allow you to link your laptop to monitor.
- HDMI for high video definition (blu-ray and HD DVD).
- S-video output is the analogical version of the a HDMI. You will find less and less of these connections
- FireWire or IEEE 1394 will allow you to connect to digital camcorders mp5 and mp3 at fast speed.
- SATA connection allows you to connect to a SATA external hard drive at fast pace.
- An Ethernet (RJ45) will allow you to connect to the internet. This connection is an absolute must.
- RJ11. This is to connect to a modem, not very useful nowadays
- The express Card allows you to connect to peripherals such as tuners
- The PCMCIA does the same function as the express card but it is less and less used these days.
As far as connections, look for four USB, VGA, HDMI, Ethernet connection, Bluetooth and an Express card. Integrated cameras are also a nice thing to have to communicate via applications such as Skype.
Fast and easy, you can of course gather a lot more information, but if you follow the guidelines above, you should buy the computer you need and not the one they are trying to market to you.
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