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Laptop Buying Guide

Introduction

This article serves as a guide for anyone planning to purchase a new laptop. There are many things you will want to consider before making your purchase. This article serves as a guide to help you select the laptop that best suits your needs and your budget.

Many people have laptops these days. They are rarely used as a primary computer. Most people with a laptop also have a personal computer at home. The main reason you probably want a laptop is for its portability and convenience. They are great for college students who find themselves in the dorm, classes and the library. With the convenience of a laptop they can take their computer anywhere. Business people who are always on the go also like to have a laptop computer. You can type on your laptop while flying to another state, when you are out of town you can take your laptop and connect to the web at an Internet Café or if you are visiting relatives at their house.

There are some things about laptops that you should keep in mind. They are more expensive than desktop computers. Laptops can cost almost twice as much as a comparably equipped desktop. Most laptops are about 20-30% slower than a desktop with similar features. Also, for the most part laptops are not very upgradeable. You can upgrade the main memory and removable hard drives. However, these upgrades are very expensive. For that reason the way someone buys a laptop is usually the way it remains. Even if you add external components, they cost more money than internal upgrades. For those of you who are hard-core gamers, you should not buy a laptop as your gaming computer. Their video cards will be slower than that of a pc.

Laptop Buying Guidelines

The cheapest laptops usually include only about 128MB of RAM. This is not enough to run programs well using Windows operating systems. This laptop would be sufficient if you are just going to type a few things here and there and browse the Internet. You will most likely want to look for a computer with 256MB at least. If you are going to use your laptop often and for many things, you will be happiest with a laptop that has at least 512MB. The best type of laptop batteries are lithium. You will want a hard drive of at least 20GB. The bigger; the better.

Low cost laptops usually have an Intel Celeron Processor. This processor works well for word processing, and surfing the Internet. If you are purchasing a higher end notebook look for one with a Pentium III. Macintosh notebooks will be using PowerPC processors rather than Pentium III.

When purchasing a laptop you will want to consider the screen size and resolution. Low-end laptops may have a 12.1 inch screen. If you can afford to buy a laptop with a larger screen, you should. Higher priced laptops often have a 15-inch display. Some of these monitors support resolutions as high as 1600x1200. Having a laptop with a really large display is not always practical. We often use laptops in areas where we have limited space. For example, you may be working on your laptop on a seat on an airplane. Remember, you can always attach an external monitor to your laptop. This would be a great way to have a larger screen when you are at a desk somewhere and have more room.

Laptop Accessories

If your notebook is your primary notebook, you may want to use an external monitor, keyboard and mouse. If you connect these external accessories using a port replicator you will not have to connect and disconnect. This will allow you to have full size keyboard and bigger screen to use when you are at your desk, while still being able to quickly take your laptop away from your desk.

Wireless network cards are good to have if you want to access the network in your corporation as you move from office to office and when you are in conference rooms. If you have a network at home, you can sit and watch TV while you are surfing the Internet.

Some Key Features to Look For

If you are buying a laptop for home use, there are several key features you should look for in a laptop. You will want a Mobile Celeron, Pentium 4-M, or desktop (Pentium 4) processor in your laptop. The laptop should have a bare minimum of 128MB of memory. When you are buying a laptop that you will mainly use at home, consider buying a laptop with a display of at least 14 inches. Find a laptop that you can use with a wired or wireless network. Again since you will not be traveling a great deal with this laptop, but mainly using it at home, you may want to purchase an external mouse and keyboard. It would be a great idea to use Windows XP Home Edition. You may also want Microsoft Works Suite or another office package. Your laptop will be equipped for general-purpose tasks. If you buy a larger display and external mouse and keyboard, it will be more comfortable to use and you can set it up on a desk.

For college students, you will want a laptop that offers the most for their money. They will be looking for the convenience of a laptop that they can take with them anywhere on campus. This laptop should have a Mobile Celeron, Pentium 4-M, desktop Pentium 4, or PowerPC G4 processor and at least 256MB of memory. The laptop should also be equipped for wired and wireless networking. They may want the laptop to have Windows XP Home Edition as well as a Microsoft Office Suite.

Perhaps, you are constantly on the road and traveling. You will want a laptop that is lightweight and easy to transport. A 12-inch display would work well so that you can use your laptop comfortably even when sitting on a seat on an airplane. Again you will want wired and wireless networking. It would also be a good idea to have an extra battery you can take with you when you are on the road. You may also want to consider a port replicator for use when you are at your desk. This will make it easy for you to plug in external components when you are at your desk, without needing to disconnect everything when you need to leave.

Conclusion

This guide should help you to decide what you need from your laptop. By following these tips, you will have a starting point when you start shopping for your new laptop. Never be afraid to ask questions of the sales associates when you are comparing laptops. Take your time to find the price that meets your budget, while still buying a laptop that meets your needs.