So you want to buy a laptop but don’t know where to
start. You’re not alone. Buying a new laptop can present
many challenges, especially if you’re unfamiliar with
laptops or notebook computers.
Over the last little while so much new laptop technology
has hit the market… Intel Duo Processors, SLI, Dual
Graphics… it can all be totally mind boggling to the average
consumer. For the first time laptop buyer understanding
all the techno jargon can be downright scary.
Mainly because a whole new generation of notebook technology
comes around every two years or less; probably much less
when you consider all the new advances made recently.
It can even be a little overwhelming even for someone
like myself who runs an online Laptop Guide and who has
a keen interest in all things laptop.
Regardless of all these fancy new improvements, devices
and notebook technology, you must remember you’re buying
a new laptop for you and you alone. You must first
decide if all this new stuff is important to you?
Do you really need all this new notebook technology?
But most of all before you can consider that question you
must first figure out WHY you want a laptop? Why are you
buying a laptop? What chores or tasks do you want the
laptop to perform?
If you just want a laptop for simple web browsing and
emailing, a laptop made five years ago will do the
job nicely and cost you a heck of lot less. You really
don’t need a top of the line laptop unless of course,
you’re keeping up with the Jones and want the latest top
model of everything. But that’s moving into Dr. Phil’s
territory… lets not venture there!
So what do you need the laptop for?
Do you need a lightweight portable laptop for business
trips or meetings? Do you need a student notebook for
classes? Or do just want a desktop replacement computer
that you can easily move around in your home?
Your answer will greatly determine which type of laptop
you should buy.
In my case, I needed a desktop replacement that I could
easily move around my home and take on very infrequent
trips or vacations. Long battery life was not a major
consideration because I would mainly be using it plugged
into an electrical outlet. Besides, the laptop I wanted
would be 7 or 8 pounds and I had no intentions of lugging
that baby around over any great distance.
I work full time at home and do a lot of web design so
I needed a solid machine with a lot of RAM. I also enjoy
downloading and enjoying the occasional movie so a DVD
Multi Drive and a wide screen display were important.
High quality graphics and sound was also important for
what I needed.
RAM is to computer what location is to real estate. RAM
or Random Access Memory is perhaps the most important
factor to consider when buying your laptop or any computer.
RAM will greatly determine the speed of your laptop or computer.
How fast it will process your tasks and graphics. You must make
sure you have enough for your needs. You can now find many laptops
pre-loaded with 1 Gig of RAM and capable of upgrading to 4 Gigs
Compared to yesterday’s computers that’s a lot of RAM. If you’re
not into gaming, handling large video files/editing, all that
RAM is not needed but it will make your laptop run faster. Also,
remember if you’re into gaming, Video RAM will be important
— you need a top of the line (read expensive) Graphics Card
and it will increase the cost of your laptop.
Also it may be wise to buy a laptop with upgradable memory –
since new applications, multi windowed browsers, streaming video…
of the very near future may place high demand on your laptop’s
- Dual Core Processors
CPU or Computer Processing Unit is the heart of your laptop
and in this case you have Two Hearts — Intel Centrino Duo
is the front runner in this area right now. However, AMD
is giving Intel some stiff competition in the dual core
battle with its Athlon(TM) 64 X2 dual core processor. Either
one would be a wise choice.
- Hard Drive
The amount of space or size of laptop hard drives are
steadily increasing, a 100 Gig laptop is now common.
If you don’t want a lot of storage, buying a smaller
size hard drive will save you money.
Many laptop experts choose the SATA hard drive with
a high 5400 or 7200 RPM.
- Weight or Size
Perhaps the major reason you’re considering buying a laptop
is its size or weight — otherwise you’re better of saving
your money and buying a desktop computer instead. A laptop is
portable, you can carry it anywhere… tuck it under your
arm and cart it to class or your next business meeting.
It is ideal for taking your information and work to wherever
you want to go. This portability is the main selling feature
of a laptop.
Obviously you must pick the best sized laptop to suit your
needs. Laptops are divided into different categories, here’s
a quick rundown:
Tablet PC (smallest) Size of a paper tablet or notepad, less than 3
Ultra Portable (small) 13″ x >11″ More than 1.5 inches,
7 pounds and up
Pick the size that suits your purpose and use.
Laptop prices are steadily falling, it is now possible to get
a quality laptop for well under a $1000. Many are selling at the
$500 – $600 range. High quality gaming laptops offered by such
specialty laptop makers as Alienware, Rock, will still set you
back 3 to 4 grand. Ouch!
Don’t overlook this factor, if you’re buying an expensive
laptop, you might want to check out these extended warranties.
If you do a lot of traveling, you might need to purchase
insurance against thief and loss.
- Dead Pixels Was the Only Thing I Feared!
If you can check your laptop for any dead pixels. A dead pixel
will give you white spots(pixels)on your LCD display screen.
Most cases you’re buying your laptop straight out of the
box, booting up and finding you have dead pixels is not
a pleasant experience. If you want to check your laptop
screen for dead pixels, just do a search for the free
‘Dead Pixel Buddy’ software program and run it to check
your laptop for dead pixels.
- Use The Internet For Information Or Even Purchase
I run a simple Laptop Guide on one of my sites and I also keep
a laptop blog so I am constantly using the Internet to gather
information and compare prices. You must shop around and
check out the consumer reports on the different laptop makers
and the different laptop products. You must also check out
the service records/reputation of the major brand names.
I researched all the different laptops and found the one
that met my requirements and price. I bought it in the real
world at a local Computer store mainly because I wanted to
examine the laptop’s graphics and keyboard in the flesh.
However, I checked out all of the product’s details beforehand
on this store’s online site — much easier than in a busy
Make A List
It might prove helpful to create a list of the minimum
requirements or features you want on your desired laptop:
1 Gig of RAM
100 Gig Hard Drive
15 Inch Screen
4 or 5 Hours Battery Life
- Kick The Tires
Like buying anything, it is always a good idea to fully
check out your purchase. Sample the laptop’s keyboard, does
typing feel comfortable? Try the touchpad, is it responsive?
Open your favorite programs and check the processing speed
of your laptop. Bring along a DVD and sample the sound
and graphics. Take note of any problems or irritations that
may pop-up, in my case it was a small right shift key but
this was so minor I knew I could get used to it and it didn’t
stop me from buying my desired laptop.
- Research Your Laptop
Use the Internet to research your desired laptop, know exactly
what components it has and know what software is already preloaded.
Be careful of salespeople who will try to charge you extra for
configuring or installing programs on your laptop when these
programs may already be preloaded at the factory stage!
I settled on a Toshiba Satellite P100-SD3: it has Intel Duo,
1 Gig of RAM, 100 Gig Hard Drive, 17″ widescreen TrueBrite
Display, compatible with the new Windows Vista… it meets
all my needs and I am quite pleased with my new laptop.
And I will be writing a full review after I have used it for
a couple of weeks… but that’s another article.