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Tips On How To Buy A Laptop

Advice for How to Buy a Laptop

A laptop, though not as expensive as a car or a house, is a vital purchase and something that many people use every day. Laptops offer an advantage in portability that desktops simply cannot match. While you may not plan on taking your computer everywhere you go, the benefits of a laptop become obvious when you need some quiet time and still want to work on that report that is due tomorrow. This guide offers advice on how to get the laptop that is right for you, at the right price.

How To Find The RIGHT Laptop For YOU

Meeting Your Needs

The first step is to determine how much you are willing to spend. While all of us would love to buy the sleekest new machine with the fastest chip, loaded to the gills with RAM, the reality is that there is frequently a large gap between what we need, and what we want. If you use your laptop primarily for word processing, email, and Internet browsing, you will not need a state of the art machine.

In order to find the right laptop you must first decide what tasks or applications you want to do on your chosen laptop. What specific things do you want to do with your laptop?

Then it is only a matter of matching up all the features or elements you must have in your new laptop to accomplish all those tasks. You simply need a laptop that can do all the jobs you want to throw at it. Sounds too easy, doesn't it?

Actually, buying the right laptop to meet all your needs is not a difficult task. First, just make a list of all the things you want to do with your laptop:

 1)   Do you want if for web browsing?

 2)   Do you want it for sending/receiving emails?

 3)   Do you want it for business applications such as spreadsheets, charts...

 4)   Do you want it for the classroom?

 5)   Do you want it for traveling?

 6)   Do you want it for video gaming?

 7)   Do you want it for... you fill in the blank!

Second, you have to closely examine what features you need in order to easily accomplish all the things or tasks on your list above.

Make a list of key features that you will consider when making your purchase. Is performance your number one concern? How about screen size? Do you plan to be on the go a lot? Then choosing a lighter laptop makes a lot of sense. After you have a list, prioritize it, and come up with a price range for what you are willing to spend, you are ready to begin your search.

Laptop Features:

Perhaps, one of the most important features that you have to consider is SIZE. What size laptop do you need? Again, this will largely depend on what you want your new laptop for? A 14 inch laptop may be perfect for traveling but it is not ideal for video gaming or multi-media  applications.

Size is basically determined by screen or display size. Weight does play a part but we will concentrate on display sizes to keep this buying guide simple. Display sizes range anywhere from around 8 inches up to about 20 inches or even higher.

Keep in mind, we measure screen display size diagonally, from corner to corner, and not by width. Some laptops also have a wide-screen format which is good for viewing DVDs and movies. Again, using your common sense, we will know a 17 inch laptop is not really suitable for traveling, whereas a 13 to 15 inch laptop will probably be a good
mobile laptop. However, weight and battery life are two other features or factors which will determine if your chosen laptop is ideal for traveling.

Laptop Components:

Next you must closely examine the computer components of your laptop:

1)  Processor - This is the heart or rather the brains of your laptop. The processor will largely determine how well and how fast your laptop computer can process all the applications you throw at it. We now
have dual core processors which means we get double the bang for our laptop dollars. We also even have quad-core processors which are even more powerful and are usually found in multi-media entertainment or gaming laptops. Processor speed is measured in megahertz or MHz and these days it will more likely be in Gigahertz or GHz.

Probably the most common processors are made by Intel but going with an AMD processor can be a cheaper route.

2)  RAM or Random Access Memory will also determine how well your laptop computer will perform. This is not permanent memory but temporary memory and is lost each time you shut down your computer. Your permanent memory/data is stored on your system's Hard Drive.

Try to have at least 2 Gigs of RAM if you're running Windows Vista (Operating System), you really only need 1 Gig but many computer users have found if you have 2 Gigs of RAM Vista will run smoother.

3)  Hard Drive - Many new laptop buyers worry over how large a Hard Drive they should get? This again, will largely depend on what you need your laptop for; but a small 60 to 80 Gigabyte HD is quite sufficient for most laptop user's needs. If you want to store large files, movies, etc. then a 100 to 300 Gig Hard Drive will probably be more appropriate for your needs. Also, keep in mind, you can burn and store large files such as movies on DVDs or on an external Hard Drive.

There are also Solid State Drive which are considered more durable since they have no moving parts but they are more expensive.

When buying your laptop you should check the speed of your Hard Drive, a 7200 RPM Drive will be faster than a 5400 RPM one. Also remember, changing a Hard Drive in a laptop is somewhat difficult so upgrading will probably be ruled out.

4)  Graphics Cards - Your Graphics Card or GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) will also play an important role in how well your new laptop can process information and do your applications. If you're into video gaming you will know the quality of this card is extremely important. Most gamers and video editors go for high end Graphics Cards produced by NVIDIA and ATI. Many high end laptops now have two or more Graphics Cards connected with SLI or CrossFire technology.

If video gaming is important to you, then you must check to see how much dedicated video memory your laptop contains. Shared memory
is OK for minor tasks but high demanding tasks will probably need lots of dedicated video memory.

5) Optical Disc Drives - These are the CD, DVD drives which are used to copy (burn) and/or play movies, images or files on your laptop. Speed of your optical drive is measured in 1X, 2X and so on. Many gamers now go for Blu-ray Disc drives and look for display screens with 1080p full High Definition.

6)  Battery Life - This tells you how long your laptop will run on a battery. Two to three hours is average but battery life will depend on the laptop and also on the applications you're running. If you want to take your laptop along with you, no matter where you go - then battery life will be very important. Of course, you can and should buy a second battery if you want your laptop to be truly mobile. 

Students, traveling salespersons, or anyone on vacation who want their laptop to keep on performing should invest in a second battery for their laptop.

7)  Connections - Your laptop will have many connections - to connect to the web, to connect to countless peripherals. Check for wireless connections such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Count the number of USB (Universal Serial Bus) your laptop contains - try to get at least two or three since you will be connecting to different components such as a mouse, keyboards, digital cameras, scanners and the like. Plus, remember you can always use a USB Hub to get more connections should you need them.

8)  Operating System (OS) - This is the operating system which runs your laptop. Most laptops will have Windows XP, Windows Vista or the future Windows 7. There is also the Mac operating system developed by Apple. 
The operating system is the most important program that runs on a computer. Every general-purpose computer must have an operating system to run other programs. Operating systems perform basic tasks, such as recognizing input from the keyboard, sending output to the display screen, keeping track of files and directories on the disk, and controlling peripheral devices such as disk drives and printers.

9)  Options and Upgrades - When buying any laptop computer you will probably be faced with many different options and upgrades. Depending on your budget it is usually the best to get the fastest processor(s) you can afford and the most RAM since this will also largely determine how fast your laptop will run. Other upgrades such as Hard Drive size, Blu-ray Drives or even display size will depend on your bank account. Try to get the highest numbered cell battery as this will give you longer battery life, if you have a choice of 6-cell or 9-cell battery, always go with the higher number if you plan on taking your laptop away from any electrical outlets.

10)  Price - Of course, price will always be an important feature or factor in which laptop you choose to buy. Fortunately, laptop prices have steadily fallen in recent years, so finding good value for your laptop dollar should not be hard to do. Many major laptop makers also offer excellent online discounts & coupons so check these deals out before you buy your new laptop.

Perhaps, one of the biggest mistakes most people make when buying a laptop - they buy features that they will never need or use.

Why buy a 300 Gig Hard Drive if you only need a 60 to 80 one? Why buy 5 or 6 Gigs of RAM when a couple of Gigs will get the job done? Why buy an expensive gaming Graphics Card when you will only use your laptop for browsing the web or for sending emails. Spend your money wisely by buying only the laptop features you truly need.

Decision Time:

After you have considered all the things you want your laptop to do and after you have closely examined all the features you need in order to get those tasks done -------> then and only then will you be more prepared to choose or buy the RIGHT laptop for YOU.

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