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A How to Buy a Laptop Guide for the Mind-Numbed Customer
You may have a good idea of what you want your laptop to look like and what features would be nice to have, but before shopping the laptop aisle at your local Indianapolis, Traverse City, Grand Rapids, or Columbus Best Buy store, there are several questions to consider. What is the main purpose for the laptop - business or personal? What items will you store - pictures, documents, music, videos, etc.? What type of memory and speed are you looking for? Do you prefer a large screen? Will you be using the DVD player? Do you prefer to use the touch pad or a mouse? It's alright if you don't know the answer to all these questions. That's why we are here to spell it out for you.
Shop for a laptop that uses metal in the construction. Business laptops are often built with metal to increase the durability, while plastic laptops are typically thought to be cheap.
Weight and Screen Size
Laptops weigh in at around 3 to 8 pounds, depending on the product's features. The larger the screen size, the more weight you will carry around. Consider a laptop with a 14-inch screen or less if you are the Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland or Detroit mobile city-slicker. However, do not rule out Apple or Samsung, who manufacture some of the lightest laptops on the market. Screen sizes that range between 16 to 18 inches are usually reserved as a desktop replacement or graphic arts studio with intensive art features. And, don't forget to take into consideration the size of your laptop bag.
Standards and Features
The computer's hard-drive is its main storage unit. The greater the hard-drive capacity, the more data and programs you can have. You may want at least 250GB of hard-drive space, or 500GB if your laptop will be used for important business documents and programs, or for storing photos. RAM is the amount of short-term memory your laptop boasts, enabling you to retrieve recent work. The processor is the speed to which the laptop makes things happen. The modem gives you internet and email access. You will need to decide on your modem speed and whether you want an internal or PC card-based modem. Look for a laptop with at least 2 to 3 USB ports, with one of them doubling as an eSATA port. The eSATA port allows you to add additional memory to the internal hard drive if you run low on storage space. This could come in handy for those video junkies or home video-obsessed mothers. If you would like the option to watch DVD's you will need to go with a DVD-ROM, which also allows you to play CDs. For streaming high quality video, look for a laptop with a HDMI port or DisplayPort. Did you know some laptops have shocks? If you plan to carry the laptop with you at all times, consider one with shock-resistant hard-drive mounts, designed to take on the bumpy road.
The most popular laptop processing chip is made by Intel. You can choose a processing chip that maximizes performance, one that prolongs battery life, or one that favors both. Intel Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7s are currently the most popular processor brands and benefit both power and battery efficiency.
If you are constantly moving, long lasting battery life will save you a lot of hassle. You can't plug in your laptop while on the subway, so take into consideration your lifestyle. Many laptops come with multiple battery options. In some cases, laptops will contain a non-removable battery. In this case, the battery life is measured according to the cell amount. The more cells you buy, the greater the battery life. Typically a 6-cell battery withstands 7-9 hours of life. From Dayton to Ann Arbor, Toledo to Milwaukee, a battery lasting up to 9 hours on a single charge, or carrying a backup battery may be worth the weight when it comes to a full day of travel.
Decide how much you want to spend. Laptops can cost anywhere from $350 to $6000.
Once you have had the chance to educate yourself in the safety of your Rochester home, cruise by your nearest electronics store and test out the keyboards. You will want a keyboard that you feel comfortable typing on. Some keyboards can cramp your hands, resulting a fewer wpm. Don't forget to pay attention to the pointing device and screen display to make sure you are happy with the quality.
Illinois residents in Bartlett, Newcastle, Oakbrook, and Palatine; and Michigan residents in Flat Rock, Flint, Lansing, Livingston, Livonia, Pontiac, Royal Oak, and Warren, can test drive laptop computers at the nearest electronics store.