Choosing A Laptop

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

When I had to face the laptop choosing dilemma, I solved it in a brilliant way. How? I purchased a desktop computer, and I never thought about it as a bad decision, so this is one of the things often forgotten by those trying to teach others what they should keep in mind when choosing a laptop. Obviously, there's more to this than just that, so let's think about a little list... ... the list of questions you need to ask yourself before going out to buy a laptop:

1. Do I really need a laptop?

2. Why would I pick a Linux-powered laptop?

3. Should I pay more to get a model with 3 years warranty, or get this cheaper model with the same hardware/software setup, but only 12 months warranty?

4. HDD or SSD?

5. Why not get a cheap model with 1 GB of memory and upgrade it later?

6. Do I really need a DVD burner?

There could be more than just these, but some of them are usually avoided. Why? No idea, but let's finish off this subject by talking about the things that really matter, shall we?

Warranty - there's nothing more important than warranty when it comes to laptops. There's a huge difference between 1 and 3 years, since we're talking about computers that get pretty hot in some cases. Having 3 years warranty won't spare you from having to backup your data to keep it safe, but it will surely keep your investment safe when something blows up.

Upgradeability - forget about it! Just get the best thing for your money and needs, then add external components as you need them. I always considered a smarter choice grabbing a new external drive than an internal one, for example.

Memory - moving along, we take a look at the previous idea, and I have to say this: get at least 2 GB of memory from the start! 1 GB may be enough for a Windows XP laptop, but the catch is to have enough memory that Windows won't start writing data to the hard drive at all. This will surely increase the battery life, and the quality of your time spent using a computer.

Preinstalled OS - it gets harder and harder to find Windows XP-based laptops, but they are the safest bet. If you only need the laptop to go online and edit some text documents, Linux-based ones aren't such a bad choice, either. You only need to get over the "Linux is for geeks" myth, and you may find a hidden treasure...

Screen size - get something decent for your needs. If you're not going to play games or watch high definition movies, choose what's best for your office needs. After all, that's what most laptop users do, right?

Processor manufacturer/speed/cache size - you shouldn't worry about Intel/AMD and CPU speed too much, unless you are going to use the laptop for heavy graphics editing/CAD-CAM/video processing. Most laptops these days have too much computing power, anyway, and a low end CPU combined with good battery life and longer warranty is the best solution for most people, from all points of view.

Networking - just be sure to have built in WiFi. Other than that, depends on your personal needs, but a lot of laptops come with Ethernet and WiFi these days.

USB ports - if you have at least 2 USB ports, everything should be fine. Think about using an external card reader/DVD burner instead of paying (way too much) for a laptop having them built in. Having a combo optical drive should be the best choice... and even a larger USB flash stick without any optical drive could do the trick!

At last, I repeat - think well about your needs, and try not to get more than you need, simply because prices are dropping pretty fast, and my opinion is that choosing a laptop is more about grabbing the solution you'll be able to use for the longest time to get the job nicely done, without necessarily breaking any performance records in the process...


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