How to choose your next Laptop
When purchasing a computer, it is likely that you are going to have a general idea of what you may like in the computer or how you would like to configure the computer. Below is a listing of the various components likely to be found in a computer, and recommendations and tips when considering any of the below components.
Determine how long the battery is expected to last under normal use. Many manufacturers will indicate a battery usage time but this may be at the lowest possible settings; ensure that the manufacturer clarifies what the standard battery usage life is when using the portable computer in all power modes.
All portable computers come with a display. While it is almost always possible to hook up an external monitor when traveling with the laptop, the display is an important consideration. When looking at the display, ensure it is large enough for your needs. A very easy method of reducing the cost of the laptop is to reduce the size of the screen, unless price is an important consideration we highly suggest that you purchase a laptop with at least a 12" or larger LCD and recommend an LCD size of 14".
Drives are sometimes overlooked when considering a portable computer but can be an important consideration. Portable computers can come with various drive configurations, for example:
One drive bay -where the CD-ROM and the Floppy drive are interchangeable. For users who utilize the floppy drive often, this may be an issue; however, for other users who do not utilize the floppy, this may be a more appropriate solution as the computer will be lighter and thinner with one drive bay.
Two drive bay -portable computers have a floppy solution as well as CD-ROM solutions. These computers will be a less expensive computer when compared to the other solutions; however, it is the always the heaviest of all the solutions.
No drive bay -portable computers allow for a laptop to be extremely light and utilize external drives instead of internal. Pay close attention to the price of these laptops; while it may appear to be a portable solution, many manufacturers will charge you an additional price for the external drives, which will eventually be needed.
Finally, some users may also want to consider different media solutions. For example, many laptops allow for a standard floppy drive or an LS120 drive. The LS120 drive can read floppy diskettes and at the same time be used as a backup storage device as it can store up to 120MB on a LS120 diskette. Additionally, consider the option of a DVD* or CD-RW drive as opposed to a CD-ROM drive.
*If you are considering a DVD solution, verify if the DVD comes with hardware or software decoding. Hardware decoding for laptops is accomplished by using a PCMCIA card and will add onto the overall price of the laptop.
Hard drives have and always will be an important consideration to think about when purchasing a new portable computer. Like a standard computer, the hard drive will be the destination of all your files and information, and if that drive is to become full, that drive must be replaced or another external drive needs to be added to the computer. When looking at the space of the hard drive, always get the maximum size hard drive, considering you will eventually always run out of space.
Does the portable computer include any locking system? If yes, what locking system is included? This can be important for users who are on the road.
Memory is and has always been an important consideration when looking at purchasing a computer. Determine the amount of memory included in the computer as well as verify if that memory can be upgraded in the future. The more memory the computer has, the more efficient the computer is capable or running.
If a modem is required, ensure that a modem is included with the portable computer. In addition, verify if the modem is an internal or PC-CARD (PCMCIA) modem as you may require all the available PC-CARD slots in the future. PC-CARD modems are type II.
If a network connection is required, ensure that a network card is included with the portable computer. In addition, verify if the network card is an internal or PC-CARD (PCMCIA) network card as you may require all the available PC-CARD slots in the future. Network PC-CARDs are type II that for most computers allows for an additional type II to be connected.
The computer processor is and will always be an important consideration when purchasing a computer. Today, with multiple CPU/Processor manufacturers, it may be more confusing as well as more cost efficient to look at the different processors available.
Sound cards are important when looking at purchasing a computer; however, the majority of all computer users will find that most standard sound cards will suit their needs. However, some users may enjoy purchasing more advanced sounds cards that will increase the amount of speakers that can be used and in some games and programs and the sound quality and capabilities.
When looking at the sound aspect of a portable computer, many laptops do not have sufficient sound and will require external speakers or headphones. Ensure that the sound quality meets your needs.
Weight is another important consideration when considering a portable as the computer will be carried; the lighter the portable computer, the more easy it will be to carry.
Video cards are becoming an extremely important factor when purchasing a computer. While this may surprise some, a video card can make or break a computer when it comes to playing games on the computer. Most games today require additional video memory as well as special video modes such as OpenGL. With a video card with little video memory or without these modes, the computer will be unable to play these games. In addition, the advances in video cards can dramatically increase the user enjoyment of the game being played.