Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What to Look For When Purchasing a Laptop

For the person on the go who needs access to a computer, this is a reasonable question to ask one’s self. Most computer users are familiar with the features of a desktop, but lack experience with laptops. For me, I have always purchase my computers directly from the company, customizing to my specifications. For some, purchasing directly from the local store may be their preference which will enable them to test drive before purchasing. With the later you lose the ability to customize when you purchase off the shelf. In either case, you can always include store visits as part of your research project to actually test drive what is available and see what features you like in a laptop. I don’t think the brand matters because you can have a bad or good experience with any manufacturer’s product unless research specifically shows a trend on the negative side. The key is to do thorough research prior to making any major or unfamiliar purchase.

Below is a list of what I looked at when I purchased my laptop and you should consider this in conjunction with your usage. If any of you have other areas to consider or additional input, please share.

Battery usage –How many hours does the battery last? They last between 6 to 12 hours and your choice is dependant on the type of work you will be doing. Make sure the manufacture specifies the standard battery usage life

Monitor – make sure it is large enough for you since this feature cannot be upgraded. Yes, you can attach a monitor but, after all, your are purchasing this for portability

Operating system (OS) – Windows or Apple are the popular available choices and more than likely you would purchase the OS you are use to using with your desktop

Drives – Make sure the types of drive(s) you will be using or need are included (**see drive options below). A lot to consider as they all don’t do the same thing (see below). If you are still using a floppy drive, this is not a standard feature with newer computers so you would have to specifically add this feature

Ports – Make sure you have at least 2 USB ports, multiple USB ports adaptors can be purchased separately if the need arise, Ethernet or PCMIA port

Hard Drive – Always get the maximum size hard drive because this is where all your files reside

RAM (Random Access Memory) –The more memory the more efficient the laptop will be especially in handling large files. Determine if the memory can be upgraded or has it been optimized

Modem – Determine if it is an internal modem or PC Card. Wireless capability is important otherwise what is the sense of having the portability and not the availability of the Internet? Laptops usually come with an internal wireless card or a PCMIA card may be purchase – I purchased the Linksys wireless-G for my first laptop as it did not come with an internal connection. There are other brands available

Processor – Pentium II and III are sufficient for the typical user’s needs. For the more avid game player Pentium IV and Pentium with MMX (suppose to increase performance…lightning speed) would be more appropriate.

Sound Card – Most standard sound cards will suit the typical person’s needs. The typical laptop requires external speakers or headphones to enjoy the full affect of the sound. Advance sound cards can be purchase to increase sound quality for games and programs that require this

Weight – The lighter the laptop the easier it is to carry making this an important consideration in the purchasing decision

Video Card – Produces the visual output from your computer. Games and graphic programs depends the most on the video card’s ability to support their software. The video card along with the monitor determines the quality of what you see so it is a very important aspect of the purchase decision.

Software – See if the suite of software you want is included i.e. MS Office or whatever your preference. Is it the full version or trial? Make sure the copies are legal with the certificates included---Genuine Windows! Also see blog entry on OpenOffice as an alternative

Peripherals – Research these devices prior to purchasing as it may be more costly in the long run or may not meet your needs. (Printers, cameras, scanners, PC cards, etc.)

Used Laptop – Compare the cost of the used laptop to the cost of a new one. Look for the same features as when purchasing a new one

Service – What type is offered? On/off site; local authorized service centers; is international service available if purchased in a different country than where you live?

Manufacturer’s support – 24/7 support; contact options

Manufacturer’s warranty – the length of the warranty time should be at least one (1) year.

To ascertain a more in depth understanding of the preceding features, various articles are available on each individual feature. The purchase of a laptop computer is a big decision, therefore, take the time to research it thoroughly and test drive the available models to get a feel for what you like and don’t like. If what you want is available off the shelf, go for it!

As always, email me with your topics and comments, but more importantly let’s have a good time learning together!

**Drive Options:
• DVD-RW and +RW – you can burn and re-write DVDs multiple times
• DVD – you can watch DVDs and listen to CDs
• DVD –R and +R – you can burn a DVD only once
• CD – you can listen to CDs
• CD-RW and +RW – you can re-burn music on the same CD
• CD-R and +R – you can record music to a CD only once

References:
Computer Hope
WYFF Technology
Love to Know

2 comments:

in christ, james said...

thank you for that information, but guess who will be tagging along when i go to but my laptop. smile in christ ljames

AvaByGrace said...

Just make sure you have a copy of this blog entry...lol

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