The following easy laptop buying guide illustrates the main features to look for when buying a laptop computer without the techie jargon, because, let's face it life is just too short. I hope you find this useful and will use it for your laptop needs. Did I mention there is NO techie jargon?
You probably all ready know this but it must be said: A laptop, also known as a notebook, is a portable computer that runs on a battery and can be used anywhere without being stuck to an electrical plug.
MAIN FEATURES TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A LAPTOP
Processor: The processor of a laptop determines how fast a computer is and the speed is given in GHz.
Best: Intel Core 2 Duo processor
The Intel Core 2 Duo is one of the best in processors. Provides superior performance at half the cost of other similar types as well as a great battery life.
1.73 GHz processor is more than sufficient for everyday work like word processing, spreadsheets, email and Internet surfing.
Memory (RAM): RAM refers to the amount of programs you can run on your notebooks without running into slow downs and causing your laptop to drag. 512MB RAM is the optimal amount of memory and the best option for gaming and 3-D graphics.
Tip: The RAM the laptop supports tells you the most memory you will be able to upgrade to.
Hard Drive: 40-80 GB hard drive is more than sufficient unless you plan to generate mass amounts of music or data files or you want to install more than one suite like Microsoft Office.
All-In-One Design: Unless you really need a lightweight laptop, choose one with an internal bay for the optical drive. Simply put this drive lets you to swap in other devices, such as an extra hard drive or a second battery.
Warranty: When buying a laptop a warranty can be an important resource. Read the fine print, at some point you might be happy you did.
TIP: If the laptop you wish to purchase comes with a warranty check to see if they cover shipping charges in the event you need to send it in for repair. Some warranties cover an in-home repair.
Screen size: When you buy a laptop you don't want to sacrifice viewing comfort in order to gain portability. The screen size dimension of laptops is measured diagonally across the screen. A screen larger than 14 inches is best to avoid strain on the eyes. Larger screens or wide screens result in heavier laptops and are more bulky but do provide a more comfortable experience whether you're surfing the net or watching movies.
Screen Viewing: An anti-glare feature is very beneficial when you don't want to have part of your screen invisible due to a light source. Outside-readable screens are made to use in very bright light (outside) and are very costly. Wide Screen viewing angle is important if you don't like decreased visibility when you move your head to the side.
Weight: A 5 lb or heavier notebook is best. Ultra light laptops, below 4 pounds have cramped keyboards, less speed and memory, usually no CD or DVD drive and smaller screens. If you buy an ultra-light laptop, its performance may be so compromised that after all of the accessories you carry with it are added up (a CD drive, a larger battery, a better keyboard, etc…) it may weigh as much as a regular 5 or 6 lb laptop.
Battery: Watt-hours determine the life of a battery. Lithium batteries use cells to determine life, more cells equals more life. Usually a laptop needs a new battery every 1 to 5 years. The way you determine battery consumption depends on how you use the laptop. Most battery ratings are given for a computer running minimal processes which does not include Internet usage, graphics, power-save mode etc.
TIP: If you want more more freedom from the outlet buy a notebook that has a modular bay which is capable of holding a supplementary power pack.
Wireless: Wireless Internet Capability is necessary if you'd like to surf the net without being tied to a wire. One of the best things about laptops is that you could surf the net anywhere and WI-FI provides just that. Wireless cards are easily installed into most laptops.
Keyboard: One of the more important aspects of buying a laptop, for me anyway, is the keyboard. Mainly that the keyboard should be full size or it will take some time to adjust.
TIP: Look for the % of full size when looking at the keyboard features of a laptop.
Mouse Options: Option 1 is a touch screen, which is controlled with finger movements on a pad. Option 2 is a knob feature that lets you control the mouse by moving the finger in only one spot. This feature is harder to adjust and unless you have a preference get the touch panel. Option 3, best to get both a touch screen and knob on your laptop.
TIP: You can always hook up a standard mouse to your laptop.
Ports: Simply put a port is a specialized outlet on the back of a computer to which a plug or cable connects. (If you'd read the techie definition you would have passed out by now). The more ports you have the more variety you will have.
At least one USB (multipurpose, very useful port) and at least one VGA (video connection to external monitor/ projector) are very important. An Ethernet Port for wired Internet connection along with headphone and microphone ports.
Other ports include, FireWire port for iPod connections. S-video port for video output. Printer port for printers. PC card slots (card bus), which provide a large variety of functions. You can usually buy a PC card to replace any type of port.
Audio: Media Centers have higher quality speakers built-in. Notebooks that save weight and space will have small speakers which gives just an OK sound quality and quiet music.
Video/Graphics: This is important for playing and editing movies and is crucial for 3D gaming. Dedicated memory usually comes with a graphics card (ATI Radeon, GeForce, etc…) and has its own memory in MB which includes 32MB, 64MB, and 128MB.
TIP: If video/gaming is important to you pick the highest one you can afford. To get an idea of what memory you might need you can refer to the back of your games or media software CD-case or manual to see the "system requirements" for the video memory requirements.
Virus Security: Viruses and spyware are just as dangerous on a laptop as a desktop computer. Good anti-virus and spyware software is essential to the health of your computer and data.
Laptop Security: Since laptops are portable and mobile, security is important to protect your laptop and data from theft. A variety of methods are available including cables and biometric fingerprint readers.
Skins: Personalize and dress up your laptop with decorative skins!
Laptop Case, Bag and Backpack: A variety of cases and bags are available for carrying your laptop, including "with wheels." Whether you like business leather, or bright pink suede there's a laptop case for you.
I hope this buying guide was helpful and as promised no techie stuff. Now you are a bonafide expert in buying a laptop and you didn't pass out once!
Author – JR Lang