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Easy Laptop Buying Guide -- Unless You Like Techie Jargon

Apr 1, 2008
Easy Laptop Buying Guide

This simple 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 buying needs. Did I mention there is NO techie jargon?

A laptop, also known as a notebook is simply a portable computer that runs on a battery and can be used anywhere without being stuck to a plug. The important things to know in how to buy a laptop as well as helpful buying tips are outlined below and can actually save you a lot of regret if you buy the right laptop the first time!


Processor: The processor of a laptop determines how fast a computer is and the speed is given in GHz. One of the best processors to consider for your laptop computer is the Intel Core 2 Duo processor. The Intel Core 2 Duo provides superior performance and a great battery life.

What is the best speed for your laptop, that depends on how you will use it, as a rule of thumb a 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: A laptop with a warranty can save money down the road.

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. There are also warranties that cover an in-home repair.

Screen size: The screen size dimension of laptops is measured diagonally across the screen. When you buy a laptop you don't want to sacrifice viewing comfort in order to gain portability. A screen larger than 14 inches is best to avoid strain on the eyes. While 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.

Weight: A 5 pound or heavier laptop 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: When buying a laptop wireless Internet capability is necessary if you'd like to surf the net without being tied to a plug. 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: 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 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.

You should have at least one of each:
USB (multipurpose, very useful port)
VGA (video connection to external monitor/ projector)
Ethernet Port for wired Internet connection

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. If video/gaming is important to you pick the highest one you can afford.

TIP: How to know what memory you might need is to refer to the back of your games or media software CD-case or manual to see the "system requirements" for the video memory requirements.

Laptop Security: How to feel secure since laptops are portable and mobile is to protect your laptop and data from theft. A variety of methods are available including cables and biometric fingerprint readers.

Laptop Case, Bag and Backpack: How to tote your laptops around is to use specially designed laptops bags, also known as laptop case or backpack, which are available in all varieties, including "with wheels." Whether you like black leather, or bright pink suede there's a laptop case for you.

I hope this laptop buying guide was helpful. Now you can say that you are an expert in how to buy a laptop and you didn't pass out once! Thanks for reading!!
About the Author
JR Lang the author of this article is a business owner and a computer applications specialist. Shop 4 Laptop Computer Sales
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