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Simple Laptop Buying Guide - Unless you Like Techie Jargon

May 16, 2008
A laptop, is simply a portable computer that runs on a battery and can be used anywhere without being stuck to a plug.

When determining how to buy a laptop there are certain features that are important to look at as well as knowing the purpose the laptop will serve for you. For example, if your are going to use the laptop primarily for gaming then the features you will want to get will be different than those of a laptop for business.

An important factor to look at when buying a laptop is the Processor. The processor of a laptop determines how fast a computer is and the speed is given in GHz. The Intel Core 2 Duo is one of the best in processors. The Core 2 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, gaming and internet surfing.

Memory(RAM)is another crucial factor when buying a laptop. RAM refers to the amount of programs you can run on your laptop without running into slow downs and causing your laptop to drag. 512MB RAM is the optimal amount of memory for any purpose and the best option for gaming and 3-D graphics. Buying Tip: The RAM the laptop supports tells you the most memory you will ever be able to upgrade to.

Another factor in buying a laptop is the HARD DRIVE. Generally speaking a 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.

Laptop Weight is another thing to consider when buying a laptop. A 5 pound plus 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.

Another feature to look at is 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 USB (multipurpose, very useful port), at least one VGA (video connection to external monitor/ projector), an Ethernet Port for wired Internet connection, 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.

Another good option for buying a laptop is choosing an All-In-One design. All-in-one design is best unless you really need a lightweight laptop because it comes with with an internal bay for the optical drive. Simply put this drive is very beneficial and lets you to swap in other devices, such as an extra hard drive or a second battery.

Screen Size is another feature of laptop computers. When buying 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. The screen size dimension of laptops is measured diagonally across the screen. 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, watching movies or playing games.

More screen viewing options to consider: 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.

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.

The Keyboard is another important factor in buying a laptop. The keyboard should be full size or it will take some time to adjust, and mini keyboards are quite uncomfortable to use. Buying Tip: Look for the percent of full size when looking at the keyboard features of a laptop.

Mouse Options are very important in choosing a laptop. 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. Buying Tip: You can always hook up a standard mouse to your laptop (that is when using the laptop on a flat surface and not on your lap.

The Battery is another important factor in buying a laptop. 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. Please note that most battery ratings are given for a laptop running minimal processes which does not include Internet usage, graphics, power-save mode etc. Buying Tip: If you want more more freedom from the outlet buy a laptop that has a modular bay which is capable of holding a supplementary power pack.

Audio is a feature of laptops that maybe pertinent if listening to music is a high priority. Media Centers have higher quality speakers built-in. Laptops that save weight and space will have small speakers which give just an okay sound quality and quieter music.

Video and Graphics are important features in buying a laptop computer and have multiple uses, such as playing and editing movies and is really 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. Buying Tip: If video/gaming is important to you pick the highest one you can afford. Buying Tip: 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.

Warranty is another factor to consider when buying a laptop. A laptop with a warranty can save money down the road. Buying 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.

Laptop Security is very important in protecting laptop and personal data. Since laptops are portable and mobile, security is important to protect your laptop and data from theft. A variety of methods are available including lock cables, biometric fingerprint readers, data encryption software and laptop anti-theft alarms. Buying Tip: Some laptops do come with a biometric reader included. Cables and other items mentioned are purchased separately.

This laptop buying guide outlines general features, the brand of laptop is important and should be considered in regard to personal use and budget. For example Dell is considered to have the best gaming laptops like the XPS M1710. The Toshiba Oosmio is the best multi-media type of laptop providing exceptional video and audio experience. Most affordable laptops are HP Compaq Presario V 5000Z and the GATEWAY NX100X. The key to buying the right laptop is determining personal use and then buying the one that has the most features for the right price.
About the Author
JR Lang is a computer applications specialist and small business owner. To browse and buy all brands and models of new low price laptops, laptop auction and lots of used cheap laptops that you can buy with confidence with our comprehensive buyer feedback program please visit: Used Cheap Laptops
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