The Right Laptop for You

Choosing a laptop can be a confusing experience, given the amount of options that are out there these days. Does it need to be a speed demon with extra RAM and a dual core or can it be a light and sleek machine, ready to be grabbed to run off to the next appointment?

Here are a few very clear delineations between the types of people that might have a laptop, and what they should be looking into.

* The Student – Whether it is college of high school, the needs of a student are probably some of the most intensive. That isn’t because of their schoolwork, but because of all their potential extra-curricular activities. On a budget, you can find a nice and sleek laptop that will handle all of their homework, be lightweight enough to run to various classes, and still take on a little video gaming. Keep an eye out for some extra RAM and perhaps a graphics accelerator.

* Business – The key to a business laptop is weight and ease of use. You want no waiting, but don’t need all of the bells and whistles. Your cost options are going to be determined simply by the speed of the processor as well as the weight of the machine. Think light and fast, and you’ll find your perfect machine.

* Family – The more people accessing a laptop, the more versatile it is going to need to be. If your whole family is accessing it, it needs to have a lot of everything. Speed and excess RAM, a large enough hard disk to supply the needs of everyone, and perhaps a big screen for any media that you end up enjoying. Remember, the more you pay, the longer it is going to last.

* Amateur Photographer – Photos take up a lot of space, so having a giant hard drive and a fast graphics processor is going to make sure that you never miss the chance for a good shot. As time wears on, you might find that you are even investing in external space options.

No matter your world, there is a laptop that is going to make your life easier. Ask yourself what is going to be done on this machine, and then work from there.

Laptop Buying Guide

What to look for in a laptopHere are some of the features you should consider when choosing a laptop. Laptops are complicated machines with myriad options, but only a few of them will be crucial to it’s usefulness to you.

Price range:  Obviously, the more you pay, the better the laptop. With an increase in price comes an increase in build quality (durability) and  higher quality components so the laptop will be faster, you can do more with it (video editing for example) and it’ll last longer. However, you need to ask yourself whether you need an all singing, all dancing laptop. Will you use it just for surfing the web? A cheap laptop will do. Will you be using your laptop to work on a novel in a coffee shop? A cheap, almost expendable laptop is your best answer (with regular backups).

If you’re going to use your laptop in a professional capacity; for presentations, for picture editing etc I would suggest you pay as much as you can afford. You don’t want the hard drive fritzing out on you on a big day costing you money and reputation.

RAM: Ram stands for Random Access Memory. It’s basically the part of the computer that remembers stuff while it’s switched on. The more stuff your computer can hold in memory, the more complex things it can do. If you’re editing big images of say 100MB, you’ll need a lot of memory to manipulate the image and remember all the changes you’ve made, so you can back them out. Watching hi definition video can also use a lot of memory. 2GB of RAM is enough for web surfing and general word processing. 4GB RAM and up is for semi-pro image and video editing.

As a side note: if you are going to watch a lot of video, you’ll probably want to buy a laptop with a dedicated graphics card that has its own memory built in.

Hard Drive Size: Most laptops today come with hundreds of Gigabytes (GB) of hard disc storage. Anything above 200GB is more than enough for general usage. You’ll never fill it. If you take thousands of pictures a year or shoot video – you may want to go for a larger hard drive (say 500GB). Saying that, you can always store pictures on websites like Flickr or buy external hard drives.

Screen Size:  Bigger is not always better. Choosing the right screen size for your needs will have to be a compromise. The bigger the screen, the more power your laptop will use and the less battery life it will have. It also makes the laptop heavier and less portable.  A smaller screen will be hard to look at for long periods. Most laptops have a 15.6 inch screen which is a balance between portability and usefulness. You’ll need a smaller screen or a netbook if you’re going to be travelling with your laptop. You’ll need a bigger screen (17 inch plus) if you’re going to be doing any image of video manipulation on your laptop.

Processor:  The processor is the computer brain. The faster the processor (measured in Ghz) the faster your laptop can think, and the faster it will be. Nowadays laptop manufacturers are putting two processors (called dual core) or even four processers (quad core) inside laptops to increase the speed. Processors also consume a lot of power and produce a lot of heat – so more, faster processors mean less battery life and a hotter laptop.

These are the key things you’ll need to think about when choosing a laptop. At the end of the day, don’t stress out about it. Many manufacturers use the same components. Price will mainly affect build quality and little touches that’s make your laptop nicer to use. Read some reviews, choose a laptop in your price range and go for it.