Finding The Best Laptop For The Money
Finding The Best Laptop For The Money
Looking to buy a laptop and you want the best laptop for the money? Congratulations! So, do you want a thin-and-light notebook, a mainstream notebook, an ultra portable notebook, or a business notebook? And do you want that in a Dell, a Gateway, an IBM, a Sony, or a Toshiba, to name just a few of your options?
Confused yet? It really can be overwhelming. But buying a laptop doesn’t have to mean learning a whole new language. It just means that you have to know what your needs are and what kinds of equipment is best suited to meeting those needs. Ask yourself the following two questions:
1. How am I going to use this machine?
The demands you anticipate placing on a machine will dictate how much memory you need, processor speed, display size, and the size of your hard drive. It also matters how much wear and tear you think you’re going to put on your laptop. For example, are you going to be schlepping it from college room to coffee shop, or are you mostly going to be using it at home, as a replacement for a desktop machine? Are you going to be storing lots of digital music files or photos or other multimedia that will eat up huge amounts of hard drive space? Do you need a built-in CD-RW or DVD drive? Are you going to be doing graphics work or watching a lot of video on your laptop, such that a powerful, rapid processor and a large and high-resolution screen are important to you?
2. How do I find the laptop that will do what I want?
Thinner is not always better; but then, less is sometimes more. In the laptop jungle, searching out the perfect machine can be a challenge. It might help to look at the different models of laptop and see what features each one has to offer.
* Ultraportables or Netbooks
These machines are thin, small, and light-typically not more than four pounds. What they don’t have going for them is a lot of processing power or the bells and whistles of bigger systems: they don’t have internal CD or DVD drives, they have smallish hard drives, and they have displays of 12 inches or smaller. A good choice for someone on the go a lot who doesn’t demand a lot of their system, but performance lags behind other laptop models.
* Thin-and-lights or Ultrabooks
Perfect for business travelers, these laptops have powerful internal processors, 13 to 14-inch displays, and have wireless/3g/4g networking capability, plus a combo CD-RW/DVD drive. They have lots of memory and roomy hard drives. Trade-off: they weigh a bit more (four to six pounds) and they cost quite a bit more.
* Mainstream notebooks
Basically, these laptops are desktop computers that can do a little travel. At six to eight pounds, they come with a 14-inch or larger display and more than enough basic power, in terms of processing speed, memory, and hard drive space.
* Desktop replacements
The name says it all: these laptops think they’re desktops. They have 15-inch to 17-inch display, more than big enough for gaming or creating home movies. They have the fastest processors, the largest hard drives, and the most memory of any other laptop type. And they weigh at least seven pounds.
Knowing at least some of the terminology should help you carry on intelligent conversations with laptop salespeople. And remember: because technology changes so fast, you’ll never have to be stuck with a dud laptop for more than two years!
Buying a laptop is a major investment decision. As such it is not one that you should make lightly. Below are 5 tips that will help prepare you for making the best and most well informed decision when buying a laptop.
Tip #1 Size Matters
Buying a laptop is a matter that requires some thought. Consider the size and weight of the laptop. How often will you be carrying your laptop? Your answer will help determine which size and weight will best suit your needs. If you will be carrying your laptop frequently, a lighter model will be preferable.
The keyboard is another area to consider when buying a laptop. Why is the size of the keyboard important? A larger laptop will have a slightly larger keyboard area. But keep in mind that if you worry about your fingers or wrists taking on too much stress from typing on a keyboard that is too small, you may want this to be a main factor in your purchasing decision,
Tip #2 Choose Your Mouse
A laptop it will come with a built in touch pad, an alternative to the mouse, whereby the pad is controlled by the user’s finger movement. For some people, this type of pad is uncomfortable and not easy to work with and Lenovo laptops have this little red button in the center of the keyboard that can be used instead of the touch pad. Before purchasing a laptop, determine what mouse options are available. Test each one and determine which one best meets your needs.
Tip #3 Wireless Options
Today, when many people think laptop, they think “wireless”. No doubt people want to make sure that their laptop computer will be able to access the Internet with a wireless connection and you really can’t buy a laptop today that doesn’t support wireless. But, there are different kinds of wireless technologies available and they’re useful for different things.
- Traditional wireless – This is used for internet access when you’re at home, office and at wireless hotspots available in many places. There have been many wireless standards, but the most common nowadays are wireless-G and wireless-N. At a minimum your laptop should support wireless-G.
- 3g/4g wireless – Basically wireless through your cellular phone network. These require a separate data plan from your phone and are for those people that need (or want) internet access practically anywhere they go.
- Bluetooth wireless – This is a short range wireless technology that allows you to pair devices to your laptop. This can be mice, stereo headphones and any other type of device that you might want to use with your laptop. This is also handy for synching data with your phone too.
Tip #4 Check for Ports
Peripheral equipment will be connected to your laptop through USB ports. You will make your life much less complicated by ensuring that your laptop has adequate ports. Connecting equipment such as printers, scanners, and digital cameras will be much simpler if you have the ports readily available. If you are not sure, thoroughly read the specs for any laptop that you are considering purchasing.
Tip #5 Check Your Budget First
Finally, when buying a laptop, beware that you do not overspend. First create your budget and stick to it. When you think that you have found the laptop that you want, do not rush into it. Wait a day and check over your budget, requirements, and see if you are still as excited about the laptop in the morning, as you were when the sales clerk was showing off its specs. If you still feel that it is the laptop that you want to purchase, then go for it.
Finally, Read some reviews – We have broken down our reviews into budget ranges, so you’ll find our recommendations for the really budget conscious in our ‘Best Laptop Under 500 Dollars’ review. For those people looking for ultralights or the more powerful laptops, check out our ‘Best Laptop Under 1000 Dollar’ review. In both of these we identify the highest rated laptops with actual buyer comments in each product review and rank them so that once you understand what kind of laptop you want and what your budget is, its easy to find the best laptop that fits within your budget. We update both of these reviews periodically as newer and better laptops appear in the market. Model numbers change all the time, so whenever possible we’ll let you know when a particular model has been replaced and include a review of the newer model.