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May 26, 2009

How To Select A Laptop

Different people have different needs for using a laptop . Whatever these needs are, there are some general tips that you can use to select a laptop that would suit your need and your budget.

Generally, notebook computers are categorised as follows:

Entry-level notebooks :

These are notebook that are catered to the budget conscious. In general, they usually meet the minimum specifications required for the operating system. They are also not as reliable as the other categories of notebooks because many reliability or high-performance features are sacrificed to fit a small budget. If you are one who prefers reliability & performance for a period of three to five years, it would be more worthwhile to invest a little more in a higher quality notebook.

High Performance notebooks -

These are notebook computers that do not stinge on features & capabilities. They, of course, are also a pricey lot. Price aside, these notebook computers are created for the tough road warrior who is also a power user of the computer.

Highly Mobile notebooks -

These are notebook computers that focus on mobility and style while trying not to compromise on features. They can be expensive as it would naturally cost more to design and build a notebook that is smaller, more reliable, more robust, and more resistance to the accidental bumps and drops.

What kind of notebook computers should I be looking for?

Unless budget is the ultimate constraint, I would recommend to go for a high performance notebook that would last you for a number of years. Entry-level notebooks don't usually last and tend to breakdown after their warranty period is over. If you are alright with that, you can go for a entry-level notebook computer.

What should I look out for when selecting a notebook ?

1. Comfort

Inspect the keyboard layout of the notebook . Make sure the layout is the same as the current keyboard that you have been using all this while. If they are not at the "usual" places, you would need to face a learning curve after you have bought the notebook computer.

Try to type on the keyboard and see if the keys are too wide or too close together. If they are too wide or too narrow, it could put a strain on your hands if you type a lot using the keyboard.

2. Processor Speed

Unless you are a super power user, it actually doesn't matter whether or not you get the latest available processor. When selecting the processor, choose a recent model and not the latest model unless your budget fits the bill. Otherwise, it's alright to choose a slightly slower processor as you would not feel a visible difference in the processing speed. Spend your money on more RAM and storage space.

3. RAM or Computer Memory

This is one area you don't want to compromise on. If you are using Windows XP Home, 512mb of RAM is a good minimum to start with. If you are using Windows XP Pro, 768mb or 1GB of RAM is recommended for optimal performance. Beyond that, let your budget do the talking.

4. Display Memory

Most entry-level computers share part of the RAM for video display memory, which also explains why entry-level notebooks are cheaper in a certain way. This also means your memory performance is somewhat compromised and you won't have as much RAM as you want for your notebook computer. For example, if your notebook has 256mb of RAM, and the computer specifications for video display states 64mb of shared memory, it means that you only have 192mb of RAM available for the operating system to use. Generally, this translates to a slower performing notebook computer.

The high performance computers usually have a separate display memory card built-in that gives the high performance, while the highly mobile computers may also deploy a shared memory strategy for display memory, similar to entry-level computers, due to the need to keep the form factor small.

If you budget allows, go for a independent display memory of at least 128mb.

5. Hard Drive Storage

The cost of hard drive storage have come down quite dramatically these days. Plan to have at least two partitions ( C: drive & D: drive ) for your harddrive. Store only programs on your C: drive and all your data on your D: drive.

6. Other considerations

After the first 5 considerations, other considerations are optional. Example,
- whether to have two USB or four USB ports
- whether to have any firewire ports
- whether to have your USB ports available in front, at the side or behind, etc.

I've got my notebook. Now what?

The default configuration that comes with your notebook is generally good for immediate use, but not ideal if you are concerned about keeping your data safe when your notebook "crashes" on you so make necessary backup.

For a comparison on all the major Laptop brands read below :

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