Laptop Buying – How to buy a Laptop

Laptop-buying

We all know shopping for a laptop buying can be an incredibly daunting task. Your head is probably full of questions and ideas to what you need or want it to do. You might be a graphic designer who needs a beefy machine packed with the latest specs or a just fancy something to browse cat pictures online. Either way I have done some digging and made a list of things to consider when deciding on the perfect laptop to suit your needs:

1. Operating system

Probably the most important decision in regards to laptop buying is choosing the operating system that will best suit your needs and wants. If you want a wide-range of compatibility in regards to software and hardware along with the fact that it can be very affordable, Windows (Microsoft) is most certainly a fantastic choice. With applications such as Office and Internet explorer, this operating system may just be just what you need.

Macbooks are known for their long battery life, graceful keyboard and a compact nature that does not compromise on performance. They utilise the OS X operating system and if you are an iPhone fan boy/girl then you can expect transferring files and apps to be incredibly simple along with very similar interfaces that are easy to use. The OS X, through its powerful spec also provides very good stability when using demanding software such as Photoshop. However, some popular software is not compatible with this operating system so you will need to find an alternative piece of software.

The Chrome OS makes using the internet a breeze as it has been optimized for web-based computing and it is currently the only operating system that also gives you access all apps located within the Google Play store.  However, as it is new in comparison to the competition above, you may find a lack of compatibility with a lot of PC software and if you just so happen to not have an internet connection, you can hardly do anything.

2. Size

Are you looking for something fairly nimble and easy to travel around with? I would strongly suggest an 11-12 inch laptop weighing up to 1.5kg max if you don’t want to wake up with back pain, sore shoulders or “Poshitis” (seriously, it’s a thing). However if you aren’t willing to compromise on size but still have to make round trips on the underground, then a laptop between 13-14 weighing no more than 2kg should do the trick.

15-inch laptops weighing up to 2- 3kg are the most popular but are better suited for those who keep their laptop at home and do not have to travel around with their laptop often. However, size can correlate with performance so if you require workstation-esque quality then you may need to go for a more sizable machine.

3. Keyboard quality

Another important aspect of Laptop buying is ensuring it has a good keyboard. Whether you spend hours writing Op-eds for a global newspaper or write 300 character rants on Facebook, a comfortable keyboard with a snug layout is a must. A good level of responsiveness after each press key stroke and a back-lit keyboard is essential in ensuring that you have a comfortable and effective experience each time you open your laptop lid. So do not be afraid to test this out as you will thank yourself later after typing for a couple of hours straight.

4. Battery Life

If you are one of the more nimble folk, you will need a laptop with a battery life of 9+ hours giving you the freedom to work all day without constantly looking for the nearest power outlet. It is also important to check impartial sources for battery life reviews as well as the actual manufacturer guide.

5. Hybrid

2-in-1 devices are increasing in popularity with many laptops possessing the ability to switch between laptop and tablet mode depending on the user’s preference at the time. Samsung, HP and Lenovo (just to name a few) have released laptops with detachable screens whilst some other models are flexible with bendable hinges allowing you to switch between modes at ease. This cool feature can provide a fantastic tablet experience but if you do not need this extra feature, a traditional clamshell laptop will be good enough and will financially make more sense in regards to performance.

6. Spec

Even for the most technically proficient users out there, understanding laptop specifications can be a real headache when laptop buying but below is a summary on what to look out for without the use of any gobbledygook:

CPU

Stands for Central Processing Unit and is the part of the system that known as the “brains” of the computer and plays a huge role in regards to performance. If you would like a good combination of performance and price, I would recommend a laptop with an Intel Core i5. Intel chips are the most reliable but there are alternatives to rival this CPU model such as the AMD Ryzen Mobile, which pack less of a punch to your wallet but may leave you compromising on performance.  Of course this all depends on what you intend to use your Laptop for.

RAM

When you run a program, it is loaded onto what is called the Random Access Memory and the more RAM you have in your laptop, the quicker it will be to access programs and files at any given moment in time. I would always suggest 8GB ram for the average user and 16GB+ if you intend to use your laptop more extensively without any lag.

Hard drive

This is where all of your files, folders and data is stored (including all of your cat memes and embarrassing school photos). These usually hold 100GB+ worth of data stored on a spinning disk within a solid case. A sizeable hard drive can play a role in laptop performance so I would recommend 200GB or more of hard drive space in order to ensure that you can not only store large files now but also accommodate for the long run as your collection of miscellaneous files continues to grow. For the more extensive users, I would recommend 300GB or more to avoid having to delete files that you would otherwise like to keep because you have run out of space due to large applications.

Display

If you like watching movies or would just like the ability to fit full size windows, I would recommend a laptop with a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels (also known as HD 1080p or full HD). Simply put more pixels = more content you can see on your laptop screen. However you must remember that the higher the resolution, the more likely it will consume your battery life.

Conclusion

Like many things in life, there will always be a need for balance so make sure that you take into account what your needs are when laptop buying but also ensure that you make the right decision financially. Never be afraid to ask loads of questions and always test things out before pulling out your wallet.

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