Laptops have revolutionised the way we work. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, what once was considered a luxury good has now become a necessity for almost everyone. Whether you use your laptop as a powerful work station or a recreational tool, these little portable treasures tend to make your life a …
Laptops have revolutionised the way we work. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, what once was considered a luxury good has now become a necessity for almost everyone. Whether you use your laptop as a powerful work station or a recreational tool, these little portable treasures tend to make your life a whole lot easier. Unfortunately, the latter doesn’t apply to buying a new one. The market has undergone major changes and choosing Windows or OS X is just the bottom rung of a long ladder of different specs and components.
Since buying a laptop is a big investment, you’ll want to make sure that your substantial purchase meets all your requirements. We’ll brief you on the latest designs and all the important features you need to know about for buying a laptop.
The first portable laptop was released in 1982. Since then, many new features and designs have emerged. With lines between models starting to become more and more blurry, categorizing laptops is by no means an easy task. One way to navigate the laptop maze is chopping systems into standard, ultrabooks, chromebooks, netbooks and hybrids.
Classic laptops have slightly less capabilities than a desktop PC and come in various forms and sizes. Their displays usually range from 10 to 20 inches and they can weigh up to 18 pounds. Sony’s VAIO range, for instance, covers everything from back-to-school laptops to high performance models. Often, you can also tailor the laptop to specific applications and features.
Just as the Atkins mania diet is sweeping the globe today, reductions in laptop size and weight seem to be the new beauty ideal. Walk down any laptop aisle and you’ll notice that laptops are getting thinner and thinner. The term ‘ultrabook’ has been coined by Intel and is used to describe laptops that are extremely thin and lightweight, similar to Apple’s MacBook Air. Despite their slim appearance, ultrabooks boost a remarkable performance and often come with a range of high-end features. The Acer Aspire range of ultrabooks, for example, offers superior visuals, powerful processors and a remarkable battery life.
Chromebooks are laptops that run Google’s web-based OS instead of Windows. But it’s not just the operating system that justifies a laptop category of its own since Chromebooks are easy to use and therefore ideal for beginners or web users. They also tend to be snappier than usual laptops and netbooks, not to mention safer from viruses than their Windows-based counterparts.
If you are a frequent user of Google Docs, Google Drive and cloud services, buying a Chromebook could be a solid choice. An extremely low price tag makes Chromebooks appealing for those on a tight budget. You can get a decent mode
l such as the 11-inch HP Chromebook or the 13-inch Toshiba Chromebook for less than £250. If you are looking for a high-end Chromebook with an elegant screen and design, Samsung’s Chromebook 2 might be worth considering. However, since Chromebooks are primarily designed for Web surfing, they can’t match the performance and processing power of standard laptops.
First launched in 2007, netbooks are ultra-small laptops with screens in the 8”-10” range. They are convenient for Web browsing and e-mail but have less storage space and processing power than a laptop. With the launch of faster and more ergonomic tablets, the sale of netbooks has plummeted. Many manufacturers have stopped producing own-brand netbooks in favour of tablet-laptop hybrids.
Also called “2-in-1” or convertible laptops, hybrids are touchscreen computers with a removable display or fold-over screen, so the user can easily switch between laptop and tablet mode. Unlike tablets, hybrid models run full Windows 8 and come with physical keyboards. Examples of hybrids are Microsoft’s latest Surface Pro 3 and Lenovo’s Yoga line. Laptop-tablet hybrids are ideal for workers who are always on the go and need to be flexible.
What you should consider when buying a laptop
Purpose: University, work, gaming, leisure – when, where and for what you will be using your new laptop will be essential for your decision.
Whether you are a travelling professional or a student, your main goal is writing and editing documents as well as preparing presentations. So you’ll want a light yet powerful laptop with an excellent battery life, a decent keyboard and a sharp screen. The Dell latitude business laptops are one of the best work-minded notebooks around.
Apple’s MacBook Pro is the choice for many professional editors who depend on a powerful processor and a high-resolution display. Students who are seeking for an ideal compromise between portability, functionality and price might want to look into Samsung’s Ativ Book or Asus VivoBook.
If you are a passionate gamer you’ll be seeking a laptop with the latest performance components, high-resolution graphics and the maximum of memory. Unfortunately, all this power comes at a price. Expect to spend well over £ 1,000 for a high-end gaming laptop such as the Origin EON17-SLX. Even entry-level systems like the MSI GX60 will cost you at least £ 800.
If you are looking for a low-cost and lightweight second laptop, Chromebooks are a great choice.
Design: Let’s face it: Many laptop models are much of a muchness, especially within a certain category. This is due to the fact that most are constructed from the same pool of specs including hard drives, video cards and RAM. So if you find two or more laptops that feature all the components you longing for, go for the better looking one. Like clothes and phones laptops are fashion accessories you carry around with you all day. You will be seen in a coffee shop, bending over your laptop to check emails, write documents and update your twitter feed. Apple, above all manufacturers, has set the bar for attractive design.
If you have found your dream laptop, you want to enjoy using it for years to come. Most products come with a standard one-year warranty that covers covering parts and labour. Sometimes it’s worth extending the warranty, especially if you are investing in a more expensive laptop. Some manufacturers also offer accidental coverage on top of extended warranties. However, any warranty and coverage that exceeds 15 percent of the purchase price may not be worth the cost and better invested elsewhere.
Operating System: The operating system is the most important software that runs your entire laptop. There are two main types of operating systems: Windows, from Microsoft, and OS X, from Apple. The war between Windows and Mac has been going on for years and reached new heights with the launch of Windows 8.1 and OS X Mavericks. Apple users appreciate the user-friendly layout and controls, while Microsoft’s customers benefit from more software choices. Which operating system you go for depends on your work and personal preferences.
Processor: Housed in single chips, processors are used to run the operation system and all applications. The two major producers of laptop CPU’s (Central Operating Unit) are Intel and AMD. Both are competing to increase their market share, giving consumers an even greater selection of fast and powerful processing products. Intel’s processors are known for being battery efficient and having better cache utilization, while AMD laptops tend to perform better in gaming.
RAM: Memory, or RAM (Random Access Memory), is used to run software and store information while you are using your laptop. Consider going for a laptop with more memory if you need to run multiple software programmes and high-end applications.
Hard drive: The hard drive is were all your data, software and applications are stored. If you have a lot of music, photos and videos to store, consider investing in extra storage space or an external hard drive.
DVD/Blu-ray Drives:In the quest for lighter and more portable laptops, there is a good chance that your next laptop won’t come with a disc drive. And you don’t really need one since you can download most software or stream videos from the Web. If you still want to burn discs or watch DVDs/Blu-Rays, you can purchase an external drive.
Ports: Besides wireless connects, laptops use ports to allow a variety of external devices to be attached to the machine including printers, monitors and projectors. The most versatile ones are USB ports, so you’ll want to make sure that your new laptop provides enough connectors.
Accessories: You can choose from a wide range of laptop accessories, most of which are available to buy separately. These include stands, trays, protective cases and carry bags.