It's easy to be intimidated by all the laptop models on the market today. There are literally dozens and dozens in every price range.
The key to finding the right one for you is to step back and consider exactly how you plan to use your laptop. When you define what you need before you go shopping, buying the right machine becomes much easier.
Here are 5 basic factors to consider:
In the world of mobile computing, size definitely matters. The size of a laptop affects two key areas: portability and display size.
If you're always on the go and will be using your computer only in short bursts, a so-called ultralight will save you some shoulder strain.
On the other hand, if you're going to spend hours in front of your laptop, a larger display may be in order.
Today, some laptop displays exceed 17 inches, rivaling the display size of many desktop systems. The down side is that these monsters can easily weigh three times as much as an ultralight.
2. HARD DRIVE
Speaking of size, what about the size of the hard drive? One way to approach this issue is to ask yourself the following question:
Will this be my primary computer, or will it supplement my desktop system?
If the former, you should look for a bigger hard drive - 60 GB or more.
If the latter, you may be able to make it with a 20-30 GB hard drive.
But even this isn't absolute.
If, for example, you plan to copy a huge MP3 library from your desktop system to your laptop to make your music library portable, you'd be well advised to err on the side of too big.
In determining the right amount of system memory, or RAM, take a look at the ways in which you intend to use your laptop:
If your needs are somewhat mundane - email, spreadsheets, word processing, etc. - 256 MB of RAM should be plenty. This is a common configuration for many laptops, so it means you probably won't need to spend extra for more RAM.
On the flip side, if you're an aspiring mobile digital photographer or videographer, you should stuff your laptop with as much RAM as it can hold.
In fact, exactly how much RAM your laptop can hold may in part drive your purchase decision. Applications for editing and manipulating multimedia content are notorious resource hogs.
4. NETWORK CONNECTIONS
Thanks in no small part to the Internet, computing in the 21st century relies heavily on being connected:
Connected to the Internet, connected to a corporate network, connected to a wireless network, connected to a home network, connected to an online service.
Your life will be easier if you buy a laptop that includes built-in means to connect to them all.
If you're considering a laptop, you're probably wondering how much money you'll need to spend.
A few years ago, you'd be hard-pressed to find one for under $2,000. Today, there are plenty of laptops to be had for under $1,000.
What's more, most of the major manufacturers offer a variety of financing options.
Laptop prices have come down, to be sure. However, a laptop still represents a fairly major purchase for most people.
If you take the time to search for a laptop that meets your specific needs, you should get many years of use and enjoyment from this important investment.
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