2017 Laptop Buying Guide – 7 Things To Think About
In an increasingly mobile world, laptops are rapidly becoming the workhorse for many of us on the go – students and professionals alike. An average user would spend an inordinate amount of their productive time on a laptop than on any other device.
For most people the process of shortlisting a laptop would typically involve making a checklist of features that they would require in the machine. Before you head out to purchase one, you should ideally know the main purpose of your laptop.
Is it primarily used for work at fixed location? On the move? Making presentation slides? Running software? Simple web browsing and checking of emails? Watching and editing videos? Design work? Gaming?
When you know the primary purpose, you are more likely to shortlist a list of features that best suit your needs. This article will take you through some of the things to know, some technical terms and features to help you find the appropriate laptop.
Decide How You Wish To Use It
Today you can find laptops designed for home use, office use, gaming and others. If you are not sure about your main usage requirement, you will only end up getting confused when you go out there looking for one.
If you need a laptop for home use, you probably do not need one with a high end processor. Basic tasks like net surfing, creating documents, downloads, checking emails etc, do not require an advanced processor.
For gaming, you will not only need one with a more advanced processor, but also one with a good built in graphics card. For office use or frequently traveller users, you would need one with a long battery life as well as good storage capacity.
Figuring Out The Ideal Size
Laptop sizes vary from 11-12 inch, 13-14 inch, 15-16 inch,17-18 inch and less commonly 20 inches and up. Typically, the smaller the laptop, the lesser it will weigh.
Therefore, if you need one which can be carried around easily and does not weigh too much, you might want to go for the one with 11-14 inches of screen size. The bigger sizes can still be brought about, but at some inconvenience in terms of having to deal with greater bulk and a heavier weight.
Choosing the OS Platform
Your choice of laptops is not limited to only Windows or Mac. These are certainly the most preferred or common operating systems, but there are other options as well! Other options include the Chrome operating system by Google, and open source software like Linux or Ubuntu. People usually end up buying a Windows laptop or a Mac because it is most common and easily available. Below are some pointers to help you decide if you don’t yet have a clue or preference.
Windows OS: This is the most flexible and the most commonly used operating system. If you opt for Windows laptops, you have lots of options to choose from across a huge price range. With the latest edition of Windows – Windows 10, you will find a range of new features, including touch screen. This will also allow you to use Microsoft’s digital assistant – Cortana.
Mac OS Sierra: This is the latest version of operating system in MacBooks. They offer as much features as those in Windows, but it’s also more expensive. One drawback with MacBooks is that you do not have a touch screen feature. Apart from that, you can get access to apps like Apple Pay, and link it to your Apple watch.
Chrome OS: This is usually found on Chromebooks and is a relatively inexpensive operating system. Accordingly, this also means it’s more limiting for the end user. It is very much like the Windows operating system, but not as efficient and the apps do not work that well offline. However, they are found in some popular portable laptops and come with an impressive battery life.
Design and Form
This is pretty self-explanatory. All the key features in a laptop mean nothing if you don’t like how it looks, right?
Since we are all emotional creatures, design often acts one of the key factors for choosing one laptop over another. Choose something you enjoy looking at!
If you are interested in buying 2 in 1s, you are advised to opt for Windows as this will increase your list of options to a great deal. A 2 in 1 device is also called a hybrid laptop; it can be used as a tablet as well as a laptop because of its detachable keypad and touch screen. These are considered the most portable and therefore most suitable for travelling users. But they are also delicate and should be handled with greater care.
Dig Deep Into The Processor
This should be the key factor in deciding your laptops. Your CPU and the memory capacity are two most important things that not only improve the performance, but also add on to the value of the product. Both Windows PC and MacBooks come with Intel processors. The most common variants these days are i3, i5, and i7.
If your laptop is primarily for light home use, you’ll have no problems going with an i3 processor. I’ve seen many offices buy and use i3 processor laptops for their employees, but if you might do some remotely advanced operations on it, an i5 might help. An i7 is the most advanced processor and should be chosen if you are buying a laptop for gaming purposes or very advanced functions. Apart from Intel, you have AMD processors as well, but these are usually present in low-cost laptops, and do not offer great battery life.
Apart from processors, you should also focus on the RAM. You cannot use an advanced processor with low RAM.
Evaluate Storage Needs
This is one of the key factors that will determine the performance of your laptop. If you have lots of data stored in your laptop in the form of games, movies, etc and it is not accompanied by sufficient storage capacity, it might suffer from slow or lagged performance. Make sure your hard disk has enough capacity and is able to store all the data, bearing in mind any future usage. If you find your disk space to be insufficient, you can always opt to increase it at a cost. Disk storage is available in two types:
HDD: This is a spinning hard disk drive. Although these are large, inexpensive, their usage in laptops has reduced over the years due to their additional weight and heat emitted. A 320 GB hard drive should advisably be used in a budget system. Instead of HDD, the preference has now shifted towards another form of disk storage, SDD.
SSD Solid State Drive, this is comparatively cooler, lighter and quieter. This is much like the SD cards used in mobiles. It has lesser storage capacity and is more costly. Therefore, a hybrid combination of HDD and SSD is preferred. This includes the commonly available 32 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB SSD.
Modify Choice According To Budget
While buying a laptop, a budget constraint can be an important factor in determining your ultimate choice. The features you will get will depend greatly on your budget. Read on for a brief list of features you should expect at each price point.
Sub $300: If you want to buy a laptop that is around $200 or $250, you will only get basic features. A Chromebook (11.6″ Acer Chromebook and 11.6″ Samsung Chromebook) , running on Chrome OS is one of the likeliest options for this budget. The above two models are priced at about $180. You can also opt for basic Windows laptops with low end processors and low storage capacities. These computers are usually toys or experimental gadgets for children.
Sub $600: If you progress towards a laptop which is for $500 or $550 (such as the 15.6″ Acer Aspire E5 and the 15.6″ HP Notebook 15), the list of features you will get improves a great deal. You can get a laptop with an i3 or an i5 processor, sufficient storage and a faster RAM
Sub $900: The starting range for MacBooks is $899, so with that budget you can either buy that or a few of the really advanced Windows laptops, with i7 processor, in-built graphic cards, etc. You can get access to a few of the high end laptops from Windows, in this range.
Sub $1200 or more: This is the range of premium laptops. In this range you will not only get laptops with better performance, but also sleek and elegant design that makes it better looking as well as lighter to carry.