How to Choose a Laptop:
Laptop computers - also known as notebooks - offer the same features and specifications as desktop computers but in a portable form. A laptop's portability makes it much more flexible to use than a desktop computer, and the long lasting, rechargeable batteries offer freedom and convenience.
Looking for a cheap laptop?
Here are the features and specifications that will make a difference on your laptop:
· Operating system: This is the basic software that makes use of the laptop's processing system. There are two main types of operating system - Windows, from Microsoft, and OS X, from Apple Macintosh. Both systems perform well and run most common software applications, including Microsoft Office, media players and internet browsers. Windows is the largest selling operating system in the world, but while most laptops come with Windows, OS X is popular for its graphics and publishing capabilities.
· Processor: Processors are composed of chips that drive and control the laptop's functions. Intel and AMD manufacture the main types of processor. Your laptop will usually come with a powerful processor, though it's worth comparing the different types.
· RAM: This is Random Access Memory, which is used to run software. Most laptops will come with at least 512 - 1024 megabytes of RAM, which is adequate for most users. Consider buying more memory if you want to run several large software programs at the same time.
· Hard disc drive: This is where all your files, software applications and other data are stored. While desktop computers usually have larger hard drives, most laptop hard drives are up to 80 gigabytes in size. If you are planning to store large amounts of music, video or other data on your laptop, consider buying extra hard drive storage space
· Optical drive: This is usually a combined CD and DVD drive, and is used for both playing and recording onto CD and DVD, though some laptops will be cheaper if the DVD option only plays. If you are planning on recording movies or storing large amounts of data then consider a DVD recorder drive.
· Wi-Fi: Wireless Fidelity enables your laptop to connect to the internet without using wires. Wi-Fi 'hot spots' exist in many towns, so you can access the internet while you're on the move. You can buy wireless routers for your house too, so you can move around with your laptop and still remain online.
· Ports: For printing, music amplification, and connecting to other devices, laptops use ports as well as wireless connections. USB ports are the most versatile, so the more of these the better. Firewire ports are ideal for camcorders, and Ethernet ports are great for high-speed internet access.
· Battery: The battery life between charges determines how much usage you can get from your laptop while away from mains power. Battery life is usually up to about 10 hours, but it does vary between laptop models and depends on whether you run powerful software applications.
· Accessories: Laptops can come with a range of accessories, or they may be available to buy separately.
Accessories include: carry bags and cases - essential for protecting the laptop when on the move; speakers - to improve sound amplification; and web cams - unless your laptop has a built-in web cam, you will need to buy one if you want to use your laptop for video conferencing.
Do I Need to Buy an Extended Laptop Warranty?
Once you've decided on the specifications you require, try to keep within a set budget, and don't be distracted by features and specifications that you don't need.
Look out for laptops that include the types of software that will suit your needs. Apple Macintosh computers come with a range of useful software already installed, but can be more expensive than Windows laptops.
Before choosing your laptop, find out what type of warranty is offered with it. A warranty will cover the cost of repairs or replacements under certain conditions for at least a year. Sometimes it's worth paying extra for an extended warranty, especially if you are buying a more expensive laptop.
Online retailers hold regular sales and discounts on laptops, so by taking advantage of these offers and
comparing laptop prices between different retailers, you might end up with a better model of laptop for your money.
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