Expert tips for buying the right laptop

Expert tips for buying the right laptop

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Whether you’re a student, mobile office pro, serious gamer or entertainment junkie, chances are there’s a laptop computer to meet your specific needs. Here’s what you should know to help you pick the right one.

Expert tips for buying the right laptop

Expert tips for buying the right laptop

Types of laptops

Mini-laptops: With 11- to 12-inch displays, mini-laptops are the ultimate in portability.

  • Larger than a notebook but smaller than a mid-size laptop, they fit inside a briefcase and include most features common to larger laptops except a CD/DVD drive.
  • They’re not recommended for working with spreadsheet programs or creative software and games, which generally require larger screens and greater processing power.

Mid-size laptops: The majority of laptops fall into this category, with screen sizes ranging from about 13 to 16 inches.

  • The larger display is better suited to watching video and managing business software. Mid-size laptops may also include an optical (CD/DVD) drive, HDMI ports and larger keyboards.
  • The price of mid-size laptops generally goes up with each additional inch of screen. They can pack plenty of processing power, memory and gaming capability in a relatively lightweight package.

Full-size laptops: As substitutes for desktop computers, 17- to 18-inch laptops provide comparable power and features with the advantage of mobility.

  • Gamers and media lovers also appreciate the powerful multi-core processors, high-powered graphic cards and massive storage.
  • Gaming laptops often include built-in subwoofers for a truly immersive experience.

Convertible laptops: Mini and mid-size hybrid laptops are fitted with detachable keyboards.

  • These ultra-thin units allow you to turn, flip or twist the screen on various pivot points, so it can be used as either a touchscreen tablet or keyboard laptop.

Laptop features

Here are a few features common to most types of laptops:

  1. Operating system: The operating system will depend on which brand of laptop you go for.
  2. Display: Most laptops have widescreen displays for watching movies and HD resolution
  3. Speakers: Sound quality generally increases with the size of the laptop
  4. Touchpad: Unless you have a touchscreen laptop, a touchpad on the keyboard is used to move the cursor
  5. CPU (Central Processing Unit): AMD and Intel processors are found in the vast majority of desktop and laptop computers
  6. Drives: All laptops have either a HDD (hard disk drive) or lighter, faster SSD (solid-state drive or flash memory)
  7. Ports: At least two USB ports, a HDMI video port and a flash memory (SD) card slot are recommended
  8. Battery: A built-in lithium-ion battery powers your laptop when it’s not plugged in

Factors to consider when buying a laptop

Type of work: Opt for a bigger screen if you work with spreadsheets, design software or multiple browsers at the same time

Entertainment: Look for a faster multi-core processor and a high-quality video card if you’re shopping for a gaming laptop

Weight: The thinnest, most streamlined laptops offer the most portability and also tend to be the most expensive

Versatility: For meetings and presentations, consider a hybrid laptop with a removable keyboard that can be converted to a tablet

Power, weight and budget

Choosing the right laptop is often a trade-off between processing power, weight and budget.

  • Go for the highest processing power at the lightest weight you can afford for the best experience for work and play.