Posted 20 July 2007
Not so long ago a laptop was a status
symbol. Today they are a cost effective alternative to a bulky and noisy
desktop computer. They are still a pricey item though, so its
worthwhile doing your homework before buying one.
Do you need a laptop?
There are all sorts of reasons why
you need a laptop. The obvious is that you need a portable computer
for work, study or travel. But many people choose one to free up space
or because they find normal PCs too noisy.
Some people buy a laptop just because
it's cute or they can use salary sacrifice. In our view, buying one
for it's looks or because of some tax savings is a mistake. Computers
are tools, and you should choose the right tool for the job.
What are you using the laptop for?
If you are buying one to travel with
then weight and size are critical. On the other hand if you intend to
replace your desktop then you can concentrate on the features.
A desktop replacement may start at
5kg while an ultra light sub notebook under 1.5kg. That 3½ kilo difference doesnt sound much
but its a lot when you are carting it between airport terminals
or lecture halls.
What you use your laptop for also determines
what you should buy. If you are connecting to a mobile phone you need
the correct connections. A business users has different needs to a home
user, in turn an architecture student has different needs to a post-grad
Once youve determined what youll
use it for, you can choose the right specifications. We update the basic
specifications on a regular basis on
Memory is always important, too little
memory and your system will crawl. All computers, desktop and laptops,
should have a minimum of 2Gb RAM. If your budget will stretch to it,
Monitor size and video memory are good,
but the bigger the monitor the more video memory youll need. The
more you add, the more your system will cost and weigh.
An important thing to note with laptops
is that many no longer have parallel or serial ports. This is a big
problem if you want to use an older printer, mobile or PDA. If you have
something that connects this way, then make sure your laptop comes with
the right ports.
USB Ports are essential for any modern
computer users. You simply cannot have enough spare USB capacity. We
like laptops with at least 3 USB ports.
There are no shortage accessories available
for a computer. The number of printers, mice, flash drives and all manner
of peripherals is why its important to have plenty of USB ports.
If your computer hasnt come with a floppy drive or DVD burner,
you can plug an external USB drive into the system.
When buying a laptop its important
to check exactly is built into the system. One of the tricks manufacturers
play is to keep weight down by making floppy, CD and DVD drives external.
This is a nuisance and you shouldnt encourage it unless the price
The constant bane of laptop owners
is battery life. This is another area where some manufacturers try to
put one over the consumer. Expect to get about half the claimed life.
Some manufacturers have even stooped
to not including the battery in the laptop weight. Thankfully, most
have stopped this practice, but its still worth checking. If you
want an extended life battery then factor in the additional weight to
your laptop to talk to the outside world is important. All laptops come
with network adaptors and modems. Centrino systems have wireless built
in and some have Bluetooth or infrared.
Again, what you choose
should reflect your needs. If you intend to connect to mobile, then
you should get the appropriate connection, serial, Bluetooth or Infrared.
Similarly, if you intend to use wireless networks youll need that
Laptops prices have
tumbled in recent years but they are still big ticket items. It pays
to spend some time thinking about the purchase. Choosing the right system
can be the difference between a happy and a frustrated