Laptop Purchasing Tips

5 07 2007

I seem to be the go to guy when my friends are purchasing laptops. Here are some of the criteria I look for when recommending a new purchase:

1. Intel Inside

Call me a fanboy, but I have facts to backup why Intel Centrino laptops outperform, outlast, and out-bang-for-your-buck AMD-based laptops. With the release of the new Santa Rosa platform, Intel does no wrong. If you aren’t into bleeding edge technology, make sure you buy an Intel Centrino Duo laptop, so you get the benefits of dual-core technology still.

2. Memory

With Microsoft still holding on to an 80%+ market share with Windows, chances are you’re laptop is going to come preloaded with Vista. I expect consumers to realize that you will need AT LEAST 1GB of RAM to just get by. Two gigs would be preferable, but not necessary for the average user. If you really want to get the most performance out of your hardware, let me introduce you to Ubuntu.

3. Hard-drive

If you’re going to use your laptop as a desktop replacement, make sure you beef up on the hard-drive. 80GB or more should hold over your music and photos. If you really want to speed things up, make sure your disk is 7200rpm – meaning it spins faster so data is read a whole lot quicker.

4. Keep it Light

Laptops are made to be mobile. If you’re carrying it around from place to place do your back a favor and get a laptop thats under four pounds.

5. Screens

17 inches? Widescreen? TFT? Reflective? What? Display technology is getting better every year and there are many different types of screens you can choose from. My personal preference are 12 inch reflective widescreens because they are small and bright. Some may argue that they’re difficult to use outside, which is true – in that case you will need a TFT screen which has a matte surface blocking reflections, but also limiting your brightness. In today’s DVD age, viewing movies in widescreen brightness seems to be the way to go.

6. Buy the Extended Battery

Being plugged in all the time defeats the purpose of a laptop which is designed to be portable. It might cost you extra in the beginning, but an extended battery is worth being able to go all day without recharging, or watching that extra movie on the plane.

7. Buy the Extended Warranty

Laptops are difficult to fix once they break because they aren’t built to be taken apart like a desktop PC. If you want to maximize your investment, get a warranty if your screen ever goes out, or if a component shorts out you’ll be covered.


You get what you pay for. Computers aren’t a commodity just yet, so paying a little extra for design quality, and better parts will make all of the difference. The performance boast from a laptop equipped with 512MB of RAM as opposed to 1GB is a noticeable one. Most users are going to use their laptop for a few years, so investing a little more in the beginning can go a long way.


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2 responses

7 07 2007
Bleys

Hey man, I like this post… gotta say the new Santa Rosa lappies are tempting. I’d like to add a couple of things in regards to your final two points though.

First, the extended warranties are generally not a great deal. Most laptops have a year of coverage from manufacturing defects, which is generally more than enough time for a dud motherboard, battery, or screen to show up (the most likely failures aside from the HDD). If an HDD fails out of warranty, it’s generally cheaper and faster to replace with a new one than the warranty would have cost you (and most people will replace their laptop before their HDD fails).

Second, memory comes at a premium when you buy it preinstalled. The best thing to do is get HALF the memory you want in a single stick on the laptop, and then buy the other stick from an online vendor and put it in the expansion slot. Most laptops have a very easy to access panel on the underside for memory expansion, and you can easily save yourself a couple of notes on 1GB of memory.

Also worth mentioning is that the power consumption on 7200RPM HDDs is much higher… they’re not the best idea if you plan to spend a lot of time unplugged. Speed and battery life are at odds in the mobile world.

7 07 2007
syalam

Bleys – you mention good points!

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