These days, laptops are indispensable, offering users portability and power all in one. You can do virtually any task on a laptop—from accounting to streaming movies to writing a research paper to editing video or sound.
Whether you need a laptop for work, school, entertainment, travel, gaming, or all of the above, it’s important to shop around before you buy.
Laptops come in a variety of sizes. They range in price from several hundred dollars to a several thousand, and come with a host of features and software. The laptop you choose should suit your specific needs—so how do you choose? Read on to find out.
How Will You Use Your Laptop?
Chances are, you’d like to use your laptop for something specific. If it’s a laptop for your home, you might use it to store movies and music, pay your bills online, surf the web, check your email, or go on social networking sites. In this case, you can probably get away with low- to mid-range laptop.
Or, you might plan to use your new laptop for more demanding undertakings, such as photo editing, playing video games, producing sound or video, or creating documents and spreadsheets. The more you plan to do with your laptop, the more screen resolution, processing, system memory, and hard drive you’ll need.
Does Portability Matter?
Laptops can range in side from less than three pounds to over six pounds. Do you plan on carrying your laptop around with you—for instance, to work, or to class? Do you travel frequently? Do you hope to be able to work on your laptop in coffee shops or libraries? If you want to be able to easily cart your laptop around with you, focus on lighter models, preferably under three pounds. Of course, keep in mind that you might have to sacrifice power for portability. Mid-range weights are four or five pounds and can be a compromise. If portability doesn’t matter to you because you will be mostly keeping your laptop on your desk, then opt for a heavier model.
Mac, Windows, Chrome, or Linux?
For some people this is a no-brainer; for others, it’s the most difficult part of choosing a laptop. If you’ve never questioned the operating system you use, do some research into the pros and cons of each operating system to understand which one might be for you.
Does It Feel Right?
Whenever possible, you should try out a laptop before you buy. Hold it in your hands, carry it, and try opening and closing it in-store. Keep in mind just how often you plan on handling it—if it’s going to be traveling to work or school with you everyday it should be sturdy.
What Specs and Features Do You Need?
Screen size, resolution, display technology, and touch screens are all special features that you may want to customize. In addition, you’ll likely have to assess battery life, internal storage, memory, and processing power before you can make a decision. Keep in mind that most of these features come at an additional cost compared to the base model.