Laptop Buying Guide

The portable laptop is compact, yet it offers many powerful computing functions which make it a versatile tool for the home or office. The sizes, styles, brands and choices of laptop features are numerous, and deciding on the right laptop for you is a result of several factors, including the way that you plan to use your computer. Simple email and word processing applications require less computing power than corporate presentations and gaming; it is important to choose a laptop that has the features to meet your individual needs.

Types of Laptops

The categories of laptops that are available are typically separated into three categories based on their operating systems. Each type has distinct features, style and price points that will appeal to different consumers and end users.

Apple

Apple Computers offers a laptop called the MacBook, which is a high-end computer that is extremely thin, light and has a large amount of computing power. The graphics capabilities of these high-quality laptops make them a top choice for artists and graphic designers. Excellent battery life and a compact size makes the Apple line of laptops a popular choice for the office as well.

Windows

Windows laptops - also known as PCs - make up the bulk of the laptop product offerings. Sold under many different brand names, Windows laptops offer the popular Microsoft operating system which has been a mainstay of personal and corporate computing for many years. A wide range of features means Windows laptops can accommodate different types of uses and price points, including products for home, gaming and office needs.

Chromebook

Chromebooks are the latest style of laptops on the market. With a small hard drive but ample computing power and excellent battery life, these inexpensive laptops are a good choice for users who are always within reach of a Wi-Fi signal and store their documents and photographs in the cloud. These laptops are also a good choice for those who need simple computing functions, such as the ability to surf the Internet and send and receive email.

Pay attention to

Within the different types and operating systems of laptops, there are a variety of functions and accessories from which you can choose.

Hard drive storage

With large hard drives up to one terabyte in capacity, laptops are capable of storing many documents and photos. If you want immediate access to your documents and photos without a Wi-Fi connection, a large hard drive is the best choice for you.

Screen size

A smaller screen offers a more compact and portable laptop; however, the keyboard and viewing window will also be comparatively smaller. If you are purchasing a laptop for infrequent travel use, a small laptop will be convenient to tuck into your bag. However, for heavy daily use, a larger screen and keyboard will be easier for frequent typing, easy viewing and workplace presentations.

Battery life

A battery that lasts many hours without being connected with the power cord allows for a great deal of flexible use. In general, laptops with smaller hard drives and screens may offer better battery life; however, this is not always the case. The expected battery life for each laptop should be listed as a part of the specifications to help you make an informed purchasing decision.

Touch screens

Windows laptops offer touch screens powered by Windows 10. This allows the user to operate the computer both by use of the keyboard and mouse and also by touching the laptop's screen for use as a tablet. This can be a convenient option for your laptop, however, this feature does require more battery power and can reduce battery life.

CPU and RAM

As the brains of your laptop, the size and speed of the processor and memory can have a huge effect on the speed and performance of your laptop. If you plan to use your computer for gaming or corporate presentations, you will want to choose powerful systems that can quickly display your graphics and video. When comparing similar computer systems to make a shopping decision, your choice of more powerful CPU and RAM will result in a laptop that is faster and more responsive.

Two-in-ones

Many new laptops offer different configurations beyond the standard clamshell. Some laptops with touch screens can be disconnected from the keyboard for use as a tablet. For viewing presentations and movies, some types of laptops with flexible hinges can stand up like a tent to create a better view of the screen. If you have specific needs that a convertible laptop can meet, these may be an excellent choice.

Top Brands and Product Lines

The quality of your laptop and the features you'll enjoy are as important as the brand of computer you choose. With different policies and warranties for technical support, you will want to consider which brand will offer you the best value should your laptop require repairs. Each manufacturer also meets particular standards for design, performance and function as well.

Acer

This low-end brand offers a solid system at a budget price with a range of styles and models including Chromebook and Windows laptops. You won't find the fanciest features on an Acer computer, but you will enjoy excellent value from these practical laptops.

Dell

With a wide range of Windows or Chromebook laptop models, Dell systems include price points to meet the needs of home users, workplace demands and gaming requirements. These sturdy systems are reliable performers and Dell offers extended maintenance warranties for your ongoing service needs.

Toshiba

This high-end Windows and Chromebook brand boasts excellent graphics and quality features for business use or gaming platforms. Sleek style with powerful computing make Toshiba laptops an great choice for business or home.

Apple

The MacBook is a high-end system for work, home or graphic design. Although Apple's MacBook lacks a touchscreen option, this laptop provides many quality features that make it a favorite for professional users who want a portable system with a lot of power.