Laptop Buying Guide

Buying a laptop computer can be very difficult for everyone. There are many things to consider, and there are many different kinds of laptops.

Types of Laptops

Net Books:

Small cheap computer made with a 10 to 13 inch screen, prices range from 250 to 450 dollars. The net book is good for light web surfing, email, and word processing. The net book preforms poorly for must tasks and provides poor satisfaction. Net books include a 5 to 8 hour battery.


Ultra Books:

Small and very thin the ultra book is often a quality computer made from expensive parts. The ultra book is made with a 11 to 13 inch screen; prices range from 800 to 3000 dollars. The ultra book is good for all everyday tasks, and preforms as good or better than most main stream laptops, they also provide very good satisfaction. The ultra book is considered expensive, and the parts are often not changeable nor fixable. Ultra books include a 5 to 14 hour battery.


2-in-1:

The 2-in-1 is a laptop that includes a detachable or flip-able touch screen. 2-in-1s are made with a 10 to 15 inch screen; prices range from 350 to 2000 dollars. 2-in-1s vary from types: tablets and flip books. The tablet has an optional detachable keyboard that often extends the battery life and provides extra connections. The flip book is a laptop featuring a screen that may rotate and fold completely flat.


2-in-1 Tablet:

Small and portable the 2-in-1 tablet is a handheld tablet with an optional detachable keyboard. The 2-in-1 tablet is made in a 10 to 12 inch screen. Prices range from 350 to 1800 dollars. The 2-in-1 tablet is good for everyday tasks providing good satisfaction among tablets. The parts are often not changeable or fixable. The 2-in-1 tablet includes a 5 to 8 hour battery, and an additional 5 to 10 hours with the detachable keyboard.


2-in-1 Flip Book:

A touch screen laptop computer with a flip-able and or rotating screen, made in 10 to 15 inch screens, prices range from 500 to 2000 dollars. The 2-in-1 Flip Book is good for everyday tasks, satisfaction varies on the model and includes a 5 to 8 hour battery.


Main Stream Laptop:

A low quality laptop computer mostly made with a plastic body and is available in 14 to 17 inch screens. Touch screens are also available. Main stream laptops come in a variety of ranges from 250 to 1500 dollars, many provide low to average satisfaction. They are good for everyday tasks. Main stream laptops include a 2 to 5 hour battery. They tend to break after the warranty expires and include many unwanted software.


Business Laptop:

A mid-end to high quality laptop computer, often made with a hard plastic or a full metal body. They contain high quality parts which will last for years. Business laptops cost more than a main stream laptop of equal or similar specifications. Business computers tend to last much longer than their consumer twin. The business laptop includes a 5 to 14 hour battery and does not include unwanted software. Business computers also include a business operating system such as Windows Pro edition.


Gaming Laptop:

A gaming laptop gets its name from its ability to play triple-A games which lesser laptops are not designed to do. The name “Gaming Laptop” is a marketing term to quickly identify the computer as a high-end computer. Gaming laptops are often made with metal bodies; contains high-end performance parts equal or better than many desktop computers. Prices range from 1000 to 8000 dollars. Gaming laptops make an excellent desktop replacement and can preform many tasks other computers can’t do such as playing video games, video editing and 3D animation production.


Work Station Laptop:

A high-end laptop computer, considered to be the business version of a gaming laptop. The work station laptop is similar to a gaming laptop, however, the work station may be larger with better air cooling, and have more internal storage bays. Work stations often include an enterprise grad processor such as the Intel Xeon, and include industry graphics processors such as the NVIDIA Quadro. Work stations are excellent for heavy duty computing tasks such as video production, and 3D rendering.

Buying Guide

What to look for when buying a main stream laptop.

  • Price: Look for a laptop around the 640 dollar or above range; lower cost laptops may lack features, and performance for maximum satisfaction. Many low cost laptops are no better than a computer from 10 years ago, which may provide low satisfaction, and a poor battery.
  • Build Quality: Look for a laptop made from hard thick plastic or a full metal body. Many low cost laptops are made of cheap plastic that will bend in your hand. Plastic is not repairable and becomes weak over time.
  • Screen to Keyboard Spacing: The laptop’s screen should have adequate spacing between the keyboard while closed together. Many low cost laptops do not have adequate spacing or a hard enough screen to prevent the keyboard from marking the screen while closed together while pressure is applied to the back of the lid.
  • Screen Bend: The screen should have very little bend when opening the computer with one hand by the corner. Note that laptop’s with touch screens include a hard screen protector therefore, provides very little bend. Lower cost laptops may have a screen that can easily bend, this bend can case the keyboard to scratch the screen when closed and the plastic screen’s frame could easily break when attempting to do a screen replacement.
  • Access Panels: The laptop should have easy access panels on the bottom, for easily access replaceable parts such as the memory and hard drive. Lower cost laptops often do not have access panels, this means that the laptop has to be fully disassembled to access common parts. The added work will drive up labor costs, and weak plastic has a high potential to break.
  • Is Fixable: All Laptops are consumer electronics and are not intended to be fixed, however, most laptops contain a small number of changeable parts (I.E. memory and storage drives) which is the cause of many problems which can be fixed or upgraded. If you hope to use your laptop for many years; consider a laptop with access panels on the bottom and avoid computers like the ultra book.
  • Screen Quality: Find a laptop with a high display resolution. Example: 12 inches should be 1366×768 minimum, 15 inches should be a minimum of 1600×900, 17 inches should be 1920×1080 minimum. A screen with a display resolution below our recommended minimum could provide a blurry image and sort-of a dotted screen up close. If color accuracy is important for you, find a laptop with an IPS screen.
  • Processor: Find a laptop with a processor of at least 1.8 GHz. Many retailers will only advertise the processor’s speed if it’s considered high, otherwise many computers have a general specification sticker on the machine, or can be found on the box. Any laptop below 1.8 GHz will provide little satisfaction and will not be able to effectively run security protection software. Turbo is a technology to dynamically change the speed of the processor to improve battery life. Measure the processor speed based on the turbo speed.
  • Memory: Find a laptop with at least 4 GBs of memory, this improves the computer’s performance as it can remember more short term activities you have recently accessed. Many lower cost laptops have 2 GBs of memory, this is only enough for light computer use such as web surfing and emails, any other activities will cause the computer to preform slowly and you will have difficulties running security protection software.
  • WiFi: Find a laptop with Dual Band (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz), this is now standard since the Wireless AC standard, however, many low cost laptops may not include the latest wireless standard.
  • Bluetooth: Find a laptop with at least version 4.0. Bluetooth is inexpensive and should come standard with all mobile devices. Bluetooth provides wireless connectivity for keyboards, mice, speakers, microphones, etc.
  • USB Ports: All laptops should have at least 3 USB ports.
  • Video Port: Find a laptop with a HDMI/Display port, this allows you to connect your computer to a monitor or TV, they also includes audio. Display port and HDMI are interchangeable with an adapter.

Optional:

Laptops should have a Solid State Drive (SSD) for storage. SSDs have no moving parts, no random access time, is about 5 times faster than a Hard Disk Drive (HDD), is about 10 times faster in input outputs and last longer. Most laptops come with a hard drive and we highly recommend upgrading to SSD since the majority of laptop problems are from hard drive failure.