Consumers all over the world now prefer laptops to desktops thanks to their versatility and portability. But, when you go shopping for a new gadget, chances are that you’ll be spoiled for choice with the mind-boggling range and specifications that manufacturers now offer. If you’re looking for tips on how to buy a laptop, the first step is to identify the purpose for which you need a new gadget. Like, for instance, you could be looking for an advanced device with hi-def specs that are perfect for playing games and streaming videos and movies. Or, you could be looking for a starter device for a child learning to be digitally savvy.
Read ahead for some of the laptop features to keep in mind when choosing the gadget that best suits your requirements.
1. Laptop Comparison Dell vs HP vs Lenovo vs Apple
When looking for advice on how to buy a laptop, one of the first tips you’ll come across is to choose a good laptop brand. Buying a laptop manufactured by a reliable company will assure you of getting your money’s worth, technical support when you need it, and of course, high quality, and after-sales service. Take a look at the chart below for Laptop Mag’s Best and Worst Laptop Brands 2017. According to the experts, Apple no longer rules as the best brand, Lenovo has taken over the ratings and now ranks at no.1. Though, Apple still rules the digital world with the most efficient customer service.
2. Detachable, Bendable, or Traditional Clamshell - What’s Your Style?
Detachable laptops allow you to convert the laptop into a tablet by detaching the screen from the keyboard. Bendable laptops, on the other hand, bend back up to 360 degrees so you can use them in tablet, tent, or stand modes. Though, you can expect better battery life from the bendable laptops. But, if good performance and specifications are your goals, experts advising you on how to buy a laptop are likely to recommend that you choose conventional clamshell laptops that are likely to give you good value for money.
Let’s try to compare Lenovo laptops using the 2-in-1 form factor. Should you choose the Lenovo Yoga 910 with a 13.9” screen, you’ll pay around $1,049. This laptop is a convertible hybrid which means that you can use it with or without the keyboard. However, should you choose the conventional 14” screen Lenovo laptop, you could get it for around $873.
Here’s another example where we compare Dell laptops. The Dell XPS 13.3” laptop is available for the price of $799.99 but if you would prefer the hybrid version with a similar sized screen, you’d pay $1,299.
3. Operating System - What’s the Popular Choice?
Laptops come with a choice of different operating systems of which the most commonly used are Apple Mac, Windows, or Chrome by Google. You can pick the one you’re most comfortable using. Here are some added details you might find interesting.
The Windows Operating System is the most widely used OS in the world and is compatible with most current hardware and software. The new Windows 10 has significant improvements on the previous versions. You’ll find that it comes with lots of features such as the Offline Maps, Sticky Notes that you can create and paste on the desktop screen, and the Task View and Virtual Desktops app that gives you a quick view of the open windows. The Snap app, Battery Saver, and Projecting Screen facility are other handy tools you can use.
Perhaps, the best feature of Windows is that it is constantly evolving so you can get new tools from time to time at no added cost. Available in a wide range of devices at different prices, Windows is very affordable and ideal for playing games, running business operations, or for basic consumer functions. Most people are familiar with Windows so it makes sense to get this OS for your laptop.
The Mac Operating System comes with the high-end Apple MacBook that typically costs upwards of $1,000. This system typically comes with a highly efficient touchpad that offers a range of shortcuts that Windows lacks. The Mac OS also forms a part of sleek gadgets that have an excellent battery life and are better value for money as compared to the Microsoft Surface collection. This OS is compatible with most software and typically includes apps like Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office, and others. However, you may not have access to free of cost updates and if you’re looking for top rated laptops that allow you to play games, this one’s not for you.
Although the Chrome OS is steadily capturing a significant part of the market, it is essentially a Google Chrome browser with little else. You can use it to run Chrome Apps, Chrome, and Android Apps since they’re synced with the Google Drive cloud storage but you can’t use the Windows desktop software with it. You can typically buy a Chromebook for around $200 to $300 and the OS is ideal for people who’re just looking for a lightweight browser but not too many apps and tools.
The Linux OS allows you to install compatible versions of the Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. So, if you’re just looking for basic functionality from your laptop, you could go with the Linux OS. Or, if you feel that the UNIX-based operating system is more suitable for the kind of usage you have in mind, choose this OS. Given a choice between Chrome and Linux, you’ll find that Chromebooks are more economical with better customer support.
In the end, Windows wins hands down thanks to its affordability, versatility, and access to updates free of cost.
4. How to Buy a Laptop with the Right Size - Yep, It Matters!
When looking for advice on how to buy a laptop, you’ll be asked about the level of portability you need. If you’re looking for a balance between functionality and mobility, opt for the laptop with a screen of 13 to 14 inches. Anything bigger and you might find that carrying it around is a challenge. Here’s some added information on screen sizes and portability:
Screens from 11” to 13”
If you intend to carry your laptop when traveling frequently or commuting to and from work, you may want to choose a gadget that is lightweight. Accordingly, you can go with the 11” to 13” devices. Even if you’re looking for a laptop with advanced specs for gaming and other heavy duty functions, you can find laptops that are thin and easy to carry, though, they are likely to cost you more.
If it’s mobility and flexibility you want, you can opt for the 2-in-1 hybrids that are available in screen sizes ranging from 10 to 15 inches. You can look for the detachable ones that allow you to convert them into the tablet mode. Others have flexible hinges with different standing modes adding to their versatility. However, this convenience comes at a price. And, as mentioned in the earlier section, these laptops are more expensive as compared to the conventional devices.
Screens from 13” to 15”
Most conventional laptops are available in screen sizes ranging from 13” to 15”. These devices are the perfect balance between portability and functionality and allow you to perform most of the tasks you need. They’ll include lots of storage space, powerful CPUs, and adequate RAM and are most popular for personal and business use.
Screens from 15” to 18”
Laptops with 15” screens give you the perfect balance between portability and the functionality of a desktop computer. These notebooks are ideal for performing advanced functions such as Photoshopping, sound mixing, and playing games in addition to designing applications. Of course, the larger size of these performance devices tends to make them heavier and hard to move around.
If you choose the largest sizes with around 18” screens, you’ll find that you can comfortably use them for programming, playing games, video editing, and other heavy-duty applications. But, don’t even think of moving any of these around. Further, you’ll compromise on battery life for the larger screen.
5. Ergonomics Count - Check the Keyboard and TouchPad
If you intend to spend a lot of time working on your laptop, you’ll need one that has great ergonomics. Look for adequate space between the keys, distance the keys sink when you press on them, and a steady cursor. You could also consider getting a keyboard with a nub or pointing stick so you can move the cursor around without having to lift your hands from the keyboard.
6. You’ll Want a Smart Gadget with an Advanced Brain and Specs
Check the laptop configuration details carefully when making your choice. The configuration includes the entire hardware and software that forms a part of the device.
CPU: The purpose for which you need the laptop is a major factor when you’re deciding on the processing core or CPU you need. Should you ask about how to buy a laptop, the dealer will likely recommend that you go with Intel’s Core i7 series chips that give you high-end performance levels and are ideal for gaming, designing, and advanced productivity levels. The Intel Xeon chips are even more advanced while the Intel Core i5 are ideal for any other kind of usage. Keep in mind that choosing more sophisticated CPUs may need you to compromise on battery life and economical cost.
RAM: Look for a laptop that has a RAM of between 4GB and 8GB that should suffice for the typical user.
Storage or Hard Drives: Given a choice between Hard Drives or Solid State Drives, choose the latter for three times the speed and high-end performance levels.
Touchscreen: Opting for a touchscreen with a conventional laptop may result in lower battery life. When thinking about how to buy a laptop, go for the detachable device if you need a touchscreen.
- Other considerations you might want to keep in mind are the display (maximum of full HD or 1080p), graphics chip, and DVD or Blu-ray drives. You'll have to create a balance between the advanced versions and the expected battery life.
Looking for information about the most popular screen resolutions of 2016? Take a look at the graph below. As you can see, people love screens that have resolutions of 1366x768.
7. How Long Can You Go Without Juicing it Up?
Considering that the battery keeps your device running even when you can’t charge it often, you’ll need a laptop that has a battery life of at least 6 hours with 8 and above being ideal. If you intend to travel long distances without the opportunity to charge the gadget, you can always carry a spare charged battery and replace it when the power starts to run low. Some computers allow you to switch batteries without the need to shut down the device.
Keep in mind that the capacity of batteries is measured in Watt-hours (Wh). Accordingly, if you’re looking at laptops with a 45Wh battery and 37Wh battery, you’ll know that the battery with higher Wh is likely to last longer. Though, various other factors also affect battery life such as the kind of processors used, the display specifications, and the data storage devices included like hard drives or solid state drives.
At present, laptop batteries are available in two specifications:
Lithium-ion batteries: These batteries are available in the traditional cylinder or rectangle shapes.
Lithium-polymer batteries: These batteries are available at higher prices but they are extremely versatile and can be molded to fit into any available space inside the laptop. Apple was one of the first companies to make use of these batteries in their 2015 MacBooks which came with the “Kaby Lake” Core m3 processors. These batteries could power notebooks for 15.5 hours before needing to be charged.
If you’re looking for a comparative analysis, take a look at the battery life for these models:
Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch 2016 - 11.19 hours
Asus ZenBook 3 (UX390UA) - 12:07 hours
Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (7567) - 11:01 hours
Dell XPS 13 Touch (2016 Rose Gold Edition) - 10:42 hours
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2017) - 15:59 hours
Lenovo ThinkPad X260 - 10:45 hours
Samsung Notebook 9 (15-inch) - 11:40 hours
Acer Chromebook 15 (CB3-532-C47C) - 14:17 hours
CTL J5 Chromebook - 12:21 hours
Apple MacBook (2016) - 11:37 hours
8. Ready to Talk Economics? Refurbished Devices are the Best Choice!
When researching for information on how to buy a laptop, the most important concern you’ll likely have is the price range. The best way to balance your budget and the laptop specifications list you have in mind is to look at a refurbished laptop. Also called reconditioned or remanufactured laptops, these devices go through detailed testing and performance checks before being put back up for sale. It will interest you to know that according to an analysis conducted by Gizmodo, most laptops are returned within 30 days of the purchase.
So, you see, with some amount of research on the characteristics of the laptop you need, you could buy a practically new device at heavily marked down prices. You might even find one that has most of the specifications and advanced technology that form a part of the more expensive gadgets that would have otherwise been beyond your budget constraints. Are refurbished laptops worth it? Absolutely! You’ll get the warranty and complete assurance provided by the Microsoft-certified refurbisher. In fact, buying a reconditioned gadget may even be a smarter choice.
Laptop Buying Guide: 8 Essential Tips https://www.laptopmag.com/articles/laptop-buying-guide
How to buy a laptop in 2017 https://www.cnet.com/topics/laptops/buying-guide/
Top 5 Computer Trends We Expect at CES 2017 https://www.consumerreports.org/consumer-electronics-show/top-5-computer-trends-at-ces-2017/