When buying a laptop, you must first decide which type you want. In this section we briefly describe the different types, and the differences between them.
Mac or PC?
You must first of all decide whether you want a Mac (Apple) with OS X operating system or a Windows PC. What is best depends entirely on whether you ask a PC or Mac user. You almost need to test out both in shop or try your friends if they have one, and simply figure out what you prefer.
For those of you who like to use your computer on the go, an ultra-portable, lightweight, slim and small laptop - often called ultrabook - may be a good option for you. Ultrabooks have become less popular in recent times because of the emergence of Tablet PCs, but still remain a good choice if you require more power than a Tablet.
The main characteristics of a Laptop
These are the main characteristics you should emphasize when buying a laptop.
When and where are you going to use your laptop? That is important to think through before you buy one online or in a shop. If you travel a lot with your laptop, it is of course a great advantage that it is easy to carry and takes up little space. But if you are going to predominantly use it to watch movies or play games, then a laptop with a large screen and a powerful processor is a must.
Size and weight
A standard laptop size is usually between 11 and 17 inches. Those are between 11-12 inches would be classed as ultraportable, while those closer to the 17 inch mark would be more suitable for home use. Laptops between 13 and 15 inches are the most common and ideally suited to both travelling and home use, though it depends on you and what you feel comfortable with.
Processor, Memory and Graphics
If you're a gamer then you will need a fast and powerful machine, with a large amount of memory (RAM) and excellent graphics card, but if you only intend to surf the Internet and do some basic task, then a cheap low end machine is perfectly fine. It is recommended to have at least 4GB of RAM, built-in HD graphics chip and a Dual Core processor either from Intel or AMD to run programs smoothly.
Battery life is especially important if you use a laptop on the go, such as on the bus or train. Battery life varies from laptop to laptop, depending on how powerful they are. Normally a low-end or mid-range laptop should give you around 5 to 8 hours of battery life, if you are just performing basic tasks like surfing the Internet, while watching videos or playing games will use considerably more power and shorten the battery life.
The screen size will naturally depend on the size of the laptop, so you won't get the biggest screens on the ultrabook's, for example. Other things you should examine when it comes to the display is the resolution and how easy the screen is to see in direct sunlight (if you plan to use your laptop outdoors). All modern laptops will come with with either 720p or 1080p HD resolution and some of the hard-core gaming machines, now boast 4K resolution.
Keyboard and touchpad
If you write a lot on the laptop, it is also important that you are comfortable with the keyboard. You may find that some laptops now have these oversized touchpads that contain no left or right key and can often feel very uncomfortable to use, especially if you use your laptop for long periods. It may be a good idea to test both before making a final choice.
Maybe not quite as important as it was before, because today we use additional storage media, like external hard disks or even the cloud. But you should look at a laptop that has a lease 500 GB of hard drive space, which will allow you to store hundreds of videos, music tracks, documents and other data.
Network and wireless capabilities
Wi-Fi is granted on current laptops. There are also a few laptop models that have built-in 3G and 4G, so you can use mobile broadband. In some cases it may also be useful to check whether there is Bluetooth, if for example you have a mouse or headphones that are Bluetooth compatible.
Of course, this is mostly about personal taste, but it is clear that some manufacturers put more into appearance than others. Some also make more robust chassis and shells, which is important if you intend to carry your laptop with you a lot.
There should be at least two USB inputs, and it is best if it also comes with at least one USB 3.0 slot, which is faster than the old USB 2.0 ports. It is also an advantage if it comes with an HDMI input, meaning you can connect your laptop to your television. It's also a must for a SD input so that you can easily download pictures from your camera's SD card.