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How to Select a Laptop
 
 

Buying a laptop is very much like buying a new car. It is something that laptop users look forward to, but hate at the same time. For one thing, manufacturers are consistently updating their machines to keep up with competitors and to make what their customers tell them are needed improvements. Unfortunately, what seems like a good idea to one person may be a turn-off to another.

There are many popular laptop manufacturers in the market right now; Dell, Lenovo, Hewlett Packard (HP), Acer, Compaq, Gateway, Sony, Toshiba and Alienware are among the most commonly available. Each manufacturer listed above offers several different models of laptops, some offer complete families of machines sorted by the intended purpose.

If you are looking for a high-end business laptop that offers a small-form case with a high-speed processor and large capacity hard drive, you are certain to find a model from each manufacturer that will meet your requirements. However, if you are looking for a portable media center or a laptop that will be used for significant gaming you are likely to find your options significantly reduced.

Here are some questions that you should ask yourself when you are determining which laptop is the best option for you:

  1. Are you loyal to a specific manufacturer, and if so what has your experience been with that company in the past?

  2. What software applications will you need to run on your laptop, and what are the system requirements of those packages?

  3. Is size/weight a significant consideration for you?

  4. Do you do intensive layout work which might entail a need for a specific size screen or even a widescreen?

  5. What type of warranty would you like to have with your laptop?

  6. Will you use a docking station, or will you be moving your laptop to different locations on a frequent basis?

  7. How long do you intent to keep your laptop? If the answer is two or more years, then you will want to look at those options with the fastest available processors and the highest possible amount of memory.

  8. How much data will be stored on the laptop, and what type of files are they? This makes a difference if you intend to keep your entire digital music collection on your hard drive, or to store entire movies. Also, if you are planning to have 120GB worth of data files, you will not want to buy a laptop that has an 80GB hard drive.

  9. Do you do a lot of graphics work, or do you play graphically intensive video games (such as World of Warcraft) that will require a high end video card with excellent resolution? There is a price premium associated with this type of video card, so if you do not need it you may want to opt for a lower-end card to reduce costs.

  10. How much money are you willing to spend?

If you have looked at the questions above, you probably have a very good idea of what you actually need in a laptop. The next thing that you should do is to check Consumer Reports or another consumer review publication which will give you insight into the performance of each model.

Talk to representatives from several retailers or manufacturers with your list of questions handy. This will allow you to get quotes on similar quality machines from several different sources.

Price Comparison on the Major Laptop Brands

Toshiba, Sony, Panasonic, Nec, IBM, Hp/Compaq, Gateway, Fujitsu, Acer and Dell

Toshiba: Satellite – $800-$1,500
Tecra - $1,200 - $2,000
Qosmio – $2,500-$3,000

Sony: Vaio: $1,500-$2,500
NEC: Versa - $800-$1,200
IBM / Lenovo: ThinkPad - $1,500-$3,000
Hp / Compaq: HP Pavilion - $1,100-$1,400
Compaq Presario - $600-$1,000
Gateway: Gateway Notebook - $700-$1,400
Fujitsu: Lifebook - $1,100-$1,400
Acer: Aspire - $800-$1,600
TravelMate - $1,600-$1,800


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