Buying a Laptop
Laptops 101: How to buy the right laptop
Types of Laptops
Notebooks and Laptops
Laptop Buying Tips:
- Laptops for school and everyday use require moderate performance features
- Laptops for business that use multimedia require mid-to high-performance features
- Laptops for gaming require high performance features and special graphics cards
- Higher processors, more memory, and special graphics cards can add to the cost of a laptop; they are a “nice-to-have” but not usually required for day-to-day computing
- Higher performance features can drain battery life more quickly
- LED screens offer slightly better image quality and use less energy, extending battery life
- Higher storage sizes offer a greater capacity to hold games, videos, photos and music
- If your laptop hard drive is getting full, cheap and easy fixes include adding more internal memory, buying an external hard drive, or moving some of your data to the cloud
Operating System (OS) +
The operating system can be thought of as the "brain" or "mind" of the computer. It is the main software that manages all other applications (Microsoft Office, Web browsers, etc.) and hardware (printers, external hard drives, etc.) on a laptop. Most laptops are purchased with an operating system already installed, such as Windows for PC or Mac for Apple products.
The operating system can be thought of as the "brain" or "mind" of the +
Processors read and execute program instructions. Almost all processors in laptops are dual-core or higher. This means that there are two or more separate units (cores) that allow multiple instructions to be run at the same time. This is an advantage when it comes to how fast your computer manages tasks, and how many tasks it can process at once. Laptop processors are usually slower than desktop processors, but faster than those found in tablets.
RAM (Random Access Memory) +
Random access memory is short-term memory that helps run your laptop's programs, as opposed to the memory that lets you store your files, photos and music on a hard drive. Larger amounts of RAM in your laptop can help it process tasks more quickly.
Graphics Card +
Your graphics card is what transforms data into images for viewing on the display screen. Graphics card performance impacts image quality, which is important for watching videos or playing games but less important for everyday computing.
Display Monitors +
Laptop monitors are available in a variety of sizes and types, with different resolution capabilities. LED monitors work well in bright conditions and offer energy saving advantages, while LCD monitors are generally less expensive.
Laptop resolution is an important consideration when it comes to viewing graphics, videos, and games. Higher resolutions produce higher quality images and are generally found in larger laptops. This makes them better-suited to watching movies or playing games. Smaller laptops usually have lower resolution but are more portable.
Hard Drive +
The hard drive provides storage for videos, music, documents and other personal files. Laptop hard drives are generally smaller and thinner than those found in desktops, but larger than those found in tablets and smart phones. Ultrabooks and lightweight laptops tend to have lower memory than notebooks and laptops. External hard drives and cloud storage are other means of increasing storage space on a laptop and can be added on later, offering savings on initial costs.
Storage refers to where data is stored on the hard drive. Storage is measured in bytes, kilobytes (KB), megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB) and terabytes (TB).The larger the storage, the more files can be saved onto the laptop.
An alternative to the mouse, a touchpad is a device on a laptop that converts the motion and position of a user's fingers across the pad into movement and actions on the display screen.
The keyboard allows a user to input information into the computer.
Wireless Card +
A wireless card allows a laptop to connect to the Internet via the transmission of a signal through a wireless router, eliminating the need for a cable connection. Wireless cards come standard on laptops and provide convenient internet access through a wireless router at home, work, school or in a public place like a coffee shop. A wireless card can also let you connect your laptop with a smart phone, wireless printer and more.
Bluetooth® Card +
Bluetooth® is a short distance wireless technology that allows you to securely connect your laptop to other Bluetooth-enabled devices such as headphones and smart phones.
Optical Drive (CD/DVD/Blu-ray) +
An optical drive is a storage device that can read and write information. CD, DVD, and Blu-ray are common optical disk drives.
Memory Card Reader +
A memory card reader is a device that reads flash memory cards and allows their content to be transferred to a computer. Flash memory cards are typically used by cameras, handheld games, smartphones and other devices.
Most laptops come with built-in stereo speakers, however, some smaller models only offer input jacks that allow external speakers and microphones to be attached. Most laptops feature in-line jacks that allow external speakers and headsets to be attached.
USB Ports +
USB ports allow electronic devices to be connected to the laptop through cables. Typically, there are at least two USB ports on a laptop.
An HDMI port is an output connection that allows the transfer of digital HD video and multichannel audio to other devices (from a laptop to a TV for example) over a single HDMI cable.
Rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries are typically used to power laptops. Battery life is an important consideration for those who travel frequently and need portable, accessible computing. Higher performance features and frequent laptop use tend to drain battery power more quickly.
Most laptops come with an integrated webcam that lets you web chat and easily connect to online conferences.
Some laptops come with more eco-friendly options such as energy saving monitors, recyclable exteriors, arsenic-free display glass, mercury-free LED-backlit display, longer battery life and reduced packaging. Some have also eliminated the use of arsenic, brominated flame retardants (BFRs), mercury, phthalates and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). For more information, visit your laptop manufacturer’s website.
Shop Laptop Accessories & Related Products
Laptop Maintenance Tips:
- Avoid placing food or liquids near laptops
- Wipe monitors with a soft, clean cloth and avoid using everyday household cleaners
- Avoid exposing laptops to temperature changes
- Don’t leave a laptop in a vehicle
- Take laptops in for regular, professional maintenance
- Perform regular software backups to protect your data
- Install a good antivirus and malware program
- Place laptop on hard surfaces to prevent over heating
- Power down your laptop after use and when traveling to extend performance and prevent damage to the hard drive.
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