Since the advent of laptops, work has literally gone mobile. One can use a laptop anytime and anywhere and thus carry work wherever one goes. Going to the market to buy a laptop can be quite a confusing experience with plethora of laptops available, from basic laptops to the top of the line models. Some laptops now a days are more powerful than even the hottest desktop computers of yesterday. Hence, it is necessary that the consumer knows what he needs and what he is buying.
How to Choose a Laptop
Screen size: This is probably one of the most important factors (apart from processor and memory) which should be kept in mind while choosing a laptop. If you are used to having a large monitor for your desktop PC, choosing a fairly large screen size for your laptop becomes even more necessary. The standard screen size of laptops these days is 15" but there are larger sizes available as well. Companies like Dell even offer 19" and 20" screen sizes for certain models. Then, there are wide-screen monitors available for laptops these days. These are especially beneficial if you like to watch movies on your laptop of if you frequently use many applications side by side.
Processor: The CPU is the most important part of a PC or a laptop. This choice is not easy with so many options available to choose from in the market. The only two companies that make processors are Intel and AMD. Based on your requirements, you can choose a processor that is best for you in terms of both price and performance.
Memory: Now, memory is one thing which is never enough. The more you have, the better it is because it is the one thing (after the system processor) which would determine how fast and efficiently your work gets done. Most systems these days come pre-loaded with 1GB of RAM but make sure you can upgrade it later. Also, it is beneficial to know how much maximum amount of memory the laptop supports so that you don't have to go through trouble when you do plan to upgrade the memory.
Storage: This is yet another critical component in a laptop. All the files, folders, etc. that you have will be stored in the hard disk. Hence, choosing a large hard disk is of utmost importance. Go for 100 GB or more at the minimum if you don't want to run out of hard disk space real soon. There are 200-400 GB hard disk drives that are available these days, so, choose according to your requirement. Another thing to keep an eye out for while choosing storage is the speed of the hard disk. The higher the speed the better its performance will be (and the expensive it will be as well). Generally, hard disks come with 5,200 or 7,200 RPMs which is quite okay for everyday use.
Sturdiness: Pick up the laptop physically in your hand to know that you are comfortable with its weight. Also, make sure that it is sturdy, solid and does not feel too heavy. Also, if possible try out the keyboard. This is quite important since you cannot change the keyboard later (unlike in a desktop), so it helps in trying out the keyboard before you actually buy the laptop.
Pointing Device: Apart from checking the sturdiness of the laptop, don't forget to check out the pointing device in the laptop for its functioning. Make sure it's functioning properly and the way it is intended to. Also, see that the track ball and the track pad are in perfect condition. Although, you will be able to connect an external mouse to the laptop but the built-in device is handier when you are moving around.
Expansion Slots: Choose a laptop which has many expansion options. Make sure the laptop you buy has got atleast 3-4 USB2 connections and atleast one Firewire (IEEE 1394) port. USB2 and Firewire are a couple of very popular ways of connecting various devices to a laptop/desktop like digital cameras, mp3 players, cell phones, etc.
Wireless Connectivity: With the advent of wireless networks, it has become almost a necessity that the laptop that you buy has built-in Wi-Fi facility which will help you to surf the web once you are in a Wi-Fi enabled zone. A wireless network card, also called the 802.11 will free you from having to be wired all the time to connect to the internet. It is also beneficial to check whether the laptop has Bluetooth capability or not.
Optical Drives: Optical drives like a DVD-player, DVD-writer and Bluray player/ writer are quite useful when you want to burn your data onto a disc (DVD or BluRay) and keep it safe and secure. The optical devices make backing up your important documents, music files, pictures, etc. very easy because of the high capacity of the discs as well as the usability of these devices.
Battery Life: This might not seem as important as other points but you will surely want to look for a laptop which gives you decent to good battery life. A battery that lasts in the long run will help you once you are mobile. If you want to use your laptop for a long duration of time away from a power source, make sure that your laptop has a battery which lasts really long.