Buying a Laptop Computer

How do you choose a laptop computer that fits into your lifestyle? Not all laptops are designed to serve the same purpose, but if you are able to accurately define your mobile computing needs, you will be able to find a laptop computer that is right for you.

Major details to take under consideration when buying a laptop computer are: processor type, memory capacity, screen size, weight, battery life, and warranty plan. Other factors that can impact your decision can be personal preference items such as keyboard size and mouse input device. The type of processor your laptop uses will often determine the personality of the machine. Some laptops use processors that were originally designed for desktops. While these provide superior computing power for less money, they also decrease battery life and increase size, weight, and heat generated by the laptop. Mobile processors such as the Pentium 4-M and the Athlon XP Mobile are designed specifically for laptop computers, and as a result they are smaller, consume less power, and generate less heat. The amount of installed memory (RAM) and the maximum memory the laptop will support can be critical depending on your computing needs. If you plan on doing a lot of high-end computing such as gaming or graphic design, you should invest in a higher RAM capacity in order to make sure your applications run smoothly. The screen size on a laptop is largely a matter of personal preference. A larger screen means easier viewing, but it also means a larger, heavier laptop. If you plan on viewing a lot of multimedia on your new machine, you might consider getting a model with a widescreen display, which provides a more cinematic look. Laptop screen sizes are measured diagonally in inches. Unlike CRT desktop monitors, the indicated screen size actually represents viewable area. Thus, a 15-inch laptop screen actually has more viewable area than a 15-inch CRT desktop monitor.
Weight is generally one of the more important issues when deciding which laptop to buy. Laptops can range anywhere from three pounds for an ultraportable model to almost ten pounds for a desktop replacement model.

If you plan on carrying your laptop from place to place, try to get a model that is as lightweight as possible. Keep in mind that the power supply and other peripherals may add as many as 3 or 4 pounds to the weight of the laptop itself. Battery life is another point to heavily consider before your purchase. As a minimum, make sure the model you get has at least enough power for two hours of normal use. If you plan on taking long trips with your laptop without easy access to power, look for a model that has a high-capacity battery or allows you to install an extra battery in an unused media bay. Due to the portable nature of laptop computers, they are in constant danger of accidental damage. Warranty plans for laptops generally run from one to three years, and are usually included with your purchase. Often you customize the level of service and length of your warranty. You should make sure that your computer has an acceptable warranty plan for at least one year after purchase; longer if you plan on constantly traveling with your laptop.

Armed with the knowledge gained from this article, you should now have a better context for researching your next laptop computer, and a good idea of what is available to suit your mobile computing needs.

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