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Before You Select a Laptop PC
Updated:2010.07.19 Source:xitonghan Clicks:

Find the right PC

Laptop systems have grown in popularity due to their increasing performance and portability. Many systems are even now being marketed as replacements for desktop systems but few can perform at the same level as a desktop system particularly when it comes to graphics. This guide will help you to look at some of the key items you want to look at before you purchase your next PC laptop system.
Size and Weight
Obviously the size and weight of a laptop is important. Netbooks offer light weight and sizes but sacrifice items such as drives and performance. Desktop replacements have equivalent power to desktop systems but they are heavy and bulky making them difficult to carry around. When shopping for a laptop, make sure to pick up the systems and verify its something you are willing to carry. Don't forget to also consider the weight of accessories such as AC adapter when carrying around the laptop.

Processors (CPU)
Mobile processors typically were slower than desktop CPUs but that has changed. Dual-core processors are common and help with multitasking. The type of processors found in the laptop will vary based upon the size and purpose of the laptop. They have a direct impact on performance as well as battery life so comparison can be difficult. Check out my listings for suggested processors for the various types of laptop PCs available.

Memory (RAM)
Laptops are generally more restricted in the amount of memory they can have compared to desktops. When looking at computers you want to make sure to check out the maximum memory the system can handle as well as the amount that is installed in the computer. It is also useful to find out if a memory upgrade can be done yourself or if it has to be done by a technician. Two gigabytes should really be the minimum amount of memory to consider with 4GB for improved performance.

Displays and Video
The video on a laptop computer is comprised of the display and the video processor. The display is defined by the screen size and the native resolution. The larger the display, the higher the resolution will typically be, but it also will impact how portable the system is. Wide screen displays are now standard. The graphics processor will determine the performance of the computer in things such as 3D graphics and high definition video acceleration.

How much storage space will you need? Hard drives are fairly straight forward in terms of the size and the performance may be impacted by the rotational speed. Optical drives play a more important role when purchasing a laptop PC. DVD burners are pretty much a standard feature supporting the dual layer media. Direct labeling features such as Label Flash and LightScribe are available. Blu-ray is available for viewing high definition video but are still fairly uncommon.

The ability to connect to the net is integral to most laptops today. Look for systems that include a built in Fast Ethernet and Wi0Fi. For the minimum amount of wireless connectivity, look at getting a notebook with 802.11b/g. Systems with the 802.11n draft standard are also fairly common now. For those that need connectivity in remote locations, a built-in modem or a cellular (WWAN) card are also options.

Battery Life
How good is a portable computer going to be if you are only able to get 30 minutes of computing time on a single charge? Try to find the manufacturer's listed battery life for the standard battery. Look to get a system with at least 2 hours of battery life under normal conditions. If you need extended time unplugged, look for laptops with media bays that can double as extra battery slots or have extended life batteries that can be purchased.

Warranty Plans
Laptops take a lot of abuse and are more prone to breakdowns due to their portability. When buying a system, make sure to get at least a 1 year warranty from the manufacturer. If you will be using the system heavily, a system that comes with a 3 year warranty might be a better choice but it will cost more. Third party extended plans are not a good choice unless service is done through the manufacturer.