Ten tips to buy a good laptop


1. Be aware of the warranty


One of the most overlooked issues when buying a laptop is the warranty. In the excitement of the new toy you don't even care about this. However, when the laptop has a problem this can be a real headache.

Make sure that you get informed if the warranty for your equipment is good enough. Check with friends that had to use the customer services if the company is efficient. Finally, check if you need to buy an additional coverage package.

2. Choose a processor that is adequate but not too expensive

Processors are the engine of your laptop. If you get a fast one, you can run a lot of applications faster. That is why processor is such an important factor in choosing a laptop.

These days, however, speed is not the only indicator of capacity for a processor. Some processors are more efficient, even at lower speeds. Higher speeds also mean higher temperatures, which can be difficult to manage in a small laptop -- they can literally burn under the heat.

Many processors nowadays are dual, which means that they have a copy of itself available for similar work. This is great because different programs can use different processors, and therefore can run faster as a result. Dual cores are the ones with such capability, and quad-cores (with four processors) are coming to the market.

3. Find a laptop with enough room for growth

Laptops are different from desktop computers mainly in that it is difficult to expand its capacity. If your hard disk, for example, gets full after a few months, it is difficult to replace it with a bigger one. Especially if you find out that this is not allowed by the company.

You should always plan to buy a laptop that has features that allow it to grow without major headaches. For example, an extra slot for memory extension, several ports for communication with external devices, replaceable drives, etc. This will certainly pay off when you need to improve your laptop in the future.

4. Do not be cheap with memory: you always need more

Memory is like money: you always need more. The general law of programming is that each program is made to use ALL memory available at any given time. And companies spend their time creating software that tries to eat even more memory, such as Windows Vista, Java programs, etc.

The good thing is that memory is cheap these days. So, make a good investment and buy enough memory to satisfy the hunger of your preferred applications.


5. Hark disk is essential

One feature that can make or kill your laptop is the hard disk. It is difficult to replace hard disks, and if your hard disk is too small it won't fit all the information you need.

Prefer hard disks with generous sizes, even if you have to pay a little more. It is good investment, because it will save you a lot of trouble when you try to install the new multi-Giga software or when you try to store the record you made of your children.

6. Consider the durability of the case

Being mobile equipment, the laptop may be subject to conditions that are not natural. For example, it can get stuck in the back of your car, shaken in the airport check-in lines, or fell on the ground when your dog pull the power chord (although this wouldn't happen with a Mac...). That is why is so important that you consider laptop. In any case, it is important that your laptop can resist several types of hazards without any major problems. Make sure that, for example, the screen will not fall apart easily (a major problem in old models), or that the keyboard looks resistant enough.

7. Avoid the wave of optional and trial software

Computer makers nowadays have this terrible deal of sending lots of trial software bundled with each laptop. And they even have the courage to market this as a good deal for users.

In fact, most of the software that in bundled with new computers is just crap that will stop running after a few days. The end result is that you will have to manually remove them, and pray that nothing bad will happen to the computer's configuration when the software is gone. If you don't want to do this, you laptop will forever waste disk space with software that you don't want.

So, be aware of the trial software trick. Try to avoid vendors that bundle every piece of crap in your hard drive and still want to be paid for this "service".

8. A good screen is fundamental

Nothing can burn you out faster when working with a computer than having a bad screen. A good screen can also provide with many moments of pleasure, so never underestimate the importance of a good screen in your laptop.

The main measure of screen is its size, but almost as important is the resolution. Typical resolutions are nowadays 1280 by 800 pixels, but they get better every year. You should make sure that you can get enough resolution to run the programs you like without losing any real screen estate.

9. Expansion ports: the more the better

This is an area where there are no real limits. The more extension options you have, the better. You can never know when you will need to use that crazy accessory that connects only to a specific port.

These days, the USB ports are the most popular, so you should have plenty of them. Of course, with USB you can always buy extension ports, but you should be able to use three or four USB accessories before this is necessary. Fire wire equipment is now getting more common, especially for video equipment, so you should make sure that they are there.

10. Consider the input methods

Working with a laptop computer can be rewarding, due to the increased mobility that it provides. However, be aware that many laptops can cripple your productivity due to badly designed input methods.

For example, many laptops have keyboards that are so small that it is hardly possible to type in it without mixing keys. This might be something that is particular not only to the equipment, but to your own physical dimensions -- if you have big hands, try to find a laptop with a keyboard that is large enough. If you have small hands, then you will probably be comfortable with any laptop keyboard.

Another issue here is the mouse or trackball. Laptops have huge variability in this area: some come with a track point, other with a touch sensitive area. Some of these are impossible to use, so you will probably need an external mouse. Take this into consideration when you are testing the laptop

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