What Should I Consider When Buying a Laptop?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 23 January 2020
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Buying a laptop may be a new endeavor for you, or you may be replacing an older model. Either way, there are a few things to consider about your new purchase. Buying a laptop computer can represent a big investment. By assessing your needs, you can make a more calculated choice about what type of laptop to purchase. This can save you money and potential problems.

The first question to ask yourself is if you truly need to be buying a laptop. Laptops tend to lag behind desktops in terms of upgradeability and features. If you handle heavy graphics, do a great deal of video editing, or you are a gamer, a laptop might not be the best choice for you. In addition to having to spend a lot of money to get the system you need, you will also be unable to upgrade that system when the time comes. However, if you are highly mobile, a laptop is a good choice.


The second step is to look at what you require from your laptop computer. Students, for example, probably need Internet access and word processing capability. A laptop for business may need similar features, as well as the ability to handle databasing software. Assess your individual needs with care when buying a laptop. If you travel frequently, or carry a lot of heavy belongings already, you will want to look into buying a laptop which is very lightweight. If you travel less frequently, or have fewer concerns about heavy luggage, a larger laptop with more power and an easier to read large screen is a good choice.

Laptops tend to be more expensive than desktop equivalents. Do not buy a laptop which exceeds your needs. Make sure that the laptop features will meet expectations, without the need for expensive upgrades. Make an honest estimate of what you require, and seek out systems that will match your requirements. Often companies offer packaged deals, making it cheaper to buy a preconfigured laptop.

Determine what features you need when buying a laptop. A ready availability of ports, is very useful. Many devices are designed to connect to Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports, so you may want several to connect multiple peripheral devices. If you have devices which use FireWire or other connections, make sure that your laptop will support them. A space for PC cards is also a good idea, as is an internal modem, wireless card, or ethernet port. Make sure that your laptop has headphone jacks so that you can quietly listen to music. In addition, you may want to consider a CD or DVD ROM drive. Software comes on CDs, data can be backed up onto CDs, and you can also listen to music or watch DVDs on your laptop computer.

When buying a laptop, it is important to think about what operating system you would prefer to use. Apples tend to be more expensive, overall, than PCs, but you may want to go that route if you interact frequently with an Apple network or use Apple programs. Especially if you are a student, look into what kind of software you need to succeed in school and which operating system it is designed for. Some schools also have promotional agreements with computer companies which can assist you in getting a good deal. Also look at what kind of software comes preloaded on the system, to see if it will meet your needs or if an additional outlay of cash is required to purchase software.

Numerous laptop buying guides are available. When you are getting ready to purchase a laptop, pick up several so that you can compare features and prices. Buying a laptop should not be a guessing game-do not be afraid to call companies to talk to them about their equipment, and to seek out examples of laptops you are considering to test them. Narrow your choices down to a few models, and then seek out the best deals. When buying a laptop, an extended warranty plan is highly recommended. Accidents happen, and it is better to be safe than sorry.



Discuss this Article

Post 6

@lush: A lot of laptops come with windows 7 now so you don't need to worry about Vista or XP and if you have one with vista already, I would recommend upgrading to 7 rather than downgrading to XP.

Post 3

@Lush: I would recommend you don't buy a laptop with windows XP. Windows 7 is much better than XP.

Post 2

For financial software, you should check out Quickbooks Simple Start (for the free edition, google "Quickbooks Free"). An alternative is GNUCash which is what I use, but its interface is clunky under Windows.

If you still need XP, I suggest you go order XP separately (perhaps an OEM edition?) and dual-boot Vista and XP. For the companies (like Lenovo) that still offer XP, you typically pay more to downgrade to XP so, why not use that extra money and have both XP and Vista?

Post 1

What software is recommended for a student's laptop (By the way, I'm still shopping around so any suggestions are appreciated :) who requires a user friendly program? I usually use Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, but is there anything else that can help me get a little more organized, specifically in the area of finances? I also have been hearing mixed reviews about Windows Vista-- is there any way that I can purchase a new laptop with Windows XP?

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