There is no principal difference between a laptop and a tablet, actually. Deciding which machine to buy can be tough, with hundreds of laptop models to choose from and prices ranging from under $200 for Chromebooks to over $2,000 for high-end laptops. So, how to find the perfect laptop or tablet for you? There are many factors that can help to narrow down your choices. Here are some tips for making a wise laptop purchase. You’d be forgiven for feeling a little bewildered by the huge choice of laptops on the market. After all, dozens of manufacturers are pushing out dozens of new models every year. The best way of finding the perfect laptop or tablet for your needs is to know what your options are.
WHAT BUDGET DO YOU ACTUALLY HAVE?
- Netbooks are the cheapest and smallest type of laptops, and you can actually use them for business, but their functions are limited. Nowadays, people prefer tablets and more powerful laptops to notebooks.
- You can buy a budget laptop, good for most basic tasks like surfing the net and word processing, for under $500 (even much less if you want to buy a used laptop); these laptops sometimes use older processors and often come in the 15.6″ display size. Generally, the smaller and thinner you want your laptop to be, the more you’ll have to pay for it.
- If you are ready to spend more than $500, you can buy a thin-and-light laptop (4 to 6 pounds and 14-inch to 16-inch displays), with better performance: the latest generation processors, a sizable hard drive of 500 GB or more, and more memory. Thin-and-lights are probably the most common types of laptops being sold (and bought) today.
- Ready for more? For $1,000 or more, you can opt for either a sleek ultra-portable laptop–light in weight, and very thin, with screen sizes 13 inches or less–or go the other way, and buy a gaming laptop or a desktop replacement laptop–heavy in weight and with giant 17-inch screens.
PORTABILITY OR POWER?
Answering the question *HOW TO FIND A PERFECT LAPTOP OR TABLET ONLINE?* you should find a compromise between portability and power. A faster and more capable machine needs bigger components and more room to keep them cool, which means it will end up larger, heavier, and more battery-draining than a less powerful computer.
As portable computing power has improved over the last few years, this compromise has become less of an issue. Decent processors and graphics chips now slip into very svelte laptop frames. However, it’s still true that if you want a laptop for gaming, video editing, it must be powerful. The other obvious factor that affects portability is screen size, which is usually listed first in a laptop’s specs. Go for a bigger screen, and you’ll have more room for your documents and Netflix movies; opt for a smaller one, and you’ll get something that’s easier to slip into your messenger bag.
You can find laptops to suit every point along the portability-power scale, so decide which is most important to you. How much of your time will you be spending carrying your laptop from place to place? Will it have to last a long time between battery charges? How much heavy use do you want to get out of it? Answer these questions, and you can find the ideal size range for your needs and find a golden mean between the power and portability.
Let’s try to make a list of important functions.
- For entertainment – If you want to buy a laptop for music and movies, pay attention to the machines of the larger screen sizes, 15-inches or more, and higher resolution, high definition displays (1920×1800 pixels). You’d probably also want as large a hard drive as possible for all your media storage, hard drives of 750GB or more. A Blu-Ray player would probably be on your list for movie-watching, as well as HDMI ports and/or wireless TV streaming.
- For traveling or mobile work – Laptops for traveling are portable. Look for screen sizes 13-inch or under, weights 4 pounds or under, and a rated battery life of 6 hours or more. You might also want a mobile broadband card in your laptop for Internet access on the go.
- For gaming and graphic work – Gaming laptops are large, with a high-definition screen, lots of memory (4GB is low, 8 GB is better), and a dedicated video graphics card should be at the top of your checklist. For the best performance, look for hi-end multi-core processors (e.g., Intel Core i7 processor or better).
- For portability – If you need a thin-and-light or ultraportable laptop, go with 13- or 14-inch display, the mid-range processor (e.g., Intel Core i5 processor), 4GB or more of RAM, and 500GB or more of hard drive space. There is no much power but you can take the laptop with you everywhere.
So, the checklist is ready! It’s time to find the laptops that fit the bill. Check out review on many different sites to see the most recommended laptops, then compare features to your checklist. Keep in mind that a lot of laptop manufacturers, such as Dell and HP, also let you configure laptops to your specifications — adjusting the amount of RAM or choosing a different hard drive, for example.
Finally, you can even make a table comparing the top few options. You could use a spreadsheet and list the specs (processor, memory, hard drive, graphics card, etc.) as well as the price for each laptop to make your final choice. This interactive laptop chart can also help you narrow down the options, by filtering available laptops by their specs.
A Final Tip: Use laptop reviews in tech publications to get a sense of which machines are currently impressive more than others, and actually walk into a store to handle some sample laptops. This can give you a feel for screen sizes, build quality, and so on—even if you intend to buy online. Enjoy your shopping!