Laptop buying guide: 8 essential tips to know before you buy
Feb 26, · If you're looking for a very basic or budget computer to browse the web, email, and work on Office documents, basically every processor on the market should be sufficient. Consider getting a touchscreen to take advantage of all of Windows 10 touchscreen features. CD/DVD drive: Computers might come with a CD or DVD drive or not. If a computer is right for you in other ways but doesn’t have a CD/DVD drive, consider opting for an external drive.
Who knew PCs were better at dieting than we are? Get instant access to discounts, programs, services, and the information you need to benefit every area of your life. Because of these exciting innovations, buying a new computer can what to look for when purchasing a computer overwhelming. Keyboards are still ideal for long-form typing, but touch screens are far more intuitive for other tasks. Tapping, flicking, swiping and pinching how to hide your tv wires in the wall natural, especially when you are looking at what to look for when purchasing a computer, reading e-books, browsing the web and playing games.
For obvious reasons, sometimes this kind of 2-in-1 is referred to as a detachable computer. Generally, SSDs are preferred. SSDs are like the flash memory in your smartphone or iPad — smaller, lighter and faster than a hard drive, with no moving parts.
SSDs do have a downside: less storage, on average, than a hard disk. A laptop may have gigabytes of SSD storage compared to 1 terabyte, roughly 1, gigabytes, available with a hard disk. Those ubiquitous USB slots on the side or back of a laptop are ideal for adding devices such as an external hard drive, flash drive, larger keyboard, mouse or smartphone. These ports carry data and power over a single wire; therefore, your smartphone can charge while synchronizing information between the two devices.
USB-C cables also can transmit video to an external monitor or projector. If you run low on power, many USB-C laptops can be charged with a battery pack or power brick, just like your smartphone. Even better: USB-C cables are reversible, which means you never have to worry about plugging them in upside down. Who knew video calling would be the de facto means of communication in ?
Leave it to a pandemic to force billions around the world to work or learn from home. For that reason, you should consider a laptop with a stellar web camera, webcam for short. Oh sure, you can always pick up an external camera to plug into your computer, but why incur the extra cost and use up a valuable USB slot?
The latest standard is referred to as Wi-Fi 6, sometimes advertised as Real world speeds likely will be slower. Any way you slice it, Wi-Fi 6 is worth considering. Wi-Fi 6 also supports more simultaneous devices. Chances are you have multiple Wi-Fi-enabled tech toys in your home. Plus you can enjoy greater range with fewer dead zones and less interference among devices.
Along with deciding whether you want a Windows PC, Mac or Chromebook operating system; your favorite brand; and which features you consider essential, the processor, also known as the central processing unit or CPU, is incredibly important.
Core i3, i5, and i7 are a sort of good-better-best scenario. Core i9 is for serious animators, computer gamers, graphic designers and video editors, all of whom also could benefit from a powerful graphics card. Go a little bigger than you need today, so you can grow into it for longer-term savings. Finally, for system memory, sometimes referred to as RAM and also tied to speed and multitasking, look for a minimum of 16 or 32 gigabytes instead of 8 or 12GB.
Marc Saltzman has been a freelance technology journalist for 25 years. His podcast, Tech It Outaims to break down geek speak into street speak. You are leaving AARP. Please return to AARP. You'll start receiving the latest news, benefits, events, and programs related to AARP's mission to empower people to choose how they live as they age. You can also manage your communication preferences by updating your account at anytime. You will be asked to register or log in.
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Sep 10, · 9 Necessary Things to Consider When Buying a Computer [MiniTool News] Brand. First of all, you should consider the brand of the computer. For most people, the brand is an important factor. Bulkiness and Weight. The second factor to consider when buying a computer is the bulkiness . Feb 02, · If you plan to do a lot of work on your computer, make sure the keyboard offers solid tactile feedback, plenty of key travel (the distance the key goes down when pressed, usually 1 Author: Phillip Tracy.
Laptops are compact enough to carry with you, yet versatile enough to run demanding applications. Notebooks are the best tool for doing serious work or play whether you're at home, on the road or in a college classroom. For those reasons, we've compiled lists of the best business laptops and best college laptops , not to mention our best laptops rankings for most users.
While standalone tablets and smartphones are always popular, most people realize that everything from typing a research paper to crunching videos to gaming works better on a laptop.
So what type of laptop should you get? We put together a laptop buying guide to help you out. There's a wide variety of sizes, features and prices, which makes choosing the best laptop a challenge. That's why you need to figure out what your needs are. These are the most important things to consider when choosing a new laptop. For a lot more detail, see the sections below.
This is not an easy question to answer, especially if you're not familiar with both Macs and PCs. Choosing the right one is a personal preference, but here's a quick summary of what each offers. Windows 10 , the latest version of Microsoft's flagship operating system, provides a number of improvements over Windows 7 and 8, including the ability to switch between tablet and desktop modes, a revamped Start menu with Live Tiles and the Cortana digital assistant.
Since its launch in July , Windows 10 has also added a host of improvements, including the ability to use follow-up questions with Cortana , search your email using natural language and use your stylus to scribble almost anywhere. Windows 10 laptops are great for students, researchers and business users, and they're the only machines gamers should consider. Overall, the operating system offers similar functionality to Windows 10, but with a different take on the interface that substitutes an apps dock at the bottom of the screen for Microsoft's Start menu and taskbar.
Instead of the Cortana digital assistant, Mac users get Siri. They can also perform transactions with Apple Pay, take calls or texts from their phones and unlock their laptops with an Apple Watch. However, macOS isn't made for touch, because no MacBook comes with a touch screen. Found on inexpensive Chromebooks such as the Samsung Chromebook 3.
The user interface looks a lot like Windows with an application menu, a desktop and the ability to drag windows around, but the main app you use is the Chrome browser. The downside is that many of the "web apps" you use don't work particularly well offline. However, that's changing as all new Chromebooks, including the high-end, Google PixelBook , can now run Android apps.
If you need a device to surf the Web and check email, navigate social networks and chat online, Chromebooks are highly portable and tend to offer good battery life at low prices. They are also extremely popular with schools and parents because they are hard for kids to infect with malware and more functional than most tablets. A x resolution preferred and 4K is better but very uncommon.
Pay extra to get a 2-in-1 if you plan to use Android apps. Many PC laptops fall into the category of 2-in-1 laptops , hybrid devices that can switch between traditional clamshell mode, tablet mode and other positions in between such as tent or stand modes. Most of these systems are much better at serving one purpose than the other, with bend-backs being laptops first and detachables offering a superior tablet experience.
However, if you don't see the need to use your notebook as a slate, you'll usually get more performance for your money with a traditional clamshell laptop. Before you look at specs or pricing, you need to figure out just how portable you need your laptop to be.
Laptops are usually categorized by their display sizes :. The most impressive specs in the world don't mean diddly if the laptop you're shopping for doesn't have good ergonomics. If you plan to do a lot of work on your computer, make sure the keyboard offers solid tactile feedback, plenty of key travel the distance the key goes down when pressed, usually 1 to 2mm and enough space between the keys. If you're buying a Windows laptop, be sure it has Precision touchpad drivers.
Look for an accurate touchpad that doesn't give you a jumpy cursor and responds consistently to multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom. If you're buying a business laptop, consider getting one with a pointing stick aka nub between the G and H keys so you can navigate around the desktop without lifting your fingers off the keyboard's home row. Notebook components such as processor, hard drive, RAM and graphics chip can confuse even notebook aficionados, so don't feel bad if spec sheets look like alphabet soup to you.
CPU: The "brains" of your computer, the processor has a huge influence on performance, but depending on what you want to do, even the least-expensive model may be good enough. Here's a rundown:. For most folks, 32GB or more is more than enough while 64GB and above is reserved for power users. If you can afford it and don't need a ton of internal storage, get a laptop with a solid state drive SSD rather than a hard drive, because you'll see at least three times the speed and a much faster laptop overall.
Display : The more pixels you have, the more content you can fit on-screen, and the sharper it will look. Sadly, some budget laptops still have x displays and so do a few business laptops , but if you can afford it, we recommend paying extra for a panel that runs at x , also known as Full HD or p. Higher-end laptops have screens that are x , x or even x 4K , which all look sharp but consume more power, lowering your battery life. Display quality is about much more than resolution.
IPS panels range in color and brightness, so read our reviews to find out if the laptop your considering has a good display. If you want the very best picture quality and don't care about battery life, consider an OLED display.
You should also keep an eye out for upcoming display technology to hit laptops, including miniLED. Touch Screen : If you're buying a regular clamshell laptop, rather than a 2-in-1, you won't get much benefit from a touch screen and you will get 1 to 2 hours less battery life.
On 2-in-1s, touch screens come standard. If you still want a touch screen, check out our best touch screen laptops page. Graphics Chip : If you're not playing PC games, creating 3D objects or doing high-res video editing, an integrated graphics chip one that shares system memory will be fine, especially Intel's latest Iris Xe graphics.
If you have any of the above needs, though, a discrete graphics processor from Nvidia or AMD is essential. As with CPUs, there are both high- and low-end graphics chips. Nvidia maintains a list of its graphics chips from low to high end. Nvidia's rivals, AMD, is Apple's vendor of choice for graphics cards, although you really shouldn't buy a MacBook for gaming.
AMD also keeps a list of its graphics cards. Ports : While the absence of ports is usually not a deal-breaker when choosing a laptop, it's helpful to get the connections you need right on the system, rather than having to carry a slew of dongles.
Most mainstream laptops will have USB 3. Getting Type-C is a definite plus because you can use it to connect to universal chargers and docks. If you can wait, USB 4 will arrive soon with faster transfer rates and the ability to daisy-chain 4K monitors with one cable. Other useful connections include SD card slots, headphone jacks and Ethernet ports especially if you're a gamer. You'll have to pay for a data subscription plan, but this will allow you to access the internet away from a router.
If you want a laptop with the latest and greatest connectivity options, find one with Wi-Fi 6 support. Wi-Fi 6 offers increased theoretical throughputs and a more stable connection than We also suggest looking for a laptop with Bluetooth 5, the latest standard that offers improved connectivity with Bluetooth-enabled devices, like mice and headphones.
If you're buying a large, bulky notebook or a gaming rig that you'll use only on a desk near an outlet, you don't have to worry about battery life.
To determine a notebook's expected battery life, don't take the manufacturer's word for it. Instead, read third-party results from objective sources, such as our reviews. Here's what you can get for each price range. Your laptop is only as good as the company that stands behind it. Accurate and timely technical support is paramount, which is why Laptop Mag evaluates every major brand in our annual Tech Support Showdown. This past year Apple came in first place, followed by the big story of the year: Razer, while Dell rounded out the top three.
Support is only part of what makes a notebook brand worth your money. You also have to consider how the manufacturer stacks up to the competition in terms of design, value and selection, review performance and other criteria. We've also rated gaming laptop brands , with MSI taking first place and Acer and Alienware rounding out the top three.
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