You don’t buy a laptop every day. So when you do, it should be the perfect one for you. A good laptop is quite expensive and you need to do your research before you buy one. The fact that there are so many different kinds to choose from only makes your job harder. Remember that what works for one person might not work for another so don’t just buy that new model your gamer friend can’t stop raving about. If you intend to use yours for work, a gaming centric model might not be your best bet. Assess features against your requirements to get the best return on your investment. Here are the most crucial features you need to look out for and see what works best for you –
1. Operating System
Life was hard enough when there was only Windows and Mac to choose from, but now there’s also Chrome OS. So which one should you buy? While all operating systems will help you get the job done, no matter what it is, the way they look, feel and work are significantly different. Choosing one over the other is largely a matter of knowing what you are comfortable with. Which one you have been using previously and are more familiar with will give you an easy answer to which one you should buy.
Windows provides you the most flexibility in terms of hardware as it is available on a range of laptops from different brands and makers, and is available in a range of prices too, ranging from $150 to a few thousands. Mac is exclusively limited to Apple and belongs to the higher price band. Chrome OS is a good option for those who only use their laptops for web surfing and aren’t looking to spend too much. You can choose what you buy based on your preferences and budget.
The next major decision you need to make is the size. Laptops are available in a variety of screen sizes ranging from 11.6 inches to 18.4 inches. You can choose your ideal size depending on various factors. Small sizes mean a very lightweight, easy to carry around a notebook that you can fling into your backpack and get moving anytime. They can have a few functional limitations though, so choose them only if you use your laptop for easy work.
Anything in the range of 13 to 14 inches is a good mix of functionality as well as portability. 15.6 inches happens to be the most popular choice right now, offering plenty of functionality and a large screen, which can still be carried around every once in a while.
If you are looking for more power in terms of performance and complete desktop capabilities, you can buy an 18.4 inch model. You may not find yourself lugging it around too much though.
3. Traditional Clamshell or 2-in-1
While the traditional clamshell design for laptops is the most common and has been around for the longest, there are a significant number of alternate options available today. There are models that allow you to detach the screen from the body and use it as a tablet, and then there are those that can be turned around 360 degrees to become a back-folding tablet. These can also be adjusted midway to be used in tent-mode or stand mode. You can choose a 2-in-1 if you really like to experiment or have a specific reason to do so.
All the flashy features like a big screen and a swivel-tablet mode are only exciting for the first few months. In the long term, you need a laptop that is strong, sturdy and smooth. Take enough time to go tapping on the keyboard and tracing lines on the touchpad so you get a very good idea of how comfortable they are to use. The keys should be smooth to press, adequately spaced and built to last. The touchpad must be accurate, highly responsive and offer gesture controls like scrolling and pinch zoom. The cursor shouldn’t be jumpy and the left and right click buttons must be smooth too. For added functionality, a nub or a pointing stick between the G and H keys is helpful if you don’t want to move to the touchpad all the time.
5. Screen Resolution
If you are choosing to go with a larger screen such as the 15.6” or the 18.4”, be sure to pay attention to the screen resolution too. Since you view a laptop from a close distance, the screen should have sufficiently high resolution to give you a rich picture without hurting your eyes.
6. Battery Life
In the beginning, all laptops may offer you a good battery life but how quickly the battery performance reduces over time is the bigger determinant here. You may not have to worry much if you tend to mostly stay on your desk, but if you like mobility, you need a laptop that will give you at least 6 to 8 hours of battery life.
Don’t just rely on the manufacturer’s word when it comes to battery life. Read reviews and articles online to get a better idea. It would be even better to try finding someone who has been using the laptop for some time and take their opinion into consideration.
7. Nail the Spec Sheet
This step is hard for everyone, but skipping it may not be a good idea. A very foundational understanding of components such as RAM, Hard Drive, Processor and speed will help you choose a good model. Study up on what Intel Core i5, i7 or i3 mean, how they are different and what is best for you.
8. It’s Got to Be Sturdy
You need a laptop that will open and shut comfortably for years to come. Believe it or not, screws do fall apart, and CD-ROMs refuse to open and shut. The charging adaptors too can be flimsy and weakly made. Physical durability of a laptop is as important a factor so you must make sure you buy a sturdy, tough and durable laptop.
Everyone uses their laptop differently and hence, everyone has a different choice. You should spend a good deal of time assessing what you need the laptop for and choose accordingly. Analyze all the above features well before you make your decision, so that you are one hundred percent happy with your purchase and your laptop is a delight every single time you use it.