What will you be using your laptop for? This is an important question to ask yourself before you begin your search. Your laptop can be used for both work and play, at home or on the go. You can determine your laptop’s primary use, and then consider the factors listed here as you move forward with your purchase.
How Do You Plan to Use Your Laptop?
Basic task laptops
I want to:
∙ Check email.
∙ Browse the web.
∙ Post to social media.
I want to:
∙ Have something light and portable for frequent traveling.
∙ Access the internet for work or leisure while on a trip.
∙ Watch movies while on an airplane, bus, train, etc.
I want to:
∙ Transport my laptop to and from school in my bag.
∙ Take notes in class and connect on the go.
∙ Have a battery life that lasts all day while in school.
I want to:
∙ Have powerful processing features and a fast operating system.
∙ Access all files with ease and secure private work-related documents.
∙ Use a webcam to connect with colleagues and/or clients while working remotely.
I want to:
∙ Play computer games wherever I am.
∙ Have enough storage space to download games.
∙ Use a webcam or headset when playing interactive games.
Design / Multimedia
I want to:
∙ Design graphics and websites.
∙ Edit videos and other multimedia content.
∙ Save all of my creative work to my hard drive to show potential clients.
Determine Your Laptop’s Portability
One of the main features of a laptop is its portability. Weight and screen size play important roles in determining just how portable your laptop will be.
This screen size is good for multitasking, gaming, and creative work.
Although the screen size is an important factor when determining your laptop’s portability, there are additional screen features to consider that can make or break visual quality.
Full HD (1920 x 1080)
4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160)
Your laptop’s screen resolution will determine its picture quality. A higher resolution, measured in pixels (horizontal x vertical), means a better picture. The standard HD screen resolution is 1366 x 768 pixels, which allows for a clear picture for basic tasks like using the internet and writing emails.
If you are going to use your laptop for things that need an even better quality picture, consider these higher resolutions:
One of the primary reasons you may want a laptop with an LED screen is to save battery life. An LED display is brighter and much more energy-efficient, which can increase your screen time on your laptop without needing to be plugged into a power source.
This LCD screen display option is made for bright colors and wide viewing angles. An IPS panel is good if you are going to use your laptop to watch TV shows or movies or play high-quality, fast-paced video games.
A touchscreen laptop allows for a more interactive and hands-on experience. With this kind of laptop display, you can control what’s happening on your screen much more intuitively. Think of these laptops like a smartphone or tablet. You can use your fingers to tap, swipe, pinch, and expand to move, open, and delete all files, programs, and documents. Popular touch-screen laptops include those made by HP, Lenovo, and Microsoft.
Operating Systems (OS)
The operating system is essentially the backbone of your laptop. It manages all of the hardware, software, and any resources and programs installed onto the laptop. Two popular laptop operating systems are:
Windows can be used for your PC or Apple laptop, with a touch screen or mouse and keyboard. This user-friendly operating system is good for everyday use. It’s also good if you plan to use your laptop for activities like gaming, photo and video editing, or high-quality graphic design that requires strong, expansive bandwidth. You can check out the most recent upgrade, Windows 10, which features the latest built-in apps and software to increase productivity and efficiency.
The fundamental feature of Chrome OS is that all programs, files, and documents on the laptop are saved in the cloud instead of on the laptop itself. This means your data is stored in a web-based folder that is always accessible from your laptop. The Chromebook uses this cloud-based system and its namesake Chrome browser. This operating system is good for more basic tasks like web browsing, social media, email, word processing, and spreadsheets.
Think of your laptop’s processor as its brain. The processor determines how information is processed and at what speed. You want to try to make sure that the processor you select is in line with what you plan to use your laptop for. If you plan to use your laptop for high-performance tasks, you need a high-performance processor. If your laptop will be used for more simple activities, something cost-effective yet perfectly efficient will do just fine.
The two main processor brands offered are Intel® and AMD, but there are many processors available within each of these that can cater to your specific laptop needs.
System memory, also referred to as random access memory (RAM), is what your laptop’s processor uses to run data and software while using it. If you will be using your laptop for projects that require a lot of multitasking, you will want to consider starting with a high amount of memory space. The memory will also impact the speed at which your laptop runs.
Memory is measured by gigabytes (GB). Themost common RAM sizefor a basic laptop is 8 GB, and high-performance laptops often require at least 24–32 GB. Note that since memory is not automatically included in your laptop, you can always purchase more if necessary.
Now that we know how data and software are processed, it’s time to choose where that data and software are safely stored. The twomain types of storageare hard disk drives (HDD) and solid state drives (SSD).
Hard Drive Disks (HDD):
This is the most traditional option. They are inexpensive, so you can get more space for less money. You may consider going with HDD for heavy downloading, multimedia usage, graphic arts, and other tasks that need a lot of storage space.
SSD use flash memory chips to store data. They are lighter, much faster, and use less energy than the traditional hard drive, but can be more expensive. You may consider going with an SSD if you’re on the go or need to work quickly.
You can also purchase a hybrid of the two that combines the capacity of a larger HDD with the performance of an SSD.
One of the latest technological advancements in terms of space is server-based storage, known as the cloud, in which documents and media are streamed from a remote server that you can access and share from anywhere.
If you are only going to use your laptop for basic tasks, you will be fine with storage space with a smaller capacity. However, if you are going to be storing a lot of documents, photos, videos, graphics, for example, you will want to look into a much larger storage space with enough capacity to hold all of your data and documents.
You may need specific connectivity options for your laptop, depending on what you are using it for. Consider whether there will be times when you need to hook your laptop to a large screen for a work presentation, an HDTV for larger viewing options, or any other device.
Some of these ports are standard on most laptops, but there are cables and other capabilities that may need to be purchased separately.
Common ports include:
• Media card slot
DisplayPort (screen resolution @ refresh rate)
DisplayPort 1.2 - capable of 3840 x 2160 (4K Resolution) @ 60 Hz
DisplayPort 1.3 - capable of 7680 x 4320 (8K Resolution) @ 30Hz; or 4K @ 120Hz
DisplayPort 1.4 - capable of 7680 x 4320 (8K Resolution) @ 60Hz; or 4K @ 120Hz
HDMI (screen resolution @ refresh rate)
HDMI 1.2 - capable of 1920 x 1200p @ 60Hz
HDMI 1.3 - capable of 2560 x 1600p @ 60Hz
HDMI 1.4 - capable of 4096 x 2160p (4K Resolution) @ 30Hz
HDMI 2.0 - capable of 4096 x 2160p (4K Resolution) @ 60Hz
Which Type of Laptop Should You Buy?
You want your laptop to be able to accomplish the things you need it to do. Some laptops are suited for business or professional use, some are geared more toward gaming and entertainment, and others are ideal for day-to-day tasks. Try to choose wisely, and you will be satisfied with your purchase.
Types of laptops to consider include:
Traditional laptops are ideal for most people, from students to families to business professionals. Loaded with an operating system and everything else you need to get up and go, the only thing left is to decide what to do first!
There are two different varieties of 2-in-1 laptops. Each has its own features and benefits.
The screen and keyboard on this type of 2-in-1 detach from each other. This is exceptionally convenient when you're going from meeting to meeting, as it significantly reduces the weight of your laptop, yet you can still access all its functions with a touchscreen interface.
Convertible 2-in-1 laptops swivel or rotate to take you from laptop to tablet mode and back. Different than a detachable 2-in-1, the keyboard and screen never separate. Some style flip around 360 degrees so you can use the laptop in up to four modes: laptop, stand, tent and tablet.
A Chromebook is a great choice as your next home laptop. By reducing hard drive storage and adding Cloud-based apps and programs, the laptop becomes more portable for commuting students and business professionals. Concerned about losing documents? There's no need to be thanks to Cloud-based storage.
When you have to be away from your gaming station, don't be away from your game and teammates. With fast processors, dedicated graphics, and high-definition screens laptops are optimized to keep you one step ahead of the competition.
If you're the kind of professional who is ready to get down to the job site and get work done, you can't spend time worrying about keeping your laptop clean. Rugged laptops are outfitted with strong, durable cases and covered keyboards the lock out dirt, dust and water to keep your data safe.
Now that you’ve read about the wide range of laptops, you can browse our assortment with confidence, knowing you have the information you need to choose the right one. Also, consider these essential accessories that are a must have for your new laptop.
Shaina Wizov is a lifestyle blogger and social media influencer with a background in journalism and media studies.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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