Before you purchase your laptop you'll want to familiarize yourself with the various features and determine what you need and what you do not. Some folks seek out all the latest bells and whistles. For others it's about getting your typical job done efficiently and cost effectively.
Here are some helpful hints:
To save yourself money look for a Celeron processor. Less expensive than a Pentium, it will work fine for all but the most detailed graphics projects. If you're a graphic artist or a professional programmer, however, seek out a laptop with Pentium processing.
126 MB RAM is the least you can be comfortable with nowadays, no matter what you're doing. And, unless you're buying used you're probably not going to find a laptop with less anyway. But what if you want to upgrade your memory? How easy is it to do that? How accessible is the panel for the memory chips? Are you comfortable with doing it yourself if you have to remove the case? Make sure it's not a laptop that actually requires some outside technical help to install more memory. .
The life of the installed battery is important. Generally the range of battery life available to laptops is two-four hours. Which is adequate depends on where you're going to be when you use your laptop. If you're a traveling sales rep who needs a laptop to your emails and prepare the daily report from your hotel room each evening you won't be using your battery a lot. If, however, you envision the life of the mobile warrior, sometimes creating your graphic or written masterpiece from the beach, or while traveling by air, you won't be able to rely on the power cord and electricity. You'll want that four-hour battery.
Make sure you have a minimum of three ports, to accommodate a number of peripherals such as printers, cameras and external floppy drives or modems. The number of ports you need depends on the internal features of your laptop as well as your own need for peripherals.
Obviously, if you have an internal modem you don't need a port for an external one. But if you have only a CD drive and copy to floppy on your PC at home, for the two to talk to each other you're going to need an external floppy drive on your laptop. For this you'll need a port. Be cognizant also of the types of ports. Your old mouse may connect by parallel port, but the newest versions require USB connection.
Make sure you have an internal modem and fax rather than external. And if you're shopping for a brand new laptop the wireless feature is terrific. Many places, such as RV and other resorts are totally Wi-Fi capable now.
If you're used to a traditional mouse do play around with several versions of mice available on laptops. Some will drive you crazy until you get used to them. See if you're most comfortable with trackball, touch pad or trackpoint. While you're checking that, play with that keyboard. So much smaller than a PC keyboard, you may have difficulty typing accurately with some. Try several.
The final things you'll want to compare are the software and the warranty. Major software programs such as Windows are almost always included in brand new systems, but do check. Especially if buying used. You can spend many hundreds of dollars on Microsoft Office and the latest Windows version if you don't have a version that you can upgrade.
Alan Jason Smith is the owner of http://www.tkcicomputers.com which is a great place to find computer links, resources and articles. For more information go to: http://www.tkcicomputers.com.
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