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Buying Guide: Laptop Features, Types of Laptops and more

 Things to keep top of mind when buying a Laptop

To start off, you want to figure out what you will be using it for. Will you use it for personal or professional purpose? Or will you use it for gaming? Everyone wants the best performance, sure, but what about price? And how often do you plan on carrying it around? How big a screen can you get before you sacrifice portability? It’s understood that portability is the main, if not entire, point of a laptop, but the size and weight of the device will have a bearing on your decision. Then again, if portability is not the deciding factor, you may find yourself more confused – as the boundaries between categories blur, you will find new desktops that are almost as small as a laptop. You will wonder if you should get a desktop, because it is very likely that you will get more performance for the same money—plus more flexibility in customizing/upgrading the machine once you buy it. Conversely, you can easily find a laptop that’s just as powerful as a typical desktop. And then there are some slightly unconventional categories, such as laptops that convert into tablets, tablets that convert into laptops, and all-in-one desktops that don’t need a separate monitor. Thankfully there is literally a whole web of information and reviews out there, though figuring out the pros and cons can leave some of you more confused than before. Overall, getting objective is key and hence we have in this report tried to simplify the choosing task by zeroing in on the attributes that commonly matter.

Laptop features to be compared before buying

It is worth discussing the main features that finally tilt the decision in favour of one laptop type against the several others. The amount of technical specifications and jargon used by laptop manufacturers and retailers is dizzying. To ensure that your pick has what you need, read on.

  • Storage space:

    Storage capacity, measured in gigabytes (GB) or terabytes (TB, equal to 1,000GB), determines how many things your PC can hold. Documents, photos, music, movies, programs – they all take up space. Bigger is usually better, although solid-state drives (SSDs) are usually more expensive for considerably less space. This is because they load much quicker and are completely silent. We’re also seeing a lot of cheaper laptops (including Chromebooks) carrying eMMC flash storage, which is slower than SSDs and gives you very little storage space.

 

  • Processors:

    The processor is the brain of your laptop, and this is one component that can really ramp up the price of a laptop. Generally, the more gigahertz (GHz) a processor has, the faster it will be. But they also come as dual, quad, hexa or octa-core – the more cores, the better it will be at running multiple programs at once. Because of the different elements available, it can be tricky to unpick exactly whether one laptop is faster than another. Is a 2.5GHz dual-core processor better or worse than a 2GHz quad-core? The i7 is the fastest on the market, but the i3 and i5 will normally have plenty of power for opening multiple browser tabs at once and carrying out office tasks smoothly. (Note that a higher number means a more recent edition and better performance.) If you see the words Pentium, Celeron or Atom, these are Intel’s cheaper chips and are normally towards the bottom end of the performance register. Some laptops have AMD chips instead – the K10 series is among the newest and fastest.

 

  • Memory (RAM):

    Not to be confused with storage space, memory is measured in RAM (random access memory) and determines how much information your computer can store in its short-term memory. More RAM means faster load times and smoother switching between programs. The standard for RAM nowadays is 4GB or 8GB, with anything more being a bonus; 2GB of RAM will be painfully slow. High-end gaming would require more than 12-16GB.

 

  • Screen size and resolution:

    A laptop’s screen is one case where bigger isn’t always better. If you want a longer-lasting battery and a more portable device, then you may want to go for an 11-, 12- or 13-inch display. The largest you’re likely to see is 15 or 17 inches. Most machines on the shelves now have a Full-HD 1,920x1,080-resolution display and you can pay more to get more pixels. Generally, the higher the resolution, the sharper the picture. Only cheaper machines have a lower screen resolution of 1,366x768. Read More

 

  • Battery life:

    Manufacturers often make heady claims about how long their laptops’ batteries last for. But various tests show that these estimates are often rather exaggerated – the only way you can really know how long a battery will last is by reading authentic reviews. Think of it this way: how much time do you want to spend with your laptop every day? Use that as the benchmark for battery life as the longer lifespan you have, the less of a slave you are to the power cable. If you spend most of your day at a desk, then this is less important. Battery stamina on desktop-replacement models won’t be as crucial, as they’ll almost always be near a power socket. If you are buying a portable laptop that you intend to use when travelling or on your commute, then make sure the battery life is at least six hours.

 

  • Laptop ports and drives:

    Most modern laptops don’t come with built-in DVD drives. When it comes to ports, the more the merrier is the general rule. In any case, make sure you have at least 3 USB ports in total. If you don’t have many accessories that need plugging in, though, then you needn’t worry too much. USB 3.0 is considerably faster than USB 2.0, too, so look out for those wherever possible. More and more laptops are now fitted with USB-C connections. This is the latest standard of USB – it’s faster and smaller than the older style of port, and also uses reversible connectors for easier use. If you plan to use the laptop to connect with a projector for presentations, then you should also check with a D-sub/VGA port as most basic projectors use those.

 

  • Warrantee:

    Most of the laptops come with 1 year–2 years company warrantee. At the time of buying, make sure that regular using softwares are installed and it should be internet and wifi ready.

Consumer Voice has compared various Laptops features and specifications to help you find the Best Laptop under 50,000

Types of Laptops

The terms ‘laptop’ and ‘notebook’ tend to be used interchangeably, though one can break these down into smaller categories, though they’re not always mutually exclusive – for example, an ultraportable can also be convertible. So let’s see what types of laptops are out there.

  • Notebook:

    It’s the general term for a full-sized laptop that strikes a balance between portability and functionality. These can vary greatly in overall size and specification in terms of processor speed, storage capacity, memory (RAM) and screen size. These can also vary greatly in price, from low-cost budget models to high-performance productivity and gaming laptops.

 

  • Ultraportable:

    These thin, light laptops are designed for mobility (also sometimes called a subnotebook). Maintaining a super-slim profile means they have to cut out some features such as built-in CD/DVD drive and speaker size, and reduce the number of connection ports. The smallest models weigh about a kilogram. An Ultrabook (note the capital U) is a specific type of ultraportable that meets specifications set down by Intel. Among their strong points is strong security and anti-theft protection built in at the hardware level. Although the MacBook Air is regarded as the inspiration for the Ultrabook class, it's not actually an Ultrabook.

 

  • Netbook:

    These are small, inexpensive laptops that run off the low-powered Intel Atom processor. These have been largely phased out, to be replaced by tablets, Ultrabooks and ultraportables.

 

  • Chromebook:

    This one is a notebook or ultraportable laptop that runs Google’s operating system called Chrome. Chrome OS looks like the Chrome web browser and can only run apps downloaded from the Chrome Store.

We can see why Chromebooks end up on a lot of buyers’ shortlists: they tend to be small, light and, most appealingly, cheap. Instead of Windows or MacOS, they run off Google’s dedicated Chrome operating system. The main limitation is that they generally require you to be online to access your documents.

  • MacBook:

    Apple’s laptop computers come in three families – the ultra-thin MacBook and MacBook Air models, and the high-performance MacBook Pro in 13-inch and 15-inch sizes.

 

  • Convertible:

    These combine the features of a laptop and a tablet. They’re also known as 2-in-1 laptops. They can quickly switch between touchscreen tablet mode and traditional keyboard mode, transforming in a variety of ways, including detaching, sliding, twisting and fold-back mechanisms. Most models now use the fold-back or detachable screen mechanisms.

 

Which laptop should you buy?

Within each brand’s laptop are usually several similar models that vary in power, capacity and a range of other features. Picking one that suits your needs can be a bit of a pain though. Do you go for a budget unit with limited capabilities, a high-powered top-end laptop that can play the latest games without breaking a sweat, or something in-between?

That’s a question only you can answer, but first it’s a good idea to narrow down how you intend to use your laptop.

  • If you want a cheap laptop for basic tasks and occasional or lighter use and aren’t overly concerned about performance, weight or battery life, you can find many ‘budget’ models that will do the job.
  • If you travel a lot and want to take it with you, you’ll want something thin, light and easy to carry – an ultraportable (including Ultrabooks).
  • If you want something to give you all the power of a desktop computer while being transportable with relative ease, go for a multimedia powerhouse such as a gaming machine.

 

The categories of entry-level, mid-range and high-end models are not objectively set to meet specific criteria – in other words, they’re a general description or broad guideline. There is no official classification for these categories.

The High and the Not-So-High

Here’s a broad guide to the unofficial categories of entry-level, mid-range and high-end models:

  • Entry level:

    These low-cost laptops are relatively low-powered, but quite capable of most general computing tasks like web browsing, email and general word processing. They can handle most basic multimedia tasks – like standard-definition video streaming – and are best suited to casual users and younger students.

 

  • Mid-range:

    Aimed at regular computer users, families, students and business people, mid-range computers can run most software and games but may struggle a bit with high-end functions like video editing and games that require fast graphics processing.

 

  • High-end:

    For serious computer types that like to push their systems with intensive computing tasks like editing video and audio, 3D rendering and high-end games, these are obviously the ones to go for.

 

Laptop Sizes

 While there are always exceptions to the rule, the size of a laptop can give you a decent idea about the quality and specs they have.

  • Smaller (10” to 13” screen size):

    A 10- to 13-inch laptop is best for people frequently on the move. These laptops are typically light enough to travel with you. They may not have the absolute fastest processors around, but laptops in this size range are nowadays more than capable of handling everyday productivity tasks with ease. Battery life varies but should get you through a typical workday with no questions asked.

 

  • Medium (14” to 16”):

    This size range offers the ideal balance of performance, portability and price for many users. Midsized models are a good choice if you take your machine along less frequently or if you need to use it extensively for work. Such a laptop can easily be configured as a desktop replacement. This range has the largest share of sale across the world.

 

  • Large (17” to 18”):

    These laptops tend to use top-performing processors with standard hard drives that give you tons of storage, though not top performance. The larger screen can make it more comfortable to work on multiple windows, professional designing or large spreadsheets.

Read More

Consumer Voice has compared various Laptops features and specifications to help you find the Best Laptop under 50,000

Divya Patwal

VOICE

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