Tech Tips for Shopping this Holiday Season: Laptops

I’ve been thinking lately about all the advice I give out and that I should write some of it down. I know it’s a bit late for Black Friday, but there are those of us that haven’t yet bought their first gift. So, here goes! I hope this helps.

PC Laptops: Unless you want an Ultrabook that’ll boot in less than 7 seconds, try to spend less than $500. Intel processors help gauge the overall speed. An i3 is low end. An i5 is medium (most common and recommended) and an i7 is fast (usually in +$1000 notebooks). However, if you found a laptop (I use notebook and laptop interchangeably) for under $200, then it doesn’t matter what it’s got, it’s a good deal. However, stay away from Netbooks (see next item). Windows 7 or 8 should be 64-bit versions, not 32-bit. 4Gb RAM is good, more is better. At least a 200Gb hard drive. If it has an SSD drive instead, then 96Gb or more. Screen size is important. It can’t be changed later. Avoid 17″ screens if you plan on carrying the laptop around as they’re pretty heavy. Also, consider a hybrid (see below).

Netbooks: I would avoid these. Although they were popular, they’re very slow, the screen is small and they don’t have a built-in DVD or CD drive. They are usually based on the Intel Atom processor – which is ok for tablets, but not for a Netbook running Windows 7. Also, they’re 32-bit and not 64-bit and are generally made of more plastic than metal. You can do better. Find a full size laptop on sale or clearance.

Hybrids: This is a new genre. Since the arrival late this year of Windows 8, touch screens are becoming the norm. Although you can get a touch screen on a laptop, it’s not very useful. Imagine sitting with a laptop in your lap and pushing the screen. Awkward. However, hybrids are a cross between a laptop and a tablet. They can convert to both with a built-in keyboard. Avoid hybrids running Windows 8 RT or Intel Atom processors. You want the full Windows 8 or Windows 8 Professional and at least an Intel i5 processor.

Ultrabooks ™: This new category was introduced by Intel. An ultrabook has to meet specific requirements to be called an Ultrabook as the designation is trademarked by Intel. One of the requirements is that they boot Windows in 7 seconds or less. So, they’re fast. But, they’re also thin and light. This translates to $1000-2000. But, for those that want speed, its worth it. Ultrabooks can be found in hybrid forms too. So, you get laptop, tablet and speed all in one – for a price.

Thanks for listening. I hope this helped. I’ll write more about other technologies. Please comment or offer suggestions.

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