After nearly twenty years it is becoming clear that tablets might never replace laptops with most people still finding the keyboard and trackpad the best way to get stuff done.
Want to know what to buy? Check out our Top 5 Laptops at all price points.
LAPTOP BUYING GUIDE
SIZE AND WEIGHT
This is by far the most important consideration when buying a mobile PC. If it’s too bulky, you will avoid carrying it, won’t have it when you need it, and won’t get full value for money. A laptop weighs around 3 kg and is suitable only for moving to and from the office, or between the rooms of your home. A notebook weighs around 2 kg and is good for working on the road, in coffee shops and visiting customers. A thin and light Ultrabook weighs around 1 kg and is ideal for the frequent flyer and serious business person. Trust us: in the end, every 100 g actually matters.
The most important component to keep your PC working fast is RAM. No matter what you’ve been told, your PC will soon be dragging with anything less than 8 GB of RAM. Save yourself a sooner-than-expected upgrade and just get 8 GB from the start – or maybe even up that to 16 GB if you’re a power user.
Be sure to check the power supply before making a purchase. Heavy, oversized power bricks and a profusion of long and thick cables add inconvenience and bulk. Consider buying a second (possibly lighter) power supply and leaving it at home or at the office, plugged in and ready to connect.
PORTS AND PLUGS
The new style of USB connector is called USB-C. It looks like your phone’s tiny power socket, but it handles far more data and more power than the old USB-A style, so aim to get one on your next laptop. Of course, you will likely still need the old USB style, too.
WORK IN COMFORT
Invest in a full-size monitor, keyboard and mouse to work in comfort at your office and at home. Laptops have cramped keyboards and tiny screens angled to bend your neck, shoulders and spine into an unnatural position.
Battery life need not be a critical issue for most users. Power usage can be carefully managed by Windows to get you at least four hours’ battery on almost any laptop, although some can do up to 12 hours. Most mobile warriors can find an open power socket within four hours. Until then, turn down your screen brightness.
One current trend is to fit gaming-quality graphics chips on business machines to assist with multimedia editing and playback. The neat side effect is that these formal-looking machines deliver some serious after-hours fun fragging your mates – once you’ve closed down PowerPoint and Excel, of course.