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What to look for when buying a new laptop

What to look for when buying a new laptop

With such a variety of laptops available, how do you choose which one is right for you? The first thing you need to do is work out why you need one. What will you be doing with it? Are you into using a lot of apps? Playing games? Downloading movies? Editing photos or videos? Or just using it for typing documents and checking emails?

You’ll know from the apps and software you want to use whether it’ll be an Apple or Windows laptop, and you probably know what size you need. A huge 17-inch screen is great for work, gaming, and editing photos and videos, and the keyboard will probably be a reasonable size to make typing easier.

But these larger sizes are heavy and awkward to carry around. If portability is important to you, then an 11 or 13-inch laptop is a comfortable size for travelling.

Battery life is a priority if you’re travelling or on the go all day; you don’t want to be constantly looking for power points to charge up the laptop. Check the specs, but in general smaller and lighter laptops with their smaller screens and less processing power tend to have a better battery life.

If you prefer processing power to portability, remember that a smaller laptop may have less CPU power. It pays to check the specs.

Smaller laptops also tend to have fewer ports. Think about what you need to plug in. A printer, cameras, phone, thumb drive, portable speaker, and so on. Check that the type of ports – headphone jack, USB-A, USB-C, Thunderbolt, etc – suit your devices.

Keyboard considerations include checking the space between the keys, whether they are backlit, vertical travel (distance the key goes down when pressed), and how ‘spongy’ they are. For touchpads, the gesture-based commands ideally are easy to understand and use.

Another option is the 2-in-1 hybrid, where the laptop converts into a tablet either by the screen detaching completely from the keyboard or bending right back hard up against the keyboard.

It’s a good idea to try before you buy. Test the keyboard, play a game, pick it up to see how heavy it is, and look at the screen – are the colours bright enough? What’s the contrast like? Listen to the speakers. Check for any tinny high notes.

And don’t be swayed by discounts; it’s not a bargain if it’s not what you want.

Written by Cythnia Karnea on 15/5/2018.

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