In my line of work the most common question I am asked is:
“What laptop do you think I should get?” and “What is a good laptop?”
With many brands of Laptop computers and even more models within those brands, it can be very confusing for the individual looking to buy a Laptop. However another thing which contributes to the confusion the buyer is already experiencing is the myriad of opinions and information shared by the people around who pose as “in-the-know” on the topic of Laptops.
I will share with you some tips on choosing a laptop for you and your needs, as well as expound a little on what you might want to do with all that “other” information which has been distracting you from focusing on the basic and important things that you should be focusing on.
First thing to do: Ask yourself questions!
Before you start asking other people “What laptop should I get”, you need to ask yourself some important questions which will help to make the task of buying a laptop much easier from here on out.
1. What do I need the software to do for me?
Answer yourself by going over all the projects or tasks that you want your Laptop to perform for you. Some common ones are:
– Word Processing (Writing Letters)
– Email, Chat and Web Browsing
– Watch DVD’s/videos
– Listen to Music
– Copy/View Digital Photos
Then there are some other things that some may want to do such as:
– Graphic Design
– Video Creation and Editing
– Audio Recording and Editing
– Play Games
The first group of tasks are pretty ordinary and only require an ordinary amount of system requirements, whereas the second group is more power demanding and therefore requires a faster and more powerful system.
2. What do I need the hardware to do for me?
Answer yourself my thinking of all the locations you are going to be using your laptop in. Here are some ways that people use their Laptops.
USER 1 – Some people use their laptops on a desk 99.99 percent of the time and only move it to take it from one desk/table to another desk/table.
USER 2 – Some people use their laptop on a desk 50-60 percent of the time and the other time it spends on the persons lap or on a bed etc …
USER 3 – Some people are road warriors and use their laptop everywhere … at the desk, in the airport, on the plane, on a train, in a meeting on their lap etc …
Here is how the laptop will differ from one user to another:
USER 1 – This user can use use any laptop he/she desires … from the large 17inch screen desktop replacement laptops to the ultra-portable 12 inch screen laptops or 7 inch netbooks like the ASUS EEE PC. Also Battery Life is not an issue since the user will most likely have the unit plugged into the AC power most of the time if they are at a desk.
USER 2 – This user will want a machine that has reasonable battery life and that is reasonably light weight. Battery life may be needed if the user wants watch a DVD in bed without having to have the unit plugged in and the weight of the laptop will come into play when the user wants to hold the laptop on his/her lap for any extended amount of time. This user may opt for a 15.4 inch screen laptop, but this might be too heavy and bulky for uses other than sitting at a desk. A 14.1 in screen laptop is usually preferred.
USER 3 – This user needs a laptop that is light weight, thin and with good to super good battery life. I would also strongly recommend a laptop that is designed ruggedly with strong plastics and overall build. This user will not want anything bigger than a 14.1 inch screen machine.
The size of the laptop screen makes a big difference when choosing a laptop — a BIG difference. Here are some things that change …
Smaller is more expensive becasue its harder and more costly to make something more compact. On the other hand a 17″ screen laptop might cost more then a 15.4 inch screen. So usually the cheapest laptop screen size will be a 15.4 inch with 14.1 being slightly more costly for the same system configuration.
– Size and weight
Generally the bigger the screen the bigger and heavier the laptop body gets. The body of a 15.4 inch screen laptop of the same make and line will be noticeably bigger and heavier than the 14.1 inch screen laptop model in the same line.
– Quality and Flex
Sometimes it is noticed that the quality of a 14.1 inch screen laptop is slightly better than its 15.4 inch counterpart, or maybe there will be less flex in the plastics etc …
3. What is my budget?
It is obvious why this is a needed question to ask ones self, but it can be good to really allow yourself time to decide on a max amount that you would be willing to spend on a laptop.
Get other peoples input and filter it!
Naturally you will find yourself talking with others about your need for a laptop and thus you will find yourself getting all kinds of information from all kinds of sources. This is not a bad thing at all … but you need to be aware of the hazards so you can filter what you hear and read. This way you will retain the important bits.
1. Who is your source of information?
Many sweet and well-meaning individuals enjoy giving others their views and opinions on what they like or what has worked for them etc … this can sometimes be very detrimental to the person seeking a laptop finding what is really going to work for THEM in THEIR situation and with THEIR habits of laptop use.
When you are hearing someone talk about their laptop and their experience, take it with a grain of salt and realise that most people are somewhat inclined to look at the brand of laptop they are using as “the best”. Many people say things like “This has been a super machine and I haven’t had any issues with it since I got it 2/3 years ago”. This kind of thing is possible but unlikely and it is more likely that the person is either concealing certain issues which have occured or has forgotten those past issues.
Some people will only mention issues that they feel were major, like a system board needing replacing or a screen going bad, and they will knowingly leave out things like the DVD drive failing or laptop overheating issues etc … On the other hand some people would not be aware that the laptop they have owned for several years has an overheating issue or that the plastics are cheap quality or that the battery life is very poor. An individual persons experience is just that – one persons experience and should be seen as such … not as an experience you yourself can count on!
Also, laptops are constantly changing in their make and design. Different models of the same brand name also vary and there are usually big differences from one model line to another model line.
Here is how the Laptop Brand, Line or Series and Model tree usually work: (all examples below are fictitious)
Brand Name: Wizard
Line/Series 1: Genius
Line/Series 2: Smart
Models of Line/Series “Genius”: G101, G300 and GL50
Models of Line/Series “Smart”: S2010, ST5000 and SX1002
The above example is to just help you understand the basic terminology and structure for Brands, Lines/Series and Models.
So if someone says they have had a particular laptop for a few years and its been great, well maybe it has been, but every few months new laptop models are being made with slightly different designs etc… so exactly what was in existence 1 year or 3 years ago will most likely not be around today. The same Brand might be around and the same Line or Series, but the models will be different and in many cases that means that materials, build and design will be different too – it may be better or it may be worse.
Also try to get your information from someone who is, and has been for some time, in the business of consulting those looking for a laptop to suit their needs. Ask the individual how long he/she has been doing this and for how many people roughly.
2. Good, Better and Best!
One thing that is often shared as “sound information” from one individual to another is the following:
“Well, all of them (laptops) are made in China anyway …”
This line is used many times and by many people in the wrong way.
Basically what the individual is trying to say is that because all (or the vast majority of) laptops and laptop components are manufactured in China therefore there exists no significant difference of quality from one Brand of laptop to another. This is simply false and can be the most damaging thing to say to someone looking for a laptop, unsure of what Brand is better quality than the rest. Why? … read on …
While it is true that most Laptops and Laptop components are indeed manufactured in China (and Taiwan) it is not true that they are all of the same quality and design. Do you hear people saying that since Kia and Toyota are both built in Australia (for example) that they are both of the same quality? No! Why? Because the quality design and make comes from the company itself and not from the country it is built in. The Kia and the Toyota might both use some similar parts (again just an example) which may be made in the same country, but the important thing (apart from quality parts) is the actual design and techniques used in creating the final product. Laptop A may be using quality components built by Intel just as Laptop B is, but what is just as important is how the components are lined up and how the entire system in relation to all of its parts and components is designed and manufactured.
Each major Laptop Brand will have its own factories and within those factories it will have its own standards and guidelines. Each Manufacturer (Brand) also has different ways in which they test their models and products. Some may choose to test the battery life vigorously and others will only do a basic test. Some may deem it necessary to have a robot open and close a models LCD screen to test its longevity and endurance, while others will do no such thing. There are differences from Brand to Brand and there is such a thing as “Good, Better and Best”.
That being said many of you will undoubtedly be wondering “What is the best quality laptop available today?”
3. “Best Quality Laptop” vs “Best Laptop”
USER 1 – “What is the best quality laptop available at the moment?”
USER 2 – “What is the best laptop available at the moment?”
Here is the difference:
USER 1 – This user is asking for a specific type of laptop – one of quality. This person is easy to answer for the experienced IT Professional simply based on the question of quality. When comparing Brands of laptop computers based on raw quality we look at things like
– Materials used for the outer body of the laptop
– Materials used for the inner “skeleton” or chassis of the laptop
– Heat distribution
– Accident Protection Designs / Shock-Proof Designs
– Hardware Noise
– Size and Weight
– Overall quality of buttons, keyboard, pointing devices etc …
USER 2 – In comparison this user is asking a far too general question since “best” for this user could be judged on any of many merits. “Best” is only for him/her to decide since it is more about opinion and personal preference.
What’s the point of telling you this? Well if you are someone looking for a laptop and you are going to seek the help of an experienced individual, rather than asking what user 2 asked, which was far too general to get a clear decisive answer, ask a more precise and descriptive question. That way you will get a more precise answer.
Last but not least!
We would like to answer the question “What is the best quality laptop available at the moment?”.
Nowadays the Lenovo ThinkPad is the one machine that overall will beat any other brand name for quality. Here are some reasons why: CLICK HERE
Remember, this is talking about quality and not about the look and such. If you think that there is a better quality laptop around than the Lenovo ThinkPad we would be very interested to hear about it.
If you have any laptop enquiries feel free to write the FSRC at: firstname.lastname@example.org