Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Picking a New Laptop

I am often asked for recommendations on computers.  Here are my thoughts on laptops as of today (tomorrow may bring something different). Remember, this is my opinion, and other computer experts will sometimes disagree (okay, maybe often).
  • Stay away from the extremes in pricing, avoid the sub $500 class.  Remember, you get what you pay for.  If it’s selling for $300 there is a reason.  And on the high end you may get a great computer but not great value.  This is true for all brands including the ones below.
  • Get a Toshiba or an ASUS.  Dell is also very good, particularly for their service, but you have to select the correct service during checkout.  Select “North American Support.”  Dell and Toshiba have the best accessory selection.
  • Be sure to check the warranty.  Consider an extended warranty from www.squaretrade.com if the manufacturer's warranty is only a year.  Laptops are particularly expensive to repair so I like having a three year warranty.
  • Get an Intel processor (not an AMD).  Others really like AMD but I have not been impressed.
  • Get Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit or Professional 64-bit.  This makes migration from an older computer more of a project, but 64-bit is important for the future.  And in a business environment Professional is very important.
  • At least 4GB of RAM (Random Access Memory).
  • Don't confuse RAM with hard drive capacity.  In most cases the hard drive provided will be sufficient, but the bigger the better.
  • Never buy “refurbished” or “re-manufactured” electronics! (Just trust me on this.)
  • Compare processors at http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu_list.php and get the fastest processor you can afford (Passmark CPU mark column).
  • Find the model you like and then compare at www.pricegrabber.com. Just enter the laptop model number in the search box. There are some vendors to avoid so pay attention to the star ratings.
  • Generally October and November offer the best deals as vendors want to move inventory before Christmas.
Happy Hunting!

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