Your smart phone is fine when you want to send text messages, read email, or research subjects on the Internet. But if you’re going to do serious work, such as write a manual, edit video, or create a website, you need the computing power of a laptop at the very least. Such equipment comes in such a bewildering array of options that you just can’t buy the first one you see at a computer store. Ask yourself these three questions to narrow down your choices.
What’s the compromise between size and performance?
Obviously, if you want more computing power and performance, you’re going to need a bigger laptop, which is more inconvenient to carry around. Decide how often you’re going to move the equipment. If you’re using it as a desktop replacement that primarily sits at the office, then weight and size is not an issue. On the other hand, if you’re carrying this in your car everyday or traveling with it on a plane, you don’t want anything heavier than three pounds. What are the minimum performance requirements you can accept in exchange for lighter weight?
Will it last three years?
It seems that operating systems get updated every year and hardware more often than that. But unless you’re made of money, you want the laptop you buy to be with you for a while so it’s worth the investment. Figure on keeping it for at least three years, particularly if you work primarily with text and numbers, which don’t require the latest technology. If you keep it longer than that, you may be compromising on productivity because the hardware and operating system you have are no longer supported.
Do you need all the numbers?
When you buy a new laptop, you’re tempted to get the fastest processor, the biggest hard drive, and the latest networking technology. All those numbers can add up to more technology than you can ever use and a higher price. Think about the applications you want to run on your machine and look at their minimum system specifications. Then start with laptops that meet those specs and work up from there. If you’re willing to go one or two levels beyond the latest equipment version, you can save some serious bucks and still have all the computing that you need.