Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Few Important Things You Might Consider Before You Buy Your New Laptop

Buying Laptops
Nowadays laptops have become a must, as they provide mobility. Especially when job hopping has become a norm, often with relocation, laptop gives you flexibility. But with increasing complexities in the configuration and technology of laptops, you will have to be careful before choosing the right configuration and brand for you.

1. Brands of Laptops:
We have lot of good brands to choose from. The following brands are available in the market. Some brands have their own showrooms while others do not.

• Dell
• Apple Macbook
• HP Compaq Presario
• IBM thinkpad
• Sony Vaio
• Toshiba
• LG
• Lenovo
• Acer
• Fujitsu
• Asus
• Samsung
• Panasonic
• HCL (Indian brand)
• Zenith (Indian brand)
• Sahara (Indian brand)

Of these brands, HP goes as the first choice of many. It is comparatively cheaper and of good quality. With Dell slashing the prices recently, some prefer Dell. Indeed Dell has some excellent configurations at unbelievable price. If you buy dell from India, you can configure laptop yourslef online. There are no showrooms for Dell in India and worldwide I think, except in Gulf countries. In Gulf countries you can buy Dell laptops from market. Toshiba also offers some magnificent configurations at prices you can expect. In price, configuration and quality, all these three brands are comparable.

IBM thinkpad also has some good quality configurations at a nominal price. But somehow, thinkpads have lost their attraction in the market. Then, comes Sony Vaio and Apple’s MacBook. Both these brands are costlier. But provide a very high quality machines. If you are really interested in high end multimedia experience, then a MacBook or Vaio is a good choice.

Other brands such as Fujitsu, Asus, Samsung, Panasonic, Acer, LG, HCL and Zenith we do not have much exposure to these machines. You can choose, if you personally know about these.

2. Processors
Laptops come with slightly different type of processors than the desktops. This is to give them lower power consumption and mobility. The following are available in the market.

• Intel Core 2 Duo (64 bit dual core)
• Intel dual core (this is nothing but dual core version of high end Pentium processors,
usually with 32 bit core)
• Intel Celeron
• AMD Turion 64 X2
• AMD Turion 64

Intel Core 2 Duo is best followed by intel dual core, AMD turion 64 X2, AMD Turion 64, and Intel Celeron.
AMD processors are cheaper and quicker but tend to heat up but I heard that’s not a big problem.
Along with processor clocking speed, now two more features are to be taken into account. These are cache memory and FSB (front side bus). Cache memory is inbuilt memory in the processor, which routes memory from RAM to processor through the FSB. Cache takes data from RAM and keeps with it. This is to enable RAM to be synchronized with processor clocking speed.

Typically Cache memory is 2 MB or 4 MB. And FSB comes in 667 MHz or 800 MHz.

Intel has series of Core 2 Duo processors T2000s, T5000s, T7000s with the last one having the highest clocking speed, Cache and FSB. But cost is very high.

Very recently quad core processors also released. Dell has already released a laptop with quad core processor. We will have to wait little more for cheaper quad core systems.

3. Essential ConfigurationThese are the possible accessories which you would require now or later, but since up-gradation laptop is not possible or very costly, it is better to look for such options while buying itself.

3.1 RAM:
You would require at least 1 GB RAM (Dual channel) for Windows Vista, manufacturers usually recommend 2 GB. When you use Windows Vista Home Basic 1GB may be enough. But with vista home premium and other high end vista operating system, you really require high RAM memory. However, if you take windows XP, a 512 MB RAM would be OK. But always look for the possibilities of upgrading RAM later. Usually laptops now come with ports that can support up to 4 GB ram. But the maximum limit of RAM depends on processor clocking speed and FSB as well.

3.2 Bluetooth Technology:
Bluetooth module is good for connecting to your mobile phones or any other device with blutooth. This can be purchased separately also and connected through USB to laptop to enable it Bluetooth ready.

3.3 Wireless network connectivity:
Internal 802.11b/g (for wireless internet network to access through Wi-Fi)
With wireless internet availability almost everywhere, this feature has become a must in laptops. As you can get lot of Wi-Fi adapters available in the market, so it can be bought later when you actually need. But I think, now almost all laptops available in the market have Wi-Fi.

3.4 Ethernet:
Integrated Ethernet 10/100, for wireless LAN connection

3.5 Optical Drive:
DVD writer (now comes with dual layer capability). Blue ray disc also comes (25 GB capacity, but the writer is very very costly, probably equal to the price of laptop itself)

3.6 Webcam:
Now almost all laptops come with an attached webcam

3.7 Video Card:
Intel integrated graphics media accelerator is the basic one which is quite good for normal operations.
But you need a high end dedicated video memory for advanced applications. GeForce Nvidia is the best for high end Video games and certain programs. This comes with dedicated memory for video/graphics (128/256 MB) apart from regular RAM

3.8 Card reader/card slots:
There now two types of cards,
Express cards: newer one, has high speed data transfer.
PCMCIA cards: older standard
Mostly express card slots are not compatible with PCMCIA. Express cards work well but not compatible with Sony.

3.9 Firewire Slot:
At least one Fire wire slot is necessary.
This slot is required for handycam or Camcorder, miniDV or other digital audio/video gadgets to connect with PC for audio/video transfer.
Most of the laptops have either IEEE 1394 or SCSI.

3.10 Other ports and slots:
No. of USB ports-at least 4, possibly in front side.
At least one PCI slot
TV out, monitor out, AV in/out slots are also necessary
Data cables/ AV cables may be necessary

Now recently HDMI ports are also coming. HDMI is High Definition Multimedia Interface. It is used for transmitting uncompressed high definition digital data. HDMI supports high definition video along with 8 channels of digital audio in a single cable. It makes your laptop compatible with high definition TVs, HD-DVD camcorders, HD video game consoles, AV receivers etc. Now even digital still cameras are also coming with HD video. So it is now almost a must in laptops.

4. Media Direct
Most of the laptops in the market have this feature. This is particularly useful when you use your laptop as a DVD player. You need not go in to windows. You have a separate button for switching on the media direct. It can be used only when the system is turned off. You directly press power button of media direct, then the laptop behaves like a DVD player, you can play media files from discs or from hard disc. The usual computer functions will not work. You will have a remote control as well to control the functions of media direct.

This remote control works well while the system is functioning in Windows mode also. You can control windows media player, Jet audio player etc with the remote control.

5. Warranty & Service
This is a must. International travel warranty is essential. Try to get motherboard driver CD along with Laptop. This driver CD contains all driver software for devices which the motherboard controls. But with nowadays lot of motherboard designs are available, it would be difficult to get a driver CD outside, so it is better to take it from seller who will give the manufacturer’s driver CD. If we take motherboard driver CD from other sources, it may not contain driver for all devices which will result in non-functioning of those devices.

And also in case if we reformat hard disk or reinstall windows, we have to reinstall motherboard drivers again. If you don’t have this CD then u will have to go to company for this and they will charge heavily.

6. Carrying case
This is a must for all laptops. You can buy it outside, but most of the brands give one free. Carrying case should protect the laptop properly especially during travel.

Leather-costly, but better and will protect laptop.

7. Displays/Monitors
Monitors come usually as TFT 1280 x 800 resolution. You can go for even higher resolution. Because monitor can not be upgraded in Laptops, it is preferable to have high resolution monitor. Nowadays high definition displays are also coming. Typically a high definition display would have a resolution of 1920 x 1080.

8. Upgradation
Nowadays laptops are coming with certain features which can be upgraded. Most of the upgradations involve the RAM memory, which can be upgraded to a certain level specified by the manufacturer. Like, a laptop with 2 GB RAM may be upgraded to 4 GB depending on processor clocking speed, FSB and motherboard. And also optical drives in laptops come with option for upgradation. There are some laptops in the market, which have extension ports. Or even you can connect to external hard drives to increase storage, or connect to external optical drives, but these options are costlier than what you would get along with laptop from the manufacturer.

9. Biometrics systemNowadays you get laptops come with voice/fingerprint recognition adding more security. Starting models are not very costly. I have seen a fingerprint recognition laptop, in sony showroom recently. You may be remembering in Shivaji movie, Rajnikant uses voice recognition for his laptop. This is not a very costly system. You can check the prices of such models before choosing such thing.

10. Operating system
Some laptops from HP come without windows operating system but have only MS-DOS to make them cheaper. You will have to buy Windows yourself costing more than Rs 4000. But if you buy a pirated one, it would be few hundred rupees only. But it is not safe for system when you use internet. But if you have a genuine windows CD already then this would b a good option.

It will be better to have original OS CD from the seller for future reinstallations, otherwise you will have to go to company service, they will charge heavily.

11. Antivirus system
Most of the laptops give a trial version of antivirus, like 30 days, 60 days validity. After that period you will have to subscribe to that antivirus program. You cannot continue to use the expired antivirus programs, as virus threats are increasing day by day. And also McAfee uninstalls itself some time after the expiry date when you go online. So you will have to particular in selecting an antivirus program. There are lot of freewares available online, eg., AVG which is available free. However, higher versions of AVG are not free making the things really difficult. Better thing is to buy a genuine antivirus. Again, McAfee slows down your system especially during the start up. And Norton is not very effective. So, it is user’s decision when it comes to choosing better antivirus program.
You can visit this post to know more details about what are viruses and why we use an anti virus program.

When you are buying a new laptop consider those various citeria and choose the one which suit your budget and needs.
Good Luck!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails