Choosing The Right Notebook Computer

By: Peter Stewart

Notebook computers have incresed in popularity over the last few years. This buldging market for notebook computers gives you more choice than ever before. The flipside is that the wide range makes it that much more difficult to choose the right notebook computer without a little knowledge.

The most important questions is always: What will I use my notebook computer for?

This driving question should lead all purchases. No amount of techno-babble should make you get something that you just don't need. Stay informed and you will get the best results from you notebook computer.

Notebook computers are, by nature, designed to be moved around easily. More than likely you will use it for work, this is the place where the most commuting takes place and the place you will most likely transport your computer to during the day.

Smaller notebook computers are never quite as fast as their slightly bigger counterparts. The small sizes don't allow for the latest and fastest parts that need a lot of breathing room as they can become very hot. Lot's of time away from a power source necessitates getting a good battery and having a computer than uses the battery efficiently. In the digital age, the internet is very important for many people, so wireless connectivity is essential. Applications on a notebook computer will probably consist of software like the Microsoft Office Suite or similar and a few other programs. Small monitors and limited processing power will rule out most serious gaming, but for a notebook computer it is hardly necessary considering what it is intended for. Fancy graphics cards are an option, but are hardly worth it as everything else plays against it, except if you get a huge, powerful laptop computer, which is very cumbersome.

Let's look at these in a little more detail.

Consider carefully the size of notebook computer that you need. There are a lot of different sizes with notebook computers. Browsing around your local computer store will give you a much clearer picture of the sizes, even if you buy online, checking a real one out first is highly recommended. The size is pretty much dictated by the screen size, with sizes running past 15 inches in some cases. A notebook computer with a smaller screen makes it more portable. An option for a smaller notebook comptuer is a wider screen. WXGA and other wide screen formats give a little extra width, allowing a much more roomy desktop. They are usually in a 16:9 width to height ratio, while 4:3 is the desktop standard. This extra width is perfect as it allows you to keep two programs open side-by-side without closing them all the time.

The processor is the next major consideration when choosing your notebook computer. In a general sense they are usually toned down version of their desktop counterparts. They are clocked lower, meaning they run slower than intended, but the upside is much reduced power consumption which is good for battery life. Any processor should have enough clout for office type software. AMD and Intel are the major names for notebook computer processors, although Intel has the lion's share of the mobile computing market.

After these two major items, the other bits are really just extras. There is room to choose and pick with most of these other parts on your notebook computer.

Essential extras include USB ports, wireless networking capabilities, network port and modem port. USB is the standard for peripherals that connect to the notebook computer. Another one that is sometimes used for video and others is FireWire, it's useful to have, but not essential. Wireless networking is becoming standard, but make sure. There should be a convenient way to turn off the wireless card as they suck a lot of battery power when in use and can be turned off when not in use. A network port is so standard that there must be one, modem ports are so common they should not be missing.

Your DVD might be external or built-in, if it's external you could be choosy about which kind and brand you get, perhaps even a DVD writer. A DVD is not essential. If you notebook computer is a second computer and you have a main one at home, then you could forgo the DVD writer or the DVD drive altogether if you really need a compact notebook computer.

The mouse pad on the notebook should be easy to use and responsive. It should be out of the way enough not to interfere when typing. Keyboard layout needs to be good, even if it is smaller than standard.

Finally you might feel a little safer choosing a notebook computer from companies like Sony, Gateway, Dell, eMachines, Gateway, HP, Toshiba, Thinkpad, Acer or Fujitsu. They are all major notebook computer makers and will be able to back up their products with guarantees that they will deliver on.

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