If you're looking to buy a new laptop, here are a few things to consider when looking at all the available options, and picking out what works best for you.
Figuring out exactly what you're going to be using your laptop for, is the most important thing to consider before you start shopping for one. Is the laptop going to be used by you only, your kids, or your whole family? Is it going to be used for general home use, gaming, or work? Answering these questions before you start looking will make deciding what laptops and operating system suit your needs much easier.
The first type of Laptop is the standard Clamshell design that has been the standard laptop design since the beginning. These types of laptops range greatly in physical appearance, screen size, and level of performance.
The second type of Laptop is the Touch-Screen Laptop. In many cases, these will physically look the same as Clamshell laptops but will include a touch-screen just like your smartphone or tablet, only larger.
The next type is the 2-in-1 Laptop. These computers start to blur the line between Laptops and Tablets. Within the 2-in-1 Laptop family, there are two separate kinds. The first is known as the Split type, where the keyboard will physically separate from the screen, which usually also holds all the internal components and battery, effectively making it a large tablet. The second kind of 2-in-1 is the 360 degree or flip version. These 2-in-1's have a special hinge that lets the screen rotate 360 degrees around the body, folding the computer into a tablet form factor.
Finally, we have Embedded Cellular Laptops. These laptops can be any of the previously mentioned types, with the addition of a cellular data connection like your smartphone, providing Internet access anywhere there is cellular service. These types of laptops will usually have an associated service agreement with a wireless category and are perfect for individuals on the go who need Internet access where Wi-Fi may not be available.
The Processor is the brain of the computer. If you want to use your Laptop for more demanding tasks like gaming or photo and video editing, investing in a faster processor is an excellent decision.
Memory holds everything you're actively working on, so if you're planning on doing a lot of multitasking on your Laptop, investing in one with more memory is a solid choice. One thing to keep in mind is that one of the few commonly upgradeable components of a laptop is its memory, so you may have the option to add more down the road if your needs change.
Hard Drive Space is the total storage capacity of your Laptop. If you only plan to use your Laptop for web browsing and streaming video, then you shouldn't need to invest in a large hard drive. On the other hand, if you plan on storing lots of pictures, videos, music, and documents, then you'll want to look at a model with a larger Hard Drive.
Another Storage consideration with any laptop is what type of storage drive does it use. In the last few years, Solid State Drives, or SSD's, have become increasingly popular over standard Hard Drives for a number of reasons. SSD's differ from Hard Drives in that they have no moving parts, and as a result are many times faster and less prone to accidental damage and failure. The trade-off is usually less total storage space.
Finally, there is the Graphics Card or GPU. Most entry-level and mid-range Laptops come with Integrated Graphics that are built into the Processor, or CPU. While enough for displaying programs, websites, and playing videos, integrated graphics usually lack the horsepower for more demanding tasks. If you want to use your Laptop for gaming or editing, choosing one with a Dedicated GPU is an essential choice.
For more information to help you choose the perfect Laptop, check out our Laptop Buying Guide.
For more information on upgrading your computer, check out our article on Upgrading Your Computer.