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Registered: ‎12-01-2008

finding the right computer

I'm not that knowledgable on laptops and I'm looking to purchase one where do I start?
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Registered: ‎11-10-2008

Re: finding the right computer


Credit goes to an Author by the name of Paul Tansey on  for creating this buying guide:


Laptop Computer Buying Guide
By Paul Tansey



There's no way around it: you need a computer at home. Computers make it so easy to stay in touch, stay organized, entertained and informed, it's a wonder we ever did without them.

With laptop technology advancing in leaps and bounds, there's no reason you can't take this power and convenience with you wherever you go, considering you can stay connected wirelessly just about anywhere these days. And most laptops can do anything a desktop can do, without the bulky tower and without forcing you to stay indoors. So just because you're working doesn't mean you can't work in the park!

There are about as many different kinds of laptops out there as there are ways to use them, so let's look at some key points that will help you decide which one is right for you.

If you want the basics...
Choose a model that has the features you need to everyday computing. Not for making crazy rocket science calculations or memory eating applications, but to do the things that make life easier, like e-mail, Web browsing and word processing.

Most models come with wireless capability, so you can grab a seat in any wireless Internet hotspot and surf to your heart's content.

If you travel a lot...
Many newer laptops are thinner and lighter than ever but still deliver heavyweight performance, packing all of the processing power, hard drive space and versatility you want into a thin frame that weighs less than 4.5 pounds. You'll pay a little more for the thin and light, but if you have to carry your laptop around with you wherever you go, you'll very quickly appreciate leaving the extra bulk behind.

If you're big on home entertainment, photos and music...
These top-end models feature big widescreen displays enhanced for crystal-clear, smooth video playback. The video cards, processors and operating systems are also enhanced for high-performance video and audio, with Media Center models featuring personal video recorder (PVR) capability, a built-in TV tuner, surround sound and multiple digital and analog video inputs.

PVRs will change how you watch TV. Pause and replay live TV, then skip back to the live feed when you're ready. You can also program your laptop to automatically record your favorite shows.

For your always-growing collection of images and music files, there are models that feature faster processors, more RAM and larger hard drives. They are also enhanced for displaying photos, and you have more options for getting your media into the computer, including additional USB slots and built-in memory card readers to swap images straight from your digital camera or other device.

If you're all business...
Professional Series laptops meet the demands your business requires whether you're working from home, in the office or on the road.

Since your laptop is your business, look for enhanced security features like a fingerprint reader, which allows only authenticated users to access it, and an encrypting file system to allow for file and folder encryption at the user level. Some include motion-sensing hard drive protection that safeguard the laptop's hard drive against damage from a sudden movement or drop - important to consider when going from meeting to meeting.

If size matters...
Laptops come in all shapes, sizes and weights. Many are now an inch thick or less, with absolutely every millimeter of internal space used efficiently. These thin laptops don't lose a step compared to their beefier competition, with just as much processing power and a screen size and keyboard that won't leave you feeling shortchanged.

As laptops get a little larger, the size of the screen also climbs. You can find high-performance Thin Film Transistor (TFT) LCD screen sizes ranging from 4.5" to 17" or more, most set up as widescreens.

If you prefer wireless freedom...
Nearly all laptops are capable of working wirelessly, with wireless cards and processors enhanced to perform when you're connected at a hotspot. Many laptops now include Bluetooth wireless for easy, safe, secure linking with a wide range of other devices, from handhelds to cell phones to wireless headphones.

Instead of confining yourself to your office or den, or inflicting a tangle of wires and computer components on your décor, you can set your family up with a network of wireless laptops. Everyone gets the access they need, when and where they want it. Plus, if you need your computer for work, you can take everything with you and not worry about leaving a file behind or denying anyone their computer time.

Multiple users can go online at once, and all of the same access protection can be installed to keep your kids away from online dangers. You can all use one central wireless printer and scanner for total convenience.

If performance is key...
Processing power can separate the handy from the incredible, so if performance is key, look for more processing power. Most processors will fall within the range of 1.0GHz to 3.0GHz, but different types of processors excel in different ways.

The Intel lineup starts with the Celeron® M, while the Pentium® Dual Core is peppier and more powerful. The top-of-the-line Centrino® chipsets feature Core™, Core™ Duo and Core™2 Duo processors with built-in wireless capabilities, improved power-saving capabilities and enhanced performance.

AMD also has a good range of processors. The AMD Turion™ 64 X2 and Turion™ 64 mobile technology is similar to Centrino® and adds wireless performance to their high-end processors with some supporting Bluetooth technology.

RAM is also an important performance factor and serves as the real-time memory that makes your applications run faster and makes it possible to work with huge files. RAM starts at about 512MB, but most models can be upgraded with extra memory. You can find some that can be upgraded all the way to 4.0GB, which comes in handy for demanding multimedia applications.

Many of the higher-end models will also include a generous amount of RAM built into the video card for smooth performance, especially for today's advanced 3D games.

Hard drive sizes vary considerably, from about 60GB (more than enough for basic computing needs) all the way up to 240GB, ideal for multimedia, home entertainment and games. Faster hard drives (measured in RPM) are better for quick access to data and for smooth video and game operation.

Optical drives - The DVD/CD drive is at least capable of reading DVD-ROMs and burning CDs, but more and more can now work with rewritable DVD±R/RW and even double-sided or double-layered DVDs. If you need better performance, look for write speeds in the range of 24x for CD and 8x for DVD.

Increasing the cool factor, optical drives on some HP computers are outfitted with a technology called LightScribe, which can burn a professional-looking label right onto your disc.

The softer side
The operating systems you can choose from will also impact performance, and will often include software to work with photos, multimedia or even TV.

Windows Vista features Windows Media Center, a multimedia powerhouse that lets you watch your favorite shows, enjoy prized photos and manage your music. In addition, Windows Vista has numerous enhanced security features, new interface elements and increased mobility for working with other users or devices.

The Apple® Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger also delivers great multimedia and networking performance and comes bundled with photo, music and moviemaking software.

Staying power
Battery life is also a consideration. Many manufacturers have been working to improve the efficiency of their systems to extend the amount of work you can accomplish per charge. This will come in handy on long trips or when you have to finish a project but can't find anywhere to plug in, like when you're on a park bench or a coffee house patio.

Accessories for protection and convenience
First and foremost, a laptop case will not only make it easier to carry around your computer and its related accessories, but it will also protect your investment. Laptop cases range in size, with some designed for style and others for capacity, and many for both.

A small laptop mouse will give you a welcome break from your current pointing device, making it easier to navigate your screen. They come in either wired or wireless versions. An extra power adapter - one in the bag and one for the office - and back-up battery are also a good idea, so you never get caught without power.

A flash drive that plugs directly into a USB port is an inexpensive and efficient way to transfer files. Pop one into your laptop case.

With a better understanding of what separates a good laptop from a great one, it's easy to find the right one for you.

Shop our current selection of laptops or check out our Laptop Finder.


Best Buy Forums Super User since 2008. Please note I am not employed by Best Buy and I answer questions on my own time. If you find something helpful please add kudos to it. Should something solve your issue please remember to mark inquiries as solved.
Posts: 11,106
Topics: 1,806
Kudos: 915
Blog Posts: 0
Solutions: 351
Registered: ‎11-10-2008

Re: finding the right computer

CNET also has a guide:



Best Buy Forums Super User since 2008. Please note I am not employed by Best Buy and I answer questions on my own time. If you find something helpful please add kudos to it. Should something solve your issue please remember to mark inquiries as solved.