Laptops are cheaper and offer more features than ever. Know what you are looking for and what you are buying before visiting a retailer or buying online.

What do you need in a laptop?

Is your purchase related to business, school, personal use, or both? This is the first thing to consider before buying a new laptop. You don’t need to be a tech savvy to decide how you plan to use your new laptop. Laptops for students or for school use may not require all the computing power of a laptop designed for specialized jobs. But assuming your school laptop will do everything your desktop computer did can be a costly mistake.

Review your needs and catalog the software you will be using. If the laptop, for example, uses typical office productivity, retrieves your email, and surfs the Internet, the extra money paid for super-fast processors and heavy-duty graphics will be wasted.

On the other hand, if you plan to use special work-related programs or graphics design, image manipulation, or engineering software, consider a laptop with more processing power and graphics or video card features. Do you plan to play online? Many gaming sites will allow you to do a quick diagnosis online to tell you if your new laptop can play their games.

Do some shopping ahead

There are several websites geared towards laptop users, all of which typically offer strong reviews of new laptop models and their pros and cons.

Choosing the right hardware

Every laptop is simply a laptop with a processor, hard drive, optical drive (CD or DVD), RAM, video card, and a variety of USB and other ports.

Make sure you understand exactly what your new laptop offers; manufacturers are constantly changing options, and laptops don’t offer the upgradeable ease of a desktop computer.

One of the most important considerations when buying your laptop is battery life. There is nothing more frustrating than losing use of your laptop after just 90 minutes of use, or having to pay an additional $ 100 or much more for a heavy duty battery.

What you see is what you get – period

All retail stores typically negotiate large purchases of specific laptop models because they lower your costs and increase your profits. Unfortunately, it also means that you are purchasing whatever models and configurations are available and cannot customize your purchase.

This can be a mistake when you find that you are running out of space on your new hard drive, you did not buy the DVD burner you thought you had, you find that you are missing a necessary USB port, or have to pay more for more RAM.

Another option is to buy online

While store buying allows you to see, feel, and use your new laptop before you buy, shopping online can allow you to buy the model you want with custom benefits like larger drives or more built-in RAM. Make sure you buy from a reputable online source and make sure you receive the manufacturer’s warranty.

The hidden cost of software

These days it is rare to be able to use any computer without some kind of software other than Apple’s Windows 7 or MAC OS X. Buying software when you buy a laptop can mean you are paying full retail when a little online shopping can save you maybe 25%. more.

You don’t need to be a technophobe to make the right purchase of your new laptop. Following these guidelines and doing some research ahead of time is surprisingly simple and will make your next tech purchase a rewarding one.

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