Laptop Buying Guide

 Laptop Buying Guide

It is impossible for any buying guide to tell you exactly which Laptop Computer you should purchase. The underlying technology and form factors used in laptops changes so quickly it is difficult to keep track of the choices in the market and any buying guide that attempts to compare all the current models would quickly become obsolute. In this laptop buying guide we will help inform you of the major choices and different categories of laptops currently on the market.

As new market options become available, we will update this document

New to the market are designs that blur the boundaries of what are even considered laptops. Powerful new options for convertible and hybrid laptops are generating a great deal of buzz within the industry and deserve consideration in a buying guide for laptops.

Laptop Categories & Form Factors

The different categories and form factors of laptops all offer a tradeoff between price, mobility(size & weight), power, and entertainment capabilities. As mentioned earlier one of the biggest developments in laptops are the new form factors that are available including hybrids and convertibles. These new categories of computing devices use touchscreens in addition to traditional keyboards for input.

Touchscreen vs. Traditional Screen

Windows 8 Touch ScreenWith the introduction of Microsoft Windows 8 several laptop manufactures are now offering laptops with touch screens. These are new to the market, and some may not have the design completely dialed in. Examples of this include not using strong enough hinges in the screen so that each time you touch the screen the hinges open up a bit more, and also balance issues with using the computer in your "lap" while attempting to use the touch screen.

If you are using Windows 8 it may make sense to purchase a laptop that comes with a touch screen as Windows 8 has numerous touch screen friendly features.

Manufactures like Asus are using Android as the operating system for some of their devices like the Asus Transformer and the Asus Slider. These devices are tablets that include keyboards.

Convertible vs. Non-convertible

Convertible LaptopConvertible laptops have touchscreens, and also have keyboards that swing completely out of the way so that you can use the laptop as a tablet.

With Convertible Laptops the keyboard remains attached. You can not completely remove the keyboard.

Manufactures offering laptops in the convertible category include Dell, Lenovo, Sony, Toshiba, and Asus.

What about Hybrids?

Hybrid LaptopHybrid laptops take the concept of convertible laptops one step further and allow the user to completely remove the keyboard. Some might argue that these devices do not belong in a buying guide for laptops, but many hybrids have the same powerful capabilities of pure laptops. Tablets that have attachable keyboards like the Microsoft Surface Pro can be considered laptops, however... do to limitations of the operating system we do not consider iPads to be hybrids even though there are keyboards that can attach to iPads. In a bizarre move, Apple does not allow customers to use a bluetooth mouse or Apple Trackpad with iPads, although it can be done if you jailbreak the device. Using an external keyboard and mouse or trackpad with an iPad makes it a much more capable device for business tasks. You can view a video on How to use an iPad with an Apple Trackpad on our Gear-TV YouTube Channel.

Ultrabooks

An Ultrabook is a higher-end type of subnotebook defined by Intel. Intel has registered the name as a trademark.[1] Ultrabooks are designed to feature reduced bulk without compromising performance and battery life. They use low-power Intel Core processors, solid-state drives, and unibody chassis to help meet these criteria.[2] Due to their limited size, they typically omit common laptop features such as optical disc drives and Ethernet ports.[3]

Netbooks

Like Ultrabooks, Netbooks are small, lightweight, legacy-free, and inexpensive laptop computers, but they lack the computing performance of the Ultrabook category. This category of laptops continues to exist but is not nearly as popular as it once was. The increasing popularity of tablet computers like the Apple iPad with improved computing capabilities and lower production costs, along with hybrids and convertibles have contributed to a decline in netbook sales.

Business Laptops

The business laptop remains a key productivity tool for business users. The best business laptops help you get your job done no matter where you are or what resources are available to you. Business laptops have special features including a rugged design to survive lots of business travel, manageability features, lots of connectivity options, an emphasis on typing and pointing ease over raw performance, and long battery life.

Gaming Laptops

Gaming LaptopAs with desktops, the best Gaming Laptops are configured specifically for gaming performance with the portability to take their game mobile without sacrificing too many frame rates. The performance gap between desktops and laptops is rapidly closing with the latest laptop components that are effective at running high-end graphic games, such third generation processors and superior graphics cards.

When buying at a gaming laptop look for the best mobile gaming graphics card available, and at a fast CPU. The screen size for gaming laptops tends to be big (think 15 to 18 inches), though there are ultraportable gaming laptops on the market today. High-end components tend to drain battery life so do not expect gaming laptops to have excellent battery life. This high level of graphic and computing performance is expensive, so be prepared to spend substantially more for this category of laptop.