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things to keep in the mind while buying laptops

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  • things to keep in the mind while buying laptops

    ??Buying a Laptop?

    Size Matters

    Size and weight are important considerations when buying a laptop. If you travel a lot, opt for a laptop that is light in weight. Weights of laptops range from one to four kg. While checking the weight, include everything you will carry along with the notebook, such as the power adaptor or any external drives.

    See Your Screen

    The size of the display screen directly affects the size, and in most cases, the weight, of the notebook. The larger the screen, the bulkier the notebook. A bulky notebook will be a problem to use in cramped locations such as in an airplane.

    Power Struggle

    Though performance is not the most important criterion while purchasing a notebook, make sure you get enough horsepower for the applications you use or plan to use. While 256 MB of RAM should suffice for most, power users should opt for at least 512 MB.

    All Work And No Play?

    If you want to play 3D games, or plan to use your laptop for some graphics-intensive applications, opt for a model that features good-quality graphics. Options available include Mobility Radeon 7500, 9700 and GeForce FX Go5200. These will give you better graphics as compared to commonly-used platforms.

    Go Wirefree

    Most notebooks today offer Wi-Fi capabilities. Check the Wi-Fi standard supported by the model you are considering for purchase. An 802.11 b/g device will give you higher data throughput as compared to 802.11b.


    Check if the notebook is upgradeable at a later stage. Some options to look for when upgrading your laptop are the RAM, the CPU, and the hard drive. Are the upgrades something you can do yourself, or do they require visits to a service centre?

    Build Quality Is Important

    Since laptops are meant to be carried around, good build quality is essential. Opt for a notebook that has a rugged build quality that can withstand jerks and shocks. The optical drive tray, the screen hinges and latch, the panel on top of the keyboard, and the overall casing are good indicators of build quality.

    Warranty Issues

    Warranty is also an important consideration. Make sure you get a global warranty if you travel abroad frequently. Even if you don't, make sure the service centre is easily accessible in terms of location and distance so you can get any problems rectified quickly.

    Optical Drives

    Most notebooks these days come with a DVD/CD-RW combo drive by default. Make sure the notebook you plan to buy has a combo drive if not a DVDWriter. A combo drive will enable you to read DVDs as well as write CDs.

    Optical Drive Location

    Check for the location of the optical drive. An optical drive placed in the front may be a hindrance while working in cramped spaces, or when the notebook is placed on your lap.

    Wider Is Better

    Notebooks that come with wide screens offer a better movie-viewing experience. They are also useful while working with large spreadsheets. Also, look for decent quality integrated speakers if you want to enjoy movies and music on the move.

    Hot Laps

    Make sure the notebook you plan to buy does not get too hot after a while. A hot laptop on your lap may pose a serious health risk!


    Most notebooks come with 40 GB hard drives. If this does not seem enough, see if you can get an upgrade to a larger capacity hard drive. The drive's rotational speed also impacts performance. While 4200 rpm drives are the most common, look for higher rpm hard drives for better performance.

    Go Legal

    When purchasing a laptop, make sure it comes with legal software. Some vendors may not provide you with legal copies of the software. Verify that the software that comes with your laptop is on an original CD, and has a software license or registration number.

    Laptop Drivers

    Check and make sure you get all the required drivers on a disk along with the laptop. A recovery disk is also preferable, and will come in handy in case of a system crash.

    Connectivity Options

    The available ports on a notebook will define the types and number of peripheral devices you can connect. Most notebooks come with 56K modems and at least 10/100 Ethernet integrated, so the notebook will have RJ11 and RJ45 ports for connecting a telephone cord and a network cord respectively. Typically, you should look for at least two USB ports, a parallel port to connect a printer, a VGA port for connecting a projector or an external monitor, and Audio Out and Mic In ports to connect speakers and a microphone respectively. PC card slots are also essential, and you should check the types of PC cards that are supported. An infrared port, if available, will let you connect compatible devices such as cell phones to your notebook, while a FireWire port lets you connect digital such devices as video cameras. Look for these ports if you feel you will require them even at a later stage. Additional ports such as S-video out are also welcome!

    One-handed Operation

    Some notebook models, especially those with larger screens, come with two latches that will require you to use both your hands to open the device. This may be inconvenient in some situations, for instance, when you are speaking on the phone. Look for a laptop that has a single latch.

    Touch The Pad

    Most notebooks these days feature touchpads. Make sure the laptop you plan to buy has one that is large and offers smooth and jerk-free control of the pointer. Some notebooks also provide pointing sticks as the pointing device. Go for one with which you are most comfortable.

    Memory Card Reader

    If you own a digital camera or any other device that uses a memory card (such as SD, MMC, CF or Memory Stick), it makes sense to purchase a notebook that has an inbuilt memory card reader. This way, you can transfer data to and from the card without the need to buy a separate memory card reader. Check whether the card reader in the notebook is compatible with the type of memory card you use.

    Ease Of Use

    Some notebooks feature scroll keys along with the touchpad keys to enable vertical and/or horizontal scrolling in large documents. Some also feature hotkeys for launching your favourite applications.

    Additional Features

    Additional features, including integrated Bluetooth, biometric security, keyboard light and integrated Web cams, are offered in some models. Since these extra features also affect the pricing of the laptop, opt for one that has the features you need.

    Shortcuts To Success

    Create shortcuts to your most commonly used applications, folders and files on the desktop. This way, you can access them quickly. If you like your desktop clutterfree, you can also create custom toolbars in Windows XP. To do this, right click on the Windows taskbar, go to 'Toolbars' and click on 'New Toolbar'. Next, choose the drive or folder you want to access using the toolbar. You can create different toolbars for different drives and folders. To remove a toolbar you added, right click on the Windows taskbar, go to 'Toolbars', and uncheck the toolbar. This is useful for sales executives who want easy access to presentations, proposals and other information on a day-today basis.

    Boot Faster

    To make your notebook boot faster, remove unwanted programs from startup. To do this, go to Start > Run, type "msconfig" and press [Enter]. Go to the Startup tab and uncheck any programs you do not need. Click on 'OK' and then click on 'Exit' without restarting. The unchecked programs will not run the next time you boot.

    Clean Up The Junk

    Uninstall any applications you do not use. Apart from saving on disk space, you will also prevent your notebook from slowing down.

    Be Resourceful

    Keep backups of the operating system, drivers and commonly used applications on a secondary partition so that you can do some re-installing on your own if you face some issues while travelling. Carry driver CDs and recovery disks with you.

    Prevention Is Better Than Cure

    Since a notebook may be connected to different networks, such as at a client's office, for example, it is essential you use a good anti-virus and firewall software. Update your virus definitions frequently. An anti-spyware program is recommended.

    Don't Be A Jerk

    Be careful while carrying the notebook. Do not subject it to any jerks and shocks. This will avoid damage to your hard drive and the precious data on it. Preferably, power the notebook off before moving it from one place to another.

    Dusty Notebooks Don't Impress

    Protect your laptop from dust. Clean your laptop regularly to prevent dust accumulation. Do not leave your notebook on the floor and make sure all vents are clean to enable good air flow.

    Drinks And Laptops Don't Mix

    Avoid having beverages while working on your laptop. Do not place any containers filled with hot or cold beverages near your notebook, to minimize chances of a spill.

    Protect Your Laptop

    Do not leave your notebook unattended in a car or in a client's office. Be careful when going to a restaurant or when using public transport.

    Backup, Backup, Backup!

    Keep backups of all your important files and emails in a safe location such as your desktop PC or an external drive. This way you still have your precious data even in case your notebook is stolen.

    Power Surges

    Use a surge protector with your laptop to protect it from power surges.

    Condition Your Battery

    A new battery needs to be conditioned—it must be fully charged and discharged a few times before it can use its full capacity.

    Leave Power Management To The Pros

    Use the notebook's power management features to improve battery life. You can set the device to switch off the LCD screen and hard drive after set intervals of time.

    Screen Scream

    The screen hogs a lot of battery power. To prolong battery life, dim the screen brightness when you are not connected to a power source.

    Close Applications

    Close any applications you are not using when on battery power. Running applications increase CPU utilisation, thus reducing battery life.


    External peripherals and accessories such as external optical drives, PC cards and USB keyboard lights draw power from the notebook. Disconnect any such devices when not in use.

    Suspend Your Notebook

    Booting the notebook when it is not connected to a power source draws a lot of power from the battery. Instead of shutting down your laptop in the middle of a meeting, choose the suspend mode if you wish to use it again after a short period of time.

    Entertainment Is Bad For Your Battery

    Playing graphics intensive games, videos or music drains the battery quickly. Close any such applications when on battery to prolong battery life.

    Carry Safe

    A good carry case is essential for your notebook. There are a variety of options available. Choose one that fits your requirements and budget. Apart from being sturdy, you should opt for one that has a padded shoulder strap and has enough space to hold additional stuff such as the power adaptor, CDs, papers, external drives, mouse and cell phone. Some notebook bags also double-up as overnighters.

    Get A Mouse

    Users who do not find the notebook touchpad easy to use should opt for an external mouse. Though you can use a standard desktop mouse with your laptop, specially-designed notebook mice are available. These are smaller in size and easy to carry around. Some even come with retractable cords to reduce the jumble of wires you need to carry. You can also opt for a wireless mouse. Most of the newer ones use the USB interface, so make sure you have a free USB port on your notebook.

    Go The Desktop Route

    Those who use their notebooks as their primary computer may want to invest in an external keyboard, mouse and even a larger monitor. This will be the closest to the feel of a standard desktop.

    Additional Connectivity

    Some notebook models can be hooked up to compatible port replicators and docking stations. These devices allow for added functionality by providing additional ports and external drives.


    A USB thumb drive is a useful little piece of hardware for transferring small amounts of data between computers. These come in handy in situations where, for instance, you would like to transfer a presentation or a sales proposal to your client's PC at his office. Some USB drives come with password protection option and provide a safe place to store confidential files. Instead of storing these files on the notebook hard drive, just carry them with you in the USB drive. You can work on hem directly once the drive is connected. This way, your confidential files do not find their way into the hands of crooks even if your notebook gets stolen.

    More Power

    An extra battery pack is a good investment if you plan to stay away from a power socket for long.

    When In Rome...

    Different countries have different types of power sockets. Accordingly, check and carry the appropriate type. If you are a global traveller, opt for a universal adaptor. It offers a variety of different plug types allowing you to connect your notebook power adaptor to power sockets almost anywhere in the world.

    Stop Thief!

    Invest in a Kensington lock to prevent your notebook from being stolen. A Kensington lock features a strong cord that can be looped around the leg of a table or chair and then locks onto a slot in the notebook, thus preventing anyone from walking away with the device. Some of the higher-end lock models also boast of motion sensors and emit high-pitched beeps if any motion is detected.

    Enjoy The Trip

    If you enjoy movies and music on the notebook and find the integrated speakers to be good enough, you may purchase external speakers specially designed for notebook users. These are extremely compact and easy to carry. Most draw power from the notebook or from their own set of batteries. These speakers may not offer the surround sound experience, but will definitely sound better than most integrated laptop speakers. However, if you like to watch a movie or listen to music while travelling in an airplane or a train, it makes sense to buy a decent set of headphones so as not to disturb your fellow travellers.

    Store More

    An external hard drive is a good option if you want to carry large files without stuffing your notebook's hard drive.

    Charge Your Cell Phone From The Laptop

    If you are a cell phone junkie and find that your cell phone battery is not able to give you enough juice, buy a USB charger for your phone. These are useful for people who stay on the road for the better part of the day and are not able to access a power socket to charge their cell phones. USB chargers are available for most commonly available cell phone brands and draw power from your notebook's USB port to charge the cell phone. However, this will also shorten your notebook battery life, so make sure your notebook battery is charged enough to see you through till the time you can connect it to a power socket again.

    Increase The Number Of USB Ports

    If you do not have enough USB ports on your laptop to connect all your devices, opt for a USB hub.

    Light It Up

    A keyboard light is a good buy for those who want to work on their notebooks without disturbing their neighbours in a longhaul flight or their spouses in the bedroom. The light clips on to the top of the notebook screen, draws power from the USB port, and illuminates the keyboard so that you can work in the dark.

    Additional Stuff

    A range of accessories including battery packs, Wi-Fi PC cards, USB to Wi-Fi adaptors, USB to Bluetooth adaptors, external optical drives and notebook coolers are available. Explore local dealers and online stores, and you are sure to find what you are looking for.

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