Laptop Buying Guide – 10 Point Checklist
Buying a laptop is not so easy task now a days. One needs time and effort to understand the actual need of laptop and all other parameters which should be considered and finalized well in advance, before you step into a store or go for final shopping on an e-commerce store.
Normally you will look for what are latest launches of current month or current year, What are the features available in all the different Brands and finally will check for the price range. This may look the ideal way of buying the computing device but you need to consider that you are buying laptop not the Mobile.
So lets start with what one should think and research before deciding the final laptop.
Purpose or Need
The most important point which should be cleared first is the purpose or need of the laptop. If you are having no limitation on budget, you can anytime go for any laptop with highest specification and price. But if you are looking to buy laptop for a specific need like Laptops for College Students, Laptops for Children, Laptops for housewife, laptops for Senior Citizen, laptops for Video Editing, Laptops for Playing High End Games, Laptops for internet surfing, Laptops for watching HD Movies etc.
Basic Questions to Check
There are more possible reason as well which should have been there in this list. To summarize ask following questions:
1. Do we need High Processing Power
2. How much storage we need
3. Is Screen Size and Picture Quality primary factor
4. Is it required for only Surfing Internet.
We are listing down the following parameter in the order which you should follow to make sure that you get best for your money:
We know this may sound very strange that Processor which normally everyone talks about is not 1st point to consider in our list. We are not saying its not important but normally one ignores this parameter completely an with the goal of buying best processor laptop within budget, ends up with non HD and low resolution screen. Screen is something that is going to define users computing experience. It is your window into computers and the work they do. A bad screen means bad experience.
Following are few parameters related to Laptop Screens:
Screen Size Before you decide the screen size, understand how the 11 Inch, 14 Inch, 17 Inch and so on are measured. Screen sizes are measured diagonally in inches. When you see an ad for a 14-inch notebook, it’s referring to just the screen size where you will be seeing the actual images/videos/windows os. So Laptop will be a bit bigger from 14 Inch. This depends on manufactures and the laptop design. Laptops are generally available with screen sizes ranging from 10.6 to 18.4 inches, with just a handful going beyond 19 Inch Mark. In our view, 15.6 Inch laptops are best from portability and Screen Size. They are not too big and not too small. You can easily put laptop in a bag and can watch moves in your home with friends. We recommend that for your specific need, go to a retail store and have hands on with all the different size laptops available (Even if you will buy laptop online).
Screen Resolution When we talk about Digital Display for any device be it Laptop, Mobile or TV’s, everything is PIXEL only. Pixels are the tiny square which makes your screen. Each pixel can be one of 16.7 million (or more) colors. From a distance, the individual pixels aren’t distinguishable.
SO what need to be checked in terms of Pixels. Pixels are measured in terms of A*B (Number of Pixels in Width * Number of Pixel in height. The count of pixels is called display resolution. Following are different types of resolution:
- HD or 720P: Now a days its standard lowest resolution. It is 1,366 Pixel × 768 Pixel.
- Full HD or 1080P: This has 1,920 pixels spanning horizontally, and 1,080 pixels vertically.
- 4K: This is the highest resolution available as of now. Its is 3,840 pixel × 2,160 Pixel.
Each element visible on-screen, including text, images, colors, icons, are made up of a certain number of pixels. The higher display resolution, the more pixels you have, and therefore the more objects and detail can be shown on the screen at the same time. That’s why high-resolution displays tend to look clearer, because they can show a finer level of detail.
Screen Panel This is a feature which will not be shown are top feature. But if you will understand what it means, you would surly want to check this before buying. There are following types of Laptop Screen Panel Available:
Twisted Nematic A twisted nematic (TN) display is a common type of liquid-crystal display ( LCD ) that consists of a substance called a nematic liquid crystal that is confined between two plates of polarized glass.
TN (Twisted Nematic) panels are the most widely used panel type in the manufacture of LCD monitors. TN panels are cheap and offer excellent response times, making them perfect for fast paced gaming. The response times of current TN panels range from 2ms to 5ms. Unfortunately the color reproduction, viewing angles and contrast ratios of TN panels are the worst of any current LCD panel technology. TN panels have become popular with the average computer user because they are very inexpensive and currently dominate the LCD display market in availability.
IPS (In-Plane Switching) IPS panels are generally considered the best overall LCD technology for image quality, color accuracy and viewing angles. They are well suited for graphics design and other applications which require accurate and consistent color reproduction. IPS panels offer the best viewing angles of any current LCD technology, with wide viewing angles up to 178 degrees. The response time of IPS is adequate, ranging from 6ms to 16ms with current panels. This is only slightly slower than TN panels. However, gamers should take this into consideration. Fast paced games may suffer from motion blur or ghosting with IPS panels that have a response time higher than 8ms.
The VA Panel also known as Vertical Alignment offers a solid medium between TN and IPS panels. VA was created to combine the both of advantages from IPS and TN panels. Additionally, monitors with VA panels deliver wide viewing angles and high contrast reproduces vibrant colors. Therefore, VA panels have more benefits over TN panels than IPS, but have lower response times.
Touch Screen Notebooks with touch displays have become increasingly more popular since the introduction of Windows 8, and even more so with Windows 10. If you are going for 14 Inch or less Laptop options/convertible laptops, touch screen functionality is must as you can use the laptop as tablet. This is very useful features if you are travelling or at busy place. Same configuration Laptop with touch screen may cost 1.5 to 3 K more as compared to the non touch screen laptop.
Refresh Rates and Response Times Normal Laptop or even desktop have typically 60 Hz refresh rate. 60 Hz refresh rate means 60 frames of the display can be shown in one second. Typically human needs at least 30 frames per second of a video to see the same without breaks, if refresh rate is below 30 on any video, you will notice that the playing of the same is not smooth. Refresh Rate becomes important if you are into Gaming. If you want to play high end, 3D games, you need Refresh rate more than 60. Asus ROG laptops are first laptops of the world to have 120 Hz refresh rate.
Apart from Refresh Rate, Response time is another point to verify the fast display of laptop screen. It’s measured in milliseconds, and basically defines the time it takes for a pixel to switch on and off. A lower response time means the display will respond faster to change, an undeniable advantage in gaming. The image can appear to lag or smear on the screen if the response time is too high.
These are two very important parts in a laptop but normally nobody talks about these (Even you will not find these parameter mentioned in any of the laptop buying guide available on internet currently :-)). Good laptops have typing keys that are firm. Also, the keyboard should not flex and the size of keys should be big enough to make typing comfortable. One more thing needs to check is that keys should not be above the horizontal pan of laptop base. If that is the case, you will see the keys marks on laptop screen as early as 2 3 months.
You should also check for Laptops reviews/feedback on Keyboard. There re few cases when we have seen that a particular brand/model laptop always have issues with Keyboard. User have to buy keyboard early as keys are broken or circuit is not working, so nothing happens when key is pressed.
Touchpad in a laptop has to be responsive. It should make the cursor on the screen move smoothly when you use it. It should feel smooth and responsive to your fingers.
This is another important factor which is either not verified or considered at the last point only. You can verify the laptops features and ask for the battery life mentioned by Manufacturer. If you are unable to get this information, check for the battery added in latops are of how many cells. Cell is the basic unit which is used in manufacturing the laptop batter. Typically you will get 6 cell battery in laptop which will give you approx 3 to 4 hours of battery life on an i7 machine. If you want more time, go for 9 cell battery. You can get almost 7 to 9 hours life from 9 cell battery.
2. SSD – Solid State Drive Solid State Drives are becoming more popular in high end laptops. There are two main reasons first, SSDs are much faster as compared to HDD and second, SSDs are very compact in size so manufacturer can build thin laptops to attract customers if they use SSD in Place of HDD. The downside is that SSDs don’t come in such large capacities as traditional hard drives. Plus, they usually cost a lot more. If you don’t need GBs of storage (not going to store videos) go for laptops that have SSDs. A SSD really makes a difference to how well a laptop responds. A laptop with Core i5 processor and a SSD will feel faster compared to a laptop with Core i7 and a hard disk. If SSD-equipped laptop is out of question, go for a machine that has embedded flash storage (around 20GB or more). The embedded storage helps laptop feel faster.
USB 3.0 is a must-have and go for the laptop that is offering at least two USB 3.0 ports for you. Make sure you have at least 3 USB ports in total. Ethernet, HDMI and SD card readers are other things you should definitely have on your laptop. If you plan to use the laptop to connect with a projector for presentations, then you should also check with a D-sub/VGA port as most basic projectors use those.
If you are a normal Game Loves and playes games not much, The on-board Intel and AMD GPU are good enough for basic games, even if you work on Photoshop, these will be enough. Please check it has at lease 2 GB dedicates Memory for graphics card. But if you are High End Game lover and loves to play latest games quite often or you work on Video Editing tools like Photoshop or works on Animations, you need a dedicated Graphics cards to perform the required task. Basic graphic card provided with the laptop will not be sufficient for you. If you need dedicated graphic card, go for NVIDIA’s latest card available at the time of buying the laptop.