This is something I get asked so often its unbelievable!
I work (and live) gadgets and technology, it’s a major part of my life so its fair to say that not only do I have an understanding of them but I’ll also know what to buy and where to buy it.
And this is why people ask me what to buy and from where.
Now the first thing they do is say they want a laptop and how much will it cost. This is where people get a little confused, the question shouldn’t be how much will it cost but more, what will I get for my budget of £X?
So I always ask the following questions before even looking at some devices
- The most important, what is you budget? How much is the maximum you want to spend, and what would you be happier spending?
- What do you want to do with the laptop?
- Is it just internet surfing, do you want to do work on it?
- Is it for the kids to do homework?
- Do you want to play games on it, if so are they simple games like you’d find on a tablet or do you want to jump into a game of Call of Duty when you have some downtime?
- Do you want to stream videos from Netflix or Amazon?
- Do you want to store lots of files on it, or are you going to rely on cloud storage like Onedrive from Microsoft (either free or via Office 365 Home)?
Once you have answered these questions, its much easier to find a laptop.
Now your answers will also then have a bearing on your budget – If you have a budget of £300 then you won’t get a top of the range gaming laptop, but equally if you just want to browse Facebook and nothing else then do you really need to spend £1500?
To give a rough budget example –
A sub £200 laptop will be very basic, OK for internet browsing but checking your email. Very portable but not very quick. No optical drives and limited selection of ports.
A £200 laptop will have limited storage space, won’t be very powerful so unlikely to play any games other than basic tablet style games. This is more for basic browsing and is pretty much a low-end tablet with a keyboard. The screen size will also more likely to be 12″ or smaller. You’ll struggle to stream in HD and could find it buffers often, SD streaming should be fine. Still unlikely to have an optical drive but will have more ports such as USB and VGA.
A £300 laptop – this is normally split into 2 types, both with the same basic hardware which will be better for streaming but still not powerful enough for a decent game. But the HDD is where you have a choice, a larger slower traditional hard drive so you can store more files and install more applications or a smaller but much faster SSD (Solid state drive) – an SSD in your machine means faster boot up times, faster application opening and better loading times for some aspects of internet browsing. Screen size is likely to be 15″. Likely to have an optical drive, memory card reader and 3 USB ports, VGA port and maybe even an HDMI/Displayport.
A £500 laptop is where the gaming types start come in, not your hardcore gamers but those who like to jump in and out of more modern games. Streaming in full HD is not a problem, you’ll also find editing videos and images is quick and easy, applications and boot up times are also quick, mainly down to quicker processors and more memory. HDD and SSDs are normally double the size of the £300 laptop. Screen is size is likely to be 15″ but you will see the odd 17″ screen. (At the expense of some of the other hardware). May or may not come with an optical drive depending on its design, but will have a good selection of additional ports.
A £1000+ laptop – This will do pretty much everything you want it to do, fast laptops with lots of storage, high-end processors and lots of memory. You’ll have no issues running pretty much every latest game, streaming won’t be an issue. Screen size will be 15″ or 17″, more likely to come with an optical drive and good selection of ports. The more you spend at this point,the higher the specification of the parts.
Based on my experience over the years I’d always consider a laptop from one of the following manufacturers (in no particular order) – HP, Compaq, Lenovo, Acer, Asus.
Toshiba laptops are OK, but I’ve experienced some very poor build quality in these over recent years. I wouldn’t say No, but I’d give it a good inspection and take note of the hinges as these were the main weak point. Dell for me fit into the same category as Toshiba, some are very good and some are poorly assembled.
Of course there are also Apple MacBooks – these are normally priced at £850 and upwards and in normal Apple style have very odd configurations and ports. I love Apple gadgets, and the build quality of their machines is excellent, but for me, I’m a Windows user. This is a choice through work and my own learning so whilst I see many benefits of Apple Macbooks, for most home users, a windows based laptop is easier to use and setup and is also much cheaper. But don’t rule them out, if you are comfortable using an Apple Macbook, then you should consider buying one of your budget allows, just make sure it does and has all the parts you need.
A few good places to buy laptops, sometimes you can pick up a good deal.
eBuyer – www.ebuyer.com
Argos – www.argos.co.uk