Before we even start looking at different models of laptop most of us start out with a few basic features that determine what type of computer we will get. Budget will usually be the primary factor but we might decide that a high resolution monitor and a large hard drive are critical and make a shortlist of laptops with those features.
So beyond those key specs what are the features that make the difference between the laptops on our shortlist? When it comes to day to day usability and long term reliability these are the features you want to look out for:
Battery life can vary quite substantially between different models and even where two models appear to have similar specs in terms of cell count they may have different battery life. How long the battery life lasts can be affected by a number of different factors such as CPU power draw and variable power settings in the OS.
Battery life will have a major impact on how you can use your laptop so it is important to be sure that a particular model meets your needs in that regard.
The best way to determine a laptop’s battery life is through comprehensive consumer testing reviews.
The wireless bandwidth available to a particular laptop is determined by the wireless standards of its networking card. These are denoted by the number 802.11 followed by a letter or series of letters. 802.11 n has become a fairly common standard but rarely allows for optimal use of video conferencing or other large data streaming services.
802.11 ac is set to become the new standard and will provide greater speed, range and reliability. Check that your new laptop can take advantage of this standard so you can make the most of working on the move.
Unfortunately chassis material often reduces to an aesthetic choice for many buyers. Aesthetics are obviously an aspect of chassis material but designers often consider more than just visual appeal when making their material choice.
The material used to make a laptop can change the overall weight and size of the device without compromising its durability. Aluminium is a common metal used to lighten laptops. Higher end devices may use magnesium alloy or carbon fibre to produce a strong but lightweight laptop. Metal bodies also help to keep laptops cool, allowing them to run faster and use less energy.
Don’t write off all plastic bodied laptops though. Many are made from ruggedized military spec plastics that will survive repeated drops.
Weight and Shape
The key benefit of a laptop is its portability. However that can easily be undermined by a cumbersome design or excess weight. Two laptops may be identical in size but vary dramatically in weight. Equally two may weigh exactly the same but one may be just too wide to fit into your back pack.
If you spend a lot of your day on the move, travelling to meetings, a small difference in weight can add up to a big strain on your back over time.
Aside from the benefit of being able to replace your laptop if anything goes wrong, a comprehensive warranty is also a sign of the confidence a manufacturer has in their product. A four year warranty will cover most of the reasonable lifetime of a laptop although you may have to pay more for an extended warranty. Different vendors will have different warranty options and comparing them is a good way to gauge the reliability of the brand or model.