Though I only have used a laptop for less than three weeks, the fact that I’m the resident “geek” at the Lasallian Community Development Center has led me to being asked by one of our faculty members:
“What laptop should I buy?”
Since, I’m no expert, I based my answer upon my years of tinkering, repairing and upgrading desktop PCs, the guides I’ve read all over the net, the advice given by my fellow geeks and common sense.
Laptops are getting cheap nowadays and there are various ways of getting one, legally I mean. But that’s another story altogether, to help answer the question, I asked her another set of questions:
“What are you going to use the laptop for?”
As with desktop computers, the answer to this question will greatly influence your choice of which laptop computer to buy. If you’re going to use it for office or paper works, as the faculty who asked me would, then an entry-level to mid-level laptop would suffice. These laptops would be running on Celeron/Centrino/ Pentium M processors with 1GB of RAM, 60-120GB of hard drive space, shared video memories plus the standard compliment of both wireless (Wi-Fi) and wired LAN adaptors, dial-up modem, USB ports etc.
Most major brands* like HP-Compaq (Presario C573, C702TU, V3120, C765TU), Asus (A3A, A8H, X51R), Acer (ASPIRE 3624NWXCI, TRAVELMATE 2423N, TRAVELMATE 2428 NOTEBOOK, ASPIRE 3683NWXMI, TRAVELMATE 2441NWXCI) have these kind of laptops for under Php30,000.00
If you’re a “power user” doing heavy graphics manipulation, audio/video editing and gaming, going up to the level of laptops that run on dual core Pentiums and their AMD counterparts, 120GB hard drive space should be standard with 2GB of RAM is the way to go. Of course a dedicated graphics card is a must.
However, be prepared to shell out not less than Php30,000.00 on these notebooks.
“How big do you want your laptop to be?”
Gadgets are getting lighter, smaller and more compact with each new generation. So laptops with screens bigger than 17 inches is HUGE. Common nowadays, as I’ve observed, are 12-14 incher’s. Of course there’s the latest craze of UMPCs or ultra portable notebooks with screens as small as 7 inches, yes it’s the original Asus Eee PC 701 with all of its newest bigger sisters like the Eee PC 900 and from the competitors of Asus. However, these UMPCs are designed to be “secondary” or backup notebooks not really for everyday work.
Size does matter because lugging around a huge, bulky and heavy laptop is no different from dragging your desktop computer complete with table and chair where ever you go.
“How much is your budget?”
This is ultimately, the deciding factor when it comes to buying a laptop, or any other gadget out there for that matter. Especially in these hard-pressed times of rising costs of living (fuel, food, electricity etc), getting the most value out of your hard earned money is a must. Unless you really could afford it. Why not go for a MacBook?
If you don’t have cash, you could always use your credit card or as I’m seeing to be getting quite common nowadays, ask a friend of yours to card it for you. Just make sure you’ll not run away with it, else you could face some lawsuits.
Others who have relatives outside the country ask them to buy the laptop instead and just ship it over or hand-carry it when they return home. It’s much cheaper compared to buying one locally plus they have a wider selection of brands and models abroad.
Additional questions like, “brand new or second/third-hand?” also comes to mind. Nothing beats a shiny brand new laptop so be extra careful when choosing to buy a second/third-hand notebook. Getting it cheap doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth it. Worse, when the thing proves to be in a bad shape, you end up spending more for repairs plus the hours of frustration and disrupted productivity. That’s if you don’t get scammed in the first place.
Another question would be, “a MacBook or not?” Of course the question, “Can I afford it?” immediately comes to mind. I admit that MacBooks are cool and sexy, heck I drool for one. These machines are also top of the line. But besides the price factor, you also have to consider switching to a new working environment, because it’s stupid to replace OS X with any version of Windows just so you can power it up and start working on it right away. Because 99% of the time, just like my elder faculty friend, you grew up in a Windows world where everything literally starts with the Start button.
Linux as your OS would be a good alternative, and nothing else could beat that FREE price tag. Ubuntu and its flavors are getting hugely popular nowadays and it will continue to do so. However, just like opting for a MacBook, or once your budget allows it, switching from a Windows-based environment to a completely different one, though it has its own set of unique rewards and advantages, could really take its toll on you and your workflow. So really think about it.
In the end, each of us would have our own set of reasons, needs and preferences which will guide our choice of which laptop to go for. Whatever it is that rings your bell, I hope I have helped in any way to fine tune that bell so that you’ll end up with the laptop that will meet most of your needs, satisfy your wants and not really punch a hole in your wallets or empty your bank accounts.
*Units cited were based on available models for sale in the Philippines via PC Corner.