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Notebook Computer Guide*
Quick... Reviews... Summary...
Which Notebook Computer
Has Your Name On It?
Written by Titus Hoskins
Notebook Computers Are Sexy!
Granted, the notebook computer may just be the sexiest accessory this side of a Baywatch Extra! But are they worth the extra money? Should your next PC be a notebook or laptop computer? What are the pros and cons of owning a notebook computer? More importantly, can they get the job done?
There's no denying it - notebook computers are sexy! Slim, svelte and lightweight - they always come across as looking sexy - the ultimate in high fashion accessories.
Maybe sexy isn't the most appropriate word - we are talking about chips, hard drives and bits of metal. But you have to admit - they do look good on just about anybody!
However; don't let the good looks fool you! And don't get blinded by that sleek metal and flashy designs.
The notebook is one little workhorse whose time may just have come. Growing in popularity as prices decline, it's definitely worth considering when you make your next PC purchase.
All kidding aside, just what are some of the practical pros and cons of owning a notebook computer? What points should you consider before buying a notebook computer?
Basically, you have to narrow it down to a few simple steps. Then consider all your options and make your decision. First, ask yourself - what types of tasks, jobs, do you want the computer to perform? Do you want it for traveling, business, or for use in the home?
Do you want it for simple tasks like email, web browsing or to use as a word processor? Do you want it for gaming, web authoring, heavy graphic work, dvd or MP3 downloading?
Next, consider all the options and find the one that best suits your needs. Remember, it's your needs that have to be fulfilled. Don't let a pushy salesperson talk you into buying something you will never need or use. At the same time, make sure you buy a notebook that has all the options that will complete all the tasks you throw at it. In other words, make sure it can do the job!
Keep that question in the back of your head as you read the rest of this article. Especially, keep it in mind, as you browse thru all these sleek models and makes of notebooks. Don't be dazzled by all that sexiness.
Keep your eyes on the cursor.
Keep asking yourself - what does my new notebook computer need in order for it to get the job done?
Lets take a closer look at all the options.
First, like anything sexy - notebooks come in all shapes and sizes.
SMALL - How small can they be?
They can be as tiny as well - the small traditional paper notebooks - with 10-inch displays. There is even a sub catergory known as Tablet PCs - these are very small tablets where you enter the data using a stylus. Common in certain fields, like health care or real estate.
Up a step from there - are the 'Ultraportables'. You can easily take these anywhere - fit nicely in a handbag or carry on bag. These are used by fliers and travelers, they are light and small with 12 inch screens without internal CD or DVD drives - they don't match the performance of other larger notebooks.
LARGE - How large can they be?
They can be as big as 6 or 7 pounds or more. Over an inch thick and come with 15 or 17-inch displays these are often refered to as 'Desktop Replacements'
And just as their name states - these can replace your old desktop computer. For most purposes, these notebooks can perform all the tasks of a regular pc, have large screens, big keyboards, combo drives and very large hard drives. But you have the handy option of moving these from room to room for wireless networking, or even for traveling.
In between these two groups - we have the business class notebooks. These are often refered to as 'Thin-and-lights' - they offer the best all around convenience of performance, portability and the different features.
Mostly prefered by the business traveler. They have 14-inch screens, CD-RW/DVD drives, wireless networking, because they are so versatile, these 'do-it-all' notebooks or laptops are becoming really popular.
That's a basic overview or rundown on the different types of notebooks. But you have to compare and contrast the different features in a little more detail to get a better picture if you want to figure out the best notebook suited for your needs.
It might be helpful to look at the similarilies of notebooks... despite all their different shapes and sizes most notebooks have the following features:
Processor - The heart of your notebook or computer. It does the processing and applications. Most people prefer Intel Pentium Processors the higher the number - the faster it will process! Go with Pentium 4 if you can. Intel Celeron is another choice.
Hard Drive - Obvious but some have fixed drives while others have drives you can swap. As for size - around 20GB for most notebook drives. You'll need only a 20GB or 30GB for most tasks on your notebook. If you handle large graphics or large amount of files (dvd, M3Ps,etc.) you need more - 50 to 60GB or higher.
Tip -- You might also want to check the rotational speed of your notebook's hard disk as it can affect performance a 5,400rpm notebook disk is much faster than a 4,200rpm model. How fast the disk spins, will also determine the performance level of your notebook.
Speed - This is how fast your computer can process data and perform your tasks. The faster the better! Latest models get up to a blazing 3.6 GHz.
Memory - How much do you need?
RAM (random-access memory). This is what the computer uses to run applications and data on your operating system. It's generally agreed that you need at least 256MB for Windows XP and Mac OS X. You will only need 128MB for other operating systems in Windows or Mac.
CD-RW Drive - You will need a CD-ROM for installing. And a CD-RW drive for burning your own CDs if that's one of the tasks you want want your notebook to do.
Keep in mind another option - many notebooks can access or use external drives for data storage, cd burning, etc.
LCD Displays - Most have LCD screens - this is different from your desktop CRT (cathode-ray tube) monitor but most people are familiar with this type of displays - it's commonly found in digital cameras and camcorders.
Usually, LCD screens range in size from 12 inches to 17 inches (diagonal). Viewing is usually set at 1,024x768 resolution. Quality is almost standard in all these notebooks. But check them out at your dealers if picture quality is your main reason for buying a notebook.
Note- Fujitsu LifeBook P ultraportable series has the smallest displays 10.6 inches. The Apple PowerBook has one of the largest at 17-inches.
Modems - Most if not all notebooks have 56Kbps-modems and Ethernet connections. As well as connections (ports)for printers, VGA for external monitor and there should be one or more USB ports for keyboards, drives, MP3's and digital cameras.
Now Assess Your Computer Needs?
Finally, we come to the main question that determines which notebook is right for you. (If money is no barrier!)
WHAT DO YOU NEED THE COMPUTER FOR? WHAT JOB OR TASKS DO YOU WANT THE COMPUTER TO PERFORM?
If you want something small to carry on a plane, or if you travel a lot, then go with an utralight - often called ultraportables - these are the lightest and smallest notebooks, about the size of spiral-bound notebook and weighing less than four pounds.
If you're a student and need something light weight but also a little sturdy with a large hard drive (hold MP3s) you might want to check out the 'thin and light' notebooks.
If you want to replace your main desktop with something more portable - go with a 'mainstream' or 'desktop replacements'.
If you want something you can use at home, work and traveling around then you need 'thin and light.' If you want an 'all-around' 'all-in-one' 'do-it-all' notebook ... then buy a notebook of this type.
Because it's so flexible, and covers most of your computing needs; this is the one that's becoming the most popular.
Buying A Notebook Computer may be confusing.
Since there are so many types and varieties of notebooks; not to mention so many technical requirements - buying a notebook can sometimes be confusing. And for some people downright worrisome.
Will the notebook you choose get the job done? Will it be able to do the applications, or tasks you want it to perform?
Ease your Burden - Make a Checklist!
If you don't want to be disappointed, here's a quick 'ChecklList' of the features you want to check before you buy your notebook computer.
* Disc Space - how large a disc space do you need. If do you do ordinary tasks on a computer, email, browsing 20GB - 30GB should do the job. If you download and store large amounts of graphics, pictures, dvd, movies MP3s, etc. then get the largest hard drives available or that you can afford.
Also, keep in mind, that you also have the external drive(s) option for storing and media-burning.
* Ram Memory - if you're going to be working with a lot of graphics, or large files - you will need a lot of RAM - get 256 MB or higher. Again, whatever your budget will allow. But you do need 256MB for Windows XP and Mac OS X. 128MB for other operating systems in Windows or Mac.
* Drives - CD-ROM for installing and a CD-RW drive for burning your own CDs. Before you buy check to see if you can swap drives if that is a concern.
*Speed - How fast do you want it? Some of these notebooks are very fast - up to 1.33 GHz or more.
* Screen Size - you have to consider what size LCD display you want. If you're going to be viewing a lot of pictures or movies on your notebook - a large 15 or 17 inch would be better suited for your needs.
* Portability - might sound like a strange question to ask about notebooks. Not really, most notebooks are very portable, easy to carry - what they were designed for. However; larger notebooks like the 'desktop replacemets' with 17 inch screens and weighing over 7 pounds might not be the best choice for the heavy traveller. For example the new HP Pavilion zd8000 weights a whopping 12 lbs.
*Accessories - Lastly, you should look at some accessories that you might need with your notebook computer. Many come with a Docking station or port replicator - somewhere to store and access your computer. Check on the functions of each before you buy.
You might consider buying an extra battery - especially if you're buying your laptop mainly for traveling and in the field work.
Laptop bag is another accessory you should definitely consider buying. Again, notebooks might seem lightweight and small but if you have to lug it around all day - you're going to wish you had bought that carrying bag.
That's it - JUDGMENT TIME!
You have considered most of the facts about buying a notebook computer. Now weight your options. Think about the tasks you will be doing with your notebook. Look at the checklist and check out the specs. Is everything covered. Will the one you choose - have the features to do the job?
Keep that question in your mind. It's the most important.
If you're considered all these points - buying your notebook should be just a little bit easier.
In no time at all, you may be walking around with one of those sleek, svelte - dare we say sexy - accessories tucked under your arm.
The Notebook Guide
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