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TechWareLabs Notebook Buyers Guide

Author:  Jason Jacobs
Date:  2006.12.05
Topic:  Misc Mod
Provider:  TechWareLabs
Manufacturer:  TechWareLabs


An ever increasing number of people are joining the mobile computing users. Laptops are showing up at every corner cafe, book store, and even resturants. The need for the ability to check e-mail and remain connected to your clients and office is growing as fast as the market can sustain. This brings many people to the market with questions about what notebook is right for them. We will take a look at several situations and make some recommendations and explanations so that you can make a better buying decision. Lets first answer the question of "Why a laptop?"


Laptops fill a much needed gap in computing that cannot be filled by your desktop, the ability to take your work and information with you. You might think a PDA could fill that gap but don't confuse a PDA with the full functionality of a laptop. PDA's are much more limited in functionality and certainly dont offer you the multitude of benefits a laptop would offer. Many business people use laptops to present information for sales, to gain access to the internet on the go, and to serve as a central mobile repository of information and files.


Notebook Variations

There are several different categories of laptops. Laptops are generally categoried by weight and screen size. From the smallest to largest they are:

  1. Ultraportables: Generally under 4 pounds and range from 8 to 12 inch screen size.
  2. Portables: Generally from 5to 7 pounds and rangefrom 12 to 14 inch screen size.
  3. Mid-Sized: Generally from 7 to 10 pounds and range from 14 to 15.4 inch screen size.
  4. Desktop Replacement: Generally from 10 to 20 pounds and range from 17 to 20 inch screem size.

Notebook categories explained.

Ultraportables: Usually ultraportable laptops are very lightweight and have small screen sizes. Ultraportables usually have a long runtime on battery that is achieved by using ULV or ultra low voltage cpu's which are not intended for high performance, integrated video, and sometimes a lack of built in optical drive. An ultraportable is ideal for a user who does not need much computing power and who's activities include watching DVD's, light office documents and work, listening to MP3's, and browsing online. The reduced screen size and lack of discreet video limit an ultraportable's usability. Ultraportables are some of the highest prices laptops to be found, their price premium is due to the size and weight.

Portables: Laptops in the portable range are usually meant for students, businessmen and women, lawyers, and people in other occupations that want access to information and find the need for enough computing power to handle office and productivity applications with less waiting for programs to open. Portables enjoy a balance of lightweight and slightly increased performance that makes this category very popular.

Mid-Sized: Although this is the third largest laptop category it is the most popular and widely purchased of all categories due to its price being the cheapest of all categories. Mid-sized laptops range from 14 to 15.4 inches and are produced in the largest volume of all laptop sizes. The mid-sized laptop enjoys the widest range of hardware configurations and has the added benefit of a larger screen which makes it suitable for business presentations to small close groups and everyday work.

Desktop Replacement: The largest, heaviest, and often most expensive of all laptop categories is the desktop replacement. As its name implies the desktop replacement is mean to replace a standard desktop with a laptop that usually has all the functionality and power of its desk bound sibling. Desktop replacements usually employ 17" or larger screens with high speed components and a wide range of connectivity options. These laptops often have built in webcams, media card readers, and at times even two hard drives or optical drives. All of this capability does come at a price, not only is the desktop replacement one of the most expensive categories but it also typically has the shortest battery life. A laptop with a 17" screen, high end cpu, discreet video card, two hard drives, and multiple I/O connectivity options eats a lot of power and can have less than 2 hours of battery life even with the extended battery often available. The desktop replacement is meant for individuals who demand power and need as much screen real estate as possible for graphic design, presentations and sales, and of course gaming.

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