Purchasing a laptop can be a confusing experience for people who are interested in buying one, but not necessarily interested in the "geek factor" involved in the purchase. It's easy enough to find stores that carry laptops and have knowledgeable associates, however, having an idea of what you want when you're ready to buy is always a good idea. The following information should be helpful when it comes time to make your purchase.
The first consideration to keep in mind is what the laptop will be used for. Most people use laptops for surfing the internet, playing games, doing graphic work, keeping track of business and home finances or a combination of all of these. Systems used for 3D gaming require a quality video card, a lot of RAM and a fast processor. Having a system that meets these requirements, especially in a portable, will generally cost significantly more than a system that will be used strictly for surfing the Internet. Using a system for graphic design or 3D modeling requires similar type of system with a large amount of RAM and high-quality video card, but close attention to the quality and size of the Liquid Crystal Display is also important. These, too, can also be fairly expensive investments.
If you are only in need of a basic laptop that will get you on the Internet, then there are a number of relatively inexpensive options. One of these is what is being called a "netbook" or small laptop with slower processors and less RAM. These allow a person to surf the Internet from anywhere there is a wireless hotspot. They are also generally small enough to fit easily in a briefcase or purse. Many manufacturers have begun offering this style of laptop for under $300.
A touchy subject for many is always the Windows vs. Macintosh debate. This subject, quite frankly, is big enough for its own article, but merits mentioning for a couple of reasons. First, most PCs on the market are pre-installed with Windows, which gives Microsoft the edge. PC laptops also run a bit cheaper than Apple laptops, however, when looking at higher end systems, the price differences are negligible at best and the lower end MacBook are priced very similarly to their PC counterparts.
There are, however, two issues that give Apple an edge over the competition. The first is that when you purchase a laptop from Apple, you generally get everything you need in one shot. The second, and more intriguing factor is that since Macs now use Intel processors, they are able to run Windows natively. This means that as a consumer, you can purchase a Mac and have the best of both worlds.
Other things to look for in a laptop are long battery life and what types of connection ports are available (USB 2.0 and Ethernet connections being two of the most important ones). In a nutshell, purchasing a laptop should be fairly easy and with a little bit of forethought, you can leave the store knowing you've made the right choice.