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What Everyone Ought To Know About Choosing The Best Laptop Computer
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What Everyone Ought To Know About Choosing The Best Laptop Computer

Laptop Computer Buying Guide for Holidays 2013

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Variety isn't only the spice of life, it's the reality of the laptop marketplace. For every computing need and budget, there are often four or five models elbowing each other aside for your attention.


It is amazing how much laptop computers (also called notebook computers) have started to change in just a single year. The competition from tablets and even smartphones has forced portable computers to lose weight quickly while also maintaining powerful processors, high resolution screens, and lots of memory and storage. And so, the best laptop computers have gotten better.

Competition is always good for the consumer because it adds additional features and capabilities while at the same time helping to keep the price of the systems down. There are now plenty of very powerful notebook computers, available at the Adorama Laptop Computer Center, that cost under $1,000. However you can also spend significantly more than that if you want (or need) every bell and whistle imaginable.


Laptop makers wage a perpetual war to boost processing power while not burning down the battery. As you load your laptop with faster and more robust processors, they run hot and run down your power supply. Fortunately, new graphic engines that can more efficiently handle visual processing not only improve performance (i.e. how fast it takes you to do things), but keep the battery humming along for longer.

Before You Buy Your New Laptop, Keep a Few Things in Mind.



Screen Size: Pay attention to the type of and quality of the display - just because it says "HD" doesn't mean it's sporting a 1920 x 1080 resolution screen (in fact, most laptops don't). Also, matte screens are easier to view in brighter light, while those with higher contrast ratios and brightness will provide a more pleasing visual experience.

Processing Power: The brains and brawn of any laptop (or computer, for that matter) is the computer processing unit, or CPU. So how fast of a CPU do you need?

That depends, of course, on what you want to do. Basic word processing, web surfing, email checking, and social networking isn't terribly taxing on your system, so processors offering 1GHz or more of CPU performance should suffice. If you're into watching movies, playing video games or doing any video or photo editing and image management on the road, you'll need considerably more processing punch (in the 2GHz-plus range). 

Memory: Depending on the version of Windows your laptop runs, you may only need 4GB of RAM (32-bit versions of Windows 7 can only support 4GB). If you have a higher performance laptop with a 64-bit version of Windows, you can step up to higher memory capacities (you're also future-proofed to handle new 64-bit software programs).

Hard drive storage is another matter. It's relatively cheap (and getting cheaper) so bulking up isn't a bad idea. Besides, if you buy a generously-sized hard drive, it makes a good back-up for files (like digital images or videos) that you're also saving on a desktop hard drive. Newer Solid State Drives (SSDs) use the same flash memory found in digital camera memory cards in place of a hard drive. They're lighter weight, drain less battery power and load faster than a hard drive but they're also more expensive and can't offer the large storage capacities found on hard drives.

Laptops Worth Considering


 

Apple's MacBook Air line  has turned heads for its ultra-slim profile and performance specs. The Air uses flash memory—not a spinning hard drive—for memory. That not only makes the Air lighter (hence the name) than traditional hard drive-based laptops, but it enables the air to start up nearly instantly. The downside is that you won't get the same kind of storage capacity as you would with a comparably priced notebook that uses a hard drive.

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The 11.6" MacBook Air Notebook Computer  is a thin and sleek system, only slightly thicker than a half inch at its widest, and weighs in at 2.4 pounds. It includes an 11.6-inch display that has a native resolution of 1366x768 and a 720p FaceTime HD camera. It has an Adorama price of $949.00

This notebook comes with a 128GB flash drive and 4GB of RAM and is powered by a 1.3GHz Intel Core i5 processor that includes 3MB of L3 cache. Housed in a solid aluminum case, it has a battery life of nine hours or up to 30 days on standby.

 

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One of the emerging trends in the notebook space is the so called Ultrabook, a very lightweight yet powerful notebook that targets the MacBook Air space, and a nice example of one is the Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A-DH51 (Adorama price: $999.99). The device is slim at two thirds of an inch, light at a hair over 3 pounds, and comes with a seven-hour battery life.

It is powered by an Intel 1.7GHz i5-3317U processor with 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM system memory and runs Microsoft’s Windows 8 Home Premium 64-bit operating system. The 13.3-inch display is capable of 1920x1080 native resolution, and the notebook has a 128GB hard drive.

 

Get a Sleek Laptop at an Affordable Price with the Acer Aspire V5-571-6869

Acer has a very full line of notebooks in its arsenal of affordable models is the Acer Aspire E1-531-2438 (Adorama price: $375.50) a bargain that enables it to serve as a second system for some users and as a good dorm room system that still provides solid performance. It features a 15.6-inch display for road warriors that need space for two pages of text or to handle large images and video.
 
This laptop is powered by an Intel Celeron microprocessor running at 1.9GHz and includes 4GB RAM and a 500GB hard disk drive includes 4GB of RAM that is expandable to 8GB, a 500GB hard drive. It has a built-in web cam and microphone so that users can phone home from the computer.

 

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Sony has long been one of the more feature rich suppliers of notebooks and the Sony VAIO Fit 15  (Adorama price: $1,249.99) follows in this tradition as a full featured offering that provide  a combination of powerful features that meet the needs of everyone from graphics designers to gamers.

The Sony notebook includes a 15.5-inch display with 1920 x 1080 resolution powered by an Nvida GeForce graphics subsystem with its own 2GB of memory. With a fast 2GHz Intel Core i7 processor with 12GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive and 8GB saolid state storage. It ships with Microsoft’s Window 8 Home Premium.

 

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If you are looking for an even more powerful system the Toshiba Qosmio X875-Q7390 is the type of notebook that might just fit the bill with its huge 17.3-inch display and host of other built in features. The $1,669.95 (Adorama price) laptop has 3D graphics and a 1920 x 1080 resolution making a match for high end televisions as a media viewing device.

It has a 3.4GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, as well as additional 3GB of memory dedicated to its Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics engine. It ships with and two storage systems, a 1TB hybrid drive and a 1TB hard disc drive, providing not only plenty of space for large video or image files but due to the speed with which a hybrid drive can access files, rapid response to commands. The 3D package includes 1 pair of 3D glasses.


Ultrabooks and Desktops 

While simply looking at an Ultrabook you might think that it is just another notebook, and in form factor it is. The Ultrabook is a high end subnotebook designed for a lightweight specification without losing anything in terms of power and performance. However there are a few features that are what makes it an Ultrabook. The first is that it sports a solid state drive. Some notebooks already do this, or in some cases have a second SSD drive. The SSD enhances the durability of the notebook and the safety of data since SSDs are tougher that spinning media while helping to reduce weight and extend battery life. Also what is interesting is what is not there. They usually omit optical disc drives and Ethernet ports. 

The Ultrabook category has many offerings that can be found at Adorama and a nice example of the offerings is the Asus S400CA VivoBook 14” Touch Screen Ultrabook. The Asus S400 VivoBook features a 14” touch screen display with 1366 x 768 resolution and a built-in 1MP web cam. The computer is powered by a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5 microprocessor and has 3MB of cache. The system touts 4GB of RAM that can be expanded to 8GBs and sports a 24GB SSD for cache storage and a 500GB hard disc drive (Adorama price: $609.99). 

Another strong offering in the all-in-one category is the HP TouchSmart 320-1050 Desktop, a sleek and interesting looking system that comes with a $685.00 price tag.  One of the first of its kind with a touch screen display that provides a degree of versatility not often found in notebooks or desktop system that display also provides 1600 x 900 resolution.

There is plenty of storage with its 1TB hard drive and its 2.6GHz AMD x4 A6-3600 processor is supported by 6GB of RAM. A nice feature is its standard wireless keyboard that gives a user flexibility about where a system can be set up.



Apple iMac 21.5 inch All-in-one

Apple has been a long-time player in the all-in-one space and it provides powerful systems combined with superb displays such as the Apple iMac 21.5 inch All-in-one (Adorama price: $1,120.00). The computer is powered by a 2.5GHz Intel i5 Quad-Core processor with 4GB of memory. The computer has a 500GB hard drive as well as a full-size wireless keyboard.

The 21.5-inch TFT backlit LED display has a 1920 x 1080 resolution and a AMD Radeon HD graphics processor and with a 16:9 aspect ratio it mirrors what is provided by a HDTV. While it has the usual assortment of USB and other ports Apple also brings the Thunderbolt port that features 2 10-Gbps data channels for data transfer that's up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0. (Editor's note: The Adorama Learning Center web site's content is edited and posted via an Apple iMac 21.5")

HP TouchSmart 320-1050 Desktop

Another strong offering in the all-in-one category is the HP TouchSmart 320-1050 Desktop, a sleek and interesting looking system that comes with a $685.00 price tag.  One of the first of its kind with a touch screen display that provides a degree of versatility not often found in notebooks or desktop system that display also provides 1600 x 900 resolution.

There is plenty of storage with its 1TB hard drive and its 2.6GHz AMD x4 A6-3600 processor is supported by 6GB of RAM. A nice feature is its standard wireless keyboard that gives a user flexibility about where a system can be set up.

 

 

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