Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

New Laptop For School

Some Tips For Shopping For A New Notebook Computer

Recently, my duties included an unexpected shopping jaunt. I had been asked to purchase and set up a new PC and home network (a service I provide at Aplus Computer Aid). Inspired by that, and in light of the fact that for many it is Back To School time, I am reposting some pertinent snippets from an earlier article, Selecting A New PC

Tip(s) of the day: Laptop computers. Most of what I am going to recommend today applies equally to laptops and desktops with very few exceptions. Today’s portable machines (notebook and tablet PC’s) very nearly rival the hardware capabilities of a desktop (or “tower”), and some models market themselves as a “desktop replacement”. They have large hard drives for storage, can ‘burn’ dual-layer DVD’s, have nice large screens, can access the Internet wirelessly, and are fast. Some have high-end graphics adapters that can keep up with the latest games.

Where laptops are different is: they are comparatively more expensive, they (often) depend on a battery, and they’re limited in terms of “expansion”. Expansion, quite literally, is room to “add stuff”, commonly referred to as “upgrading”. For this reason, I advise (when purchasing a notebook/laptop/tablet) differently than when buying a desktop – buy the most machine you can afford.
Also, I advise buying the battery “upgrade”.

If you have to penny-pinch, reduce the RAM and/or go with a smaller hard drive… because these are the two components on a laptop that it is relatively easy to “upgrade” at a later date, when your finances have recovered. The other things – CPU, graphics, motherboard, sound, etc. — are not so easy to swap out/upgrade. In a tower there is practically nothing you cannot replace: in a laptop you’re kind of stuck, so buy as high up the scale as you can. Not just what you think you’ll need today, but buy for tomorrow as well. Because that’s the way the machine will be for its lifetime.

When deciding which model laptop, do not forget to compare battery life (these stats are published). Also, and I can’t stress this enough, do not buy a laptop that you haven’t typed on. Yes, you can make your purchase online or out of a catalogue, but go into a store and touch it first (sorry, all you Best Buy salespersons out there). Each keyboard and touchpad is different. Make sure you like the layout and “feel” of typing on the keyboard. There’s nothing worse (in laptop computing) than trying to work on a keyboard that just isn’t “you”–IMHO.

Today’s free link: To help shop for a new PC, an excellent shopper’s resource can be found at the PC World magazine’s website. Click here.

Today’s free download: Windows Photo Gallery. Simplify the way you work with photos.  Windows Live Photo Gallery makes it easy to import, organize, edit, and share your digital memories.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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August 4, 2009 - Posted by | advice, computers, how to, shopping for | , , , , , , ,


  1. TechPaul,

    Just sent this to my brother who is in the market for a laptop for his son, who is going to college. Great information!



    Comment by Ramblinrick | August 4, 2009 | Reply

    • Rick,
      Thank you. You are very kind.


      Comment by techpaul | August 4, 2009 | Reply

  2. For laptops I would suggest setting aside some money to buy an extra LCD monitor for when the laptop is home(obviously you can’t carry it around with you). A lot of laptops use smaller 13″ or 14″ screens and the extra real estate makes a huge difference in productivity.


    Comment by jgoto | August 5, 2009 | Reply

    • Jgoto,
      On the other hand.. I believe they have 24″ models now!

      But, yes, for those with a more portable size (or.. a netbook) notebook, having a second monitor at your ‘base station’ to plug into can be a real boon.
      The second monitor doesn’t even need to be that big if the laptop supports “dual mode” (most, if not all, do).

      Thank you for that.


      Comment by techpaul | August 5, 2009 | Reply

  3. […] New Laptop For School – Some Tips For Shopping For A New Notebook Computer. […]


    Pingback by Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 5, 2009 « Bill Mullins’ Weblog – Tech Thoughts | August 5, 2009 | Reply

  4. Hi

    I am a college student & Im willing to buy a laptop for college work…. Thank you very much for your valuable information. its really helpful



    Comment by ag | August 5, 2009 | Reply

  5. useful information, i plan to buy laptop for my collage activity


    Comment by jim | September 6, 2009 | Reply

    • Jim,
      I wish you every success.


      Comment by techpaul | September 7, 2009 | Reply

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