What do you need to know
before you purchase a new laptop? The first question that you should ask
yourself is what do you want to use the computer for? Laptops are the same
as a desktop computer except that they are portable. Because of this you
can expect to pay more for a laptop than you would for a desktop of comparable
specifications. You can also expect to pay more for any parts or accessories
that you would need to upgrade or fix a laptop computer. Most of the difference
in price is due to the size of the laptop parts compared to the desktop
parts. It is more expensive to make the parts small enough to use in the
Most of the laptop manufacturers will have four categories of laptops.
There are the entry level or value systems, business class, high end and
the thin and light. Each of the categories has a distinct market of people
that they cater to. There are several factors that will need to be addressed
to make a decision on the type of laptop that would be best for your needs.
The first thing you need to know is the amount of money that you will
be willing to spend on the computer. This is just like buying a car. You
can get the Pinto or the Mercedes and any number of choices in between.
You need to get a balance of what you need, what you can afford, and what
you are willing to spend. You can spend anywhere from $1000 to well over
$3000 for a laptop. I am sure that we would all like to have the top of
the line model but in most cases that is not feasible or even necessary.
You will have to choose the type and speed of processor, screen type
and size, hard drive size, amount of memory, type of video and sound card
and the type of CD drive you would like. This would be the choice of a
regular CD-ROM, DVD-ROM or a CD Writer. You also would need to know if
you need a modem, network card, Wi-Fi, infrared and or FireWire on your
system. You will also have the choice of how long of a warranty you want
on the system that you buy. One other item that I feel is important has
to do with the warranty of the system. Where do you need to take the system
in the event of a hardware failure and who will be doing the work on the
system? There are a number of systems that can be bought on the Internet
that come with a 3 year warranty but you have to send the unit to the company
for service. Depending on the arrangement, this could be an open-ended
time that your system would be out of service. Find out what the warranty
covers and who is able to perform the warranty service on your system.
Is there an option for next day service and how much would that add to
the price of the system? These are all questions that need to be answered
before you buy a new computer.
So what type of system do you need? Are you a beginning computer user
that wants to learn how to use the Internet, e-mail and some applications
for writing letters? I would try to steer you towards the value or entry-level
machines. These machines would give you the most power and performance
for the least amount of money. They would have smaller hard drives and
screens as well as slower processors and a smaller amount of memory to
help keep the price down.
The low-end laptops will take care of just about all of the basics that
you need for using a computer. I will use the Toshiba brand for some examples
since this is the brand that I know the most about. The entry level Toshiba
is the Satellite 1800-S203. This model is available on the web for $1079.
It is an Intel Celeron 800 MHz, 128 MB SDRAM, 13.3” Active Matrix screen,
Trident graphics controller with 8 MB memory, 15-gigabyte hard drive, DVD-ROM,
integrated V.90/56k modem and Windows Millennium Edition. This would be
a good entry-level system for someone that would be learning how to use
the computer, to browse the Internet and some basic programs for writing
letters, spreadsheets, personal finance programs and e-mail.
Are you a college student who knows how to use a computer and have some
more advanced needs? How about an average home user that wants to install
some software to handle the family finances, browse the Internet, e-mail,
and some other programs? You could step up from the first machine that
we discussed without moving all the way up to the next level. This would
still keep you in the lower end of the price range but give you a little
The next level up from the entry level would be an Intel Celeron 1000MHZ,
256 MB SDRAM, the same screen, 16 MB video card, 20-gigabyte hard drive,
the same DVD and modem, an integrated 10/100 Ethernet, and Windows XP Professional.
This machine sells for $1299 on the web. As you can see there is a big
difference in the two machines with only $220 difference in the price.
This is not a machine for the gamers of the world, but it would definitely
be a good machine for the beginning computer user or student who would
like to have a little more of a boost from their system.
The next step in the food chain would be the business class. Toshiba’s
answer for this class of machine would be the Satellite Pro 4600 series.
This line of laptops comes with a Pentium III CPU instead of the Celeron.
You would get a larger hard drive on this system as well. The 4600 comes
with 20 and 30 gigabyte drives. The ram starts at 128 MB and is expandable
to 512 MB. A modem and 10/100 Ethernet are integrated into the system.
They also include the standard floppy drive and a choice of DVD or multifunction
DVD/CD-RW drive. There are also the standard external ports such as USB,
video, printer and serial. This line of laptop is available from $1600
to about $2300. The price is dependent on what you decide you need on your
Maybe you are a high end user that needs extreme power for your applications
or games. Maybe you need to have the ability to burn CDs or play DVDs.
All of the choices are a possibility with a laptop, just as they are with
the desktop. The more you get, the more that you will have to pay. There
are machines available that would rival some of the high-end multimedia
desktops. These would be good machines for the gamer as well as the businessperson
that needs to give presentations to a group or some other high end applications.
There are a number of units that would be able to satisfy the needs
of the power user. One that has caught my eye is the Satellite 5005-S504.
It is a Pentium III 1100 MHz with 512 MB of SDRAM, a 30-gigabyte hard drive
and a DVD/CD-RW. It also comes with an nVidia GeForce2go graphics controller
w/16MB DDR video memory as well as the integrated modem, 10/100 Ethernet
and all of the standard ports. All of this for about $2100 and you have
a machine that will rival some of the better desktops and also have the
There are still the high end and the ultra light machines that we have
not talked about yet. These systems from Toshiba are also in the high end
of the price range because of the small size of the ultra lights and the
performance and features that are offered on the Tecra series. These are
systems that are for a special class of customer. There are certain people
that spend a lot of time traveling and will only use the ultra light systems.
Most of the other users find that they would rather have all of the devices
integrated into the system than to have a machine that was in the ultra
light category. The Portege series from Toshiba is in this ultra light
class. In order to get the size and weight of the system down, most of
the systems have external floppy and CD drives. They also will tend to
have smaller screens that the full size laptops.
The Toshiba Tecra series is the high end of the laptop line as well
as the high end of the tax bracket. You can expect to have the best system
that money can buy but you will need to dish it out. These units start
at about $2700. They come with a standard 3-year warranty as opposed to
the 1-year for most of the other systems.
There are about 26 different models that Toshiba offers for sale on
their website. They have machines with processors up to 1100 MHz. You can
get a machine with an 8MB basic video card or a 16 MB video card that most
any gamer would be happy to have. The machines come with 128 MB of memory
standard and some of the models are expandable to 1000 MB. Hard Drives
range from 15 to 30 gigabytes. Depending on what you want to do with the
system, and the amount of money you are willing to spend, you can get a
laptop that will rival most of the desktop computers for power and speed.
You will never be able to get the fastest processors on a laptop because
of the size, but you can get pretty close.