How To Choose The Right Laptop

I am often asked how one goes about choosing the right laptop. Obviously because of the technological understanding required as well as the plethora of brands out there, it can be very confusing and daunting.

So here is some brief advice on how to go about it:

Firstly decide what you are going to use the laptop for. For example, if it is just to be used for internet, email access and documents then your requirements are very different from someone planning to run processor and memory intensive applications such as games, media applications or CAD. An entry level laptop may be more than adequate for your needs! So why pay for more?

Do not buy a laptop just because it has "lots of features". This is because you will most likely end up paying for features that you do not need. A good example of what I mean by "lots of features" and where this happens a lot is with cell phones. Most people just use them for calls and sms's, yet end up paying exorbitant prices for fancy phones that have a "million-and-one" features, they never use.

Rather carefully consider the specifications and features of various models and decide what is important for your needs. Ie wireless (mostly standard nowdays), Bluetooth, harddrive size, processor spec, memory size, built in camera etc.

When comparing models which have similar specifications go for the one with the highest performance processor (dual processor preferred) as well as the maximum amount of ram you can afford (minimum 512Mbytes). The better the processor and the more ram, the faster the laptop will be. While one should not buy IT based on "lots of features", it is worth ensuring that you get the best "value for money" with features that are important.

Weight and battery size can also be a deciding factor. If you travel frequently, then a light laptop with a 12 "screen may be preferable to lugging around the world with a dead weight.

Choosing the laptop brand is always a personal thing. Sometimes you just like the look and feel of a particular brand. Other times it's a recommendation from a particular person. The brand you choose can also make a huge difference in price. For example recently, I was comparing a Lenovo Z61p against a Mecer E81 with identical performance specifications and the Lenovo was + – R6000 (South African Rands) more expensive. Also the Mecer had more inbuilt features such as a camera and TV tuner. However despite the price difference and extra features, the customer still went for the Lenovo because he loved the "look and feel" of the Lenovo brand over the Mecer.

My favorites brands in order of preference are: Lenovo, Acer, Mecer and HP.