Seven Key Features to Consider when Purchasing a Laptop
September 11, 20180 Comments
Laptop preferences often are personal, but however consumers should try out a laptop – especially the keyboard and touchpad – before buying any. Consumer Reports says customers should carry the laptop around to make sure it doesn’t feel too heavy or big for them. Then, the laptop should not feel so hot that a person has to move it off his or her lap while working, and it should run quietly as well.
The following seven laptop features (in alphabetical order) ranked high in tests, as well as by respondents of surveys conducted by a number of technology publications and companies around the world. The laptops mentioned in this article are for the sake of this article.
A long battery life is a feature ranked high in many laptop surveys and evaluations. When not plugged into a wall outlet, laptops use a rechargeable lithium-ion battery for power.
According to a recent survey of 776 respondents conducted by Frank Myhr of Berkley, MI-based FHM Technologies LLC, on building the ideal business laptop, a long battery life ranked fifth at 76 percent as a feature most desired in a notebook.
According to tests conducted by Consumer Reports, a normal battery should provide between two and nearly six hours of continuous use when running office applications. The publication stated that users can extend battery life by dimming the display, turning off wireless devices when not in use, and running only basic applications on the laptop.
In its inaugural Notebook Decathlon, LAPTOP magazine put 10 notebooks through two battery endurance tests: a MobileMark test (run twice, both, with and without the WLAN receiver on) and a DVD movie test. The Lenovo ThinkPad T43 took top honors with a perfect composite score of 10. Its elapsed time of four hours and 43 minutes far outdistanced the next closest notebook (three hours and 50 minutes). The optional extra-capacity battery on the notebook’s rear panel was the reason for its long battery life, the magazine concluded.
Also in an evaluation conducted by Digitalversus.com, the 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro was found to have a battery life of nearly five hours.
The size of a laptop screen can be anywhere from 7 to 20 inches. The smaller the screen, the more portable the laptop is. A larger screen will be less portable, but easier to use for extended periods, according to a report on Digitalversus.com. Screen quality ranked third at 86 percent in Frank Myhr’s laptop features survey conducted.
LED-backlit LCD is a new display technology that is making its way into laptops. According to Consumer Reports, an advantage of this technology is its more efficient use of power and, as a result, has a longer battery life.
Consumer Reports ranked several Apple MacBook models, Dell Inspiron I545-012B, HP G70-460us, and Sony Vaio VGN-SR420D/H as having very good displays.
No matter how careful we are, laptops are eventually going to be accidentally dropped, stepped on, doused, or left out in the car during extreme heat or cold. According to the survey conducted by Myhr, 89 percent of respondents ranked durability as their No. 1 feature they want in a laptop.
LAPTOP magazine put 10 notebooks through stress and durability tests in its Notebook Decathlon, including dropping the laptops 10 inches onto a layer of plywood placed over concrete, and spraying the keyboard with water. According to test results, four notebooks survived the stress tests without effort which are: 15-inch Apple PowerBook G4, Averatec 3360 EH1, Gateway M210XL, and Sony VGN-S360.
Most laptops come with a traditional 160 to 500GB hard drive or even more into terabytes now, which is where files and programs are stored, although Digitalversus.com says that an 80GB hard drive should suffice for office documents and photos. Consumer Reports recommends paying attention to a hard drive’s speed: 4,200 RPM – while rare – is considered fairly slow; 5,400 RPM is common; and 7,200 RPM is fastest, but costs more. More are even available now with more speed. Please confirm the speed level of the hard drive. Some laptops can be equipped with two hard drives: the solid-state drives or flash drives.
RAM is the memory the computer uses while in operation, and most brand-name computers have at least 2GB of RAM, according to Consumer Reports. For Windows, users will need at least 1 GB, but Digitalversus.com recommends 2GB. Computers with 3GB can run slightly faster. And even now, we have up to 16GB with relatively high speed.
Many of the respondents who participated in the survey conducted by Myhr commented that the quality of the keyboard is an important feature as well when buying a laptop. Keyboard quality ranked fourth at 83 percent in Myhr’s study.
Consumer Reports recommends that customers should look for keys that don’t feel mushy together, touchpads large enough for your finger to traverse the span of the screen without repeated lifting, and touchpad buttons that are easy to find and press. The touchpad buttons should have a dedicated scroll area as well.
In its December 2017 issue, Consumer Reports gave the following laptop models very good ratings for keyboard/touchpad: Apple MacBook, Dell, HP, Sony, and Toshiba.
According to LAPTOP magazine, the 15-inch Apple PowerBook G4 ranked highest for design/keyboard in its Notebook Decathlon based on the laptop’s illuminated keyboard and two-fingered scrolling capability on the touchpad.
Business professionals are gravitating more toward laptops that are lighter in weight, and that portability has been a key marketing tool for netbook manufacturers. Consumers agree that portability is a great feature, as 60 percent of 600 consumers surveyed by market research company The NPD Group Inc., Port Washington, NY, said that was a main reason they bought their netbooks.
“Retailers and manufacturers can’t put too much emphasis on PC-like capabilities and general features that could convince consumers that a netbook is a replacement for a notebook”, Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD Group, said in a statement. “Instead, they should be marketing mobility, portability, and the need for a companion PC to ensure customers know what they are buying and are more satisfied with their purchases.”
The brains of a laptop are in its processor – or CPU – which performs all of its calculations and has a direct bearing on everything consumers might use their laptops to execute, according to Digitalversus.com. Laptops generally come with a dual-core processor, such as an Intel Pentium Dual-Core or AMD Turion X2, stated Consumer Reports. Then, with core i3-i7 at the moment. The processor capabilities of laptops now are on the crescendo.