Laptops can vary in price, from only a couple of hundred dollars for a low-end model to several thousand for one with all of the bells and whistles. Quality computers can be purchased at all price points, so a smaller budget really just means fewer options. The main objective is to get the greatest value for the money you want to spend.
A hardcore gamer is probably going to have different needs than a businessman who just wants to work on a few files away from the office. In a similar manner, a movie fanatic is likely to desire different functionality than a musician looking to integrate a laptop into a home studio. Almost any computer can be put into service as a general purpose machine, but if it will be used for specific tasks, then there is no sense in wasting money on options that will go unused.
Battery life can range anywhere from a couple of hours to around fifteen. The typical laptop can run for an average of about two hours away from a power outlet. In practice, this means that doing something like watching a feature-length movie to completion isn’t really feasible unless the laptop can be plugged in to recharge. If a longer untethered working time is required, then the additional cost (and weight) of a higher capacity battery will need to be accounted for. Another option is to buy two (or more) batteries and swap them out. Some laptops even come with dual batteries.
Today’s laptop consumer has a choice between a traditional HDD (Hard Disk Drive) and the latest SSD (Solid State Drive) type of storage. There are advantages and disadvantages to each kind. A HDD is audible, bulkier and must be protected from shock, but it will cost less. A SDD allows a laptop to have a quiet, compact and rugged design, but this convenience comes with a larger price tag.
It should be decided how much extra storage for programs and files will truthfully be needed. Going for the largest drive possible and stuffing it to capacity is not always the best option. It is not very secure to have an entire collection of data on a device that thieves are attracted to. A legitimate strategy is to utilize some sort of external storage, and only retain on the laptop that which is immediately applicable.
The most commonly used connection for auxiliary hardware is the USB (Universal Standard Bus) 2.0 port. The more of these that a laptop has, the better. This is what most microphones, printers, wireless keyboards and mice use. There are ways around a single USB port machine, such as using a hub, but there is no substitute for the luxury of having enough to begin with. A built-in memory card reader will make retrieving data from cameras an easy task. Some sort of networking ability is usually required on any laptop. Choices here include Ethernet, Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) and Blue-tooth. A HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) connection is useful if the laptop will be used in conjunction with a HDTV (High Definition Television) as part of a home theater type of setup. If the computer will be hooked up to a standard monitor, then a VGA (Video Graphics Adapter) port is the most common way. Parallel and serial ports are becoming rare on laptops, but there are still a lot of musical devices and many pieces of existing lab equipment that use both types of these connections. Again, there are ways around this (like using adapters), but specific requirements should be catered to.
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