7 Things to Consider Before Buying Laptops

How to buy Laptops? Laptops are complex little machines with a variety of configuration options which can lead to very confusing buying decisions. In this article, we are going to cover out factors that one should consider before purchasing a laptop. These 7 factors are the crux of any laptop purchase and by using these as a guideline, you can land the most appropriate mobile PC for your needs.

1- Weight
The lighter the laptop, the easier it is to move around. Prices usually have an inverse relationship with the weight of a laptop. Hence the lightest of laptops will almost (always) cost more than the heaviest ones.

Another relationship is the features of a laptop which would affect the weight of the laptop, which can be if it has a powerful graphics card, or a larger screen etc. The laptop will end up being comparatively heavier and more expensive. So keep a look out for that.

2- Power Consumption
Battery life is critical for users who are on the go. On an average workload, a regular low budget laptop would easily give you 2.5 to 3 hours of battery time. A fairly good machine would easily clock in 4 hours.

These are battery times for regular 6-cell batteries and 9-cell batteries have longer backup times. However, power consumption varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and model to model. Additional features usually result in a powerful drain on battery supply. If you are mostly mobile, power consumption becomes a critical factor to consider.

3- Processing Power
Laptops are almost more expensive than a desktop with similar specifications and so, it is essential to opt for a level of processing power that matches your current and near future needs.

For office work only, an entry-level processor such as the single core Celeron is more than enough. For multimedia enthusiasts and power users, a Core 2 duo or equivalent processor is recommended.

4- Warranty
Locally manufactured laptops usually have a sound local warranty that can span over a time period of a year and beyond. International warranties allow one to take a laptop to any country and in case of trouble, hand it to the sales and support outlet there for repair.

Most warranties allow non-physically damaged laptops to be repaired or replaced free of cost in the first year and cover parts and repairs in the following years at an approximate cost to the customer.

5- Operating System
For most users, the operating system (OS) plays a very important role. If one opts for Windows Vista, the laptop is likely to be more expensive mostly because the OS requires the latest hardware.

Of course, it is a feature rich operating environment but that is the price one pays for the latest and the greatest. Other than that, a user can choose from Linux, Windows XP and Mac OS X.

This is not an easy question to answer, especially if you’ve never considered making the switch from Windows to Mac. But this quick overview of each platform’s strengths and weaknesses should help.

Apple’s MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros offer an easy-to-use operating system in Mac OS X Lion. It offers iOS-like features such as Launch Pad for your apps, superior multitouch gestures, and Auto Save and Resume so you can pick up on your work right where you left off. Macs also tend to outperform similarly configured Windows machines, especially when it comes to boot and resume times. While Windows PCs offer more software choices, Apple makes it easier to find and install programs with the Mac App Store.

MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros also tend to outclass most Windows machines when it comes to the sturdiness of their industrial designs, the touchpad, and display quality. However, Apple’s notebooks start at $999.

Windows 7 notebooks are generally more affordable and offer a much wider range of design choices from more than a dozen major vendors. Windows machines also have access to a much bigger selection of software, especially when it comes to games. Windows 7 is certainly easier to use than previous versions of Windows, and includes convenient features such as Snap (to view two open windows side by side). And if you care about security, there are many Windows notebooks explicitly designed to appeal to the business crowd.

6- Brand Matters
It is easy to choose unbranded systems for the sake of lower prices but that does not necessarily mean that one would get much value or quality. Most no-name companies have a lack of spare parts, precarious warranties and unstable configurations.

Make sure that you have read enough reviews and are sure about the quality of the manufacturer before you make a purchase decision

7- Cost
These days, you can easily find an all-purpose laptop with good performance for about $500. We’re talking about a speedy dual-core Intel Core i3 or an AMD A6 processor, 3 to 4GB of RAM, and at least 320GB of hard drive space. That’s good enough for most consumers looking to surf the web, go on Facebook, check email, and play casual games.

As you get above $600, you’ll start to see more premium designs, such as metal finishes. Manufacturers also start to add in other features as you climb the price ladder, including better audio and backlit keyboards. Look for a second-generation Core i5 processor in this range, as well as 6GB of RAM and a 500 to 640GB hard drive.

21 Ways To Increase Laptop’s Battery Life

21 Ways To Increase Laptop’s Battery Life

In the modern computing age. Modern graphic intensive operating systems and resource hungry applications are cutting down the life of your laptop’s battery every day. The average battery life per continuous use still stands at a maximum of three to four hours. So, a fast depleting battery could very swiftly put the crutches on your ‘mobile’ road trip.

Falling just short of carrying an extra pack of batteries in the back-pack, are several ways to keep the juice flowing through the batteries. Below are the 20 ways to increase the laptop’s battery life.

1. Regular defrag.

Regular defragmentation helps to arrange data more efficiently thus making the hard drive work less to access the data. The quicker the moving hard drive works lesser is the load placed on the battery. Thus, your batter can last longer. The effect is minimal, but this efficiency goes hand in glove with hard drive maintenance.
2. Kill the resource gobblers

End the background processes that are not vital. Monitor the resource usage through a“˜Ctrl-Alt-Del’ which brings up the Windows Task Manager (in Windows). If you’re not on the internet, it is safe to shut down the immediate non-essential programs running in the taskbar like the antivirus and the firewall. Weed out unnecessary programs running as start-ups by launching the System Configuration Utility from Run ““ Msconfig ““ Tab: Startup. Uncheck the programs which you don’t want to launch and reboot the computer once.

3. Pause the scheduled tasks

It may be a defrag or a virus scan, but make sure it is scheduled for a time when you are near a power outlet. If not then nix them for the moment.

4. Unplug external devices

USB devices are the biggest drainers of battery power. Unplug all external devices like an external mouse, PC cards, Wi-Fi, external speakers, Bluetooth and even an attached iPod.

5. Empty the CD/DVD Drives

Even if you don’t intend to use it, don’t leave any CD/DVDs as leftovers in the drives. A spinning drive sucks battery power like a sponge.

6. Go local

Desist using the DVD/external drives while running on batteries. Shift the content to the hard drive or run using (free) virtual drives like Pismo File Mount or even Microsoft’s Virtual CD ROM Control Panel.

7. Adjust the Screen Brightness

The LCD screen of a laptop is another huge power sink. Calibrate the brightness to the lowest level you can tolerate using the Function key toggles or using the Display Settings applet in the Control Panel.

8. Kill the sounds

Mute the speakers and try avoiding the use of multimedia software to maximize the battery life. Installed sound schemes also drain a battery perceptibly.

9. Rid the screensaver

To maximize battery life by a little, switch off the screensaver.

10. Visit Power Options

Get familiar with power management through the “˜Power Options’ applet in the Control Panel. Both XP and Vista come with advanced power management features which shut off components like the monitor and/or the hard drive after specified intervals. This again depends on the chosen “˜Power Schemes’ (for XP) in the same applet. For instance in XP, “˜Max Battery’ under Power Schemes can be selected for maximum battery optimization.

Similar settings can be found under “˜Mobile PC’ in the Control Panel of Vista.

11. Turn off the looks

Today’s OS’s like Windows Vista come with features like “˜Aero Glass’ which are resource guzzlers. One can turn it off and go for the “˜Classic’ appearance which consumes less power. In Vista, click on Desktop – Preferences – View Colour – Appearance – Classic Appearance and Windows Basic graphical interface. In XP it’s – Display Properties – Theme – Windows Classic.

Linux and even Macintosh are better optimized for longer battery life.

12. Hibernate is better than Sleep

In the Stand By mode (or sleep mode), the computer turns of the hard drive and the display but memory remains active while the CPU slows down. This draws on the battery. In contrast, hibernation mode is better because the computer saves the current state and shuts itself down completely thus saving power.

13. Get the most…work on the least

Working on too many programs while on the battery is a sure fire power drainer. Keep use of graphic intensive applications to a minimum. Working on a spreadsheet consumes much less than playing your favourite game. To increase the life of the battery open just one or two programs concurrently.

14. Ram in more RAM

Adequate RAM reduces the load on Virtual memory which by default resides on the hard drive. Though every extra bit of RAM uses up more power, it increases overall savings by short cutting access to the power hungry hard drive.

15. Keep it clean

A laptop with blocked air vents will generate more heat thus reducing the life of the battery. Clean the air vents regularly to keep operating temperatures low. Allow for open space around the vents for air to circulate freely. Keep the area around the laptop clean to avoid entry of dust.

16. Temperature is a silent killer

Undue heat kills off a battery slowly but surely. Avoid leaving the laptop under direct sunlight or inside a closed car.

17. Avoid the memory effect

A problem more for the older Ni-MH batteries than for Li-Ion batteries on which most modern laptops run. Memory effect relates to the loss of battery charge when they are repeatedly recharged after being only partially discharged. It can be prevented by discharging the battery fully and then completely recharging it. Li-Ion batteries on the other hand have no problems with partial discharges and re-charges and complete discharge is never recommended for this type.

18. Update software and drivers

This sounds a bit incongruous but then newer drivers and software are often designed to be more efficient (and hopefully less resource hungry).

19. Use the right adapter

Ensure that the adapter you use to charge the laptop battery is an original one or one with the correct specifications. A mismatch in the wattage could cause an overload thus damaging the laptop and the battery.

20. Pack it up

If you don’t plan to use the laptop on batteries for quite some time, ensure that the charge is nearly 40 percent – remove the batteries and store it in a cool place.

A typical lithium ion battery has an overall average life of 2-3 years. With some care and caution, its mortality can be delayed.

21. Browse the Internet With IE or Firefox

When surfing the web sans power cord, the brand of web browser you use can have a surprisingly large effect on battery life. In our experience, Spot Cool Stuff has found Firefox to be the most energy efficient browser. A more scientific look at the issue concluded that using Internet Explorer produced the longest battery life; but then that study was conducted by Microsoft, the company behind IE, so treat that finding with whatever level of skepticism you believe is appropriate.

Have you found your own way to increase battery life of your laptop? Share the “˜life giving’ tips with us in the comments..