pexels marcus aurelius 6787912
pexels marcus aurelius 6787912

More than ever, buying a laptop now is a confusing business, especially for those that didn’t grow up their whole life with technology. There are laptops so small they are almost tablets. There are laptops so large, carrying them around would be like trying to carry a tower system. Then there’s the memory to consider and the graphics card. Do you need a laptop that can hook into external drives or should you rely on the cloud? The fact is, what you do with your laptop has a big impact on what you need. Sometimes more expensive won’t be better for you. In other cases, paying a few extra dollars now can save you hundreds or thousands down the line. Here are some considerations that can help you find your perfect laptop.

Size Matters

As mentioned above, laptops have overtaken desktops for work and nearly every other application. To meet demand, laptops now come in a variety of sizes. The 11.6-inch screen is about the same size as a tablet and the keyboard reflects that size. If you tend to fat-finger your typing, this compact keyboard may not work for you. On the other hand, this size is sleek and light, making it easily portable.

Mainstream brands offer 13.3, 15.6 and 17.3-inch screens. Besides affecting the portability and weight, smaller screens tend to mean lower-end graphics cards, fewer ports and less computing power. If you are using your computer for gaming or editing you should go with the largest screen size you can afford.

Ready for Anything

Consider how much you’ll be doing with your laptop outside your home. Just because you have a laptop doesn’t mean you’ll be taking it with you very often. On the other hand, if you like to travel and would take your  laptop with you, consider how it would be pulled in and out of its carrying case for airport security and in hotel rooms across the world. In this case, you should look into a rugged laptop. It’s also a good option if you want to have your computer open in outdoor environments that could result in exposure to water, dust or excessive drops and bumps.  

If you really need your laptop to be able to take heavy use and last a long time, the investment in rugged will save you money in the long run. Rugged laptops are about ten times more reliable than standard laptops and last years longer. Look for the ingress protection, IP, rating, along with covered ports and specific information on drop resistance. 

Battery Life for Life

Ask most laptop owners what they’d change about their current laptop and you’ll hear the same thing over and over: longer battery life. Trusting the manufacturer’s claims about battery life is a sure recipe for disappointment. Instead, focus on the battery’s Watt-hours. The newest Macs have 100 Wh batteries, but that’s still not the norm. If you do a lot of gaming or video rendering you’ll use about 60 Watts per hour, while standard use like playing music and surfing the Web, only uses about 10 Watts. Knowing your usage level will help you determine how important a strong battery is for you and also set your expectations before you buy.

Biometrics for the Future

Finally, your phone already has it, so you should be looking for it in your next laptop: biometric security. No matter how you’re using your laptop, finding one with a fingerprint reader is a great way to keep your information safe. Most of the mainstream laptop manufacturers have begun integrating this technology. Look for a reader that integrates with the keyboard instead of forcing you to hold the laptop at a strange angle to get a reading. 

Some laptops have taken it a step further with facial recognition security. Paying extra for this feature when your fingerprint is hard to fake is probably not the best use of your laptop dollars. Instead, focus on the basics like screen size, RAM, graphics and battery life that make the most difference in your user experience.