Buying a new laptop can be an expensive undertaking. Choosing the right device and accompanying accessories will not only prevent frequent and costly upgrades, but will ensure that you get the most out of your machine.
However, the average consumer seldom does a thorough assessment of their needs before parting with their hard-earned money for a new device.
- What will I be using my laptop for?
If you are a video editor, you need to ask about a device with a good processor, a great sound adapter and an excellent graphics card. The display needs to be high definition and big enough to comfortably view high-quality video, while portable enough to carry around without strain. On the other hand, a simple business laptop should suffice if you are a bookkeeper, depending on the level of sophistication needed.
- Will the device be for personal use or work?
In either case, you should consider what software is needed to protect and manage important tasks and consider external hard drives for personal and/or work folders. If your workplace has a BYOD policy and you need to buy your own work laptop, you should look for software that can provide an added layer of protection on shared networks.
- What is my budget?
This should not be a limiting factor when looking for a simple word processor and business machine. For more media-intensive, but non-essential applications such as social media, entertainment and gaming, you might want to consider a customisable desktop computer at a later stage when extra money becomes available. If possible, wait until you’ve saved enough money to spend more on a high-quality, all-purpose device.
- Can I add components?
Some laptops are more easily upgradable, which is an important consideration if you are currently on a tight budget. When extra funds become available, faster hard drives, RAM and processors can be swapped in.
- What capabilities do I use the most?
Do you do a lot of video conferencing? If you do, check what kind of webcam your proposed laptop has. The wireless and networking capability of the laptop, as well as a powerful wireless router must be explored thoroughly, along with processing speeds for the best video capability.
- What accessories/peripherals will I need?
Accessories such as mice, external keyboards, speakers, monitors, printers, webcams and external DVD drives all enrich the functionality of your laptop computer. Will you need docking stations or will you plug everything directly onto the laptop? If it’s the latter, then the laptop must have enough USB ports and extensions to plug each of your peripherals in.
- What kind of environments will I be working in?
This is important, as it will determine the protective equipment needed, especially the laptop bag. A construction engineer might want an extra-tough, padded backpack, while a lawyer might prefer a ‘wheel bag’ to also carry additional documents. There are also products to protect your peripherals – for example laptop keyboards can be fitted with silicone keyboard protector skins to protect from liquid spillage.
- How long do I see myself using it for?
Technology advances at a breakneck pace. If you know you’ll want to keep up with future developments in audio-visual standards, you’ll want a laptop that is powerful enough to handle much bigger files, and more complex software applications as new versions are released. Your device should also be powerful enough to take advantage of faster broadband speeds as they hit the market.
- Who else will be using it?
A more durable, less expensive laptop installed with child protection software should be looked at if children will the laptop for school projects. If inexperienced users will be using your laptop, it might be an idea to rather buy a simpler device which runs most cloud-based applications for added security, and just in case someone deletes a folder on the desktop.
- What style do I want?
While this is more of an aesthetic consideration, it should not be dismissed. If you don’t enjoy how your laptop looks and feels, you will be less likely to take care of it and purchase the right accessories and software to make it work optimally. The most important thing is that you are happy with the device and enjoy it for as many years as possible.
Author: Staff Writer