Buying the Perfect Notebook: What to Look for in the Latest Models

Buying the Perfect Notebook: What to Look for in the Latest Models
Do You Shop With a Boutique Notebook Maker or Major Vendors?
Do You Want to Stick With Windows?
Are Chromebooks the Right Choice?
Apple Factors Into the Decision
Power Needs Must Be Considered
It's About Applicability in the Person's Life
What Screen Size Do You Really Need?
Remember the Mobility Factor
The Price Range Will Vary, Depending on Need
Is There a Tablet That Can Do the Same Job?
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Buying the Perfect Notebook: What to Look for in the Latest Models

By Don Reisinger

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Do You Shop With a Boutique Notebook Maker or Major Vendors?

It's not often thought about, since many people just go to Best Buy or Amazon.com to buy a new computer, but customers must decide whether a big name like Dell or HP is best for their notebook needs, or if they want to go with something different from a boutique vendor. Boutiques tend to provide products that feature a nicer design and more powerful components than their counterparts on the conventional side. However, they also tend to be a bit more expensive than their conventional competitors.

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Do You Want to Stick With Windows?

The second question to ask is whether Windows is the right operating system for the job. While Windows 7 might work well for many enterprise customers, Windows 8.1 might not be the right choice. At the same time, Windows 8.1 might be suitable for those looking for the new-look operating system and don't mind the steep learning curve. If you decide on Windows, picking the right version can be a hard choice, but it is something that must be done.

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Are Chromebooks the Right Choice?

Chromebooks are proving extremely popular. At last blush, the Chrome OS-based devices owned 35 percent of the commercial channel and were performing well on Amazon. Chromebooks are less powerful than Windows- or OS X-based machines, but they're still nice for those who want to go mobile and don't require all kinds of power.

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Apple Factors Into the Decision

All of this talk of notebooks has left out one important company: Apple. The iPhone maker is one of the biggest players in the notebook world and continues to see its shipments grow. If you're not used to OS X, it will take some time to feel comfortable, but all in all, going with a MacBook isn't a bad idea for most customers.

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Power Needs Must Be Considered

Power will ultimately be the deciding factor when it comes to price and value. Those who want to do video and photo editing on the fly will want a device with a Core i7 processor and large amounts of RAM. Those who only want to surf the Web or handle email can get away with a lower-end machine, like a Chromebook. Think about power and its impact on price before choosing a notebook.

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It's About Applicability in the Person's Life

One of the nice things about notebooks is that they can fit into the lives of just about any customer. Those who travel often and need mobility will find it in devices like the MacBook Air or Chromebook. High-powered devices that weigh more and can be considered desktop replacements are great for designers and enterprise users. There's nothing worse than choosing the wrong notebook for the required job.

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What Screen Size Do You Really Need?

Screen sizes in the notebook market are all over the place. There are 11-inch models for those who want to go ultra-mobile, and 13-inch models for those who want mobility and some power. Customers can purchase 15-, 17- or even 21-inch notebooks if they're after a powerful desktop replacement. There's no one-size-fits-all strategy for choosing notebook screen sizes.

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Remember the Mobility Factor

Although in general notebooks are designed to be mobile, they're not all created equal. Furthermore, even notebooks that come in the slimmer form factors aren't equally as mobile. Ultrabooks and the MacBook Air are designed to be ultra-mobile notebooks, while devices like the smaller MacBook Pro or 13-inch Dell Inspirons are a little less mobile. Be sure to hold and feel all devices to make sure they meet your own definition of mobility before choosing a notebook.

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The Price Range Will Vary, Depending on Need

Prices are all over the place in the notebook market. Customers on a budget can get a notebook for as little as $200 if they're after a Chromebook, while those looking for a top-of-the-line model can spend more than $2,000. For those customers looking in the boutique section of the market to customize a device, they could pay several thousand of dollars. Prices (and thus, mileage) vary greatly in the notebook space.

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Is There a Tablet That Can Do the Same Job?

Finally, one must ask whether a tablet could perform the tasks historically performed by notebooks. While notebooks are nice in their own right, tablets have been eating their lunch in both the consumer and enterprise markets. The issue has become such a conundrum that some makers like Lenovo and Microsoft have developed products that can transition from a notebook to a tablet and back. Think seriously about tablets before plunking down cash for a notebook.

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