Tech takeover: 5 tips for choosing a laptop

By Logan A. White
Times-News correspondent 

Research your laptop options before you buy. / Illustration by Nichole Crawford

Back-to-school shopping spells doom for the freedom of summer, but searching for a new laptop has got to be the highlight of the mundane experience. Nowadays, tech shopping can bring on a whole new headache. There’s so many choices, from pricing and size to RAM and storage — and let’s not even get started on all those brands. How do you choose the best hardware for your homework? Here’s the five most important things you need to consider when selecting your next laptop:
RAM — Random access memory is what makes or breaks a functional laptop. Without enough, it doesn’t matter how well-built a computer is — it will run slowly. Two gigabytes is a minimum requirement, but if you’re trying to browse the internet while writing a paper plus trying to study, your laptop needs at least four GBs of RAM. Eight GBs will give you an extra punch of computability.
Platform — there are three main operating systems in the tech world. Windows is what most people use, and is installed on most laptops. Mac OS X is found on all Apple computers. Chrome OS is the basis of Google’s Chromebooks. The upside to all three platforms? Windows is well-known and easy to use, Macs are very secure, and Chromebooks are low-priced. But Windows 8 and 10 aren’t super popular and have bugs, MacBooks are pricey, and Chromebooks are only good if you are always connected to the internet. There are many pros and cons — do your research first.
Storage — Saving all those essays and presentations can eat up a laptop’s storage. Unless you plan on keeping all your schoolwork on flash drives, sufficient storage is important. It’s not hard to estimate how much you’ll need; talk to a tech store employee to narrow down how many gigabytes of storage your laptop should have.
Size and Screen — It’s likely you don’t need a huge laptop, so take size into consideration. Laptops can range from smaller than 12 inches to larger than 17 inches. Make sure it fits into your backpack and isn’t too heavy. The screen quality is important too; according to Best Buy, a typical HD screen resolution is 1366 x 768 pixels, while a Mac Retina display is 2560 x 1600. A good mid-range resolution is 1920 x 1080, or Full HD. Keep in mind that the resolution changes with screen size.
Battery Life — unless you plan to keep your laptop tethered to an outlet all day, having a decent battery life is critical. According to Laptop Magazine, a battery life of at least six hours is good, while 8+ hours is optimal for maximum study power.
Of course, all those specs won’t do you any good if you don’t like the feel of the laptop! Before you purchase, try doing a “test run” in the store. Does it get too hot? Do the keys stick or click too loudly? Is the screen brightness adjustable? Does working on it feel natural? Don’t sacrifice comfort for bargains or tech trends. Love your laptop before you buy.

 Logan A. White is a rising home-schooled junior and a Teens & 20s writer.

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