Our guide to choosing a new laptop…

if you can’t be bothered reading this then give us a bell!

When looking for a new laptop, firstly you need to ask the question “what will it be used for?” If the answer is gaming or audio and video editing just give us a call – we need to talk further. If you, like most people, just want to use the Internet, watch videos on YouTube, organise your iTunes and edit a few Word documents and the like, it is much simpler.

What make?

HP, Lenovo, Toshiba, Samsung, Sony – quality brands with good customer support. Our experience with other makes has been partly with build quality issues. This isn’t true for everything, but we find it best to pay that little bit more if you will be using it every day.

What processor?

There are two main processor manufacturers for laptops, AMD and Intel. Intel are the undisputed king of the ring at this moment in time, so if you find a laptop that says Intel Core i3, Core i5 or Core i7 on the sticker it will be more than capable of handling whatever you throw at it for the next few years.

The best bang for the buck is to be found with the i3 range.

Memory

Memory, also called RAM, is measured in Gigabytes (GB). 4GB is more than ample for most.

Hard Drive

Hard drives are also measured in Gigabytes and they are all relatively HUGE. Unless you download and keep ten films every week you don’t really need to worry about the size, they are all generally 500GB or more.

Transferring your old data

The easiest way is just to move it onto an external hard drive then put it onto the new laptop. Some software can be a bit fussy, e.g. iTunes – sometimes you need to re-make the library. If you want, we can do a full new laptop setup and data transfer no problem.

Size DOES matter…

Regarding the size you again need to ask yourself what you will be doing with it.

Travelling a lot: There is a new breed of sexy laptop roaming the streets – the “Ultrabook” – these have small screens, are very light but powerful at the same time. You can then buy a large screen to connect to it when you are based in the home/office.

Sofa Surfer: You’re best with a standard 15.6” screen, but also get something to rest it on so you don’t block the vents – we like these lap trays from Dunelm Mill. Kitsch!

Desktop replacement: If it will be sat on a desk/table but you don’t want to buy an extra monitor you might be best looking for a laptop with a 17” screen.

Don’t be afraid to go to your local retailer and just pick a few up, practice typing and check out the screen size to see if it’s suitable. If you’re not sure about anything, just give us a call and we can help.

Heard about Windows 8?

Microsoft has recently released their new operating system, Windows 8. Safe to say, we don’t like it yet (Ryan will be writing a blog about his findings soon) and at the moment we would advise that you try and find a laptop with Windows 7 on. There are bargains to be had here as shops clear their old stock of Windows 7 laptops. If Windows 8 gets better you can always upgrade at a later date if you so wish.

IF YOU HAVE TO GET ONE WITH WINDOWS 8:

The main gripe people have with Windows 8 is that there isn’t a Start Menu, which is really confusing. It’s like someone has gone into your house and randomly swapped all the contents of your cupboards around; yes you would eventually get used to it, but why did they do it in the first place?

The answer is to install a third party piece of software that adds a start menu. Our favourite is Classic Shell - works a treat.

**UPDATE** There’s another Start Menu program called Start8 from Stardock – we haven’t yet tied it but it looks great. They also do a thing called ModernMix that might be worth trying – some applications called Metro Apps take up a full screen, this makes them resizeable on the standard desktop.

If you want the option of both Windows 8 AND Windows 7 try and find a laptop with the Windows 8 “Pro” version of the software – you can then legally downgrade to Windows 7, which of course we can help you with if you need.

Antivirus? Office?

The big stores make their bread and butter selling you extras with the laptops, specifically antivirus software and Office (Word, Excel etc.). Also laptop manufacturers sometimes bundle antivirus software with the laptops with a three month “free” trial. What do you actually need?

Antivirus: No antivirus software can stop all viruses and these days there are perfectly good free antivirus offerings from a variety of companies – including one that comes free with Windows. Certainly don’t buy any antivirus from the PC vendor, and when you turn the laptop on for the first time just uninstall any antivirus programs that it comes with – the main culprits are Norton and McAffee. Once you’ve got rid of it you can choose one of the free ones – our favourite at the moment is Microsoft Security Essentials.

Office: There are multiple versions of Microsoft office so call us for advice, but did you know there is a free equivalent? It’s called Libre Office, it’s not as fully featured as the Microsoft version but for basic document and spreadsheet editing it is fine, and it’s compatible with the Microsoft version.

Crapware

Nearly all laptops are bundled with “Crapware” as it’s known in the industry – the software developers pay the manufacturers to include their “crap” trial software in the hope that some of you will use it and go onto pay for it.

Some of this at best can be annoying with continual messages to update; at worst it can slow the computer down. If it’s not required we find the best policy is to just remove it.

Want someone to do all this for you?

We can transfer your data from your old hard drive, put on a free antivirus and get rid of the crapware for just an hour’s work (£50). If you need some more advice on what you need to buy give us a call: 0161 713 2084.