Buying the Right Laptop

Laptops are cheaper and offer more features than ever before. Know what you’re looking for – and what you’re buying – before you visit a retailer or buy online.

What do you need in a laptop?

Is your purchase related to business, school, personal use or both? This is the first topic you need to consider before you go shopping for a new laptop. You don’t need to be tech-savvy to decide how you plan to use your new laptop. Laptops for students or school use may not require all the computing power of a laptop geared to specialty work. But assuming your school laptop will do everything your desktop computer did can be a costly mistake.

Review your needs and catalog the software you’ll use. If the laptop, as an example, will use typical office productivity, retrieve your e-mail and do the usual internet browsing, extra money paid for super fast processors and heavy-duty graphics will be wasted.

On the other hand, if you plan to use special work related programs or graphics design, image manipulation or engineering software consider laptop with more processing power and graphics or video card resources. Plan to do some online gaming? Many gaming sites will let you do a quick diagnostic online to tell you if your new laptop can play their games.

Do some shopping in advance

There are multiple websites geared to laptop users, and all usually offer solid reviews of new laptop models and their pros and cons.

Choosing the right hardware

Every laptop is simply a mobile computer with a processor, hard drive, optical drive (CD or DVD), RAM, video card and a variety of USB and other ports.

Make sure you understand exactly what your new laptop offers; manufacturers are constantly changing options and laptops don’t offer the ease of upgradeability that a desktop computer has.

One of the most important considerations when buying your laptop is battery life. There’s nothing more frustrating than losing use of your laptop after only 90 minutes of use, or having to pay an extra $100 or much more for a heavy-duty battery.

What you see is what you get – period

Retail stores all typically negotiate large purchases of specific laptop models because it lowers their costs and increases profits. Unfortunately, it also means you’re buying whatever model and configuration that’s available and can’t customize your purchase.

This can be a mistake when you find you’re running out of room on your new hard drive, didn’t buy the DVD burner you thought you had, find you’re lacking a needed USB port, or have to pay more for extra RAM.

Another option is buying online

While store purchase allow you to see, feel and use your new laptop before you buy, online purchases can be allow you to buy the model you like with customized benefits such as larger drives or more onboard RAM. Be sure to buy from a reputable online source, and make sure you’ll receive the manufacturer’s warranty.

The hidden cost of software

It’s rare nowadays to be able to use any computer without some sort of software besides Windows 7 or Apple’s MAC OS X. Buying software when you purchase a laptop can mean you’re paying full retail when a little shopping online can save you 25% maybe more.

You don’t need to be a technophobe to make the right purchase of your new laptop. Following these guidelines and doing some advance research is surprisingly simple and will make your next technology purchase a rewarding one.

Guide To Buying Electronics Online With Coupons And Other Deals

Buying electronics can be expensive, particularly when you’re shopping for high end items like stereo systems, televisions or computers. Comparing prices can help you narrow your selection down to the more reasonably priced items, but you’ll often find your biggest savings by shopping online rather than in stores.

Advantages Of Shopping For Electronics Online

You’ll have a much larger selection to choose from if you shop online instead of going from store to store. This gives you the luxury of saving money on the exact item you want instead of making do with whatever is available in a local store. You can also quickly compare prices from one store to another without having to leave the comfort of your home. You’ll love shopping for electronics in your pajamas instead of driving all over town. Not having to cram an oversized box into your car or arrange to borrow a friend’s truck is also nice.

Online coupons can give you some impressive savings when you’re shopping for electronics. Many web retailers offer special coupons that aren’t available in the mail, at their bricks and mortar stores, or in the newspaper. Since these coupons are usually exclusive to internet shopping, they are an excellent way to pick up extra savings on a major purchase. An online coupon for 10% off can save you quite a bit if you’re buying an expensive item, and you’ll save time and money not having to drive around town as well.

Internet product reviews are extremely helpful when you’re shopping for these products. Many retailers include reviews from their customers with product descriptions. You can quickly see how popular a product is, the pros and cons of the product, and even what concerns others have had about a product. There are also independent consumer product review sites that focus strictly on providing reviews on everything from bath towels to computers. Checking out these reviews will help you assess whether a particular item will meet your needs. Some consumers even post links to online coupons or discount codes that can save you additional money in their reviews.

Tips For Electronics Shopping Online

Take the time to do some serious comparison shopping. Check out several sites that offer electronics and compare prices, features, styles, and delivery dates. Don’t forget to check on shipping costs and other possible fees that can make a difference in the overall cost. If two stores offer the same flat panel television at the same price, be sure to check for any additional fees, such as assembly or handling costs and compare those as well.

When you’re comparing items from one online site to another, make sure you aren’t comparing apples to oranges. Get the model number for the equipment you’re considering and use it in a search engine to ensure you’re comparing the prices of identical electronics from merchant to merchant. For instance, searching for a 52″ plasma television with the specific brand and model number will give you more accurate results than simply searching by the brand name. Most manufacturers carry several models at any given time.

Take advantage of online coupons for the best price. The internet is a treasure trove of special coupons and discount codes you can use when you’re paying for electronics at an internet merchant site. Some of the most popular offerings are dollars off, percentages off, free warranties, free shipping, and free upgrades. Try stacking offers as well – some merchants will let you use multiple coupons to optimize your savings.

You can find electronics coupons on major retailer websites, through coupon discount sites, and through online payment services. Be sure to check all three, because the coupons are rarely the same from location to location. With these particular purchases, free shipping is an especially good deal because most of these items are bulky, require extra packaging, or both.

How To Buy Electronics Online Safely

When you’re purchasing electronics, it’s best to stick with reputable retailers. Look for names you recognize and trust. Although you hope your purchase will work flawlessly, there’s always the chance you’ll have a problem and need to return the item. Buying from a merchant that has available online customer service, a good return policy, and a proven reputation will make any repairs needed much simpler.

Be sure the check-out is secure. When you reach the payment page, there should be a small icon that looks like a padlock in your navigation bar. This is the symbol for a secured site; if it isn’t there, be wary. To obtain even higher security, pay for your electronics through a third party site. These will keep your information safe and will often offer special savings on items purchased using their system.

PDA & Handheld Computers Buying Guide

The Personal Data Assistant (PDA) has won rapid acceptance among university students and executives who are constantly on the move because of its ability to package a lot of different data requirements into a palm sized device. The PDA is designed to make a busy life easier by providing sensible connections to all the information you need, have it at your fingertips when you need it, and transport it to other systems. Once ‘organised’ with your PDA, you will have all of your contact phone numbers, be collecting your emails, process your business orders, display your photographs and relax to your mp3 library. Many PDAs also act as a digital recorder and have windows based compatibility for word processing and spreadsheet financial calculations.

PDAs At the simplest end of the market, a PDA can help you manage your daily to-do lists, keep track of your diary and record your memos. But it’s important for people moving into using a PDA to understand that it is a tool that is most beneficial to an already organised mind: it won’t actually do the organising for you. But if you find you need to view and manage documents on the go, keep track of your appointments and have instant access to your name and address book, then the basic functions of a PDA will probably enhance your productivity. And of course the added bonuses of listening to your mp3s, watching short video clips, reading ebooks and being able to rehearse and review your presentations can only help.

PDAs with the Windows Pocket PC operating system and gutsy memory are compatible with your normal windows and office environments. Screen size and image resolution can be critical if you intend to use the device for reading books and managing text-heavy documents. While sales of PDAs have steadily declined over the past two years, losing to smartphone technology, the main manufacturers have advanced the usability of PDA devices with faster processors, increases in memory and multimedia capability. In many situations, smartphones have been able to replace many functions of the PDA, combining data management with mobile phone technology. But if you want to work with spreadsheets and web pages on your PDA, smartphones are at a disadvantage from smaller screen sizes and data storage capability and sometimes cost, but they obviate the need to carry two devices.

What to look for

There’s a hand-held PDA device to suit practically every budget and need. You need to consider just how much data you want to carry with you and how connected you want to be. Obviously more memory, faster processor and bigger screen attract higher price tags. You can compare brands, models and prices by searching using the following specifications to guide you.

A budget basic unit might offer a processor speed of 16 MHz, 8MB of memory and at 2.5 inch (diagonal) screen. At the high end, you can get a 4GB micro hard drive, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, 400 MHz processor, 256MB memory, with expansion slots, 4 inch (diagonal) LCD screen with 65,000 colours and 640 x 480 display resolution, GPS functionality, MP3 player, digital camera and instant messaging. In the middle of the range you will find devices with 64MB of memory, a 200 MHz processor, 3 inch screen and built-in microphone or audio input jack. Bear in mind that all of these specifications and functionalities change continuously, and devices are upgraded with new features over very short spaces of time.

Apart from processor speed, memory and screen size, some of the critical specifications that you can use for cost and brand comparisons include:

Data input – While some models have a full QWERTY keyboard built-in, you may want to consider adding a fold-up full-size external keyboard. Entering lots of text with the small built-in keypads or using the handwriting software can be frustrating.

Audio input – A built-in microphone or microphone jack is needed for recording voice memos and meeting notes and store audio files.

Music playback – MP3 audio file playback can sometimes need additional software.

GPS – While there are a number of purpose-built hand-held devices for industrial applications, your PDA’s GPS capability may not be suitable for rugged outdoor activities.

Communication – Look for integrated Bluetooth 1.1 and a built-in 802.11b Wi-Fi adapter

Smartphone – Combines the functions of a mobile phone with a data management device in a single unit. Phone capability requires a separately purchased service contract

Audio Output – A headphone jack is essential for listening to your audio files

Cradle/Charger – This device allows for easy connection and synchronization with your PC while simultaneously recharging your battery. Consider buying an additional cradle for the office for maximum convenience. Some PDAs include a cable or a special cradle that provides an interface with your desktop computer to synchronize data.

Battery life – Each device will have its own battery-life characteristics. Battery recharge life is also dependent upon the data you are processing. You can use manufacturer’s specifications as a guide to compare between brands and models, but these specifications are laboratory measurements and may not reflect your actual use.

Bluetooth – This wireless technology lets you to exchange data with other handheld devices or any other Bluetooth enabled device such as a cell phone, fax machine, personal computer, laptop computer, headset or printer. The Bluetooth feature will allow you to add an external keyboard.

Digital camera – PDA cameras usually capture low resolution images (around 1.2 megapixels), which are perfect for emailing but not ideal for printing.

GPS – Global positioning system allows you to navigate from any point on or near the surface of the earth.

Music/Audio – The MP3 playback quality will depend on the bit rate of the audio file and the quality of the built-in speaker. The audio quality is often better when played back through a quality headset.

PDA Screen – PDA screen sizes are measured in inches diagonally and are available from 2.6 inches up to 5 inches on the very high-end. Larger, brighter screens require more power to operate therefore increase battery consumption.

Processor speed – refers to the speed in which a PDA coordinates its internal functions. Processor speeds are measured in MHz (megahertz) and range between 4 MHz and 624 MHz. Although these specifications can change rapidly as technology develops, it is recommended to have a processor speed of at least 16 MHz for general day-to-day functions.

Video capture – Video playback often requires an additional expansion card and a third-party software download, and higher memory capability.

Web Browser – Used with a Wi-Fi connection, lets you browse the internet as you would from a desktop computer.

Wi-Fi – Integrated 802.11b WLAN (wireless local area network), enables you to connect to the internet in any hot spot. Enabling the Wi-Fi features tends to consume battery life quickly.

In summary

You may like to consider whether you are a novice (that is, new to PDA technology), an entrepreneur or a technophile, and make your search based on your level of understanding of the technology involved. As a novice, you will be searching for a basic unit, as a technophile you will be looking for all the bells and whistles. An entrepreneur will be searching for the most adaptable capabilities. The following might assist.

Choose amongst functionalities. Consider you need for mp3 players, or video players, or web browsing. Doubling the functionality of your PDA may reduce the need to have to carry another device around in order to enjoy the benefits offered.

How much internet access do you need? Bluetooth connectivity can give you mobile phone enabled internet access, Wife can give you access from hot spots, and simple cable connection to your desktop computer can let you read your emails on the road.

Go for maximum memory for money. Memory determines how much data your PDA can process and store, and its ability to handle applications. Memory can be boosted in many devices using expansion slots and flash memory cards.

Search to compare models and brands, and vendors and prices.