Friday, November 30, 2007

Laptop buying guide

Which is the best laptop for me?

Lot of people think they require a brand new laptop and want to buy the latest model. In many occasions a refurbished laptop is better, unless you want to use it for games or power demanding applications. Your connection speed is many times more important than the power of the Processor or the amount of Memory.
When thinking about purchasing a used laptop, first of all you have to decide what you want to use it for.

word processing
Requires minimal Processor power.

Requires minimal Processor power and minimal amount of Memory. The connection speed is not important, only if you are transfering large sized files (eg. Pictures)

It varies upon which chat program you want to use.
AOL AIM: Pentium II 200MHz Processor, 128 MB Memory, 20MB Hard drive space, Windows 2000, DirectX 9
MSN Live Messenger: Pentium II 233 MHZ Processor, 50MB Hard drive space, Windows XP, 800x600 Screen resolution
Google Talk: Minimum Windows 2000 operating system
Yahoo! Messenger v8: Pentium II 233 MHz, 128MB Memory, 30MB Hard drive space, Windows 98, Windows Media Player 7, DirectX
You have to look at your other Chat softwares for the System Requirements.

surfing the Web
Requires minimal Processor power, at least 64MB Memory. The internet connection speed is more important than the speed of the Processor. It also requires a 56K modem for dial-up, or an ethernet card for DSL or Cable Internet connection.

carrying it along
The majority of the laptops weigh around six pounds. If the weight matters for you, get the manufacturer’s precise information. Small, ultraportable laptops usually weigh under four pounds.

Simply check the Minimum System Requirements provided by the game’s manufacturer. Most games, especially the new ones, need a powerful Processor, lots of Memory and an advanced Graphics chip. However, many refurbished laptops offer top-notch performance, making them ideal for gaming applications.


For music, you don’t need to have powerful computing resources. The amount of your songs, you can store depends on the size of your Hard drive. The average size of a song is around 4-5 megabytes.


The amount of photos you can store depends on your hard drive storage capacity. The size of a photo can vary from a few kilobytes to megabytes. If your store space is not enough you can always get a backup drive or burn your pictures on a CD. Be sure that the system requirements for the software you use to view your pictures don’t exceed your hardware capacity.

streaming video
Streaming is when you are trying view audio or video files directly from a webpage. It does not require top-notch performance. The system requirements are at least a 200 MHz Processor, 32 MB Memory, an internet browser, minimum a 56K modem, although DSL or Cable is recommended for faster connection. Most of the older laptops can support video and audio streaming.

on-line shopping
In the terms of system requirements this is very similar to browsing the internet. You need at least 128 MB Memory. The internet connection speed is more important than the Processor power. You need at least a 56K modem for dial-up, but DSL or Cable are way faster.

database applications
Older, simple database or Point Of Sale softwares do not need top Processor performance or a lot of Memory. Some of the newer programs or POS applications like Quickbooks, may need more powerful computing resources. Always check the System Requirements before purchasing a software or the refurbished laptop you want to run it on.

connecting to the internet
There are different ways you can connect your refurbished laptop to the web. The “old-fashioned” way is the dial-up. It requires a Modem (it is usually built in the computer, but in some older models it has to be purchased separately) and a Modem cable. The newer, broadband methods are DSL or Cable connections. They both require an Ethernet card (network card) and cable. These are usually built in as well, except for some older laptops; in which case you have to buy it separately. You can also connect your notebook to the Web via Wireless connection. For that you need to have a wireless card. (It is built-in in the newer computers, but for the older ones you might have to buy it separately.) Besides the right hardware all connection types require an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Check out the companies that provide service in your area. For around 30-40 dollars you can get a fast broadband service, but it depends completely on your physical location. While you can perform your basic web browsing and email applications with a simple dial-up connection, for some speed-demanding programs, games and downloading files it is highly recommended to go broadband.

operating system
Decide which platform you are comfortable using. Most popular ones are Windows 98, 2000, XP and Vista. Make sure the computer you plan on buying is capable of running the desired operating system. Some of the refurbished laptops do not come with an OS installed. In this case you will have to acquire one and install it yourself. This requires at least average computer skills

You have to determine how much you are willing to spend. If your computing tasks don’t require the latest technology, you can find a good, solid refurbished laptop for even less than $3-400. If you have a higher budget, but still want to buy a refurbished notebook, you can find fast, powerful, (e.g. Core Duo, AMD Turion X2) computers for $6-700.

battery life
Some of the older machines have a shorter (1-2 hours) battery life. If that is not enough for you, you might want to consider buying a newer, refurbished laptop. If that is still not enough, you can always get an extra battery for extended productivity. Most of the serious laptop resellers have their own webpages for accessories.

While some refurbished laptops (especially the ones bought from private individuals on Ebay, Craigslist or by other methods.) do not have warranty, some used notebook resellers offer technical support and return options on their products.

For most of the laptops, including the older models (especially the main brands) you can find all the necessary parts you might need. Even if some laptops are not being manufactured anymore, many companies still fabricate parts for them. These can be easily purchased on some of the reseller’s webpages.

brands and models
After determining what you want to use your refurbished laptop for, you have to select the actual model you want to purchase. If you want to use it as a desktop replacement, there are machines with larger screens and more comfortable keyboards, although these usually weigh a few pounds more. If you are often on the go, and want to carry your refurbished notebook along, you might want to take a look at the lighter models or even the ultraportables. Try to stick with the brand name manufacturers (IBM, Lenovo, Toshiba, Dell, Compaq, Hp, Sony, Gateway, Acer). They have high product support, manuals and information. They always have a toll free 800 number, where experienced customer service agents will answer all your questions.

where to find good refurbished laptops
Try to look on the search engines for product information. Go to you favorite one, , , or to any other ones you might prefer, and simply search for these products. While sometimes you can find good deals on, make sure you check the sellers ratings and customer feedbacks. The easiest way is to find a reliable and well-established laptop reseller, like , a company that has been in the business since 1988 and has sold tens of thousands of laptops in over 150 countries

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