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Things to keep in mind when buying a new laptop or computer

Here at TCS, we understand the necessity of computers in today’s environment.  Your cell phone as more computing power in it than the computers of the early 90′s.  That’s a massive jump in computer capabilities in a very short amount of time.  When you’re deciding what to buy, you need to take many things into account.  First off, who are you buying it for (Yourself?  High school student?  College student? Work related? Etc…)?  Next, what you’ll want to look at is the main purpose for the computer (E-Mail?  Social Media?  Gaming?  School Work? Etc…)?

Once you’ve figured out who the device is for, and what the main purpose for the device is, you have another decision to make.  What kind of device?!  There are netbooks, laptops, iPads, Android tablets, and even still available today would be a Desktop or “tower” computer.

Just a real quick overview of each:

Dektop tower


Desktop:  Immobile, usually more powerful, upgradeable internal components.


Laptop:  Mobile, usually less powerful than a desktop, minimal upgradeable internal components.

Notebook 1Netbook: Very mobile, less powerful than a laptop, much less powerful/capable than a desktop.  Only memory can possibly be upgraded internally.

Tablets: This includes both iPads and Android based tablets.  Designed around mobility.  Similar computing power as a netbook. Tablet 1 Runs “applications” versus installed programs like desktops and laptops.  Not internally upgradable, though some Android based tablets have an SD Card memory expansion slot.

Now that we have a basic description for the available devices, lets take a look at a few of the things you’ll need to consider when making your decision.

Features / Capabilities:

Based on the main use for the device, you’ll need to know if the devices you’re looking at purchasing is capable of doing what you want it to do.

Processor/Memory:  If you’ll be gaming on the device, using it for graphical design, or using multiple applications at a time, you’ll want to make sure you have enough memory and a very capable CPU (Central Processing Unit).  If you’re using the device for word processing, email, non-graphical homework etc… then you can choose a less expensive set of internal component.  We would recommend no less than 6-8 GB of RAM and a mid level i3 intel processor (or comparable AMD unit).

Operating System:  Do you plan on having this system for a long time?  If so, you may decide to upgrade the OS to remain current with the market and security updates.

Connectivity:  Your need could dictate the type of connectivity options you require.  Most all places have WiFi nowadays, but some places still require a physical connection to access the network and/or internet.  Some devices come with a data package from a cellular provider, while others come with WiFi built in.  Depending on the type of connection you need, your device choice could be limited.

Storage Capacity:  These days, hard drive sizes are large and prices are pretty cheap.  Desktops and laptops will have the largest available internal storage capacity, and in those instances, you can even upgrade those internal pieces on both.  Other devices like tablets may not have any expandable storage option.  If the devices will be used for school work or you just need a lot of internal storage, you’ll need to make sure you determine which device meets your specific needs.

Battery Life:  Desktops have no battery life, they are always plugged into a wall outlet.  So if you’re looking for a mobile device, you’ll be looking at a laptop, netbook or tablet device.  If there will be long times of unplugged usage, you’ll want to make sure you get a device that will last long enough for you.  One thing to consider, especially for laptops, is that the more powerful the laptop, the shorter the battery life.  More RAM and high power CPU’s and graphics cards take more power to keep running.

Additional Considerations:

There are many things to consider when looking at buying a computer.  The above list is certainly not an exhaustive list.  Additional things you should consider would include, but not be limited to:

Size / Weight:  Desktops are immobile, but tower size and monitor size need to be considered if your space is limited.  For mobile devices, you need to consider weight as you’ll likely be carrying the device around for possibly long periods of time.  You’ll also need to consider size for the same reason, but also for readability.  If small font size bothers you, you may need a larger device to allow for a comfortable font size so you don’t damage your eyesight.

External ports:  All desktops and laptops will come with external connections.  What flavor and how many will differ.  Netbooks may have a couple of USB ports, but generally not a lot of extra ports.  Tablets may not come with additional ports besides a charge port and headphone port.  What you need to connect externally may sway your device purchase.

Camera:  Do you need one, does the devices you’re looking at come with one or is is separate?

Software:  Does the devices you’re considering have the available software or apps you need?

Printing:  How difficult is it to connect your device to a printer?

Available accessories:   Accessories like external hard drives, or dvd drives, webcam’s, speakers etc…

Warranty:  How long is the manufactures warranty, is there an extended warranty available?

Price:  Is the device within your budget, if not, can you make a less expensive choice work for your needs?

Input method:  Desktops and Laptops will require a regular keyboard.  Tablets may have accessories available to provide a physical keyboard, but usually it uses the “virtual keyboard” software to facilitate typing.

Conclusion:  TCS wants you to be informed and aware of the choices that you have when it comes to purchasing a computing device.  Whether you’re deciding on a desktop, laptop, netbook or tablet, make sure you know what you need the device to do.  That will make the process of choosing a compatible device that fits your needs and budget much easier.

If you have any questions, we would love to assist in demystifying the choices for you.  You can reach out to us through our contact page; our facebook page; via twitter @TCSSantee. You can also give us a call at 619-449-9010; or come into our shop in Santee during business hours.