The hard drive of your laptop is where you’ll store documents, images, videos, photos, and other digital content. Measured in gigabytes (GB) or terabytes (TB), it can be broken down into two types:
Hard disk drives (HDD) are the most common type of internal storage that use spinning magnetic discs, one on top of the other, to record digital information. This process works a bit like a record player with an arm that writes data to and reads it from the discs.
Unlike the spinning discs of an HDD, solid state drives (SSD) contain no moving parts, making them less susceptible to physical shock due to accidental drops and bumps. These drives are usually available in much smaller capacities, but offer high-speed performance that’s ultra quiet.
Types of Laptops
The Standard Laptop
Available in sizes from 13” to 17”, the standard laptop has everything you need to stay connected on the go. Most models are loaded with dual-core processors and up to 4GB of RAM which make them great for multitasking so you can play online games, burn data to discs, listen to tunes, and work on projects simultaneously.
Razor-thin and lighter than your standard laptop, an ultrathin laptop comes packed with blazing dual-core performance. No CD/DVD drive helps keep them super slim, but they’re powerful enough for everyday tasks and come with a large hard drive, HD screen, and so much more in a design that’s so light, you’ll toss it in your bag and likely forget that it’s there.
The Multimedia Laptop
Usually equipped with a quad-core processor, dedicated graphics and up to 8GB of RAM, a multimedia laptop is optimized for hardcore PC gamers, video editors, and HD entertainment. They’re powerful enough to replace your desktop computer, and come fully loaded with top-tier features like a large HD display, massive hard drive, and built-in speakers with advanced audio technologies for the best possible sounds too.
The Business Laptop
In addition to a dual-core processor and sizeable hard drive, a business laptop is designed for travelling professionals. From creating presentations to chatting with colleagues using a built-in webcam, some models come equipped with the business-friendly Windows 7 Professional OS to help you organize and work more efficiently. Choose a model with security features such as a fingerprint scanner, durable chassis, and solid state drive for total protection.
The Hybrid Laptop
When you marry the portability and touch features of a tablet with the power and speed of a laptop, you get the hybrid laptop. These devices have a touchscreen that responds to your every touch, so you can pinch to zoom or swipe to get to the next page. At the same time, you have the convenience of a keyboard when you need it, as well as the processing power to get all your tasks done. Many of these laptops are designed to take advantage of the optimized for touch, Windows 8 OS.
With Windows 8, you can stay connected to your favourite people, websites, and more right from your Start screen. There are thousands of touch-friendly apps available for download from the Windows Store and you even get a cool full-screen experience with Internet Explorer 10. The cloud is also seamlessly integrated into Windows 8 so you can access your files and preferences from anywhere with your fingertips
With most laptops, there are two basic ways to connect to everything in your entire digital world: using a wired or wireless connection.
A variety of built-in ports on your laptop will make it easy to get connected to your wired devices for solid and reliable performance.
3.5mm jack – Lets you enjoy audio with headphones or external speakers. USB port – A Universal Serial Bus (USB) port lets you connect to an external mouse or hard drive. You can also transfer data from your compatible media player or smartphone, and charge them too. Mic Input – Attach an external microphone to chat with friends online or create voice memos. HDMI input – Connect to an external HD monitor or HD TV and work, play, create and share all your content on the big screen. VGA input – Connect to your standard computer monitor or TV’s VGA port. Ethernet port – Easily connect to your home’s wired network to surf the web or access shared devices.
You can even get connected without the fuss of carrying around extra cables; the following wireless technologies are built into some laptops and can help you connect to a network, your TV, wireless peripherals, and so much more.
A wireless chipset that comes standard in most laptops, it allows you to access a wireless network at a café hotspot or at home, so you can surf the web and share devices easily.
A wireless networking protocol that allows you to connect peripherals (phones, mice, keyboards, headsets, printers) to your laptop for wireless data transfers and connectivity.
Developed by Intel, Wireless Display (WiDi) allows you to wirelessly send whatever is displayed on your laptop's screen to your TV set for big screen viewing. A separate TV adapter typically needs to be purchased that will receive the wireless signal and pass it on to a video input on your TV.
With DLNA-certified devices, your entire home is connected. View movies and pictures from your laptop on your HDTV, listen to music through your surround sound system, send documents to your printer, and so much more. The certification makes them instantly recognizable to each other, and allows them to send content through the network.
Other Features to Consider
Every lifestyle is different and finding a laptop with all the features you want will make it easier to connect with the things in life that are most important to you. Check out some features that will help make your laptop stand out from the rest and give you a device that suits you best.
It’s difficult to find a laptop nowadays that doesn’t have a screen resolution of at least 1280 x 720 (or HD 720p). But for the best possible resolution for your entertainment, you’ll want to choose a laptop with a Full HD (or 1920 x 1080) resolution – especially if your laptop comes with a built-in Blu-ray player.
Blu-ray Combo Drive
If you’re looking for the most realistic entertainment, choose a laptop with a Blu-ray combo drive and you’ll enjoy true-to-life images from Blu-ray movies. An HDMI output will even let you use it as a Blu-ray player for your TV. And since it’s a combo drive, you can still watch DVD movies and burn data to discs.
While built-in speakers are pretty much standard fare for most laptops, choosing a model with optimized Harman Kardon or Logitech speakers will ensure you get crisp, rich audio.
The chassis is the casing that makes up the exterior of your laptop, and there are typically two styles to choose from: a brushed aluminum design looks ultra-sleek and offers a durable construction that resists fingerprints and scratches, while a plastic chassis offers more colours or textured designs to give you a stylish look.
If you work with numbers, you might want to choose a laptop with a numeric keypad. You’ll be able to quickly key in numbers when working with complex spreadsheets or calculating loads of data instead of using the line of numbers at the top of the keyboard which can be cumbersome.
Integrated vs. Dedicated Graphics
If you plan to use your laptop for everyday tasks such as web surfing, watching DVD movies, or viewing photos, an integrated graphics card perfectly fine. However, you’ll need more performance for things like playing 3D games or editing HD videos so you should choose a laptop with dedicated graphics and you’ll get more frames per second and better response times for the smoothest and most fluid visuals.
The weight of your laptop will ultimately depend on the size you choose; any laptop that’s larger than 15” will likely be heavier and is best for use at home rather than being carted around town. If you’re going to be on the go with your device, then choose a model that’s smaller than 15”, as they’re typically more lightweight and compact.
While some laptops boast as much as 10 hours of battery life, this feature is usually hard to predict, since it’s affected by a number of factors. Tasks like 3D gaming and video editing require a lot of power that will quickly drain your battery. If you plan to do a lot, be sure to carry your power adapter, just in case.
A laptop sleeve will keep your device protected from nicks and scratches when you toss it into your bag.
A laptop bag or case lets you carry your device around, as well as giving you pockets for other items such as a power cord, books, and more.
A wireless mouse will give you more freedom to move than the trackpad can offer.
A laptop dock offers many of the same ports and connectivity as a traditional desktop tower. It can also provide power to your laptop, so you won’t have to run solely on the battery.
A cooling pad will help keep your laptop and your lap cool while you multitask with your favourite applications.
Keep your laptop safe from theft with a security lock. Most laptops will accommodate just about any lock, so you can be sure you’ve got the right protection.