Laptop Deals

Modern Interface

Black Friday is sure to see a lot of great laptop deals with brands including Apple, Dell, HP, MSI, Samsung, Lenovo, Asus, Toshiba, Acer, and more. When making a purchase, look at the type of platform you prefer, such as Mac, Windows, or Chrome OS. You'll also want to consider details, such as screen size, CPU, RAM, battery life, or whether or not you want it to have a touchscreen.

Laptop Buyers Guide

Computers are the future. It’s as simple as that. There is very little you can’t do with a computer. In fact, it’s more common for companies to want you to communicate via a computer than it is for them to want to hear from you via more traditional methods.

Tablets are an ideal accessory if you want to do simple things, but if you need to do more complicated work then you really need to be able turn to a laptop. They lack some of the portability and convenience of their tablet based counterparts, but are significantly more portable than desktop computers.

If you’ve decided that a laptop is for you, then make sure you have a look through our buying guide to ensure that you get the beat value for your money.

Operating System

Years ago everybody used Windows. Apple existed, of course, but it seemed to be the realm of the computer whizz kids, whilst everyone else enjoyed the futuristic look of Windows 95.

Nowadays though, there are numerous operating systems from which to choose, and the one that’s right for you is really just down to personal preference. Here we’ll have a look at the main players in the OS market.

Windows 

Windows DevicesApple may be constantly in the news as it releases each new device, but Windows remains the world’s most used operating system. At the time of writing, Windows 8 is the latest iteration to hit the market, and it is a giant step forward from other versions.

Featuring Microsoft’s latest design idea, Tiles, it is intuitive and designed especially with touchscreen devices in mind, making ideal for plenty of modern laptops. More programs are designed for Windows than any other OS, so you’re bound to find what you need if you decide to opt for a Windows based machine.

Apple

Apple DevicesThe company has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, and their operating system has followed suit. Apple have always prided themselves on the beautiful design of the computers and gadgets, and this has extended into an OS that is streamlined, intuitive and filled with all of the things that you need the most.

A favourite of creative users due to their powerful system and the fact that plenty of editing and design software is made for the Mac, they are excellent for every day usage as well as more power-based users. Do bear in mind though, that with a Mac you get what you pay for – meaning you should expect to pay a pretty penny.

Chrome

Generic laptopGoogle is not only a company, it’s also a verb. Anyone under the age of about 40 will be as likely to say “Google it” instead of “search it”. Google is not just a search engine though, and the developers at Google HQ have come up with a mini-rival to laptops and MacBooks called the Chromebook. Designed for users who are virtually always online, the Chromebook runs, as you’d expect, the Chrome operating system.

Very little data is kept on the computer itself, with most of it being kept online in cloud storage. This makes it easy to access and gives the computer itself a much longer shelf life. The Chrome OS is streamlined to give you faster access to all of the things you normally need to use online, from a web browser to email client with Google Play and Google Drive at your finger tips too. The only downside to the Chrome OS is that it always needs to be online in order to give you the full benefits.

Main Features

Having chosen the OS you think is right for you, you’ll have narrowed down the market significantly. In this section we’ll guide you through the main features to keep your eye out for. Do bear in mind though, that not every feature is available with all operating systems.

You Can Touch This

Since the advent of the tablet more and more laptop manufacturers have been trying to find ways to win back the business of those tempted by the more portable siblings of the laptop.

One of the main things they’ve done is introduce a touchscreen capacity to the latest laptops. This function works brilliantly with the new Windows 8 OS, It gives you interactive, intuitive control. You simply tap the icon you want to open on the screen, then use your keyboard as you normally would.

Giving you the power to change things at the tip of your fingers, it allows a complete novice on the computer to feel like they’ve been using it for years after a matter of just minutes.

Processor

ProcessorThe best way to think of the processor in a computer is to imagine it as the brain power behind the machine. The more powerful the processor, the faster your computer will run. It’s not just speed that the processor offers though, as it will also allow you to use programs that lower spec machines might struggle with. Things like photo editing, music production and graphic design all need a high-end processor to be at their best.

The two chief manufacturers of processors are Intel and AMD. Intel processors tend to go from the Celeron and Pentium range, which are ideal for every day computing, through to Core i3, i5 and i7 range. The latter are extremely powerful and are the ones you’ll be looking for if you’re all about the gaming or high-level creative work.

AMD, on the other hand, start with the A4 chip for the most basic stuff, and goes up to the FX series for the more powerful work.

Spend some time thinking through what you’re most likely to use your computer for, then pick a processor that will back up your desires. If you know you’ll mostly be doing every day things such as browsing and emailing then don’t worry about getting the best processor on the market. But, if you think you’ll need to hit your computer hard with difficult tasks then make sure you get the best that there is.

RAM

RAMThe acronym stands for Random Access Memory. If the processor is the brainpower of the machine, then the RAM is your computer’s memory centre. The more it has, the more programs your computer can run at the same time.

Computers tend to come with a minimum of 4 GB RAM, but the higher-spec systems will come with more. 4 GB will be plenty for the standard user, but if you’re more of a hard-core user then look for a minimum of 6 GB.

Hard Drives

Not to labour a point, but if the processor is the brain power, and the RAM is the memories, then your hard drive is the space on your system for new things to be stored.

Hard drives now come in two types, which are as follows:

  • HDDs - Standing for Hard Disk Drives, HDDs are the most common form of hard drive. They can store huge amounts of data and are found on most systems.
  • SSDs - Meaning Solid State Drives, these have no moving parts in them, unlike HDDs. They are significantly faster to start than HDDs and they tend to consume less power, meaning your battery will last longer. The downside is that they have smaller capacities, so you’ll need to pay more to get more storage. Because of their speed, you’ll normally find SSDs in convertible laptops and Ultrabooks.

Here’s a handy chart to give you some indication of how much information each type of hard drive is able to store:

  • 320 GB – Equates to roughly 60,000 photos, 24 hours of video or 80,000 songs
  • 500 GB – Equates to roughly 100,000 photos, 38 hours of video or 125,000 songs
  • 1 TB – Equates to roughly 200,000 photos, 76 hours of video or 250,000 songs

You can, of course, boost your storage space with a whole host of cloud based storage from companies such as Dropbox and Google Drive, but as a rule of thumb if you think you have a lot of things to store on your computer then make sure you get a laptop with a large hard drive.

Portability

Thin computerIf you lead a lifestyle when you’re always on the go, then the portability of your machine will be of vital importance. Some Windows based machines are now what are known as 2-in-1 devices. They are a cross between a laptop and a tablet, with a removable keyboard depending on what you’re looking for.

Away from the world of 2-in-1 devices, the things you’ll need to think about as far as portability is concerned are battery life and weight. If you’re going to be away from a power point for a prolonged period of time then a computer with a long battery life is a must. Similarly, if you tend to carry your laptop around all the time then a lightweight machine will be important to you.

Graphics & Screen Size

Organisation PCThere are two types of graphics card in the mainstream market: integrated and dedicated. Integrated cards are also known as built-in cards and they are fine for basic usage. From browsing the web to writing email, integrated cards are fine if the most extensive things you want to do are things like watching videos on YouTube.

For anything more complex you want to look towards a dedicated graphics card. They have much more advanced technology, meaning they can handle the more complicated tasks that you may want to throw at them. This may include video editing and high-end gaming. The higher frame-rate produced by dedicated cards when doing things like gaming will cause quicker battery drain, though.

If you really need to push your computer’s graphics to the limit then you should consider getting a laptop with a dual graphics system. These give you a much stronger performance graphics-wise than an individual card.

As far as screen size is concerned, have a think about what you want to use your computer for. If you’re going to be gaming or watching movies then look for a screen that is larger than 15”. For normal run-of-the-mill computing, a 13” screen should suffice.