“A computer is like an Old Testament god, with a lot of rules and no mercy”

Sunday, December 13

14. Picking the Right One: Computer Genres

Standard Laptops: These are the most common of the laptop market. They generally range in size from 12” up to 17” (screen size). Laptops are mostly business oriented, though the market for the general public grows yearly. Apple makes some of the best laptops available with beautiful, crisp screens, great keyboards, and sturdy bodies. I'm a Lenovo Thinkpad fan myself. Dell is another popular manufacturer, though the list is nearly endless.

Most laptops come with decent processors. Hard drives tend to be smaller than their desktop cousins, and available RAM amounts tend to be much smaller because of the way the computers are designed. Hard-core gamers tend not to like most laptops in these configurations because they just don't have the horse-power you need to run the high-end games. The problem is especially the video card. Most laptops in this class tend to be for business/home use, and have no need for high-end graphics. Most modern video games require those graphics to play (or at least not look and play terribly). I'm not saying it's not possible, but it's not a good fit.

If you plan on doing mostly desktop publishing (ie.--word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.), these are a great fit. Laptops have really come down in price since the late 1990's and are now comparably priced to some desktops. The downside of these is that you really can't do much work on them yourself.

If it breaks, you're probably going to have to ship it to the manufacturer. Sure, you can probably replace or upgrade the RAM and the hard drive and CD/DVD, but those are likely the only components that you can replace without taking the whole she-bang apart. I do NOT recommend taking a laptop apart unless you really know what you're doing.

Laptops are available in just about every color imaginable now. Keyboards range from horrid to exceptional. There are different control schemes for mice, though most use the touchpad. I personally despise the touchpad because that's where my thumbs go when I'm typing. It really screws me up when my cursor jumps all over the screen as I'm typing a document. Lenovo business models come with a kind of “joystick” in the center of the keyboard as well. Some people hate this design, but apparently it's been popular enough for other manufactuers to start offering it on their computers.

Battery life on these types is as variable as the colors you can get for their cases. Some models offer 8 or more hours, though most will fall in the 2-4 hour range.