DOC IN A BOX: Choosing a new laptop computer

Stephen Bach
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Stephen Bach is the owner and chief of surgery at The Digital Docs in Marblehead.

Choosing a new laptop computer can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not sure what to look for. Here are a few things to keep in mind when making your decision:

— What will you be using your laptop for? If you’re just going to be using it for basic tasks like browsing the internet and checking email, then you won’t need a high-end model. But if you’re going to be using it for more demanding tasks like video editing or gaming, then you’ll need a more powerful machine. If your computer use is minimal, you might want to consider a tablet, such as an iPad. You can even add an accessory keyboard.

— It’s all about budget: Laptops can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. It’s important to set a budget before you start shopping so you don’t overspend. Except for Apple’s line of laptops (which are all excellent), a very inexpensive PC is generally not a good investment. The Doc always recommends checking for sales where a laptop had a list price of at least $700+ and is being offered for 10-30% off. There’s a reason a new laptop can be offered for $250-$400: the components used are just not as good as a laptop costing more. 

— What size laptop do you want? Laptops come in a variety of sizes, from 11 inches to 17 inches. If you’re going to be using your laptop on the go, then you’ll want a smaller model that’s easy to carry. But if you’re going to be using it primarily at home, then you can get away with a larger model.

— What operating system do you want? Laptops come with a variety of operating systems, including Mac OS, Windows and Chrome OS. Choose the operating system that you’re most comfortable with and that has the capability to install the software you want.

— What the heck is “memory?” Memory is not storage. RAM (Random Access Memory) is a critical component of a computer’s performance. The more RAM a computer has, the faster it can access data. That means that a computer with more RAM will be able to run more programs at the same time and will be able to open files faster. Most laptops come with a minimum of 8GB, but we recommend at least 16GB if you can get it. RAM can usually be added after purchase if you find an 8GG model that you love. However, 8GB is usually quite good in Apple laptops, as their new M1 and M2 processors make up for a lower amount of RAM.

Once you’ve considered these factors, you can start shopping for a new laptop. Be sure to compare prices and read reviews before you make your final decision. With so many great laptops on the market, you’re sure to find the perfect one for your needs.
Here are some additional tips for choosing a new laptop:

— Consider the display. The display is one of the most important features of a laptop. Make sure you choose a laptop with a high-quality display that’s easy to see.

— How important is processor speed? The processor is the brains of the laptop, but unless you are doing high-end photo or video editing, the processor specs are not something you need to agonize over. They are measured in GHZ (gigahertz). If you’re doing demanding work, such as video, then make sure you choose a powerful processor that can handle the tasks you need to do.

— How important is storage? Laptops come with a variety of storage options, from traditional hard drives to solid-state drives (SSDs). SSDs are faster than traditional hard drives, and the price has come down so low that they are the preferred choice. We recommend at least a 500GB hard drive.

— Don’t forget about battery life. Laptops with long battery life are ideal for students and people who are always on the go. But remember: Do not leave your laptop plugged in and charging 24/7, as it reduces battery life. Laptop batteries are designed to charge and recharge, and have an estimated life of about 500-600 charge/recharge cycles.

— Read reviews. Before you buy a laptop, be sure to read reviews from other users. This will help you get an idea of what other people think of the laptop.

By following these tips, you’ll be sure to choose the perfect laptop for your needs.

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