Best Laptop All-Rounder

Dec 08, 2010 View Comments by Steve

Think About Your Needs

What do you want your computer to do – word processing, emailing, web surfing, photo & video editing? How portable does it need to be? Do you want to be using it on the train/plane often or will it spend almost all of its time in your lounge or office? For the all-rounders below we are assuming you want a quality laptop that will last, have good battery life, be great for all common computing tasks and a be a joy to use. The line between business and home use is blurring with computers. Get a quality all-rounder and it will be a great work horse for those office tasks as well as a fun toy to play games, edit photos and read Facebook in the lounge.

What Should I Be Looking For?

  • Memory (RAM) This is the most important thing to consider in a computer as it affects the performance of the applications that run on it.  Get as much memory as possible for you budget and not less than 4GB.
  • Battery Life Battery technology  lags behind other technological innovations of recent years, but if you want to be mobile it’s pretty important. If you go for a small screen laptop that will help a lot as it will use less power. Netbooks and tablets generally have smaller screen and lower power processors so they typically have much better battery life, but are less powerful machines so it’s a trade off here.
  • Portability If you will be carting your laptop around a lot, you will want a small, light but strong machine. 13″ screens are pretty portable and look for strong, preferably all-in-one casings so your laptop isn’t going to brake the first time you sling it onto the seat next to you.
  • Digital Screen Connection A laptop along with an external monitor makes for a very versatile desktop setup. To make sure you get a detailed, sharp display on your external monitor try and look for a digital screen connection such as DVI, HDMI, display port or mini display port. VGA connections are still everywhere but they are analog and don’t offer as sharp a picture on an external display.

What Are The Options?

With over 600 laptops listed on Amazon’s UK website and even more choices available elsewhere you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a mine field. It’s a competitive market and machines are getting better and better. To ensure a good level of quality and support focus on the well known brands which I consider to be Apple, Samsung, HP, Toshiba and Acer. All these companies make some great machines, but looking through reviews and user sentiment across the web one thing is striking – users and experts love Apple Macs. They come top on user approval on many sites and continue to innovate to produce the best quality computers out there.

Dare I Try Switching to Mac?

There are 2 main barriers to entry with an Apple Mac; 1) price and 2) fear of moving from the familiarity of a PC. Macs are generally more expensive machines, but the quality of  the design and build as well as the high spec means they can last longer, so you can end up with a much better machine for no extra cost as you are replacing it less often. On the point of a new system to learn, Apple have spent lots of time trying to help people make the switch and have a dedicated section of their website support/switch101/. To ease the move you can even have Windows running inside your Mac too and use Windows software alongside Mac software using something like VMWare Fusion. This amazing software will even take a snapshot of your old PC and have it run inside your new Mac. Most popular software is available on the Mac including a very clean version of Microsoft Office. There’s also Picasa or iPhoto for photo editing, Mail.app or Mozilla Thunderbird for your email and any web browser you fancy as long as it’s not Internet Explorer which can only be a good thing.

Experts Choice

  • MacBook Pro 13″ Screen, 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4Gb RAM, 250Gb Disk

    Expert RatingConsumer Rating10 hours battery life, fantastic build quality, DVD Rewriter, fast, stylish. Great software bundle. Super sharp screen, Great support within 1 year automatic warranty.Expensive. 2 USB sockets. Need adaptor like this for non Apple external monitor.

    prices
  • Apple Macbook White, 13″ Screen, 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2Gb RAM, 250Gb Disk

    Expert RatingConsumer RatingGreat screen, 10hr battery life, DVD Rewriter. Great software bundle. Great support within 1 year automatic warrantyOnly 2GB RAM as standard, Only available with 13″ screen. Need adaptor like this for non Apple external monitor.

    prices
  • Samsung q330

    Samsung Q330 13.3″ Screen, Intel i3 Processor 4GB RAM, 500GB Disk, Windows 7

    Expert RatingConsumer RatingPowerful, slim, stylish and very portable. DVD Rewriter. Bluetooth 3xUSBSmall 13″ screen. Low resolution webcam.

    prices

Agree, disagree? Let us know by commenting below and together we can make sure we are getting the absolute best laptops and enjoying our ever increasingly tech driven lives.

 

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Share & Discuss

  • telinnerud telinnerud

    Also check out the new 13″ MacBook Air as a potential replacement for the MacBook Pro. Lighter, thinner, more stylish, better battery life and probably faster for most workloads due to it’s SSD. Slightly more expensive (~£100).

  • Steve Butterworth

    Hay Tor. Completely agree. Hearing some very good reviews of the new Macbook Air and the SSD makes it faster, lighter and longer battery life but its also the SSD that makes the price pretty steep especially if you want a reasonable sized drive. I want one though! and it’s sure to make an appearance in the upcoming “ultra portable’s” article.

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