Laptops overview

Jan 27, 2011 1 Comment by

There is so much variety and versatility across the laptop category that finding a consensus is virtually impossible.  Some laptops, while not being small enough to be categorised as netbooks, are light and slender and appeal to frequent flyers and monied aesthetes.  Other, larger machines are bought as replacements for ageing desktop towers or for gaming or watching TV.  Still others are bought as a first machine by off-spring who want their parents to get with the programme or by parents for off-spring who need one for school.  And don’t be confused by laptops being referred to as ‘notebooks’ – they’re the same thing.

The buying guide will give you the bare bones of what to look for depending on what you’re likely to want to do with your laptop and how much you can afford.  As with so much technology today, specifications are higher and prices lower than ever before.  Many of us will be old enough to remember having spent maybe £1,000 or more on a laptop that’s now only useful as a door stop. If your demands are modest, any new laptop bought today should last at least 10 years.  Such obsolescence as there is is often to do with the software.  Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP with automatic updates, for example.  Which is good of them. And don’t bother with expensive extended warranties, which are a rip-off.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that reviewers of anything – be it restaurants, theatre or gadgets – become increasingly demanding the longer they’re in the job.  Consequently, cheap and cheerful rarely does it for them which partly explains why three of the laptops in the Fogey 5 can cost over a grand.  It’s not to say they’re not worth the money but that you can get a perfectly decent machine these days for £300-£400.

There is also a move away from tower-type desktop PCs that take up valuable space towards laptop-as-desktop-replacement.  Considering the storage power available in plug-in drives such as a Western Digital My Book (upwards of a terabyte of storage capacity is now common) there seems no good reason to clutter the place up with (mostly empty) desktop (er, desk under, surely?) boxes. And even a hefty laptop is far more portable than any desktop.

The sound quality from all laptop speakers is dreadful and don’t let anyone tell you differently.  If you’re going to use your laptop as a desktop replacement it’s well worth investing in some decent PC speakers for which there’s a Fogey Five here.