Sarah raised some very good points in her comment to my entry on buying and setting up a laptop. Specifically, she brought up several counterpoints to my suggestions on a large display, number pad, mouse and more. So, let’s talk about laptops: having a laptop for the purpose of having a portable computer, and having a laptop for the purpose of replacing a desktop.
If you’re shopping for a laptop because you want something that is quick and easy to transport and set up from one place to another, then you’re definitely after a laptop and accessories that cater to the ease of portability. For this type of laptop and usage for it, here are some things to plan on:
- Bigger isn’t always better. If you want something that is easy to carry about, consider a 15″ or 14″ laptop, or even one of those sexy little 10″ netbooks. You’ll have a smaller resolution and no number pad, but giving them up means a smaller unit, which usually offers more battery life, and almost always comes at a cheaper price!
- Pick a laptop that runs cool. If you’re going to be on the go with your laptop and setting up shop in different places all of the time, then there’s a strong possibility that your laptop might wind up on your lap, a bed, a sofa cushion, or another soft surface. Overheating is always a possibility, but by choosing a laptop that runs cool and has well-positioned fans, you lower that risk.
- Choose a laptop that offers great battery life. Typically smaller laptops will last longer on a battery, but you should still compare and choose one that meets your needs.
- Pick up an extra battery and keep it charged when you’re not on the go. This way you’ll have a backup if there isn’t a power outlet nearby.
- Get a sleeve or bag for your laptop. Protect your investment, and keep it secure!
- A touchpad will do just fine, but if you like mice, consider getting a small wireless mouse. They’re available in USB (transmitter) and Bluetooth format. Some even have special adhesive “clips” that allow you to secure your mouse to your laptop’s lid.
If you’re in the market for a laptop that you’ll use as you would a desktop computer, and you’re not concerned with great battery life or being able to quickly and easily travel, then consider these tips:
- Opt for a larger display. The extra $100-$200 will be well worth having a 17″ or even 19″ display, a number pad, and a full-sized keyboard. A larger display means a larger resolution, which gives you more space to work with applications and windows.
- Try to find a laptop that offers dual hard drive bays. Many “entertainment” laptops, including the HP dv7, offer this option. Dual hard drive bays means being able to have two hard drives plugged into your laptop! The more space, the merrier!
- Get yourself an actual mouse. The touchpad is perfect for use on-the-go or for a quick scroll, but for extended periods of use, it can be a real pain.
- Set yourself up with a laptop tray (it looks like a TV tray). This is great if you’d like to use your laptop comfortably while in bed or on the couch.
- A plastic or metal laptop stand that elevates your laptop will place it at a more comfortable viewing angle. Just as importantly, it allows your laptop to stay cool, because fresh air is able to freely circulate around and beneath it.
- Get a sleeve or a messenger bag to store all of your laptop’s accouterments in!
This post brought to you by my laptop, which I use as a desktop replacement AND on the go.