Aren’t all of us familiar with the usual sales tactics? So those cheeky sales people said “This processor is good! 1.8ghz, that one 1.6ghz only.” , “This one more RAM. Add more GB RAM, better for you.”, “Get this one la, 120GB hard disk space. that one only 60GB.” and so on so forth.
They told you it’s BETTER but they don’t tell you WHY is it better – being human, we’re just suckers for things that are said to be BETTER. So in the end we have lesser dough in our pocket, some stuff that we don’t utilize, and that cheeky salesperson got the most benefit out of the transaction.
In this article, I will be covering the technical aspects of buying a notebook that will not only help you in your decision making but also to help avoid the snares of cunning sales people.
For Your Consideration
Alright, it’s time for us to approach this matter in a more technical manner. Don’t worry, I won’t be flooding you with intricate details.
Generally any processor on a modern day notebook will be sufficient for any use, so unless you intend to use some application that relies heavily on processor, you shouldn’t waste time thinking too much over the processor issue.
Sure, one processor could be better than the other but it makes no difference when you’re not utilizing it. As a matter of fact, most people under-utilize their processor, even the processor of the lowest-end today is still more than sufficient for anyone’s use.
While the most basic RAM size is sufficient for any use, you should also consider getting your RAM size a step higher.
Notebooks these days come with wide-screen and people have this tendency to run many application and open many tabs on their web browsers without realizing that it’s taking up more and more memory.
By having additional memory, it allows more memory space for the system to manipulate data thus improves the response time when you switch among applications as lesser hard disk access is required.
Networking / Connection Devices
- LAN – All modern day notebook comes with it.
- WiFi – Make sure your notebook that supports WiFi. It would be 802.11b or the faster 802.11g signals, either way it’s good enough for you to browse the Internet and connect to the LAN via WiFi.
- Other connection methods – FireWire, Bluetooth, Infrared…… these are just some of the devices, if you’re reading this article 2 years after it was published there might be more devices for you to consider. For each an every device, you MUST consider whether you need such connectivity and whether you are required top up anything to get it.
Hard Disk Size
Before we proceed, let’s understand a bit about the unit of measurement used in computer storage. Lets go grab some “bytes”.
Since this is not an article to explain units of measurement, I’m going to make it simple.
- 8 bits = 1 byte
- 1,000 bytes = 1 kilobyte
- 1,000 kilobyte = 1 megabyte
- 1,000 megabyte = 1 gigabyte
In reality, 1 gigabyte would actually be 1024 megabytes = 1,048,576 kilobytes =1,073,741,824 bytes.
Now back to topic, a good quality full-colored JPEG picture at 800×600 resolution comes to about 300 kilobytes in size. So how many pictures could you save on a 1 gigabyte space? About 3,333 and that’s just 1 gigabyte. So essentially an 80GB hard disk with 20GB used for your operating system and other applications would still leave 60GB behind for you to store nearly 200,000 images.
Note, that’s 200,000 full-colored images, bear in mind that not all images vary in size and resolution so if the images you keep are of smaller size, there’s ample room for even more pictures for you to store.
What about files such as Microsoft Word documents? Well a 5 page text-only Word Document file takes about 40 kilobytes space (size depends on content.) and that’s about 7 times smaller than those JPEG files mentioned in the example above – so yeah, you get to keep about 1,400,000 of them if your file size remains at 40 kilobytes and you get to store even more should your files be smaller.
If you’re person who loves hopping on P2P networks and getting all the shows you can get, then no hard disk size will satisfy you. It’s either you control yourself by downloading sparingly, or delete what you have downloaded or…… (read the next section : Optical Drive)
It started more than 10 years ago, I remember those days a 2X CD-ROM could cost a few hundred MYR – these days 52X CD-ROMS go for less than 50 MYR and toping up a little bit could get you optical drives like CD-RW, CD-RW/DVD, DVD, DVD-RW drives. Ok enough nostalgia, let’s move on.
Optical drives are something you should take note of, not so much of the speed but rather what it can do. Aim for a notebook that comes with an optical drive that is able write (or some call it “burn”). This means that they would be able to write contents unto optical storage mediums such as CDs, DVDs and whatever else that comes our way in the future.
The graphic system is something that people shouldn’t even bother about UNLESS they intend to play some games on the notebook and when I say games, I don’t mean Minesweeper or those games found on Yahoo!. I’m talking about games that actually utilize the processing and graphical ability of a system, like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. for example.
So there you have it, a guide that works even a few years from now. For a non-technical approach, head on to Notebook Buying Guide : A Simple Approach – the first part of the Notebook Buying Guide. 🙂
I’ll update both articles from time to time if some good ideas come up. If you have any way to improve this guide? Leave a comment or contact me. I’d love to hear what you have in mind.