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Buying a new laptop can be an overwhelming experience, with so many technical features and specifications to consider along with your needs and budget. Our laptop buying guide aims to take some of the hard work out of choosing, and help you decide which laptop best fits your needs.
At Officeworks, our laptops are sorted into three categories based on their features and functions. This is to make it easier for our customers to find their ideal laptop.
As the name suggests, these laptops are designed for everyday use. While they don't boast high performance power, they're perfect for a wide variety of basic tasks and applications, such as browsing the web, using Microsoft Office programs, sending emails and streaming videos. This type of laptop is great for families, high school or university students, and any household that requires a computer for casual use.
Laptops ideal for home office or small business environments are more efficient and have better battery life than everyday models. Designed for more frequent use, these laptops are able to run multiple applications simultaneously without any drop in performance. However, they're not the best option for more demanding applications such as online gaming, video editing and other applications that require fast graphics processing.
These laptops are more advanced models which are capable of running multiple advanced processes at the same time. They are a great option for gaming and video editing as they have powerful processors, plenty of RAM (memory) and excellent inbuilt memory.
When purchasing a laptop, choosing the right type of device is your first port of call.
Laptops and notebooks are designed to be a portable version of your desktop computer, with similar functionality and performance. The term 'laptop' and 'notebook' can be used interchangeably, although some consider laptops to be full-size models with screens of 15-17 inches, while notebooks are classed as their smaller counterparts with screen sizes of 11-14 inches. Both are suitable for a variety of tasks ranging from browsing the web to using complex programs.
There are three types of Apple laptops: the MacBook Pro, MacBook and MacBook Air. MacBook Pros are the most powerful of the three, with advanced processing, fast flash storage and ultra-clear displays. The MacBook Air is a fantastic option to take on the go as it is ultra slim and light, while still featuring powerful processing and great battery life.
While not a traditional laptop, tablets can be a great option if you plan on simply browsing the web, playing mobile games and streaming TV and movies. Featuring a touchscreen display, they are compact, lightweight and highly portable, and perfect for anyone who doesn’t necessarily need the classic clamshell style laptop.
These versatile touchscreen devices combine the fun of the tablet when you want it with the performance of a laptop when you need it. Convertible laptops often feature a detachable screen or a 360 degree hinge, allowing you to alternate between standing the device up and laying it flat on a surface.
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The operating system you choose is very important, as your choice will affect the laptop software and hardware you use. Each of the three main operating systems has its own pros and cons, so what it comes down to is your personal preference.
The Windows operating system is the most widely used system for desktop and laptop computers. As the longest running operating system, Windows has undergone many developments over the years; the latest version is the brand new Windows 10. Familiar and easy to navigate, particularly for previous Windows 7 and 8 users, Windows 10 boasts great built-in security, the new Microsoft Edge browser and an enormous range of applications for your convenience.
Designed by Apple to work solely with Apple software, OS X has also developed many versions, including Yosemite and El Capitan. Though not as widely used as Windows, due to its limited flexibility with software, OS X nevertheless has a distinctively clean and minimalist look and feel with super fast startup times that appeals to many users.
Google's Chrome operating system is fast, simple and efficient, perfect for busy people who regularly need to access their files from different machines. Chrome OS also has great battery life and built-in virus protection, making it a reliable choice. One of its main limitations, however, is that it solely uses web applications such as Google Docs, which means you won't be able to run programs you might be used to from Windows and OS X.
Laptops come in a wide variety of sizes, ranging from 10 to 17.3 inches. The screen size you choose will depend on your needs and preferences. If you require a large, visual workspace, such as for gaming and editing photos and videos, opt for a 15-17 inch screen. Otherwise, a 13-inch laptop should suffice. Sizes are measured diagonally across the screen, and do not include the trim around the screen - take this into consideration when purchasing accessories such as laptop sleeves, bags and filters.
The higher your laptop's screen resolution, the better its display quality will be. Screen resolutions are measured in pixels, horizontal x vertical.
Different types of display technologies will affect the colour, brightness and overall visuals of your screen. The three common display types are TN, IPS and OLED. TN is the standard, entry-level display type suitable for basic tasks, but not for editing photos or videos or playing games. IPS offers better viewing angles and more vibrant colours than TN panels. OLED is the newest technology and features true colours and deep blacks. With OLED, you get perfect image quality from every angle.
Touch screen laptops allow you to navigate applications on your computer the way you would a tablet or smartphone. They are a great option if you often present or show concepts on your screen, but they're not always practical or often used, and tend to be found mostly on ultraportable laptops.
Simply put, the processor is the brain of the computer and controls virtually every function. The better the processor, the better your laptop will perform.
Intel and their series of multicore processors can be found in the majority of modern MacBook and Windows laptops.
Core i7 : Intel's leading consumer processor, designed for serious multitasking and the use of complex multimedia programs. The ideal choice for professional power users (such as graphic designers, video/photo editors, and serious gamers).
Core i5 : This mid-grade processor can more than capably handle everyday computing activities and is one of the most commonly used processors today. It strikes a great balance between issuing processing power and conserving battery life.
Core i3 : As the entry-level processor in the Core range, the Core i3 is suited to basic tasks such as checking your email, streaming music and creating documents.
Core M : Specially designed for ultra slim devices, this family of processors is highly energy efficient and provides all day battery life.
Pentium, Celeron and Atom : These processors can be found in smaller and more affordable laptops and are adequate for basic web browsing and other everyday activities.
AMD processors follow a similar patter to Intel. The entry-level E1 and E2 processors are designed for users who perform the most rudimentary tasks on their computers, such as browsing the web and checking emails.
Moving up, the A4 and A6 are great for watching HD content, playing music and editing photos, while the A8 and A9 are suitable for multitasking, casual gaming and running more complex programs.
AMD's A10 and A12 are high end processors, allowing you to use advanced apps simulataneously, play complex games and edit HD videos.
RAM (random access memory) dictates how smoothly and efficiently your laptop runs when you have multiple applications open at the same time. RAM is measured in gigabytes (GB), and the more you have the better your laptop will be able to multitask. Think of it like a desk, the larger the area the more you can do at once.
There are two main types of storage available for laptops - solid state drives (SSD) and hard disk drives (HDD). HDDs provide more storage space and are ideal for anyone storing a lot of music, photos and videos on their laptop. Although they have a smaller capacity, SSDs run a lot faster, allowing you to transfer, save and access files more quickly. Storage space is measured in gigabytes (GB) or terabytes (TB).
Laptops come with integrated graphics cards, which are designed to support a range of general computer activities, such as streaming videos and playing casual games Serious gamers, video editors or graphic designers on the other hand, will likely want to invest in a discrete graphics card for a better gaming experience.
Like graphics cards, sound cards are also built right into laptops, allowing you to enjoy everyday music, video and audio files. Sound capabilities in laptops and computers have greatly improved with technological advances over the years, however, sound quality can still vary from device to device. If sound quality is important to you, ensure beforehand that the inbuilt speakers of your choice of laptop are to your standard. Otherwise, it may be worth purchasing a set of external loudspeakers.
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The ports on modern laptops and computers allow you to connect to the Internet and other devices in a range of ways. Although the development of Bluetooth and wireless technologies has meant it is not always necessary to use these types of ports, these capabilities are not always available on all computer devices. This is why you should consider what ports from the ones listed below, may be useful for your needs.
Having a long-lasting battery is ideal for any user, but it's particularly crucial if you need to access your laptop on the go. This is why ultraportable laptops tend to have the longest battery life, while larger laptops that run more complex software will usually have a comparatively shorter battery life. It also greatly depends on usage(what kinds of programs you're running ad how often you're multitasking) and how powerful your processor is.
Allow you to navigate your laptop more easily, and are simple to connect and disconnect.
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Whether you require additional storage space for your files or want to create a back-up copy just to be safe, investing in an external hard drive is always a good idea.
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Protect your laptop and ensure it is easily transportable with a laptop bag or sleeve.
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Includes Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access. This package also comes with 20GB of additional online storage with SkyDrive.
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Will protect your documents and personal information from viruses and other online threats.
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