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All too often I work on Laptops and with Laptop owners as well, being a PC Technician, and as often is the case, many owners neglect to think about some important factors when purchasing or using a Laptop. (When I say Laptops I mean Netbooks or Notebooks as well)

Laptops overheat easily, therefore it's paramount that you keep the fans on the bottom uncovered, which means don't place it on a blanket, pillow, etc. The Laptop cooler pads are a good investment, if you want your Laptop to last.

I have probably fixed more broken Laptop screens than any other issue as a PC Technician, this is because many people open a laptop by placing their finger on the screen when they open up the Laptop, this is a mistake, and a costly one too. It doesn't take much pressure from your thumb to break a Laptop screen, therefore, make sure you establish a good habit of using the edge of the screen lid, rather than putting your fingers on the screen.

Remember that liquids are very dangerous to computer components, all too often I replace keyboards, or worse, motherboards due to soda cans spilling on the keyboard of a laptop, even if you catch the can and a very small spill occurs it very well may be too late. Therefore, remember to keep liquids away from your laptop while computing & keep your laptop covered while it's not in use.

Try to remember to use clean hands while using your Laptop and don't finger the screen if you can help it, but even if you do you should be aware of how to clean your laptop with care. You should purchase a micro-fiber towel, these towels are great for Laptops and they are even reusable as well (Just Machine Wash). You will want to use one to clean and one to wipe dry, so get two! Use only water and ring out the excess water before using on the Laptop.

Another common problem with Laptops are theft, because you may have private information on your computer that you don't want thieves looking at, it's always a good ideal to setup security on a laptop, this way if it gets stolen it will become virtually impossible to use without the proper password. Needless to say, the would be thieves will have to spend quite a bit of money to get the laptop in a working order. If you don't know how to setup a Hard Drive password & a Bios Password, I suggest you read your computer's manual, or search online about the subject.

Factors to consider BEFORE purchasing a laptop:

Laptops do NOT make great gaming consoles, despite what some may think, and what others may tell you, they are limited in the types of games they can play, depending upon the graphics card within, for some of today's better games require a strong processor &/or graphics card, that's typically something you won't find in a laptop unless your willing to shell out some serious cash. If you want to game with a computer, it would be better to purchase a Desktop for that purpose, and if all you want to do is just game, it may be better to just get an actual gaming console, as this is a much cheaper solution than paying $800+ for a good desktop that can game well.

It always pays to do research when it comes to the subject of computers, for often as it may be, computers or their components may have a history of being bad, therefore, you will want to read up on reviews & user comments, don't listen to a companies sales pitch, listen to the users & professionals. This can help you not make an expensive mistake.

Netbooks, though they are super light and compact, which makes them great for very simple things, like presentations, keeping records, taking notes, and using for media files (musics / videos / movies / etc.) or simply browsing the internet, which are pretty common task today, they however are not really designed for serious computing, and cannot run more intensive programs. Netbooks are so small you may need to squint to read a lot of time, therefore if you don't have great eyesight, then you may want to get a larger laptop.

Laptops & Netbooks often use smaller hard drives than Desktops, therefore you really cannot plan on doing serious Video editing & Video storage with these, that's a task more suited for a Desktop, and a more powerful one I might add.

Don't just go to the store and pick whatever Laptop or Netbook looks the coolest, check the Windows Experience Index Score, to ensure your not buying a computer that cannot perform well. You can check this out by selecting the start menu, and right click on "Computer" or "My Computer" (in some cases) and select Properties, then select the Windows Experience Index, this will give you an indication of the hardware within the computer.

Anything below a 4.0 is pretty low. Often manufacturers will use slower and lower quality parts to increase battery life, and this is often what one must sacrifice to have a longer battery life, which in turn degrades performance. You should consider how much performance you need, though, some of the newer CPUs, like the Intel Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 CPUs will actually reduce it's power when the User is not doing something intensive, and this can save a lot of battery life, therefore it's important to understand that quality & performance doesn't have to be sacrificed for battery life with the new CPUs on today's market.

If you are on a budget, then it takes extra consideration & research to find a comparable and measurable design in a Laptop to fit your need. For I dare say that everyone's needs are significantly different, though many users may share the same common desires and needs. Everyone plans to use their laptop in different ways than others, which means you should purchase a Laptop that fits your need, and the simple way to learn more is to ask around, but be careful who you ask, for you wouldn't want to ask a car salesperson what they think about a car they are trying to sell you, bad idea.

I hope someone enjoyed this short composition, if anyone has something to add to this post, please do so below.
 

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This is a great post and pretty sums up what one should do when deciding to buy a laptop. The "laptop repairman" advices are particularly insightful, I have done this myself as a hobby mostly and can confirm that burnt internals (due to covering vent holes) and misused screens cover some 95% of broken lappys.

There are two things I'd like to add:
1. When buying a new laptop look what software is already installed. You don't need most of them. Use Add/Remove programs to remove whatever piece of software you don't need from what is already installed as this makes the system faster and makes the battery hold more.

Corollary: If by any chance you have trial-antivirus, uninstall it and use one of the many free antivirus suites on the web.

2. In order to keep the OS clean, once a year do a complete reinstall of the OS and apps. After a while the OS becomes cluttered with loose ends in the registry from the software that was installed/uninstalled and random files that gathered throughout the year. As a result the lappy has to work harder: boots slower, performs worse, heats more and looses battery life. After 2 years of use a lappy is so cluttered that a re-installation of the OS brings as much performance as a completely new laptop.

...what I've written is more technical, but many know how to install/uninstall a program or the OS
 

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Seems a little like a rant.

-Ignores the consideration that the need for portability is why someone seeks out a laptop. Some people may need portability and gaming or A/V editing. Some may have needed the portability and their laptop will be their only PC. For editing, a HDD's size doesn't really matter as most laptops offer 320-500GB now days, you can use an external for storage. 4 Cores and 4-6GB RAM are what is needed for editing optimally, at least such options are available today.

-A little harsh on gaming laptops. Should state that a current high end gaming laptop is about equal in power to a current mid-range desktop on average for gaming. Should also state that GPU upgrades are non-existent for the most part. Fairly good gaming laptops start @ ~$1100, refurbs start around $650. If one was actually in a position to take advantage of a laptop's portability fairly often when it comes to gaming, it could be worth it depending on the individual.

-With the WEI, anything below 5 is very low. W7 scores easier than Vista did. HDD should be 5.7 or better. CPUs should be better than 5 and preferably over 6, stay away from single core CPUs.

-The most important step in finding a laptop to fit your needs and budget [which requires you listing your needs and budget] is asking questions in forums like this one. Always seek current information and opinions.
 
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