FROM OUR READERS
This is one of those questions that will never have a right or wrong answer. Let me explain… Everyone will answer this question based on his/ her experience or those to the people this person knows.
When I asked an IT manager, he said “HP” (Hewlett-Packard). “Why?”, said I. “I have bought five for the company and they have never let us down. On the other hand, a friend of mine got a Dell the other day and two weeks later the darn thing overheated and ceased to function!”, he replied.
When asked the same question, one of my friends who owns a multimedia design business assured me that Dell was the best bet because, their post-purchase service is excellent and Dell computers are good and reasonably priced.
From the above anecdotes, you’ll notice that each of the respondents base their answers from what they have experienced or heard.
What notebook brand should you purchase?
My answer is deceptively simple. Go for the well known global brands whose other products you already own. Let’s say that you already own a Sony digital camera and a Sony MP3 player. One of your family members also happens to own a Vaio (Sony’s notebooks). What’s your obvious choice? Sony of course! An obvious tip: if you’re a Mac user, you’re obviously going to go for a Mac laptop right? Right of course! It’s in your best interests!
Another example. Let’s say that you travel a lot. It would be in your best interests to opt for a brand that is present in all the countries that you plan to visit. Why? Because, you want that peace of mind when you know that should something go wrong with your laptop PC, you can get local help instead of nightmare international calls.
Another reason why you should go for well known brands: The laptop industry is “very” competitive. What would happen if you ever bought a machine from a little company that later goes bankrupt because of the tough competition? Stick with the biggies and stay on the safe side.
Here’s an interesting point. I have never come across any claim that stated that a certain laptop brand was far better than another (among the “big guys”). What I know is that certain manufactures might make a good component but another one would fail to be top-notch.
Don’t be fooled by pricing either. It costs more or less the same amount of resources to manufacture a laptop wether your are company A or B. The end price is a marketing tool that is used to either attract those who are budget conscious or those who believe that high pricing equals to better quality.
Choosing a specific brand is another issue entirely. While a laptop has become a ubiquitous accessory for modern life, the actual process of choosing the right model can take some serious time and research. Herein are outlined the different categories of laptops and which types are best for different users. We'll also take a look at CPU, hard-drive, and networking options.
Below are a handful of typical user experiences that should help outline what type of laptop is right for you. Chances are, you'll fall somewhere in between two or more of these archetypes, so carefully consider what you'll be using your new laptop for.
Students typically require low prices and portability above all. A laptop that can be carried from class to class is key, so many students turn to low-cost Netbooks, which are small, low-power systems that generally cost less. The downside is that these have small screens and generally use underpowered single-core CPUs. Another option is a 13-inch thin-and-light laptop, which is somewhat less portable, but makes for a better experience when sitting down to write papers and do research. These have dual-core CPUs and often include optical drives. Apple's 13-inch MacBook is a prime example.
What to look for: At least 2GB of RAM; 160GB or larger HDD; 13-inch display.
The Business Traveller
Those who work on the road require a robust computing experience, a sturdy, rugged system to safeguard data, and often, access to security and management tools to satisfy the requirements of their IT departments. Lenovo's ThinkPad and Dell's Latitude are two popular examples of laptop lines made with the business traveller in mind. Both brands offer security features such as Intel's vPro platform and TPM chips, internal software and hardware components that work alongside your operating system.
What to look for: 2GB to 4GB of RAM; 160GB or larger HDD; 12- to 15-inch display; Windows Vista Professional or Windows 7 Professional; mobile broadband modem.
The Graphics Designer
Video game players aren't the only ones who need powerful processors, discrete graphics, and massive, fast hard drives. Those who work with high-definition video or high-resolution photographs are among the most demanding of laptop power users. Apple's 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pro laptops are among the most popular for these purposes. This is especially true as Final Cut, the widely used video-editing software, is only available for Macs (Adobe's Photoshop, however, is cross-platform). Either a 17- or a 15-inch screen that runs at a high native resolution is suggested. You should also look for plenty of RAM--up to 8GB is ideal--and a large 500GB hard drive that runs at the faster 7,200rpm speed (typical drives run at 5,400rpm).
What to look for: 4GB-8GB of RAM; 320GB or larger 7,200rpm HDD; 17-inch or larger display.
The Home User
Anyone who does not fall into one of the above categories is likely to fit in here. From parents and children gathered around the laptop at homework time to watching Hulu videos in bed, these are systems that typically stay anchored to one desk, den, or kitchen--perhaps taking the occasional road trip or moving around from room to room. The traditional 15-inch laptop is still the most popular size, although 14- and 16-inch versions are becoming more common. Every PC maker makes standard mainstream laptops, and they generally have more similarities than differences.
What to look for: 2GB to 4GB of RAM; 500GB or larger HDD; 14- to 16-inch display; DVD burning optical drive.
While a bit of an endangered species these days, PC gamers are among the most fervent user groups. Most serious PC gamers will naturally gravitate toward desktop computers, with their flexible upgradeability, faster components, and better cooling. But gaming laptops have made great strides in recent years. Intel's Core 2 Quad and Core i7 CPUs are recommended for 3D gaming, as is a top-of-the-line discrete GPU, such as Nvidia's GeForce N260. High-end brands such as Alienware offer flashy, expensive laptops that can be customized with the latest components, while Gateway's P-series is a good example of a budget-minded 17-inch gaming laptop, with slightly older parts, but excellent overall value.
What to look for: 4GB to 8GB of RAM; 320GB or larger 7,200rpm HDD; 17-inch or larger display; discrete graphics GPU.
1. Tolani: I'm a bit nervous about messing
around in BIOS. Can I break my computer if I
do something wrong?
ICT SQUARE: You sure can, at least for a
little while. In fact, the settings that you might
want to change are pretty simple, but the BIOS
screen itself can be a little intimidating, and it
is possible to leave your computer temporarily
unable to start if you do something wrong.
In general, if you're uncomfortable working in
BIOS, you should ask someone with more
computer experience to help you out.
2. Felix: We want to put a brief summary of
our security policy into this grant application,
but we also need to make sure the policy
itself is thorough. What should we include
ICT SQUARE: I'm afraid I can't recommend
a one-size-fits-all solution to the challenge
of physical security. The specifics of a
good policy almost always depend on a particular
organisation's individual circumstances.
Here's a piece of general advice,
though: when you're trying to come up with a
plan, you need to observe your work environment
very carefully and think creatively about
where your weak points might be and what
you can do to strengthen them.
THISWEEK ON SOFTWARE
Windows 7 Shortcuts
Windows 7 adds loads of great shortcuts for switching between applications, moving windows around your screen, moving them to another monitor altogether, and much more. Here's a quick-reference master list of the best new Windows 7 shortcuts.
Window Management Shortcuts
One of the best changes in Windows 7 is the ability to "snap" windows to the side of the screen, maximize them by dragging to the top of the screen, or even move them to another monitor with a shortcut key.
The Some of the list of keyboard shortcuts includes:
Windows Key +Home: Clear all but the active window.
Windows Key +Space: All windows become transparent so you can see through to the desktop.
Windows Key +Up arrow: Maximize the active window.
Shift+ Windows Key +Up arrow: Maximize the active window vertically.
Windows Key +Down arrow: Minimize the window/Restore the window if it's maximized.
Windows Key +Left/Right arrows: Dock the window to each side of the monitor.
Shift+ Windows Key +Left/Right arrows: Move the window to the monitor on the left or right.
The new hotkey goodness didn't stop with the taskbar and moving windows around—one of the best new hotkeys in Windows 7 is the fact that you can create a new folder with a hotkey. Just open up any Windows Explorer window, hit the Ctrl+Shift+N shortcut key sequence, and you'll be rewarded with a shiny "New Folder" ready for you to rename.
Here's a few more interesting hotkeys for you:
Ctrl+Shift+N: Creates a new folder in Windows Explorer.
Alt+Up: Goes up a folder level in Windows Explorer.
Alt+P: Toggles the preview pane in Windows Explorer.
Shift+Right-Click on a file: Adds Copy as Path, which copies the path of a file to the clipboard.
Shift+Right-Click on a file: Adds extra hidden items to the Send To menu.
Shift+Right-Click on a folder: Adds Command Prompt Here, which lets you easily open a command prompt in that folder.
Win+P: Adjust presentation settings for your display.
Win+(+/-): Zoom in/out.
Win+G: Cycle between the Windows Gadgets on your screen.
Windows 7 definitely makes it a lot easier to interact with your PC from your keyboard—so what are your favorite shortcuts, and how do they save you time? Share your experience in the comments.