The "central processing unit" more commonly know as the "processor" or "CPU" is pretty much the brains of a computer. It's a notebooks primary chip and controls the power management features needed for extended battery life and regulate clock speed. Clock speed is measured in "megahertz" or "MHz" and "gigahertz or "GHz" which tell you just how fast your computer's microprocessor executes instructions. Athlon 4, the mobile AMD Duron and the mobile Intel Celeron chips are found in budget notebooks, while the mobile AMD Anthlon XP and the Intel Pentium III-M are more for the performance notebooks. Then you have Transmeta who offers Crusoe CPU's that actually perform like the Celerons and Durons, only drawing very little power which make them sort after as "ultraportables." The Titanium "PowerBook" and the Apple "iBook" offer the PowerPC G3 and G4 processors also.
Computers come with a varied amount of physical memory, otherwise knows as "main memory" or "RAM" which stands for "ramdom-access-memory." As you open programs and run applications creating data, your computer stores this information in your "RAM." Notebook computers have a higher quality of RAM then the desktop, as they come standard with what is called "SDRAM" or "Synchronous Dynamic RAM." When making a determination as to just how much RAM or SDRAM you will need, you must take into account your operating system and which programs and applications you will be using. Generally you can judge by following these few rules. Standardly you would need 128MB for any Windows application up to and including Windows 98, and 256MB and better for Windows XP or a MAC OS X.
Much like a CD your hard drive is a magnetic disk and provides your computer with the space to save programs, photos, graphics and files for the life of the drive, and if you have a back up drive, indefinitely. The larger your hard drive, equates to more disk space, which means the more data your hard drive can store. Hard drives are measured in "gigabytes" or "GB's." A top of the line notebook will offer you as much as 60GB's, which by the way cost hundreds of dollars more then it's default counterpart (the one you get if you don't specify), the 20GB drive. And because notebook drives are smaller, use less power, and need to absorb more shocks then desktop drives, they wind up being slower and much more expensive then the desktop. However, it's not just the capacity of a hard drive that makes it good or bad, the rotational speed also has a very important part in speed too. So a 5400 RPM notebook disk obviously delivers a much faster performance they the 4200RPM. And keep in mind, the faster your disk spins, the better the notebook performance.
This is your computers drive that reads your removable discs such as the CD's and DVD's or even the floppy's. God haven't heard that word in a long time. You need to have at least a CD ROM to install software today, but unless you're buying a very budget notebook, choose at least a CD-RW drive. Keep in mind that CD-RWs, have the ability to read CD ROMs and burn CD-Rs or CD-RWs, which means you don't have to have a floppy drive if you don't want to. And as far as movies and games, go with a CD-RW drive that has the capability to double as a DVD drive. Optical drives come as standard or optional, and can be purchased separately. The most inexpensive notebooks come with built-in drives, but a swappable drive bay gives you optimum flexibility, while the lighter, smaller models might include neither, just relying on external USB drives.
This is probably one of the best features of a notebook computer. Unlike the traditional desktop "CRT" or "cathode-ray tube" notebooks have a thin "liquid crystal display" otherwise know as the "LCD" screen. LCD's range in size from 12.1 inches (that's diagonally across) to 16 inches. The most comfortable viewing is accomplished at 1024x768, with a Windows resolution of 14.1 or larger. Notebook display screens vary widely in brightness, sharpness and color, however the newer models have a far superior quality then it's older counterparts. Unfortunately LCD's seem to suffer across the board with the actual picture quality, so if your real picky about your screens, make some comparisons at your dealer before you buy. And to get the best price, call us with the model number and we'll beat the street, promise!
DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT
For whatever reason you have chosen to purchase a laptop, be it just to replace your standard desktop for more room or for mobile reasons, size and weight really matter. Like a fighter, notebooks have weight classes with a few exceptions. However all notebooks fall into one of four categories. The "Ultraportables" weigh less then 4 pounds, they are between 1 and 1.5 inches thick and have screens 12.1 or smaller. They don't have internal drives, have slower CPU's and hard drives as they draw less power. Now the "thin & light" models, are just slightly heavier, sport a 14.1 to 15 inch screen, have a single drive bay, and much faster CPUs and hard drives. Mainstream notebooks strike a balance between size, weight, features and power. They are heavier then the smaller notebook, usually include fixed drives, and typically offer the best value for your buck. Now, if your replacing your desktop, you probably don't really care about size, as no matter which you choose you will still have way more space, which liberates you to choose a system weighing in at about 10 pounds and can offer you top performance, the largest displays and pretty much most of the top of the line features.
Notebooks generally have processors and memory specifically dedicated to graphics processing, or in other words, rendering text, image and video on your display screen. Inasmuch as they still can't match a desktop for graphic processing power, today's notebooks are capable of handling video, 3D games and other high-end applications thanks to companies such as ATI and Nvidia. Again, class designates the amount of video memory a system has. Smaller units may top out at 8MG, while a desktop replacement model will offer as much as 64MBs. Budget notebooks often lack their own video memory, borrowing it from the system memory. If your a gamer, look for an AGP, (accelerated graphics port) with a fast 4X bus, which is the pathway between the graphics accelerator and the notebooks' processor. For desktop and presentations, make sure the VGA port supports monitor resolutions of at least 1280x1024 with 24-bit color.
One of the most prominent uses for a notebook is to send and receive email, browse the web, and share files and printers. Now in order to accomplish this, your notebook must connect to the Internet. All notebooks come with a 56K modem (RJ-11) and the Ethernet (RJ-45) connections. However, look for a system that integrates these connections on a mini PCI card, leaving your PC card slot free. Notebooks can also include built-in antennas for wireless networking (802.11b or Wi-Fi), which will enable you wireless networking simply by adding a PC card.
PORTS AND EXPANSION OPTIONS
These are typically found on the side panel or rear of your notebook. A port is a connector that is used to physically connect your computer to other devises. Various ports communicate with various kinds of equipment. All notebooks would have a printer port, a USB port for connecting an external keyboard or mouse, drives, digital cameras, & MP3 players and a VGA port for an external monitor. Also most notebooks have one or two Type II PC Card expansion slots, even though they are no longer as essential since the built-in modem and Ethernet connector. For home use, you may want stereo impute, a game port, a FireWire port for capturing and editing digital video or hooking external storage drives, and a MIDI connector. However you will need a multimedia jack, combined stereo and video-out if you plan to use your notebooks DVD player for presentations. And, if your unsure, or can't find what you want, you can buy a "port replicator" or a "docking station" which adds connectors, room for more drives and cards, and allows you to leave cables plugged in while you walk away from your desk. These expansions options are expensive, so if you can buy a notebook that has everything you need out of the box, go for it.
Your notebook is only as good as it's battery. Afterall, what good is a portable devise without a battery, right? Not much, you say. And you'd be 100% right. A cell phone with a dead battery is just another piece of plastic, as well as your notebook. Laptops now universally use a lithium-ion battery that delivers longer life and can stand up to repeated recharging with virtually no decrease in performance. A high end product, with a greater performance and features require bigger, bulkier batteries. Generally, all notebooks, regardless of size need to deliver at least two (or more) hours of battery life, however don't believe manufacturer estimates of battery life, in the real world your battery will last a lot less time they their rosy prediction. CNet Labs' battery test are the most realistic. Some notebooks can accommodate a second battery, or what is called a "slice" (meaning an attachable base), which would get you from New York to San Francisco by plane.
SERVICE AND SUPPORT
Most laptops, notebooks and desktops come with service and support contracts. So if anything goes wrong you will have recourse. Make sure you have a lengthy, comprehensive warranty backed by a knowledgable and convenient technical support team. Gennerally manufacturers provide a one-year warranty on parts and labor, while a few still include warranties that last as long as three years. All of our previously owned machines come with the original factory warranty. Keep your eyes open however, as not all warranties offer equal benefits. Choose onsite service (tech comes to you) or at least one that covers the shipping if you have to send it to a service center for repairs. Some warranties even provide a replacement product, and the best plan will provide 24/7 phone or email support, or at the very least online chats with live service technicians.
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