Apple computers use macOS (formerly known as OS X). Lenovo also offers gaming, budget, and thin-and-light models; detachable convertibles; and Chromebooks. Asus offers a full lineup of both desktop and laptop computers, including thin-and-light and 2-in-1 laptop models under its ZenBook line. Also known as a hard disk, this type of drive uses a spinning hard disk and uses more power than a solid-state drive. For connecting to the internet, all desktops come with an Ethernet port that lets you run a cable between your desktop and your router. Battery life: If you choose a laptop and will be using your laptop in settings without a power source, such as on a plane or in the doctor’s waiting room, look for a model with longer battery life (some offer 10 hours or more). These tiny devices are the brains of any computer. If you’re looking to carry your computer to work or on vacation, you obviously need a laptop. Monitors are often less expensive when bundled with a new computer. The more memory a computer has, the faster it is, up to a point. Consumer desktops and all-in-ones include Yoga Home, 300, 500, 700, and 900 series. Computers used to be desktops or laptops, period, but the computer … Generally, within a processor family, the higher the clock speed, the faster the processor. Nancy C. Muir is the owner of a writing and consulting company that specializes in business and technology topics. You may have two choices while buying a computer, Brander PC or Assembled PC. If you have a wireless mouse, you won’t have to deal with a cord, but you will have to recharge or replace the batteries every few months. Compact desktop: Compact desktops, which are the size of a shoebox and can sit on your desktop. Why? Type of hard drive: Computers have traditionally used hard drives to store programs and data. For a dependable laptop, an Intel i3 is fine, but an i5 will guarantee good speeds. Intel processors also include advanced graphics capabilities that let you connect multiple monitors to one system and make watching or editing videos a breeze. And in our tests, battery life ranged from 4 hours to nearly 13 hours. Laptops let you use your computer away from your desk, but you pay for that mobility with a keyboard that's a little more cramped, a higher price, and (sometimes) reduced performance. The Mac Pro desktop is its professional line. Acer also produces Chromebooks. Computer Buying Guide Last updated: October 11, 2019 These days, it’s not unusual for individuals or families to have more than one type of computer. Processors with multiple cores can process more data simultaneously, with four cores now increasingly common on laptops. Although most computers come with a basic, predefined set of features, that doesn't mean you don't have choices. Lower-priced hybrid drives, which combine a hard drive with solid-state memory, represent a good compromise. Computers with these options may be more expensive but you’ll be set for years to … You can still wander into some stores and buy a computer, or … Samsung also produces Chromebooks. If you're buying a Windows laptop, be sure it has Precision touchpad drivers. If not, you can buy one for about $40 and plug it into a USB port. An HDMI output jack lets you run a video cable from the computer to a TV, so you can use the computer’s DVD drive to view a movie or stream from an online service such as Netflix to a TV instead of watching on a computer monitor. You’ll also need a wireless router. A webcam with a high resolution is a must. These machines are lightweight and highly portable. Be aware that some software offers only a short-term trial version and you have to pay to buy the full version upgrade. An Ethernet port or wireless network card lets you link several computers in the household to share files, a printer, or a broadband internet connection. Laptop: A laptop is portable, weighing anywhere from 2 to 8 pounds. Processor – The brains of the laptop, the better the processor, the faster your computer will run. Clock speeds typically start at around 1 GHz for a mobile processor. If mobility isn’t a concern, get a desktop, because it’s very likely that you’ll get more performance for the same money—plus more flexibility in customizing the machine once you buy it. You get the fastest processors, the most sophisticated graphics cards, multiple large hard drives, and lots of RAM. In many computers a solid state drive is used in place of a hard drive. This list comprises the major computer brands. Laptops come with wireless built in, and some have a port for connecting an Ethernet cable, although many are ditching it to save space. See our tablet buying guide for detailed information about shopping for a tablet. Although they once cost several times as much as traditional hard drives and had smaller capacities, prices are coming down and capacities are inching upward. Whether your main consideration is portability or power, screen size will be an essential factor in deciding which type of laptop is right for you. If you are looking … With high-capacity flash drives available, extra storage isn't a problem on these models. A tower is one style of desktop computer that, because of its size, people keep on or near a table or desk. For instance, some new desktops are almost as small and inconspicuous as a laptop. Many desktops have this built in. It also has a handful of tablets, including the new (as of late 2018) Pixel Slate and older Pixel C. HP is the top seller of desktops and laptops in the U.S. For laptop users it offers the budget HP line, the mainstream Pavilion line, the higher-performance Envy line, and the premium Spectre line, some of which are convertible and detachable. Optical Drives Power Consumption The most important thing is the brand of the computer. Those who plan to edit photos or videos should note differences in color, viewing angle, contrast, and brightness. You can skip to different chapters depending on your interests—for example, battery life, specs, portability, and brands. Laptop buying guide: Here's what you should look for in a new computer. You might find some with better speakers than smaller laptops can offer. Some new CPUs integrate discrete-class graphics, offering excellent graphics abilities without adding a separate chip. All-in-one: Another form of desktop computer is called an all-in-one. HP also offers a line of Chromebooks. But installing older software—usually distributed on a CD or DVD—could be a problem. Choices among computers are becoming more confusing as the boundaries between categories blur. When you’re purchasing your computer consider what type of computer model would work best for you and take into account the features that you find most important. Dell also offers a small line of Chromebooks. If you need a system to handle heavy-duty computing tasks like video editing or computer assisted design, or you expect to run multiple applicatio… Lenovo ThinkPads are its business notebooks; ThinkCentre models are business desktops. Ken Colburn. (That’s one reason lots of serious gamers have desktops.). For higher performance and gaming systems, Dell offers the XPS line, which includes convertibles. A tower is one style of desktop computer that, because of its size, people keep on or near a table or desk. Hybrid Drives These are called convertibles and detachables, respectively. Do you want a desktop or tower case? live without the portability of a laptop or tablet, desktop PCs can provide you with more power as well as a different form of convenience. While most … Operating System Apple computers usually cost more than similarly configured Windows-based systems. It is important that you first consider the tasks that you will be performing on your PC. A 10- to 13-inch laptop is best for people frequently on the move. Most of those that come bundled with desktops are optical, meaning light sensors on their undersides track movement. Most modern webcams support only high-definition video capture. Its gaming line is known as Predator. They're generally inexpensive, with some starting at just under $200, and are designed for users willing to work on and store most of their files online. Processor: Most processors today are multiple-core processors, such as the i3, i5, and i7 processor lines from Intel. All-in-ones include the Inspiron 3000, 5000, and 7000 series, as well as the higher-end XPS series. Many processors can up the speed a bit for a brief time to yield maximum performance. Screen: Computers come with screens that range from 9 inches on smaller laptops to 28-inch desktop models. Trusted Reviews With this type of computer, all the brains of the computer are stored in a casing within the monitor, so the entire computer sits on your desk or table. On the downside, there’s not a lot of storage space on a Chromebook, so consumers should be prepared to stream, instead of download, content like music and movies. Compact desktop: Compact desktops, which are the size of a shoebox and can sit on your desktop. It is also slower overall. How to Enable Windows Firewall in Windows 10, Part of Computers For Seniors For Dummies Cheat Sheet. USB ports let you connect a variety of add-on devices, such as digital cameras or external hard drives, as well as flash drives for copying files to and from the hard drive. The company also produces Chromebooks as well as higher-end PCs aimed at gamers that are sold under ROG (Republic of Gamers) branding. For more, check our full computer ratings (available to Consumer Reports members). So take your time and look carefully. Also check for helpful documentation on the manufacturer’s website. Prices have come down to the point where building your own doesn't … Those with two processors are called dual-core; those with four processors are called quad-core; and processors with six cores are referred to as hexa-core. For more, check our computer ratings (available to CR members). Many people have moved away from desktops in the past decade. Samsung offers a variety of laptops in different sizes under the Notebook 5, 7, and 9 brands, and an all-in-one PC known as the All-In-One. Clock speed, measured in gigahertz (GHz), along with the number of cores and other factors, determines how quickly a processor can process information. Most importantly, it lets you interact with your laptop and your programs in a visual way (otherwise, you'd be typing a bunch of computer … When purchasing a computer it is likely that you are going to have a general idea of what you may like in the computer or how you would like to configure the computer. Choose from these styles: Tower: A form of computer that has been around for quite a while is a tower. If a computer is right for you in other ways but doesn’t have a CD/DVD drive, consider opting for an external drive. Desktops and all-in-ones include the Pavilion and Envy lines. Another important factor when choosing a processor, especially for laptops: Lower power consumption equals longer battery life. Included software: Some computers come with utility programs such as antivirus software or productivity software such as Microsoft Office. Speeds can exceed 5 GHz for a desktop processor. And far more games are available for Windows computers than for Macs. Difference between them is quite simple. She is the author of over 100 books on technology and business topics, and has taught technical writing and online safety at the college level. Like desktop monitors, most laptop displays are wide-screen to show wide-screen movies at their best. See our computer ratings (available to CR members) for more. They may allow for a more ergonomically correct work environment, generally come with better speakers, and allow you to view your work on a larger screen. Lighter and less expensive than most laptops, these highly mobile devices offer an extra dose of portability and many—but certainly not all—of the features. To future proof your purchase, look for USB-C, USB 3.1 ports and at least 801.11AC on the Wi-Fi side. Buying Wi-Fi 6 will futureproof the laptop for years to come. When it comes to buying a 2-in-1, some are better laptops than they are tablets, and some are better tablets than they are laptops. The components are tightly packed behind and underneath the display, making them difficult to upgrade or repair. Some laptops are known as two-in-ones and either have a keyboard that can be bent around the back of the display or whose keyboard can be detached entirely. HP is known for its best after-sales service and attractive warranty offers. They’re multifunctional, serving as web browser, e-book reader, movie viewer, and music player. Conversely, you can easily find a laptop that’s just as powerful as a typical desktop. Graphics Adapter and Graphics Memory Such a laptop can easily be configured as a desktop replacement. Laptops go into sleep mode when used intermittently, extending the time between charges. The Battery Some types of cracks in the computer casing can be hard to see. Unless you regularly have multiple large apps open at the same time, 8GB should be your target. The choice in PC types and styles has exploded in the early 21st century, and buying a new computer is a different experience than it was even a decade ago. Windows 10 brings a more uniform interface across a variety of devices: computers, tablets, Xbox consoles, and smartphones. Those are two major categories of computer, but there are several variations to consider—and we haven’t even mentioned the choice of operating system yet. And some have slimmed down to weigh as little as a couple of pounds. If you're looking for a very basic or budget computer to browse the web, email, and work on Office documents, basically every processor on the market should be sufficient. They may not have the fastest processors around, but laptops in this size range are nowadays more than capable of handling everyday productivity tasks with ease. If you wish to buy a computer for simply browsing the internet and using some online services than it might be better to buy a single core computer which satisfies your minimum requirements. You'll pay a premium for these models. Stick with an Intel Core i5 or better processor and look … We test, evaluate, and compare the latest computers to keep you connected. IdeaPad, Yoga, and ThinkPad Yoga are Lenovo’s consumer laptop line that encompasses mainstream and premium models. Then this video is for you. The latest port to arrive on computers is USB-C. It’s reversible, so you’ll never insert a USB-C plug in the wrong way. A slow hard drive will take longer to start up the OS and programs, and complete tasks (such as installing programs or scanning your hard drive for viruses). Special for The Republic. Battery life varies but you should be able to get through at least a full workday nowadays. They are also the single largest performance boost you can give a computer over an identical computer with a hard drive. If you play mainstream and extreme games with all the visual effects turned on or if you edit video, especially HD and Ultra High Definition (4K), you need discrete graphics. Many companies … Chromebooks use Chrome OS, an operating system developed by Google. The latest version of macOS (previously known as OS X) is called Catalina and was released in the fall of 2019. These days, it’s not unusual for individuals or families to have more than one type of computer. For one, these laptops are typically light enough to be brought, say, to and from your office without needing the strength of a powerlifter. Most are wide-screen, which fit wide-screen movies better but give you less screen area per inch. Most computers today include a webcam located just above the computer screen. The operating system is the heart of your laptop. All-in-one desktop computers, also known as "all-in-ones," incorporate the computer and monitor in one case. However, there are fewer compatible devices available for it than there are for USB. Borrowing from tablets, companies have begun including touch screens on many laptops. If it’s not possible to run such a cable through your home, consider using a WiFi adapter. These have custom, touch-enabled multimedia apps and include multitouch capability, which lets you use your fingers to zoom, turn, and scroll. 2. A 15-inch monitor is comfortable for most people, but if you do work with higher-end images or watch videos, consider a larger screen as larger screens may be easier on your eyes. Light video editing and gaming and all other typical computer tasks will do fine with integrated graphics. Displays that are 13, 14, and 17 inches are also common, and some manufacturers are also offering 11-inch laptops. Bigger is better. The bottom line with cores is that the more you have, the faster your computer can process instructions because all the cores can work at once with many applications. However, they still won't sound as good as external speakers. And, of course, the larger screen can make it more comfortable to work on multiple windows or large spreadsheets. After sales service and warrant is one of the important things to consider while buying a laptop. Apple’s free telephone tech support is limited to three months, but you can get unlimited free support at the Genius Bar in Apple Stores. Look for a … Solid-State Drives: SSDs are a different type of storage technology, letting your computer access data without the moving parts required by a traditional hard drive. To buy a mid-range device in the $600+ tier for other uses, don’t accept anything with less than 8GB of RAM and make sure to buy a faster SSD instead of a standard HDD. If it's time to replace your old computer or get a new one for a family member, it's a good idea to brush up on what decisions go into buying one. Blu-ray Disc (BD) drives are the newest standard. Look for laptops that have a screen that is either 12.5-inches or 13.3-inches in size, and a weight between 1kg and 1.5kgs. Until a few years ago, only 17-inch and larger models had graphics processors with dedicated video memory, but now some 14- to 16-inch models have them, making them suitable for gaming. If you plan to use your computer for browsing the web and simple productivity tasks, … Graphics and sound cards: If you want to use multimedia or game software, ask for more sophisticated sound and video features such as a discrete graphics card or discrete sound card. For gamers, Dell offers Alienware systems. Computers with touch screens tend to cost more. If you need a computer which processes information very quickly look for one with a solid state drive. If you plan to watch high-resolution videos or play mainstream games, you should consider the Intel Core i5 and AMD's Ryzen line of processors. A webcam: If you will be calling your friends or grandchildren over a service such as Skype, it’s useful to have a built-in webcam to transmit video images while talking. Inspiron is Dell’s mass-market line of laptops, desktops, and all-in-ones. Intel makes processors that are powerful enough for the most demanding tasks but use very little current, allowing your system to run for hours. It’s definitely possible that the computer could have been dropped, or took a nasty hit if you see a crack. How Much Memory? Glossy screens have more saturated colors and deeper blacks but are also more prone to glare. It manages all software and hardware, including files, memory and connected devices. Keyboard: Make sure the keyboard feels comfortable to you. When buying a new computer do you find the long lists of specification overwhelming? 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