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5 questions to ask when buying a laptop

Thinking of going more mobile and ditching the desktop? We look at what you need to consider in a laptop computer.

A laptop computer can be simple and easy to use. It is portable and it can be something you can use to keep in touch with friends or prop up in bed and read the news. A desktop computer can seem more solid, more stable, but a laptop gives you the freedom to roam, and they are so light these days that they are simple to take with you anywhere you go.

So what are the key questions to ask when buying a laptop?

1. How big do you want it?

When it comes to laptops, size really does matter – but it’s not necessarily the bigger the better. That said, for seniors, you should also be careful of going for the smallest or sleekest option. Laptops are generally sized from around 11-17 inches (yes, they still like to use inches), and which size suits you depends on what you want it for. As a guide, if you want to take it a lot of places, keep things small; but if you are mainly using it in and around the house, get a larger model which can be easier to type on.

2. Can you use it comfortably?

You will be using it like a normal computer, so be sure the keyboard is easy to use and that you are happy with the screen quality, which varies in laptops. Also make sure your keyboard is backlit so you can see it when the sun goes down. Often, larger laptops have more keyboard options, so consider this when you are looking at size?

3. How big is the brain/storage?

The size of your computer’s processor, or “brain”, will depend on what you want it do, and how much you want to pay. Intel Core laptops are a pretty common starting point – they run up from i2 to i9, but around the middle at i5 you have a pretty decent machine. Apple MacBooks use these processors too. When it comes to storage, you can now keep things quite light if you use cloud storage, so something like 8GB of memory will go a long way. If you want to keep things out of the cloud, you will need more memory or buy a physical hard drive to store things on.

4. How long does the battery last?

If you plan to use it a lot away from home, you will need a decent battery. Whatever you are told in the shop, you can shave a bit of time off the battery life, as they usually over quote based on a laptop not really doing anything. Once you fire up a few systems and software, it will run down faster. Macs can be a bit superior in this area, though all batteries will deteriorate.

5. How do you want to get in?

Laptops can come with fingerprint ID or facial recognition ID, but you can also just stick to a classic password. However, it is far easier to lose your password than it is your finger... or your face!

Buying a laptop can free you up to video call your relative out in your azalea garden. It can be a freeing and relatively cost-effective move away from your standard PC. But you need think about how you use your computer and what you want it to do before hitting the shops.